An Evergreen Line container ship that had been aground off Baltimore for 35 days was finally refloated on Sunday.
The 12,118-teu Ever Forward (built 2020) ran aground near Craighill Channel in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, on 13 March, a year after the chartered-in 20,388-teu Ever Given (built 2018) got wedged in the Suez Canal for six days.
A unified command that included the US Coast Guard failed to free the ship on 29 and 30 March with tugboats and pull barges after extensive dredging.
The group, which included salvor Donjon-Smit and incident commander Witt O’Brien’s, further dug around the ship to a depth of 13.2 metres, then spent a week removing 500 containers from both the port and starboard sides.
After the containers were removed and returned on barges to Seagirt Marine Terminal, six tugs dislodged the Ever Forward at about 07:00 local time on Sunday, according to the unified command.
“The vastness and complexity of this response were historic, as an incident like the Ever Forward grounding, in type and duration, is a rare occurrence,” said Capt David O’Connell, commander of Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region.
The Ever Forward will be towed to the Annapolis Anchorage Grounds for inspection. It will reload the containers that were removed and continue its voyage to its next port of call in Norfolk, Virginia.
“We are deeply appreciative of the efforts put forth by the US Coast Guard, Maryland Port Administration, local and federal environmental protection agencies, and the many private service providers that were engaged, all of whom worked tirelessly to bring this event to a successful conclusion,” Evergreen Line said.
The unified command said it took “extensive steps” to protect the environment, including monitoring the ship’s fuel tanks and assessing the salvage operation’s impacts on a nearby natural oyster bed.
Nearly 158,000 cubic metres of dredged material was taken to nearby Poplar Island to offset erosion at an ecosystem restoration project.