Crews will try to refloat a container ship that has been stranded in the Chesapeake Bay for more than two weeks, the U.S. Coast Guard said Monday.
The Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment and Evergreen Marine Corp. will make an initial attempt to refloat the Ever Forward at noon Tuesday, according to a news release issued Monday. A salvage company began dredging around the more than 1,000-foot (305-meter) container ship March 20 and weather last week delayed operations slightly, officials said.
At noon, officials will extend the current 500-yard (457-meter) safety zone around the ship to 1,000 yards (914 meters), closing the navigation channel to commercial traffic until midnight. In addition to regular fuel and ballast tank checks, a naval architect aboard the Ever Forward is monitoring the ship’s stability, an effort that will continue during the operation to refloat the ship, officials said.
If the ship isn’t refloated Tuesday, dredging will start again and a second attempt will be made Sunday, officials said.
A marine safety information bulletin giving notice of the temporary safety zone around the ship, states that the first effort will involve five tug boats and if a second attempt is needed, two anchored pulling barges will be added. If both attempts are unsuccessful, the removal of containers will have to begin, the bulletin states.
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 north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Officials have said there were no reports of injuries, damage or pollution.
On Monday, Anne Arundel County firefighters were rescued from a boat that sank in the area of the Ever Forward. It's unclear at this time how many firefighters were on the boat.
The Coast Guard has said they have not yet determined what caused the Ever Forward to run aground. The ship ran aground 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.