Structural engineer 'surprised' cargo ship was able to take down Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge

Structural engineer John Pistorino emphasized the need for "redundancy" in bridge construction

Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge was gone in a flash early Tuesday after a cargo ship collided with one of its pillars, snapping the structure into pieces and sending it tumbling into the water below.

As rescuers scramble to find multiple people who remain missing and as the details remain unclear, experts weigh what could have possibly caused the catastrophe. One structural engineer – John Pistorino – says he's "surprised" the ship was able to take down the structure at all.

"At this point, I'm surprised that a container ship like that, which is so large, would be able to [take it down] even if it's off course," he said on "Fox & Friends" Tuesday.

wrecked roadway at bridge collapse

Parts of the Francis Scott Key Bridge remain after a container ship collided with a support Tuesday, March 26, 2024 in Baltimore. (Jessica Gallagher/The Baltimore Banner via AP)

"Back over in Tampa, we do have some means underwater now, so if the ship does get out of its own direction, it will divert it away from the critical parts of the bridge. There's underwater structures that the ship would come across before it actually got to the bridge itself," he continued, referencing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge that saw a similar disaster in the Tampa Bay area decades ago.

Continuing on that note, Pistorino outlined the need for "redundancy" in bridge construction. 

Redundancy, according to the American Institute of Steel Construction, is "the quality of a bridge that enables it to perform its design function in a damaged state" and is considered a "desired characteristic of good design."


Baltimore Bridge DestructionVideo

Pistorino said the quality is something faulty bridges have lacked in the past.

"If we lose the critical part of one column, the structure itself tries to redistribute the load and then goes to the other column, which is apparently then overloaded… That's the nature of the structures," he explained.

placeholder"It could be a money thing, but I think, really, that the design of the redundancy would be something that should always be considered."

Maryland officials, particularly those from the Baltimore area, hosted multiple press conferences to update the public in the hours since the incident took place early Tuesday.


Baltimore bridge collapse labeled an accident as rescue efforts continueVideo

Gov. Wes Moore, D-Md., revealed in one of the press conferences that the cargo ship involved in the collapse issued a "mayday" call that enabled local officials to limit traffic on the bridge before the collision took place.

An estimate of at least six people remain unaccounted for, with search and rescue efforts ongoing. 

Cold temperatures, including chilly waters, however, elicited fears that those submerged in water would be subjected to hypothermia over time. 

WATCH LIVE: Iconic Maryland bridge collapses into river after cargo ship collision

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