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Did a $10 piece of electrical equipment cause the Dali to crash into Baltimore's Key Bridge? NTSB is investigating that possibility.

Dali safely docks in Virginia; NTSB looks at inexpensive piece of electrical equipment as possible c
Dali safely docks in Virginia; NTSB looks at inexpensive piece of electrical equipment as possible c 03:04

BALTIMORE -- The Dali safely docked Tuesday morning in Norfolk, Virginia after a 20-hour journey with a replacement crew of 22 and a salvage expert onboard. While the investigations into what caused the cargo ship to strike the Key Bridge are ongoing, the NTSB is looking into an inexpensive electrical part as a possible cause.

Now that the Dali is in Virginia, cargo will be unloaded then extensive repairs will get underway. It follows a painstaking voyage out of Baltimore and past the Chesapeake Bay Bridge that started Monday. 

The federal investigations into the cause are expected to take months.

What caused the Dali to lose power?

The NTSB released a new picture of the ship's terminal block—a device that connects wires together—costing less than ten dollars and measuring about an inch high and two and a half inches wide.   

This image shows the Dali's terminal block-a device that connects wires together. National Transportation Safety Board

The NTSB said the terminal block and two pieces of wiring are now at the agency's lab as investigators work to determine if they caused power outages just before the Dali slammed into the bridge on March 26th.

The agency said two electrical breakers unexpectedly opened as the Dali approached the Key Bridge causing the first blackout.

In later testing, the NTSB found a problem with one breaker's undervoltage release—a device that opens the breaker when voltage is too low.

Investigators then removed the terminal block and wiring.

"We will continue to evaluate the design and operation of the vessel's electrical power distribution system and investigate all aspects of the accident to determine the probable cause and identify potential safety recommendations," the NTSB wrote in a statement. 

The NTSB chair recently addressed the electrical problems in testimony before Congress.  

The agency's preliminary report showed there were also electrical problems the day before the ship hit the bridge, and the crew made adjustments to the electrical system at that time. You can read their preliminary report here.

In-person crew member interviews complete

The NTSB said they have completed in-person interviews with the crew and onboard examination and testing of the electrical systems. 

Some of the original crew members have returned to India. The rest remain in Baltimore as litigation continues. 

Replacing the Key Bridge

Monday was the submission deadline for all proposals for a replacement Key Bridge. 

A contract involving several companies teaming up on the project is expected to be awarded by the end of the summer.

The new bridge will likely use cables and have fewer support pylons in the water to reduce the risk of another tragedy.

"We don't get into design at this point, we're really looking for those qualifications that will give us the best team that's ready to meet an aggressive schedule, that can deliver quality, that is going to be open and transparent when we develop pricing later on," said James Harkness, the chief engineer with the Maryland Transportation Authority.

You can learn more about the rebuilding here.

It is still expected to take four years to build a new bridge and cost $1.7 billion. 

Congress has not fully committed to paying the entire cost. Right now, Maryland is still required to come up with ten percent of the funding. 

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