It took five weeks and three attempts, but around 7am on Sunday the Ever Forward, a 1,095ft container ship operated by the same company whose ship blocked the Suez Canal last year, eventually released in the Chesapeake Bay.
Loaded with nearly 5,000 containers, the Ever Forward was en route to Norfolk, Va., from Baltimore when, according to the US Coast Guard, it ran aground in the bay near the Craighill Channel on March 13.
“Initial reports indicated no injury, pollution or damage to the vessel as a result of the grounding,” the agency said in a statement at the time. The ship, which got stuck about 20 miles southeast of Baltimore, was not blocking the channel, he added.
More than two weeks later, after a week of dredging under the ship, the Coast Guard, in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Environment and Evergreen Marine Corp., the ship’s owner, made their first attempt to raise it. . Their efforts were in vain.
They tried again the next day, but the ship did not move.
“Salvage experts determined that they would not be able to defeat the Ever Forward ground force in its loaded condition,” the Coast Guard said in a statement Sunday.
On April 4, authorities announced a new plan: They would continue to dredge sediment to a depth of 43 feet and at the same time begin offloading containers from the Ever Forward onto barges that would take them back to Baltimore.
Once the ship’s load was lightened, tugs and tow barges would attempt another bailout as authorities continued to monitor pollution. A naval architect and salvage master would monitor the ship’s stability remotely.
This new strategy would take about two weeks, the Coast Guard said, adding that it offered “the best chance of successfully refloating the Ever Forward.”
Early on Sunday, efforts to refloat the vessel finally succeeded, Coast Guard spokeswoman Petty Officer Third Class Breanna Centeno said by telephone.
In a statement, the agency said it had removed 500 containers from the ship and dredged more than 200,000 cubic meters of material from the estuary bed, which would be used to offset erosion at Poplar Island, a language three miles of land in the Chesapeake Bay.
The vessel’s grounding was a “rare occurrence,” said Capt. David O’Connell, commanding officer of the Coast Guard’s Maryland National Capital Region. “The scale and complexity of this response was historic,” he added.
The Coast Guard would continue to investigate how the vessel got stuck, Master Centeno said, adding that there were many possible reasons why a vessel could run aground.
The Ever Forward got stuck about a year after the Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, was dislodged from the Suez Canal, six days after running aground.
The Ever Given, which is nearly a quarter of a mile long, became stuck on March 23, 2021, blocking a channel that was supposed to handle around 10% of global commercial maritime traffic.
At the time the ship was dislodged, 367 ships were backed up waiting to cross the channel. The crash was disastrous for the shipping industry, freezing nearly $10 billion in trade a day.
In a statement, William Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Authority, described the task of freeing the Ever Forward as an “exceptional team effort” that was aided, he said, by ” the rising tide of Easter Sunday in the Chesapeake Bay”. ”