(((Charles Fishman))) 💧 Profile picture
Mar 29 20 tweets 5 min read Read on X
On the bridge of the container ship Dali, 4 minutes from disaster, there's one critical moment we haven't heard about yet.

The very moment the ship lost power the 1st time.

What did the pilot do, right then?

His first thought, apparently, was safety — the bridge looming ahead.


⤵️ NTSB photo of the bridge of the Dali...Image
2/ The 1st 'event' leading up to the collision that the NTSB notes in its timeline is 1:24:59—when alarms on the bridge indicate power failure.

The ship was without electricity, engine power, lights, navigation, radio.

Dali was dark, literally & in terms of communications.

3/ The first thing the pilot did — apparently within the first 30 to 60 seconds of the ship going dark — was take out his cell phone and call harbor pilot dispatch.

He told his dispatcher: We've lost power, close the bridge. Close the bridge.

4/ This is the critical moment. The airline pilot / surgeon moment.

At the first moment disaster starts to unfold, what do you do?

In this case, with Francis Scott Key Bridge looming in the dark just a few ship lengths ahead through the bridge windows, he sounded the alarm. Image
5/ The pilot knew he had no radio. He didn't wait to see what would happen in the next 30 seconds. Would the engine room get power back? What systems would come online as the backup power kicked in?

He pulled his cell phone, he called dispatch, he said: Close the bridge.

6/ I know this from my own reporting, from someone familiar with the pilot's official written account.

This one moment—a minute before the next set of actions is recorded—hasn't been reported elsewhere.

So the events unfolded like this...

7/ ...
1:24:59 Alarms on bridge, power fails on ship 1st time

~1:25:30 Pilot calls pilot dispatch, says ship may hit the bridge, close the bridge

1:26:39 Maryland Transportation Dept records incoming call from pilot dispatch, advising to urgently close the bridge

8/ ...

1:27:25 MDTA duty officer radios two units stationed at either end of the bridge, telling them to close the bridge.

1:29:00 to 1:29:33 'Black box' recorder on the ship records the sounds of the Dali crashing into the bridge.

—> Image
9/ From the moment of the power failure to the moment units were alerted to close the bridge, 156 seconds elapsed.

1:24:59 am to 1:27:25 am.

2 minutes, 26 seconds—from first sign of trouble to the bridge being closed.

That's truly astonishing. That first call saved lives.
10/ The pilot hasn't been publicly identified yet. We don't know his age, his years on the water, all his actions.

But what happened at that moment—1:24:59—was years of experience kicking in instantly. First priority: Bridge is close, we could hit it, close the bridge.

11/ The pilot needed to get power back on the ship. He needed to talk to engine room, crew on the bridge & around the ship, move fast to halt or divert the ship.

NTSB transcript says he did do those things.

But first, within seconds, he requested the bridge be closed.

12/ That's what he should have done.

Might have been unnecessary, if ship's engines came back on, if emergency measures to change course worked.

He didn't hesitate.

It's that moment that shows experience, competence, and the confidence that comes from those things.

13/ We don't know most of what we need to about this accident.

Why did the engines on a ship, just leaving port, fail completely?

Was the ship in the right position before that failure?

—> Image
14/ Did the pilot, the captain, the crew, the engine room staff — do what they should have before the ship lost power, and in the minutes after?

But we do know one thing:

15/ At the moment the power failed, at the moment of crisis, the pilot had the preparation, the training, and the presence of mind to do the most important thing first.

Pull out his cell phone & ask that the bridge be closed.

16/ That's why no cars or trucks were traveling across the bridge when it fell—why no people were traveling across the bridge when it fell.

How critical was the pilot's presence of mind?

17/ It's 90 seconds from the moment the MDTA duty officer alerts units on the bridge to close it, until the ship's 'black box' starts recording sounds of Dali crashing into the bridge.

90 seconds.

If the pilot had done one thing before calling for the bridge to be closed…

18/ If the pilot had done one other thing first — of the dozen he urgently needed to do at the moment of crisis — people would have died.

We'll know more in the weeks to come. But I don't think that choice will turn out to be just luck.
19/ …Great photos on the tweets in this thread from the Washington Post (@washingtonpost), whose photo journalists have gotten images that really capture the scale of the ship, the bridge, the collision, the human toll.

Full photo gallery here...⤵️

20/ The NTSB's timeline of the events leading up to the container ship Dali hitting the Francis Scott Key Bridge is collected in five tweets @NTSB_Newsroom — 3rd of those 5 linked below, where the critical events begin..

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More from @cfishman

Mar 28
Sam Bankman Fried sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for the FTX crypto fraud.

