Ship boat

The Ever Forward ship stuck in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland fears the environment

ANNAPOLIS — The topic at Wednesday’s Public Works Board meeting was wetland licensing, but Comptroller Peter Franchot brought up the thing everyone was really thinking about: the boat.

The Ever Forward, the huge container ship stuck in the Chesapeake Bay that was a headache for nearly a month for the US Coast Guard, the Port of Baltimore and the Department of the Environment, was become a concern for the governor, comptroller and treasurer of the state.

“I remain concerned about the ongoing rescue effort,” said Franchot, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate. “With each passing day, the risk of a hull breach and (and) disruptions in the critical Baltimore Harbor increases. A hull breach can pose ecological, reputational and economic risks to Maryland.”

The ship was the subject of local curiosity and national conversation.

Buried in the mud

Belonging to Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen Marine Corp, the vessel left Baltimore at 10:33 p.m. on March 13 and headed out of the Craighill Channel and lodged on the bottom just off the coast of Pasadena, according to information from the Board of Public Working Meeting.

By the time he is released, it will have been over a month since he was originally stuck. At nearly 1,096 feet long and nearly 158 feet wide, it is, according to Franchot, the largest boat ever stuck in the Chesapeake Bay.

WHAT WE KNOW:Nearly a month later, will the ship stuck in the Chesapeake bail out?

Doug Myers, senior Maryland scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, brought the enormity of the situation home in an interview with Capital News Service.

“It’s a really big ship and it’s very stuck,” Myers said. “The vessel is 42 feet deep and in 24 feet of water. So that means about 20 feet of it is buried in mud.

What is the next step in trying to refloat the ship?

Rescue efforts are coordinated by the Coast Guard, with support from state agencies.

The area where the Ever Forward is stuck in the Chesapeake Bay.

Plans to free the ship were put in place immediately after it ran aground. Initial efforts focused on dredging, clearing mud around the hull, and then using tugs to pull the vessel out.

The first attempts failed. Dredging continued to a depth of 43 feet, along with additional towing. Neither worked, and dredging was halted on April 5, Port of Baltimore executive director William Doyle told the Board of Public Works.

Mud and sand dredged around the boat were hauled to Poplar Island, a land mass off the eastern coast of Maryland in Talbot County.

LIGHTEN THE LOAD:Massive freighter still stuck in Chesapeake Bay will be unloaded in an effort to refloat it

With all attempts to free the ship having failed so far, Coast Guard officials have decided that the next action is to remove the cargo containers from the boat to lighten it. The containers will be returned to Seagirt Marine Terminal in the Port of Baltimore, Doyle said. Weather permitting, the effort is expected to begin April 8 and continue through April 15, he said.

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Concerns

Evergreen paved the way for the new effort by declaring General Average on the ship on March 31. By declaring General Average, a principle of maritime law, all parties with an interest in the vessel and the cargo will share the financial responsibility for resolving the predicament.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because the Ever Forward is a sister ship to Ever Given, the container ship that got stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal in March 2021.

The Ever Given blocked traffic in the canal for six days. The incident put pressure on global shipping, as dozens of ships were unable to pass through the channel. The Ever Forward does not prevent travel in the bay.

Yet the longer the ship sits, the more environmental concerns arise. In order to avoid any negative impact from the grounding of the ship, a safety zone of 500 yards has been established around the ship.

“Ensuring the stability of the vessel and monitoring for any signs of pollution continues to be a top priority for Unified Command and responders,” Doyle said.

The threat of pollution and damage worries environmentalists. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay, has been closely monitoring the removal efforts, Myers said.

Container Ship Ever Forward Stuck in the Chesapeake Bay: A Timeline.

“We have been in contact with the Department of the Environment and the Coast Guard for a day or two after the grounding, as we are concerned that every time such a large vessel runs aground it will create a lot of stress on hull,” he said. mentioned.

“This type of vessel is not designed to sit on the bottom. It is designed to float. We will remain very concerned until it is freed, and we are sure that no spills have occurred. .

At Wednesday’s meeting, Hogan said he may not have a solution to the grounding, but he offered a suggestion.

“I had a discussion with Bill Doyle about it,” he said. “I said I was going to climb up the side of this ship and paint an ‘N’ on it. ‘Never forward.’ “