A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay, in Baltimore, enforces a safety zone Sunday, April 10, 2022, around container removal operations for the grounded container ship Ever Forward in the Chesapeake Bay. U.S. Coast Guard Photo
Containers started coming off the Ever Forward over the weekend amid the ongoing effort to lighten and refloat the ship in Chesapeake Bay.
The operation commenced on Saturday, almost four weeks after the Ever Forward grounded and following two unsuccessful attempts to refloat the ship late last month.
Approximately 500 of the total 4,964 containers on board are expected to be offloaded prior to the next refloating attempt, according to the Coast Guard.
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 painstaking operation to remove boxes involves crews scaling the container stacks to manually unlatch the twist locks. The containers are then lifted one-by-one by two crane barges, DonJon Marine’s Columbia New York and Farrell 256, and placed onto barges. Once the barges are full, they are then shuttled back to the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore to be offloaded by shore-based cranes.
Once enough containers are removed, tugs and pulling barges located at the stern will attempt another refloat.
Despite the unusual process, crews are actually making good progress having delivered 43 containers to the Seagirt terminal as of Sunday, according to Port of Baltimore Executive Director William Doyle. Weather on Monday slowed the operation, but as of Tuesday about 100 containers had been removed, a Coast Guard spokeperson told us.
Mr. Doyle also reports that approximately ~210,000 cubic yards had been dredged from around the vessel and deposited at Poplar Island as of April 11.
The next refloating attempt was tentatively scheduled for mid-month, but the Coast Guard spokesperson tells us the next attempt will likely be early next week—coinciding with the next full moon.
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