Below from ⁦@WSJ⁩ — a great chart comparing him to other major white collar criminals.

SBF gets a decade more than Jeff Skilling from Enron. Twice as long as Elizabeth Holmes. Image
2/ Here's the WSJ account of this morning's sentencing hearing.

US Dist Judge Lewis Kaplan said he thought SBF was a risk to commit future fraud if freed; didn't seem to tell the truth on the stand; and lacked 'any real remorse.'


(Open free link)
3/ Sentencings aren't the art of comparative justice.

But I'm not sure SBF's crimes are worse than Skilling at Enron or Holmes at Theranos.

Skilling has been free since Feb 2019.
Read 4 tweets
Mar 27
Again, a moment to pause & appreciate the cool professionalism of those in & around the Key Bridge at 1:24 am Tuesday.

Ship’s pilot radios in that ship has lost steerage & will hit bridge.

Someone (maritime control?) transmits urgent alert to Maryland/Balt police dispatch…

2/ Police dispatched with just a few crisp phrases—ship has lost steering, close the bridge to traffic—and race to do just that.

No time for confusion. No time for … ‘What do you mean, close the bridge? Who says?’

4 minutes, alert to collapse.

Bridge successfully closed…

3/ That’s amazing. Again, a system worked—a government system.

All those people just ordinary frontline workers in anonymous, sometimes invisible jobs.

Maritime radio operators. Police/fire dispatchers. Bridge police & state police.

All working 11p to 7a o’night shift.

Read 9 tweets
Jan 6
Pause just a moment this evening & appreciate something from 24 hours ago:

An Alaska Air 737 had a hole torn in the side of it in flight.

The plane was 3 miles up, flying at 400 mph.

It stayed intact. The pilots landed in minutes. No one was seriously injured.

Incredible. —>
2/ For the people on board, it was a harrowing, even terrifying, few minutes.

But the training, aircraft design, engineering, safety, inspections — the fail-safe system worked.

Something went wrong. But that failure was stopped.

Great WSJ story…
3/ We often roll our eyes at how 'government never gets anything right' or 'government doesn't work.'

Air travel in the US and worldwide is super-safe. It's safer than walking along your own street.

Because the gov't, the safety agencies, the airlines, all work together.

Read 10 tweets
Jul 24, 2023
I was nudged to wear a pink pullover to go see Barbie yesterday evening.

Barbie was a great movie — remarkable balance of camp, satire, serious & storytelling.

Really hard to pull all that off. The actual movie-making—set design, costumes, directing—is artful & absorbing.

2/ Fun movie-making, fun movie-watching, just provocative enough.

Half the people streaming into our DC-area theater were wearing pink. You could spot Barbie moviegoers 3 blocks away.

That was cool. A brief burst of community. 'They're going to Barbie too!'

And…a mystery!
3/ Barbie The Movie often mocks, and outright critiques, Barbie the Toy.

Not gently or obliquely. Sharply.

At one point, a teen girl shouts: Barbie, you're a fascist!

Just to be clear: Barbie The Movie is a product of Mattel—the company that owns & sells Barbie the Toy.

Read 15 tweets
Jun 23, 2023
James Cameron is being interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN now...

'It certainly wasn't a surprise today.'

The submersible apparently dropped some ballast weights, Cameron says, in effort to abort dive.

He says pilot must have heard hull starting to delaminate & took action.
2/ Cameron on the carbon composite material as the hull of the submersible:

'It's completely inappropriate for this use.'

Wow. Says carbon composite is wrong material for 'external pressure' vessels — ie, subs — v. internal pressure vessels, like scuba tanks.

3/ Cameron says carbon composites do NOT hold up under heavy pressure in successive dive cycles.

They deteriorate, unlike steel hulls. And that deterioration is hard to detect.

'This is known,' Cameron says. They picked wrong material, despite decades of science to contrary.
Read 6 tweets
Jun 22, 2023
US Navy heard Titan submersible implode in real time Sunday morning, using its wide network of advanced undersea listening technology.

…Huge @WSJ scoop.

Story says Navy heard implosion & notified Coast Guard commander managing the search.

Open story…
2/ Lots of people have asked exactly this question on Twitter:

Did the US Defense Department perhaps hear the Titan implode?

US Navy is always listening — with worldwide net of acoustic devices, and also using technology aboard nuclear subs.

So… —>
3/ The Coast Guard commanders running the search had good information that the submarine imploded even as their search began — US Navy acoustic experts would have been able to analyze the sounds and say with fair reliability that the sounds were of a vessel being destroyed.

Read 8 tweets

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