A Close-Up View of the Baltimore Bridge Collapse

Maroon containers larger than a car sat twisted and crushed. Massive beams of steel warped into crooked arches. Pillars of jagged concrete poked out from the water — a tomb of wreckage that dimly reflected on the gray-toned river.

From roughly 100 yards away, deep into the Patapsco River in Baltimore, the site of one of the worst bridge collapses in the country’s history is a haunting scene.

The U.S. Coast Guard allowed The New York Times to ride aboard a response boat on Saturday afternoon to witness up close the destruction of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which was struck by the cargo ship Dali on Tuesday, killing six men, all construction workers who were working on filling potholes on the bridge.

As the 45-foot-long Coast Guard vessel neared the scene of the disaster, a service member who had made several trips to the site braced passengers for the view to come.

“It’s still shocking every time.”

The Coast Guard boat initially neared the cargo ship on the rear side, the stern, which was spared from much of the impact of the collapse. Two people could be seen walking along the starboard, though it was unclear if they were investigators or crew members, all of whom are from India and have remained on the ship to keep it operable.

An anchor that the crew members had used in desperation to keep the ship from hitting the bridge was visible, submerged in calm water. A thin and yellow boom floated around the ship to contain spills. It looked similar to crime-scene tape. The gray and red shipping containers were stacked up to nine rows high, partly shielding for a moment the wreckage that lay behind it.

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