By Cheryl Costello
It’s been more than two weeks since a 1,100-foot container ship missed the channel leaving the Port of Baltimore and ran aground off Gibson Island. After crews dredged around the clock in an attempt to dig out the ship’s hull, salvagers are finally trying to refloat it.
On Tuesday, Ever Forward was flanked by five powerful tugboats working to free the ship from the silt it’s stuck in. Benjamin Moll, a captain for one of the tugboats, shared photos with Bay Bulletin of the mighty (but small, compared to Ever Forward) tugs maneuvering to try and get the ship to budge.
High wind and lower-than-usual tides didn’t make Tuesday’s attempt easy, and the Port of Baltimore reported a second attempt at refloating was planned for Wednesday. At press time, the operation’s leaders were hoping for a successful second attempt using the five tugs.
If that attempt fails, a third try would take place between April 4 and 6. A Port of Baltimore spokesman says if that third try is needed, two anchored pulling barges would be brought in along with the five tugs. Check in with CBM Bay Weekly’s Facebook page for any new developments, as well as our Bay Bulletin news site (chesapeakebaymagazine.com/baybulletin).
A lot of Chesapeake Country is watching this surprising case to see how it will play out. Downs Park in Pasadena features a clear view of the Bay where Ever Forward is stranded. And some people are visiting the park just to catch a glimpse. “I just want to see this with my own eyes,” says Maria Boren of Glen Burnie. “On the one hand it’s very sad, but on the other hand it’s very fascinating.”
Boren is not alone in feeling that way—attendance at Downs Park is up over last year, on top of already-historic highs during the pandemic. Patti Iran, who was riding her bike through the park, watched the dredging efforts ahead of Tuesday’s refloat attempt.
“That just seems like it will be forever,” she says. “It’s just the little digger that they have. It’s not much, it’s not large.”
After several days of dredging, the Coast Guard tells Bay Bulletin that as of March 25, they removed more than 60,000 cubic yards of material. If you put that into a pickup truck it would be more than 20,000 loads.
“I’m surprised they haven’t come to get the cargo off yet with another ship that can take the containers off,” observes Downs Park visitor Carlton Jones.
While the Coast Guard says that would be risky, they would resort to that option if all three tugging attempts don’t work.