The first barges carrying containers of the 11,850 TEU grounded container ship Ever Forward have arrived in the Port of Baltimore. William Doyle, Port Director, says 43 containers were offloaded yesterday, 11 April, while so far over 160,500 cubic metres of soil have been dredged from around the vessel.

The US Coast Guard announced the plan is to remove about 500 containers from the container ship that has sat grounded in Chesapeake Bay since 13 March before another refloat attempt will take place. Two previous refloat attempts after dredging around the vessel have failed.

Initially, a third refloat attempt would take place once dredging around the vessel to a depth of 43 feet (over 13 metres) was completed. The salvors involved felt, however, that dredging alone would not be enough to pull the vessel free.

Removal of containers underway

Doyle said the removal of containers was slowed down by poor weather conditions on Monday, but operations were picked up again on Tuesday. While the 43 containers were delivered to the port, two more barges were loading up, with each barge capable of transporting 20 to 23 containers. So the actual number of containers removed so far is expected to be much higher today.

Removing the containers is expected to take about a week and only takes place during daylight hours. This could mean a new refloat attempt might take place during or after the weekend, depending on weather conditions for the rest of the week.

Also read: Five tugs will try to refloat Ever Forward on 29 March

Ever Forward

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 William Doyle.