Containers being unloaded so Ever Forward will float

by The Associated Press (APR)

After two unsuccessful attempts to free the grounded Ever Forward in the Chesapeake Bay, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that containers will be removed to lighten the load before another try.

Salvage experts determined they wouldn’t be able to overcome the ground force of the more than 305-metre Ever Forward, loaded with nearly 5,000 containers, the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment and Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp., the ship’s operator, said in a news release. Unloading the ship offers the best chance to refloat it, officials said.

Dredging will continue to a depth of 13 metres, but as soon as two crane barges are installed, containers will be removed and taken back to Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal, officials said. Then, tugs and pull barges will try again to refloat the ship. The shipping channel will remain open to one-way traffic during the operation, which is expected to take about two weeks.

The ship was headed from the Port of Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia, on March 13 when it ran aground just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Officials have said there were no reports of injuries, damage or pollution.

The Coast Guard has said it hasn’t determined what caused the Ever Forward to run aground. The ship is outside the shipping channel and has not been blocking navigation, unlike last year’s high-profile grounding in the Suez Canal of its sister vessel, the Ever Given, which disrupted the global supply chain for days.