There’s just something fascinating about a stuck container ship. These hulking great monsters float the ocean as a seemingly unstoppable force – the true go-anywhere pioneers of our time. Well, that is, until they get stuck on sandbanks. But now a rescue mission is underway to free the latest stranded ship so that it can sail the seas once more.
From 12 p.m. today (right now), the U.S. Coast Guard will extend an exclusion zone around the stranded Ever Forward container ship as it begins its first effort to free the stuck ship. But, how do you go about freeing a container ship that measures 1,096 ft (that the same as 92 Chevrolet Sparks). And, how did a ship this big get stuck in the first place?
Well, to answer that second question, the Ever Forward has been stuck on a sandbank in the Chesapeake Bay since March 14th. It ran aground while traveling from the Port of Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia.
Since then, tug boats have tried to haul the massive ship free from its new lodgings with no avail.
The U.S. Coast Guard has since stepped in to try and speed up the recovery effort without blocking shipping out of the U.S. port.
As such, an exclusion zone was set up around the Ever Forward, which prevented other vessels from coming within 1,500 ft (that’s 126 Chevy Sparks) of the ship. The exclusion zone also left sufficient space in the channel for other ships to come in and out of port.
But now, the stage is set for an ambitious recovery effort that will hopefully see the colossal ship live up to its name.
The details as to how the ship could be rescued were outlined by William Doyle, the executive director of the Port Baltimore on Twitter.
According to Doyle, Coast Guard workers have dredged a huge channel around the stranded ship. Material dredged up from the bay’s bed included silt and clay, which was transferred to the Port of Baltimore’s Poplar Island Ecosystem Restoration Project.
Now that workers have cleared a path for the ship, it’s time for them to try and free the Ever Forward from its sandy sarcophagus.
The first attempt to free the ship will take place from 12 p.m. today, when the exclusion zone around the ship will be expanded to 3,000 ft (another 252 Chevy Sparks). Then, tugboats will move in and begin the heavy lifting.
According to Doyle, five tugboats will be used in today’s attempt to free the ship. Two of these will be pushing on the starboard side of the vessel, two will be pulling from port side and one will be pulling from the stern of the ship.
The extended exclusion zone will be in place until 9 p.m. tonight, giving crews nine hours for their first attempt to free the ship. But if this fails, a second attempt is planned for early April.
In the second attempt, crews will use five tugs and two anchored pulling barges. The barges will be attached to the rear of the Ever Forward and the tugs will try to move the port, starboard and bow of the ship.
If all this is sounding strangely familiar, don’t worry you aren’t experiencing deja vu. It was the Ever Forward’s sister ship, the Ever Given, which was stranded in the Suez Canal this time last year.
The Ever Given, which is also operated by shipping line Evergreen, was stuck blocking the Suez Canal for weeks before it was finally freed. The ship was last seen heading into dry dock late last year where it was due to undergo repairs on its hull after the incident.