The Hong Kong-flagged Ever Forward, a 1,095-foot cargo ship that’s been stuck on the edge of Baltimore Harbor since March 13 when it ran aground en route from Baltimore to Norfolk, Va., is sailing again following an Easter miracle.
The fully loaded ship had more than 5,000 containers onboard when it veered off course and got stuck in approximately 18 feet of mud. Maritime experts and two dredges – including one said to be the largest clam shell dredge in the Western hemisphere – worked around the clock the past month digging up mud around the ship to free it.
After removing more than 500 containers to lighten the overall weight of the two-year-old ship, the Ever Forward – aided by a full moon and higher-than-normal tides – was ever clear.
Removing about 10% of the Ever Forward’s payload was enough to raise the ship by about six inches, giving enough room to refloat the ship. It’s now head back to Baltimore for safety inspection and reloading of containers. Its exact timetable is unclear.
“I had a feeling to come today,” bicyclist Phill Brusio told the Baltimore Sun. “It’s Easter of all days. It’s going to be a miracle.”
Close observers of worldwide maritime incidents may note similarities between the Ever Forward and the Ever Given. That was the even-larger ship that became stuck in the Suez Canal a year ago. Unlike that incident which clogged an important Mideast shipping lane, this incident did not affect maritime traffic.
Both ships are owned by Evergreen Maritime Corp., a Taiwan-based company. The Ever Given was freed in six days. The Ever Forward was lodged in the Chesapeake Bay for more than a month.
This ship required a depth of at least 42 feet to navigate safely. It got stuck in approximately 18 feet of mud – meaning the depth of the harbor where it became lodged was only 24 feet.
Experts estimated the Coast Guard and Maryland Department of the Environment engineers needed to remove an area of about 350,000 square feet of mud. That amounts to about 110,000 cubic yards of muck – enough to fill 33 Olympic-sized swimming pools – in order free the ship.
More than a dozen vessels were involved in the dredging, which began about a week after the ship ran aground. The first unsuccessful attempt to refloat the ship involved five tugboats, officials said. When that proved unsuccessful, on April 9 officials began removing some containers and fuel in order to lighten the load.
Meantime, the Ever Forward had become Baltimore’s latest tourist draw. Visitors and locals have been drawn to Pasadena, Md., southeast of Baltimore to get a good view of the stuck ship with the huge letters “EVERGREEN” printed on the side. It is difficult to miss.
Fortunately, the ship was not in the actual shipping channel of the Chesapeake Bay. So shipping and other maritime activity was not been affected, unlike the incident involving the Ever Given that clogged the Suez Canal for a week.
The Coast Guard announced a safety zone of 1,000 yards has been established around the ground ship during the rescue efforts.
“It’s just a ship sitting there,” Nolley Fisher, superintendent of Downs Park, a beach in Pasadena, told the Sun. “But, hey, people want to see it. I know people want to see it move as well.”
About the Author
John D. Schulz
John D. Schulz has been a transportation journalist for more than 20 years, specializing in the trucking industry. John is on a first-name basis with scores of top-level trucking executives who are able to give shippers their latest insights on the industry on a regular basis.
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