A major bridge collapsed in the U.S. port of Baltimore in the early hours of Tuesday after being struck by a container ship, plunging cars into the river below.

Traffic was suspended at the port until further notice, Maryland transportation authorities said.


It is the deepest harbor in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, closer to the Midwest than other East Coast ports, with five public and 12 private terminals, according to Maryland government website.

It is one of the smallest container ports on the Northeastern seaboard, handling 265,000 containers in the fourth quarter of last year, according to container shipping expert Lars Jensen.

The Port of New York and New Jersey handled around 2 million containers in that same period, and Norfolk Port in Virginia handled 850,000, so the flow of containers to Baltimore can likely be redistributed to bigger ports, Jensen said.


More than 40 ships remained inside Baltimore port, including small cargo ships, tug boats and pleasure craft, data from ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic shows.

At least 30 other ships had signaled their destination was Baltimore and 10 are currently at anchor, the data showed.


It is the busiest U.S. port for car shipments, handling more than 750,000 vehicles in 2023, according to data from the Maryland Port Administration.

The port handles imports and exports for major automakers including Nissan 7201.T, Toyota 7203.T, General Motors, Volvo Car, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volkswagen, including luxury models for Audi, Lamborghini and Bentley.

It is also the largest U.S. port by volume for handling farm and construction machinery, as well as agricultural products.

Imports of agricultural products totalled 3 million tonnes last year, including 1.2 million of sugar and salt, as well as gypsum, fertilizers and forest products, according to Ishan Bhanu, lead agricultural commodities analyst at Kpler.

Other top imports were paper/paperboard and plywood/veneer/particle board, the Maryland authority website shows.


In 2023, the port was the second busiest for coal exports. Its eight dry bulk terminals exported 22 million tonnes of coal last year and small amounts of other metals and minerals, according to Kpler’s Bhanu.
Other top export commodities by weight in 2022 were liquefied natural gas (LNG), wastepaper, ferrous scrap, and automobiles/light trucks, according to Maryland government data.

Cove Point, which is upstream from the bridge, is the nearest LNG terminal. ICIS ship tracking data show Cove Point typically exports about 500,000 tonnes per month.


It is also a cruise terminal, with operators Norwegian NCLH.N, Carnival CCL.N and Royal Caribbean RCL.N, all using the port for Caribbean, Canadian, and other Atlantic destinations.

In 2023, cruises carrying more than 444,000 passengers departed from the port, the Maryland government website says.


In Baltimore warehouses registered with the London Metal Exchange, there are 756 metric tons of nickel, 150 tons of tin and 50 tons of copper, LME data shows.

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