The staging of equipment for the next phase of the Ever Forward refloating operation is scheduled to kick off today in Chesapeake Bay, where the giant containship has been stuck for more than three weeks.
The staging is in preparation for the removal of a portion of the cargo containers and future pulling operation. The next pulling operation, which is tentatively scheduled for Friday, April 15th, will involve two anchored pulling barges pulling on the stern of Ever Forward.
Ongoing dredging to 43 feet around the Ever Forward was expected to be completed yesterday, April 5, according to a Coast Guard Marine Safety Information Bulletin published Monday, April 4.
Container lightering operations are scheduled to commence Friday, April 8, utilizing two crane barges. Only a portion of the reported 5,000 individual containers on board the ship will be removed.
Salvors were originally hoping to refloat the ship without the removal of cargo, but following two unsuccessful attempts last week involving tugboats, the salvors determined they would not be able to overcome the ground force of the Ever Forward in its current loaded condition.
For safety reasons, the cargo operation is expected to take place only during daylight hours. The cranes will lift containers from both the port and starboard sides and place them on receiving barges, which will shuttled the containers back to the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore where they will be offloaded by shore-based cranes.
The 1,095-foot, Hong Kong-registered Ever Forward went aground on the east of the Craighill shipping channel on Sunday, March 13, as it departed the Port of Baltimore for its next port call in Norfolk, Virginia. Ship traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore has not been impacted and remains open to one-way traffic in the vicinity of the wreck.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been working on the response with the Maryland Department of the Environment and the shipowner, Taiwanese carrier Evergreen Marine Corporation, in partnership with multiple state and local responders. Donjon-Smit, a joint venture between U.S.-based Donjon Marine and Boskalis’ SMIT Salvage, is the designated salvage company.
Following the two failed attempts to reflaot the ship, the ship’s owner declared General Average “in light of the increasing costs arising from the continued attempts to refloat the vessel.” General Average requires that the shipowner and cargo interests proportionately share in the costs associated with rescuing a vessel after a major casualty.
Mariners in the area are requested to monitor VHF channel 16 for the latest information.
We reached out to the Coast Guard to check if the revised plan is still on schedule, but so far have not heard back.
AIS data from ship tracking and maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic from Wednesday showed the two dredgers, Oyster Bay and Dale Pyatt, still with the Ever Forward.
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