Crew Still Stranded Aboard Ship in Baltimore Nearly Two Months After Bridge Disaster

Crash and Burn

It's been seven weeks since a Singapore-based cargo ship crashed into Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge, and its crew is still stranded aboard thousands of miles from home.

As the BBC reports, the 21-man crew of the Dali is still trapped on board the ship as federal officials continue to investigate the crash, which resulted in the deaths of six people who'd been working on the bridge.

The crew, which is primarily comprised of Indian nationals, were still aboard the ship earlier this week as officials exploded the portions of the bridge still stuck on the Dali. According to reports, they were below deck as the explosives rocked the boat.

Authorities hope that the demolition of the remaining portions of the Key Bridge will begin the process of returning the Dali crew home. But for now, it remains unclear when they'll be able to leave given that both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continue to probe what happened during the late March disaster.

Joshua Messick, the executive director of the Baltimore International Seafarers' Center, told the BBC that the sailors are in a "sad situation" and have gone weeks without contact with the outside world since the FBI confiscated their phones.

Last month, Messick told Futurism last month that the crew was still aboard because the Dali is "still considered a working vessel" and, moreover, the Indian and Sri Lankan sailors lack the visa status to come ashore on US ground.

Federal Attention

It also appears that the crew may be under suspicion of criminal activity, per the Associated Press' reporting last month about the FBI's probe into the bridge collision. Specifically, the feds are looking into whether anyone on board expected or was aware of the electricity malfunctions that seem to have led to the crash.

As such, the men will remain marooned, essentially, until they're either arrested or cleared of wrongdoing.

Understandably, morale aboard the ship is said to have taken a tremendous dip. As the Portland Press-Herald reported over the weekend, representatives from maritime unions who have spoken with the Dali crew members say they fear they'll be "criminalized" for the crash.

In the meantime, advocates are calling on the FBI to return the crew members' cell phones so that they can communicate with their families as the disaster debacle continues with no end in sight.

"However long the investigation takes, the crew’s rights and welfare should not be infringed upon during its course," David Heindel, the president of the Seafarers International Union, told the Press-Herald. "We call on the authorities to be mindful that seafarers utilize mobile devices to conduct personal business for bill payments and more importantly, transfer money to their home country to sustain families."

More on disaster scenarios: NASA Contractor Warns That Boeing Launch Must Be Stopped "Before Something Catastrophic Happens"