U.S. Coast Guard 5th District reports that an initial attempt to refloat the grounded containership Ever Forward will be made Tuesday, March 29, at noon. The attempt is being made by the Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment and Evergreen Marine Corporation, in partnership with multiple state and local responders.
It follows more than a week of dredging operations. Much of the attention of cameras has been on the efforts around the grounded ship. There has been less public attention paid to what has happened to all the material removed from the ship. Thanks to a major effort by the Maryland Port Administration, the Port of Baltimore’s Poplar Island Ecosystem Restoration Project was made available to receive the dredged material and has been receiving it from a steady procession of Donjon and Cashman dump scows and associated tugs.
The Coast Guard says that during Tuesday’s attempt to refloat the Ever Forward, the current 500-yard safety zone around the ship in the Chesapeake Bay will be temporarily extended to 1,000 yards, closing the navigation channel to commercial traffic to provide for the safety of persons and the marine environment.
The expanded temporary safety zone will be enforced from noon Tuesday through midnight on March 29.
The public should anticipate one-way traffic at a reduced safe speed to resume at midnight or at the discretion of the Captain of the Port following the refloat attempt.
Ensuring the ship’s stability, and monitoring for potential pollution continue to be top priorities of the unified command and responders. In addition to regular soundings of fuel and ballast tanks, a naval architect is currently aboard Ever Forward constantly monitoring and evaluating the ship’s stability, and will continue to do so during the refloat operation.
If required, additional dredging operations will commence and a second attempt to refloat the Ever Forward would then be expected to occur on or about Sunday.
What happens if the second refloat effort does not succeed? Local media report officials as saying that efforts would then be made to lighten the ship by offloading some containers. That is not a prospect anyone is happy about.