Cargo ship still stuck after running aground in Chesapeake Bay

The Associated Press

BALTIMORE — The U.S. Coast Guard prepared a second attempt to free a stranded container ship Wednesday, more than two weeks after it ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay.

The effort will be similar to Tuesday's attempt involving five tug boats straining to yank the more than 1,000-foot (305-meter) Ever Forward off the bay's muddy floor just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a safety bulletin said.

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If that doesn't work, a third attempt next week will add two anchored pulling barges to the five tug boats. And if the ship still remains stuck, some of the Ever Forward's nearly 5,000 containers of dry goods will have to be removed to lighten the load.

On Tuesday, tug boats could be seen from shore pulling on taut lines attached to the rear of the Ever Forward, sending puffs of smoke into the air. Dozens of people gathered at a park nearby to watch the work.

It's a delicate operation: The Coast Guard said a naval architect is on board, constantly evaluating the ship's stability, and the ship's fuel and ballast tanks are being regularly monitored for potential pollution.

The ship operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp. was headed from the Port of Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia, on March 13 when it ran aground. Officials have said there were no reports of injuries, damage or pollution.

People sit on a park as they watch tugboats, top left, use lines to pull the container ship Ever Forward, top right, which ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay, as crews began to attempt to refloat the ship, Tuesday, March 29, 2022, in Pasadena, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A salvage company began dredging around the ship a week later and Evergreen said in a statement Tuesday that enough material has been displaced for the attempts to free the vessel.

During Tuesday's refloating efforts, officials extended a 500-yard (457-meter) safety zone around the ship to 1,000 yards (914 meters), closing the navigation channel to commercial traffic.

The Coast Guard has said they have not yet determined what caused the Ever Forward to run aground. The ship is outside the shipping channel and has not been blocking navigation, unlike last year's high-profile grounding in the Suez Canal of its sister vessel, the Ever Given, which disrupted the global supply chain for days.

Crews dredge near the container ship Ever Forward in efforts to free it after it ran aground off the coast near Pasadena, Md., Monday, March 21, 2022. The ship isn't blocking navigation in the channel, unlike last year's high-profile grounding in the Suez Canal of its sister vessel, the Ever Given, which disrupted the global supply chain for days. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)