New Coast Guard operation underway to rescue ship

After all attempts to free the Ever Forward cargo ship stuck in the Chesapeake Bay were unsuccessful, officers changed course.

The Coast Guard launched an operation on Friday to remove cargo containers from the ship to make it lighter. The first containers will be removed from the ship starting Saturday morning and returned to the Seagirt Marine Terminal in the Port of Baltimore, according to port officials. Coast Guard officials say they are not sure how long the operation will last.

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – APRIL 5: The container ship Ever Forward is shown in an aerial view in the Chesapeake Bay after running aground near Baltimore on April 5, 2022 in Pasadena, Maryland. Salvage crews will attempt to remove the containers from th

PRIOR COVERAGE: Rescue plans for cargo ship stranded in Chesapeake Bay revealed

Ever Forward has been a headache for the US Coast Guard, the Port of Baltimore and the Department of Environmental Protection for nearly a month and is now becoming a problem for the state’s governor, auditor and treasurer. The issue was discussed by Maryland officials earlier this week during a Board of Public Works meeting.

“I remain concerned about the ongoing salvage work,” said Franchot, a Democrat running for governor. “Each day that passes increases the potential for a hull breach and (and) disruption to Baltimore’s critical port. A hull breach can result in environmental, reputational, and economic risks to Maryland.”

The ship was the subject of local curiosity and nationwide conversation.

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The ship, owned by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp, departed Baltimore at 10:33 p.m. on March 13, steered outside of the Craighill Channel and grounded just off the coast of Pasadena, according to the board of directors Meeting of Public Works.

By the time it is freed, it will be more than a month since it was originally wedged. At nearly 1,096 feet long and nearly 158 feet wide, it is the largest boat ever to be stranded in the Chesapeake Bay, according to Franchot.

Plans to free the ship were launched immediately after the grounding. Initial efforts focused on dredging, removing the mud around the hull and using towboats to pull the ship out.

The first attempts failed. Dredging continued to a depth of 43 feet, along with an additional tow. Neither worked and dredging ceased on April 5.

In addition to disrupting operations at the Port of Baltimore, the ship’s getting stuck raises environmental concerns. A 500-yard security zone has been established around the ship to prevent adverse effects from the ship running aground.

READ MORE: Cargo ship runs aground in Chesapeake Bay; Resuscitation efforts are underway

“Ensuring the stability of the ship and monitoring for signs of pollution remain top priorities for Unified Command and the responders,” said William Doyle, executive director of the Port of Baltimore.

Environmentalists are concerned about the risk of pollution and damage. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay, has been closely monitoring the cleanup effort.

“We’ve been in contact with the Department of Environment and the Coast Guard for a day or two after the beaching because we’re concerned that every time a vessel this large runs aground, there’s a lot of stress on the hull,” he told Doug Myers, Maryland Senior Scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“This type of ship is not designed to sit on the ground. It is designed to float. We will remain very concerned until it is freed and we are confident no leaks have occurred,” Myers added.

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During Wednesday’s meeting, Hogan said he might not have a solution for grounding, but he did offer a suggestion.

“I spoke to Bill Doyle about it,” he said. “I said I would climb on the side of this ship and draw an ‘N’ on it. ‘Never forward.’

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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