After weeks of work to shift 50,000 tonnes of wreckage, the access channel to the port of Baltimore is back to normal following the Dali bridge smash.

The Unified Command response team said the Army Corps of Engineers and Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving restored the Fort McHenry Federal Channel to its original operational dimensions of 700 feet wide and 50 feet deep on Monday.

The 9,962-teu Maersk-chartered container ship Dali (built 2015) was earlier towed to a marine terminal after the painstaking operation to disentangle the container ship from twisted metal amid the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Six workers on the bridge died in the 26 March accident and a series of investigations by police and regulators are examining the causes behind the crash.

The riverbed has now been certified as safe for transit.

Surveying and removal of steel at and below the 50-foot mud-line will continue to ensure future dredging operations are not impacted.

“We are proud of the unified efforts that fully reopened the federal channel to port operations,” Lt Gen Scott Spellmon said.

“The partnerships that endured through this response made this pivotal mission successful,” he added.

At its busiest point, the Unified Command, consisting of six agencies, led the response efforts among about 56 federal, state and local agencies, represented by 1,587 individual responders.

Additionally, about 500 specialists from around the world operated a fleet of 18 barges, 22 tugs, 13 floating cranes, 10 excavators and four survey boats.

Wreckage being processed

The bridge wreckage will continue to be transported to Sparrows Point for processing.

The first salvage milestone was reached on 2 April, with the opening of the first of three temporary channels, allowing shallow-draft vessels to transit through the port.

Five days later, the removal of containers from the Dali began.

By 25 April, authorities opened a limited access channel to a width of 300 feet and depth of 35 feet.

Recreational vessels were permitted to transit on 9 May.

On 13 May, a controlled demolition of the bridge section pinning the Dali was carried out.

On 4 June, the last major piece of steel truss was removed from the channel.