The U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment and Evergreen Marine Corporation, in partnership with multiple state and local responders, refloat the Ever Forward Sunday, April 17, in the Chesapeake Bay. U.S. Coast Guard
The Ever Forward containership was refloated early Sunday morning following a 35-day-long salvage operation in Chesapeake Bay that tested the capability of East Coast maritime response assets.
Just after 7 a.m. Easter morning, two pulling barges, two tugs from Donjon-SMIT, the appointed salvor, two tugs from Moran, and two tugs from McAllister worked in tandem to push and pull the Ever Forward free during a high spring tide.
The U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment and shipowner Evergreen Marine Corporation, in partnership with multiple state and local responders, oversaw the effort to refloat the 1,095-foot containership following a comprehensive salvage plan that included dredging and tugboat operations.
The Hong Kong-flagged Ever Forward grounded outside the Craighill shipping channel on Sunday, March 13, while departing Port of Baltimore for its next port of call in Norfolk, Virginia, with 4,964 containers aboard.
Following two unsuccessful refloat attempts using multiple tugobats on March 29 and 30, salvors determined they would not be able to overcome the ground force of the Ever Forward in its loaded condition.
Dredging around the ship to a depth of 43 feet involved the removal in 206,280 cubic yards of material being dredged and taken to Poplar Island, where the material is being used to offset erosion at the Paul S. Sarbanes Ecosystem Restoration project.
Operations to remove 500 containers with crane barges ran from April 9 through April 16, the night before the successful refloating effort. During the cargo lightening operation, containers were removed from both the port and starboard sides of the ship placed on receiving barges during daylight hours only. They were then taken to their original loading facility, Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore, and offloaded by shore-based handling gear.
“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. “It was the collaboration of each responding agency, Evergreen Marine Corporation, and dedicated responders that resulted in the successful refloating of Ever Forward while ensuring the safety of the public and response personnel, mitigating pollution potential, and minimizing economic impacts.”
Steps were taken to protect the environment throughout the operation. Fuel tanks on the ship were regularly monitored, and equipment, including the containment boom, was pre-staged for deployment in the event of a fuel release.
An emergency wetlands license issued by the state of Maryland for dredging included a requirement for the licensee, Donjon-SMIT, to assess the dredged area for impacts to a natural oyster bar in the area. Under the licesnse, they are required to provide a report to the Maryland Department of the Environment after the vessel’s removal and then develop a plan for any mitigation.
“We appreciate the steady partnership with the Coast Guard, Evergreen Marine Corporation and all the other agencies that worked to prevent pollution and protect the Chesapeake Bay,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “We remain focused on moving forward to the environmental restoration and compensation phase.”
Following its refloating, Ever Forward was towed to the Annapolis Anchorage Grounds for inspection, where it remained on Monday. It will eventually reload the containers that had been removed and continue its voyage to its next port of call in Norfolk, Virginia, according to the Coast Guard and Evergreen.
“Evergreen Line is deeply appreciative of the efforts put forth by Donjon-Smit, the salvors, the US Coast Guard, competent authorities of the State of Maryland, and the service providers that were engaged, all of whom worked hard to bring this event to a successful conclusion,” Evergreen representativies said in a statement. The company has reported no damage so far.
The 12,000 TEU capacity Ever Forward is operated on Evergreen Line’s Asia-U.S. East Coast (AUE) Service, connecting southeast China with the U.S. East Coast ports of Savannah, New York, Baltimore and Norfolk, via the Panama Canal.
Here’s a look back at the incident and salvage operation:
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