The breathtaking tall ship Bae Guayas will visit Baltimore's Inner Harbor this month. Photo: Bae Guayas Ecuador/Facebook

Tall Ship Visits to Baltimore to Resume Amid Key Bridge Salvage Work

In the early part of 2024, the organization Sail Baltimore was hard at work lining up an impressive schedule of tall ship visits to the Inner Harbor. The first couple of ships they hosted were wildly popular: the Peruvian BAP Union, which came in late February, hosted deck tours along Baltimore’s promenade and the lines were hours long. In mid-March, the ARC Gloria, Colombia’s flagship, visited the harbor.

Then, when a ship strike destroyed the Key Bridge and cut off access to the city’s Inner Harbor, Sail Baltimore’s robust lineup ground to a halt. The city’s focus was on the victims of the tragedy and the crippled Port of Baltimore, moving into high gear to clear channels for essential commercial traffic.

The Key Bridge Response Unified Command has been working for a month now to clear the channel. Ships drawing up to 35 feet were able to pass through over the weekend, including several that had been trapped inside the Key Bridge site unable to leave since March 26.

Around May 10, the Captain of the Port plans to open a 45-foot-deep, larger limited channel when M/V Dali has been removed.

These ever-expanding channels allows Sail Baltimore to announce that after the recent pause in activity, the organization has plans in the works for two tall ships to visit in May. First, the Brazilian Navy training ship Cisne Branco, which means White Swan, is expected to be in Baltimore May 13-17. This three-masted clipper’s design is inspired by the last clipper ships of the 19th century. Its purpose is to promote Brazilian naval traditions, but also for training in the old ways of Brazilian mariners. The Navy says, “It is of the utmost importance that future naval officers and crew members not only know about the latest technological advancements but also know the essentials of seafaring that they will carry with them throughout their naval careers.”

Maryland Fleet Week, seen here in 2022, brings all kinds of excitement to the Inner Harbor June 12-18, 2024.

Then from May 20-23, Ecuador’s Bae Guayas will visit the Inner Harbor. A floating ambassador for the Ecuadorian Navy, she is a sister ship to Colombia’s ARC Gloria. This tall ship is used to train cadets, and made headlines in 2021 when the crew intercepted a low-profile drug-smuggling boat off the coast of Colombia with 1.5 to 6 tons of suspected cocaine hidden inside.

Both ships visiting in May will dock at the Inner Harbor West Wall.

In June, the anticipated Maryland Fleet Week & Flyover Baltimore is expected to go on. This festival is a big draw for visitors and locals, with ship visits from the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, flyovers, and military and maritime exhibits.

The weeklong event from June 12-18, presented by Northrop Grumman Corporation, will feature festival events in three different locations from Baltimore City to Baltimore County. Along with patriotic ships and flyovers, highlights include a parade with mermaids, a crab soup cookoff, vintage aircraft on display, and live music, like a Navy bluegrass band.

Organizers said in a statement, “Following the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse, we’re dedicated to collaborating with partners to ensure the safety of Maryland Fleet Week & Flyover Baltimore, embodying resilience and strength with the theme #MarylandTough#BaltimoreStrong.

Sail Baltimore calls itself an “ever-changing floating museum”, offering educational programs for students and hosting visiting ships from around the globe that make it a major city attraction. The nonprofit says it has brought in more than eight million visitors over the years and contributed over $600 million to Baltimore’s economy.