30 May 2023
Lightering operation from USCG to refloat Ever Forward
So far, two attempts to shift the Ever Forward from the muddy seafloor off Baltimore have commenced. The US Coast Guard has decided that the best strategy now is a lightering operation. Meantime, warning shippers with cargoes on the 12,000 teu ship that the refloating operation could take another two weeks.
Previously announced dredging will continue to a depth of 13.1 m. Now will proceed to containers removal, as soon as finish installing two crane barges. Note that the cranes will have suitable lift heights to remove containers.
The containers removal will commence during daylight hours only for safety purposes. Removing from both the port and starboard sides and placing boxes on the receiving barges. These barges will shuttle the containers back to their original onboarding facility. Namely, Seagrit Marine Terminal in Baltimore, where they will be offloaded by shore-based handling gear.
Once the containers are removed, tugs and pull barges will attempt another refloat. The shipping channel will remain open to one-way traffic during these operations.
A 457 m safety zone around the ship in the Chesapeake Bay will continue for the duration of the operation. Hence, the adjacent shipping channel will remain unaffected.
More on the Grounding
The Ever Forward salvage operation began on March 13. This was after the 334 m containership grounded in Chesapeake Bay near Craighill Channel.
Sal Mercogliano is a maritime historian at Campbell University and has been watching the Ever Forward grounding closely. He suggested in a video update last month that the Evergreen containership was exceeding the recommended speed. Particularly, reaching 13 knots as it slipped out of the main navigation corridor, the Craighill Channel, and grounded.
The vessel’s draft was 13 m at the time of the grounding whereas the depth of water at the location of the grounding is only approximately 7.5 m according to reports.
Evergreen, the ship’s owner, declared general average late last week. General average means all parties involved with the cargo will have to share in the cost of the salvage operations. Evergreen declared similar a year ago with the Ever Given grounding incident in the Suez Canal.