On Saturday, Donjon-Smit began removing containers for another Ever Forward refloat operation. The US Coast Guard says 500 containers are expected to be transferred before another refloat attempt of the 11,850 TEU container ship will take place.
The container ship has been grounded in Chesapeake Bay since 13 March. So far, two refloat attempts with first five and then seven tug boats pulling the vessel after a lot of dredging have failed. Initially another attempt would take place after yet more dredging, but this was cancelled as it was likely dredging alone would not be enough.
On Friday, 8 April, crane barges and equipment were set up after removal of containers began on Saturday. Removing the containers is expected to take about a week and only takes place during daylight hours. This could mean a new refloat attempt during the weekend, depending on weather conditions.
A 500-yard safety zone around the ship in the Chesapeake Bay will continue for the duration of the operation and the adjacent shipping channel will remain unaffected. The zone has been established to provide for the safety of persons involved in the salvage operation as well as the integrity of the marine environment.
Ship stability monitoring
Ensuring the ship’s stability and monitoring for any signs of pollution continue to be top priorities for the Unified Command and responders. In addition to regular soundings of fuel and ballast tanks, a naval architect and salvage master are remotely monitoring a recently installed sensor system to constantly evaluate the ship’s stability and integrity and will continue to do so throughout the refloat operation. They will also continue to conduct regular visits to the ship.
The Hong-Kong flagged container ship operated by Evergreen, reported to be carrying general cargo, departed Baltimore on Sunday 13 March and was en route to Norfolk, Virginia, when it grounded in Chesapeake Bay. The Ever Forward was built in 2020 and is 334 metres long and 48 metres wide. The vessel is not blocking shipping traffic.
Evergreen has hired salvage company Donjon-Smit to refloat the grounded container ship. Donjon-Smit is a joint venture of Donjon Marine Co. and Smit Salvage. The latter (with parent company Boskalis) was also responsible for refloating the Ever Given, which ran aground in the Suez Canal in March 2021 and blocked the Canal for almost a week.
Picture by the US Coast Guard.