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Efforts to Refloat the Ever Forward Begin

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BALTIMORE — Tug boats began working to dislodge a stranded containership March 29, more than two weeks after it ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay.

From shore, three tug boats could be seen pulling on taut lines attached to the rear of the Ever Forward, sending puffs of smoke into the air. Dozens of people gathered at a park nearby to watch the work.

The more than 1,000-foot ship operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp. was headed from the Port of Baltimore to Norfolk, Va., on March 13 when it ran aground north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the U.S. Coast Guard said. Officials have said there were no reports of injuries, damage or pollution.

Crews dredge near the containership Ever Forward in efforts to free it on March 21. (Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

A salvage company began dredging around the ship a week later and Evergreen said in a statement March 29 that enough material has been displaced for the attempts to free the vessel. The plan was for five tugboats to work together in the effort and to reduce the ballast water on Ever Forward to lighten the ship, Evergreen said.

At noon, officials extended a 500-yard safety zone around the ship to 1,000 yards, closing the navigation channel to commercial traffic until midnight.

If the ship is not refloated March 29, dredging will start again and a second attempt will be made April 3, officials said. If both attempts at freeing the ship are unsuccessful, the removal of containers will have to begin, according to a marine safety information bulletin.

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The Coast Guard has said it has not yet determined what caused the Ever Forward to run aground. The ship ran aground outside the shipping channel and has not been blocking navigation, unlike last year’s high-profile grounding in the Suez Canal of its sister vessel, the Ever Given, which disrupted the global supply chain for days.

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