Crews to make another attempt to free cargo ship stuck in Chesapeake Bay
Crews will try again on Sunday to free a cargo ship stuck in the Chesapeake Bay, the Coast Guard told CBS News. The 1,100-foot ship has been wedged for more than a month near a shipping channel by Baltimore.
The cargo ship Ever Forward is not living up to its name. The ship has been stuck in at least 10 feet of mud since mid-March, when it departed the port of Baltimore and crews didn't make a proper turn.
"If you ever been in a marsh, and you've stepped in the marsh with your boot, and then you try to pull it out and your foot comes out, but not the boot. Kind of the same thing on a grander scale here," Coast Guard Captain David O'Connell said.
The Coast Guard is investigating how the ship went off course, but first it must figure out how to get it free.
Ever Forward's owner, Evergreen Marine Corporation, is removing 500 of the nearly 4,900 containers on board to lighten its weight.
They've dredged the bay floor and are preparing tugging vessels to pull the Ever Forward free.
"In order to speed the offloading process, a total of four barges, have now been engaged in the efforts. These receiving barges are transferring offloaded containers back to Port of Baltimore," Evergreen said in a statement.
The company has some experience with this. Ever Forward's sister ship, Ever Given, was stranded about a year ago in the Suez canal.
The Ever Forward isn't block the shipping lanes off Maryland, but is costing an estimated tens of millions of dollars in expenses.
Local officials worry about the salvage.
"The 750,000 gallons of diesel fuel on this particular ship are of great concern," Maryland State Comptroller Peter Franchot said. "Now it's somewhat protected. But if 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel gets into the bay, that could mean permanent ecological damage."
Evergreen said in a statement that, "at present, there is no indication the ship has incurred any damage."
Environmental groups say the dredging of the bay could have already had consequences on aquatic life.
"It's a very large ship and it's very stuck. And so I hope that they're able to unstick it with this this plan. I'm still a little skeptical," Doug Myers of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation told CBS News.
Teams will check the hull of the ship for damage and then try to replace some of the many containers that have been removed to lighten the load. It'll be a while longer before the ship is finally heading out.