Container Removal from Ever Forward Increases to Meet High Tides
The pace of the salvage operation at the Ever Forward has accelerated with the U.S. Coast Guard now expecting the container removal to be concluded on Friday, April 15. While the timing of the next effort to pull the containership free has not been confirmed, it is believed they are targeting the full moon and high tides expected this weekend in the Chesapeake Bay.
The Port of Baltimore where the containers are being offloaded from barges reported that as of this morning, April 13, a total of 180 boxes have come ashore. “Shooting for another 100 cans today with additional deck barges arriving yesterday,” William Doyle, Executive Director for the Port of Baltimore wrote in a Twitter update today.
The lifting operation began on April 9 and during the first two days the crews were averaging just over 20 containers per day. Doyle noted that the operations were slowed by weather conditions at the location. Crews have to manually attach the lifting frame to each container before the cranes can hoist them and place them on barges alongside the vessel. However, with favorable weather and sea conditions on the Chesapeake they have been able to increase the number of boxes coming ashore with the U.S. Coast Guard reporting the goal is to remove approximately 550 containers in the effort to reduce the weight of the ship. The lifting operation is proceeding during daylight hours although the effort to move containers to the Seagirt Marine Terminal continues around the clock.
Dredging operations at the site removed approximately 210,000 cubic yards of material according to Doyle. It was used to reclaim Poplar Island in the bay.
The next full moon and high tide will occur in the Chesapeake Bay on April 16. While the timing of the next pulling effort has not been confirmed, it is believed that they hope to take advantage of the higher tides.
Barges are ferrying the containers to the terminal in Baltimore (William Doyle/Twitter)
In anticipation of the new schedule, the U.S. Coast Guard starting this evening, April 13, is expanding the safety zone around the vessel to 1,000 feet. They noted that the pull barges and cranes removing the containers are near the channel with some of the anchors encroaching on the edges of the shipping channel. As such, they are only permitting one-way traffic through the area. They plan to suspend all traffic when the pulling operation resumes.
Two anchored pull barges are set at the stern of the Ever Forward to assist with the new effort to pull the vessel free of the mud. She was been stuck in that position since March 13. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson indicated that once the vessel is afloat, they expect it will likely be moved to position possibly near Annapolis, Maryland. It will undergo inspections to determine what if any damage was caused during the grounding and refloating and to reconfirm the vessel’s seaworthiness before it will be permitted to continue its voyage.
In the meantime, shippers remain anxious to receive their containers from the ship. The vessel’s owners, Evergreen Marine declared General Average, a legal situation where shippers may be required to share in the cost of saving the vessel and its cargo.
The publishing trade magazine Publishers Weekly is reporting that among the containers stuck on the Ever Forward is the entire print run of a much-anticipated new graphic novel from author Jordan Crane as well as other shipments from publishers. In an odd twist of fate, in January, containers that were lost overboard from the Madrid Express operated by One Network Express (ONE) also were transporting new books. Two celebrity chefs reported that their new cookbooks had ended up on the ocean floor when 90 or more containers went overboard.
The Ever Forward has become a local tourist attraction in the past few weeks. The Wall Street Journal reported a jump in the numbers of visitors to a small park along the Maryland shore with people driving for miles to look out on the stranded containership and the rescue operation.