A massive container ship has been stuck in the Chesapeake Bay waters outside Baltimore for three weeks. Numerous refloating attempts have failed, and Evergreen Marine, the owner of Ever Forward, declared "General Average" last week. Now salvage crews, left with only one option, will begin to unload thousands of containers to reduce the ship's current weight for future refloating attempts.
According to local news WMAR, the massive 1,100-foot container ship with 5,000 containers on board is stuck in 24 feet of water and needs about 42 feet of draft. The failed attempts to refloat the vessel will make way for two cranes in the coming days that will begin unloading hundreds of containers from both the starboard and port side in a move called "lightering." The entire process could take two weeks or more.
"Salvage experts determined they would not be able to overcome the ground force of the Ever Forward in its current loaded condition," the Coast Guard said in a statement.
John Martino, from the School of Seamanship, said unloading containers off the vessel will be no easy task:
"They also have to be careful the order they take the containers off.
"So, they have to make sure everything stays balanced as they go along," Martino said.
As an undertaking to free the container ship can be very expensive, Evergreen declared "General Average" last week to transfer some of the refloating costs to cargo owners.
Unloading containers risks unbalancing and damaging the ship. There are concerns that stress on the hull buried in more than 20 feet of mud could result in a fuel leak, or worse, structural damage to the vessel that could make it a more permanent fixture in the Chesapeake Bay.
More on the situation from local news channel WJZ.