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In this image taken from video released by the National Transportation and Safety Board, the cargo ship Dali is stuck under part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after the ship hit the bridge, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP) In this image taken from video released by the National Transportation and Safety Board, the cargo ship Dali is stuck under part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after the ship hit the bridge, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP)

In this image taken from video released by the National Transportation and Safety Board, the cargo ship Dali is stuck under part of the structure of the Francis Scott Key Bridge after the ship hit the bridge, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP)

Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek March 27, 2024

No, the captain of the container ship that hit the bridge in Baltimore wasn’t Ukrainian

If Your Time is short

  • When The Dali hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge, a crew of 22 Indian nationals were aboard, according to a spokesperson for Synergy Marine Group, the company that manages the vessel. 

  • We found no evidence that the captain during the March 26 incident was from Ukraine.

  • The ship was being directed by local pilots at the time of the collapse. 

  • Here’s how PolitiFact chooses which statements to fact-check.

Officials briefed on the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse say there’s no credible evidence the container ship’s collision with the bridge’s support column was a terrorist attack or an intentional act

But that hasn’t stopped social media users from questioning who was in charge of the ship when the incident happened.

"You won’t believe who is the captain of the ship that collapsed the bridge in Baltimore," an X user wrote March 26 in a post that contained punctuation errors. "The captain of the container ship Dali, who demolished the bridge today. Francis Scott, is a Ukrainian."

The post included a screenshot of a website showing information about a 52-year-old man whose name began with the letters "Se." The rest of the name is obscured. Ukraine was listed as the unknown person’s citizenship and nationality. The information also said the man had "experience on container ships."

(Screenshot from X.)

But claims that this anonymous Ukrainian was in charge of the container ship that hit the bridge March 26 are inaccurate. 

That container ship was a Signaporean-flagged vessel called Dali that is managed by Synergy Marine Group. The ship was leaving Baltimore and heading to Colombo, Sri Lanka, with a 22-person crew, according to Synergy Marine Group

Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority, which is investigating the collision, also said there were 22 crew members on board the Dali. 

The captain’s identity has not been released, but we found no evidence to support claims that he was from Ukraine. The Dali’s crew was from India. 

"I can confirm, all 22 crew members onboard the ship were Indian nationals," said Darrell Wilson, a spokesperson for Synergy Marine Group. 

The company also confirmed that although a minor injury had been reported, all members of the crew were safe as of March 27.

False claims about the captain’s nationality stemmed from information people found on the website BalticShipping.com. 

The image shared in the X post was a screenshot from the website. People who searched for information about the Dali on BalticShipping.com appeared to have scrutinized the previous "seafarers" who’d worked on the vessel. One of those previous crew members was Ukrainian.

Shayan Sardarizadeh, a BBC journalist, said in a March 26 X post that "online records show a Ukrainian man was the Dali’s captain from March to July 2016." 

We were unable to independently verify this, because the Ukrainian man’s information no longer appears under the "worked on" tab on Dali’s BalticShipping.com page. 

The change prompted some commenters to write that "they deleted that the ship was operated by a Ukrainian" and claim that they could "smell a cover-up."

But other commenters rebutted the claims: To all the people commenting about a Ukrainian captain, one wrote, "when his profile was available on (the) web page, you could download his CV where you’d see that his last contract on Dali was way back in 2016." 

Sardarizadeh, who covers disinformation, said this false narrative had been pushed by "pro-Kremlin influencers." The person who made the post on X that we’re fact-checking describes himself as "a Russian internet communicator, blogger." 

At the time of the collision with the bridge, the ship was also being directed by local pilots. There were two pilots, according to news reports — one with more than 10 years of experience and an apprentice who’d started his training in February. Their nationality is unknown. 

Wilson explained that pilots are local experts who know the area and harbor and guide commercial ships in and out. 

"The Pilot is the chief person, duly qualified, to navigate ships into or out of a harbor or through certain difficult waters," reads the Association of Maryland Pilots’ website. "The Pilot’s familiarity with the water that is being traversed allows the ship to be safely navigated to its port." 

Foreign-flagged ships like the Dali are required to have local pilots to guide them in and out of U.S. ports, The Washington Post reported.

We reached out to the Association of Maryland Pilots and the American Pilots’ Association but received no response.

Our ruling

An X post claimed the captain of the container ship Dali that hit the Francis Scott Key Bridge check "is a Ukrainian."

The ship had a crew of 22 Indian nationals, according to a spokesperson for the company that manages the vessel. Two local pilots, one with 10 years of experience and a new apprentice, were also helping direct the ship out of the port when it collided with the bridge. 

We found no evidence the captain on board that night was Ukrainian, so we rate these claims False.

RELATED: Edited Wikipedia entry doesn’t prove Israel caused the Baltimore bridge collapse

RELATED: Maryland bridge collapse a false flag event? No, authorities say it was an accident

Our Sources

Post on X, March 26, 2024

Phone interview with Darrell Wilson, a spokesperson for Synergy Marine Group, March 27, 2024

CNN, Who was piloting the ship? A local pilot, March 26, 2024

The Washington Post, Pilot on board the Dali tried to slow ship before it struck Key Bridge, March 26, 2024

CNN, ‘Black box’ data recorder recovered from ship that struck Baltimore bridge as recovery efforts continue, March 27, 2024

Synergy Marine Group, "DALI", Francis Scott Key Bridge Incident, March 27, 2024

The Baltimore Banner, No, it’s not WWIII: Experts say bridge collapse ‘almost certainly not’ planned attack, March 26, 2024

FBI, FBI Baltimore Statement on Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapse, March 27, 2024

U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland, Statement of U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron Regarding the Collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, March 26, 2024

The New York Times, Coast Guard Ends Search for 6 Missing in Bridge Disaster, March 26, 2024

Shayan Sardarizadeh post on X, March 26, 2024

NPR, The Baltimore bridge collapse gave conspiracy theorists a chance to boost themselves, March 27, 2024

BalticShipping.com, DALI, IMO 9697428, accessed March 27, 2024

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Investigators from the Transport Safety Investigation Bureau and MPA are making their way to Baltimore, Maryland, March 26, 2024 

The New York Times, Coast Guard Ends Search for 6 Missing in Bridge Disaster, March 26, 2024

X user’s profile, March 27, 2024

Association of Maryland Pilots, What is a Pilot? accessed March 27, 2024

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No, the captain of the container ship that hit the bridge in Baltimore wasn’t Ukrainian

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