Cargo ship stranded in the Gulf of Chesapeake for more than a month is free

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The Ever Forward container ship, which sank in the Gulf of Chesapeake on March 13, was finally released just after 7 a.m. Sunday.

The 1,095-foot-high vessel, owned by Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine Corporation, was en route from Baltimore to Norfolk when it somehow derailed and ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay near the Bay Bridge. The cause and landing of the ship’s departure from the shipping channel is still under investigation, according to Chris James, director of response operations at Whit O Bryans, a Houston – based company hired by the Evergreen Marine.

The boat, just 155 feet taller than the height of the Empire State Building, carried about 4,900 containers to its upper deck, and crews had to properly dispose of 500 of them to reduce the weight of the boat. The boat had to dig about 20 feet of material on either side of it – dirt, sand, clay and crews had to dig up from the bay floor to pull the ship back into the canal.

After it was released, Ever Forward solved a new, but much easier problem: without those containers – each weighing an average of 15 tons or 14,000 kilograms – the boat would now be too high to go under the Bay Bridge. It is south of the trapped area. Soon, however, she took a considerable amount of “ballast water” from the bay, submerged it, and after a while, crossed the bridge.

Then, at 10:30 a.m., Ever Forward anchored, so that, according to James, a team of marine experts hired by the company could complete the “survey” or study. Although the divers had already determined that no major damage had been caused by the landing of its hull, the boat still had to stop at a pit for a round inspection. Once the Coast Guard signs the inspection – which is finally expected to end tomorrow – the boat is free to pick up.

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Then, Ever Forward back north and return to the port of Baltimore. There, while the boat waits for release, it will retrieve 500 containers that were removed and stored for safety. James said that once it had taken possession of it, Ever Forward would head south again and continue its journey to Norfolk.

This story will be updated.

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