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How the Baltimore bridge collapse impacts commerce, jobs and cruises

The Maryland Port Administration said the Port of Baltimore generates around 15,300 direct jobs, with nearly 140,000 jobs linked to its operations.
Aerial view of Seagirt Marine Terminal, Port of Baltimore in 2019.
Posted at 2:31 PM, Mar 26, 2024

Hundreds of thousands of jobs are in jeopardy following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday after a container ship struck one of its support pillars.

The Port of Baltimore ceased its operations after the collapse, suspending vessel traffic along the Patapsco River as crews continued to survey the debris area and search for survivors Tuesday morning. 

It is unclear when the port, one of the busiest in the U.S., will be able to resume its normal operations. 

Last year, The Maryland Port Administration reported that the Port of Baltimore generates around 15,300 direct jobs, with nearly 140,000 jobs overall linked to Port activities. It serves over 50 ocean carriers making nearly 1,800 annual visits.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore previously praised the port for the records it broke last year, including handling $80.8 billion in foreign cargo.

According to the Maryland State Archives, the Port ranked first in the nation last year in handling automobiles, light trucks, farm and construction machinery, as well as imported sugar and gypsum. It ranked second in the country for exporting coal. 

Baltimore bridge collapses after ship collision; rescues underway
The collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore

Baltimore bridge collapses after ship collision; rescues underway

Approximately 50 divers from multiple agencies are searching the Patapsco River for survivors of the bridge collapse. At least 6 are unaccounted for.


President Joe Biden addressed the country Tuesday afternoon, stating that the federal government would cover the costs of the repairs of the bridge. The president also stated that search and rescue is the top priority but all efforts will be put in to get the port back up and running to protect jobs and help those workers.

Further south down the Chesapeake Bay, the Port of Virginia told Scripps News Norfolk it plans to assist with the vessels impacted by the indefinite closure in Baltimore. 

"Our operating team is already working with ocean carriers whose vessels were due to call Baltimore and offering the capability of our port to discharge cargoes as requested," a spokesperson for the port said. "The Port of Virginia has a significant amount of experience in handling surges of import and export cargo and is ready to provide whatever assistance we can to the team at the Port of Baltimore."

Amazon services in Baltimore and its surrounding regions may also be impacted, as the e-commerce giant utilized the area for distribution. 

“Our thoughts are with all those impacted by the bridge collapse and the first responders assisting in the rescue and recovery efforts. We’re assessing the immediate and future impacts to our employees and delivery partners, as well as the surrounding community, and will make any adjustments to our operations that are needed. We also stand ready to support the community in any way we can,” an Amazon representative said in a statement provided to Scripps News Baltimore

The Port of Baltimore isn't just a site of commerce, it's also a destination for cruise lines. 

The port’s passenger cruise terminal offers year-round trips on several lines, including Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas, Carnival's Legend, and, most recently, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Sun from Norwegian Cruise Line. 

Carnival Cruise Line has a ship that was scheduled to arrive in Baltimore on Sunday, but is now trying to figure out how to pivot those plans. 

"Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragic accident. It is premature for us to comment on possible impacts to upcoming sailings," a spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Line told Scripps News Baltimore

Royal Caribbean has a cruise scheduled to leave Baltimore in mid-April. A spokesperson for the cruise line told Scripps News Baltimore, "We are deeply saddened by the tragedy and collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and extend our heartfelt prayers to all those impacted. We are closely monitoring the situation, and our port logistics team is currently working on alternatives for Vision of the Seas’ ongoing and upcoming sailings."