A cargo ship has been stuck in the Chesapeake Bay for more than three weeks, and after two unsuccessful attempts to free it, officials are pivoting to a new approach.
On Monday, the US coast guard announced that containers would be removed from the Ever Forward to lighten the load before another try.
The Ever Forward is the sister vessel of the Ever Given, which famously ran aground and blocked the Suez canal for a week, disrupting the global supply chain.
The ship ran into its own troubles on March 13 when it became lodged just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It is reportedly the largest ship to ever get stuck in the bay and its removal has proved a lengthy challenge.
Salvage experts determined they wouldn’t be able to overcome the ground force of the more than 1,000ft (305-meter) vessel, loaded with nearly 5,000 containers, according to a news release. Unloading the ship offered the best chance to refloat it, officials said.
Officials said dredging would continue to a depth of 43ft, but as soon as two crane barges were installed, containers would be removed and taken back to Baltimore’s Seagirt marine terminal. Then, tugs and pull barges will try again to refloat the ship. The shipping channel would remain open to one-way traffic during the operation, which was expected to take about two weeks.
Officials have said there were no reports of injuries, damage or pollution.
The coastguard has said it hasn’t determined what caused the Ever Forward to run aground. The ship is outside the shipping channel and has not been blocking navigation, unlike last year’s high-profile grounding of the Ever Given.
For one woman, however, the blockage has become personal. A Bloomberg reporter recently told NBC Washington that nearly everything she owned was packed into a shipping container now trapped aboard the Ever Forward.
“We are at the whims of the tide and the salvage crew of the Ever Forward,” Tracy Alloway, who is relocating from Hong Kong to New York, told NBC. “The entire contents of our apartment, all of our furniture, lots of books, things of sentimental value are all in a container stuck in the Chesapeake Bay.”