Unloading the containers from the cargo ship stranded in the Chesapeake Bay now offers the best chance to refloat it, the U.S. Coast Guard says.
But to do that, two crane barges, with suitable lift heights to remove the containers, will be installed, per a Coast Guard release.
It said the Coast Guard, Maryland Department of the Environment and Evergreen Marine Corporation, in partnership with multiple state and local responders, developed this revised strategy to refloat Ever Forward, which has been stuck since March 13 when it ran aground north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Salvage experts have determined they would not be able to overcome the ground force of the 1,095-foot container ship, Ever Forward, in its current loaded condition.
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The previously announced dredging will continue to a depth of 43 feet and shipping containers will be removed in daylight hours only for safety purposes from both the port and starboard sides and placed on receiving barges.
Then, these barges will shuttle the containers back to their original onboarding facility, Seagrit Marine Terminal in Baltimore.
Once the containers are removed, tugs and pull barges will attempt another refloat. The shipping channel will remain open to one way traffic during these operations, the Coast Guard said.
It said the operation should take approximately two weeks, however that timeline may change based on weather conditions and other variables.
A 500-yard safety zone around the ship in the Chesapeake Bay will continue for the duration of the operation, and the adjacent shipping channel will remain unaffected. The zone has been established to provide for the safety of people involved in the salvage operation as well as the integrity of the marine environment.
The ship is not blocking navigation, unlike the high-profile grounding in the Suez Canal of its sister vessel, the Ever Given, last year.
Contributing: Associated Press