After more than a month of being pushed, pulled, and unloaded, the container ship that ran aground on the muddy floor of the Chesapeake Bay in March is finally free.
The 1,095-foot-long Ever Forward began its sojourn off the shores of Maryland when it missed a turn on its way from Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia. For reasons that authorities have not yet revealed, the ship crossed out of a 50-foot-deep channel that allows massive ships to travel down the middle of the Chesapeake, landing itself in water far too shallow to allow it to float.
Though the Ever Forward drew comparisons to the Ever Given, the cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March 2021, the boat in the bay was much more stuck than its formerly stuck cousin. (Both ships are owned by Evergreen Marine Corporation.) Authorities dredged the area around the boat, but two attempts to use tugboats to shove the boat the several hundred feet back into the channel did no good.
Eventually, authorities determined that the boat would not move while holding its heavy load of nearly 5,000 containers. So, earlier this month, crews began rappelling down the stacks of containers, hooking some of them up to floating cranes, which lifted them away. Barges brought the offloaded containers back to the Port of Baltimore. After the Ever Forward had been relieved of about 500 containers, a group of tugboats and barges wiggled it out of the mud and into the newly dredged deeper waters. Marine inspectors will examine the ship for possible damage before it backtracks to Baltimore to reclaim its containers.
The ship was liberated just before 7 a.m. on Sunday morning. In a statement, William Doyle, the executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, said the team got “a little help from the Easter Sunday rising tide.” That tide was extra-high due to Saturday night’s full moon, a deadline that the container-removal crews had accelerated to meet. Apparently, salvage operations work best under mystical circumstances.
Read more about how—and why—this boat got stuck in the first place here.