(NewsNation) — The U.S. Coast Guard is removing one container at a time in an effort to free a cargo ship that has been stuck in Chesapeake Bay for more than four weeks.
NewsNation got an up-close look at the efforts to free the cargo ship Ever Forward.
The Coast Guard said 43 containers were removed from the ship over the weekend with nearly 500 yet to go; the overall effort is expected to take weeks.
The massive cargo ship, which is operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp,, was headed from the Port of Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia when it ran aground in about 18 feet of water March 13.
Salvage experts determined they wouldn’t be able to overcome the ground force of the more than 1,000-foot ship, loaded with nearly 5,000 containers, the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment and Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp., the ship’s operator, said in a news release.
Unloading the ship offers the best chance to refloat it, officials said.
The Coast Guard is utilizing two large crane barges that are tall enough to remove the stacked containers. The containers are then transported to Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal, officials said.
Once that job is complete, tugboats and pull barges will again attempt to refloat the ship. The shipping channel will remain open to one-way traffic during the operation.
It’s unclear what caused the ship to run aground, although reports suggest the crew made a wrong turn just outside of a channel that would have allowed it to continue on.
Evergreen Marine Corp. has invoked a principle of maritime law known as “General Average,” which means the owners of the containers onboard the Ever Forward will have to share in the cost of the undertaking.
It’s the second time in recent memory that an Evergreen-operated cargo ship has been stuck in a tough spot. Last year, the Ever Given blocked the entire Suez Canal, disrupting the global supply chain for days.
But unlike the Ever Given, its sister vessel in the Chesapeake Bay is not blocking vital trade routes.
CALIFORNIA CARGO SHIP
The U.S. Coast Guard responded Saturday to a cargo ship adrift off the Northern California coast, authorities said.
The ship Wan Hai 176 experienced engine problems Friday afternoon while about 12 miles off Point Reyes in Marin County, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The 564-foot container ship was unable to properly anchor and was moving closer to shore, the statement said.
The ship managed to deploy a second anchor that held, and it remained about 7 miles (11 km) from the coast Saturday, officials said.
Three tug boats were dispatched but they were unable to deploy lines to tow the ship because of rough seas, according to the Coast Guard.
There were no reports of injuries.
The Singapore-flagged vessel with 21 people on board is carrying nearly 800 containers with various cargo, the Coast Guard said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.