While not the same as the Ever Given incident in the Suez Canal, refloating the Ever Forward likely won’t come easy.
Déjà vu… Nearly one year after the Ever Given grounded in the Suez Canal, blocking the waterway for six days, another Evergreen ship has become stranded in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.
A spokesperson for the Coast Guard said the Ever Forward grounded at around 9 p.m. Sunday night after straying from the Craigshill Channel, between buoys 16 and 14, off Gibson Island, as it departed the Port of Baltimore with a pilot onboard.
At 334 meters in length and 12,100 TEU capacity, Ever Forward is smaller than the nearly 400-meter-long, 20,000 TEU Ever Given—both of which are operated by Evergreen Marine, a Taiwanese container shipping company.
This is hardly the same situation as the Suez Canal incident. In this case, Ever Forward is not blocking ship traffic in and out of Baltimore, let alone the Suez Canal which handles approximately 12% of global trade. There’s also plenty of room for other vessels to maneuver. But that’s not to say that the effort to refloat Ever Forward will be easy.
A look at the AIS shows Ever Forward was travelling at about 13 knots when it came to an abrupt stop seemingly in the middle of the bay, but a closer look at Ever Forward’s track superimposed onto a navigational chart shows it may have strayed from the narrow shipping channel.
At that speed, a big ship can become stuck hard, especially on a soft mud seabed, meaning they will need a lot of pulling power, favorable tide conditions (coming later in the month), or perhaps some dredging or fuel removal (or cargo) in order to refloat the vessel, if not all of the above.
To give you some sense of the water depths, AIS data transmitted by the Ever Forward indicated a draft of 13 meters (about 42.5 feet), while the area where the ship is grounded appears to be only around 24 feet deep.
After initial attempts to refloat the vessel failed, there hasn’t seemed to be much tug activity around Ever Forward, indicating to me that this situation won’t be a quick fix—especially considering a few high tides have now passed since the grounding.
A spokesperson for the Coast Guard told us this morning that the salvage and refloating plans are still in the works with Donjon-SMIT, the contracted salvage company.
A Captain of the Port order has been issued by the Coast Guard requires the vessel’s crew to conduct soundings every four hours of all Ever Forward’s tanks, bilges, and voids to monitor for pollution potential and report any noticeable change in stability, draft readings, position, or signs of an oil discharge. So far none have been reported.
While the vessel is aground outside of the navigation channel and is not currently a hazard to navigation, for now the Coast Guard is enforcing a 500-yard safety zone.
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