Straying off course and refusing to budge from the shallow, muddy waters
STRAYING OFF COURSE AND REFUSING TO BUDGE FROM THE SHALLOW, MUDDY WATERS!
This year, on March 13, a massive cargo vessel named “Ever Forward” owned by the ‘Evergreen Marine Corporation’, set sail from the Port of Baltimore to head south towards Norfolk, Virginia. Soon after leaving the shore, the ship apparently missed a turn, sailed off course and got wedged in the muddy bottoms of Chesapeake Bay, near the Craighill Channel, Maryland.
Interestingly, this event comes a year after another cargo vessel named “Ever Given” owned by the same ‘Evergreen Marine Corporation’, got stranded after lodging diagonally in a single-lane section of the Suez Canal, blocking it for a week, and causing major disruptions to the global shipping and logistics network.
Preliminary findings indicate that “Ever Forward”, after missing that crucial turn, deviated from the dredged navigation channel and entered the shallow waters just 25 feet deep.
Salvage operations began soon after. Early efforts involved the deployment of five tugboats, with two of them pushing the starboard side, two others pulling from the port side, and one pulling from the stern. Another attempt began with two anchored barges pulling from the stern side, followed by dredging operations extending 43 feet deep that removed 2,06,280 cubic yards of material. After remaining lodged in the Chesapeake Bay for 35 days, the agencies involved in the salvage operations successfully freed the vessel on 17 April.
A full moon and high spring tide provided sufficient lift to the rescue vessels as they pulled and pushed the massive ship - spanning the length of 3 football fields, across the dredged pathway and back to the shipping channel. Once freed, Ever Forward was weighed down by water tanks to guarantee its safe passageway beneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on its way to a harbor off Annapolis.
What are the lessons we take from this incident? When calamities strike unexpectedly, we all have to come together, join hands and work singularly in pursuit of the goal in hand.
Ever Forward’s saga was a rare event, but the enormity and intricacy of how the salvage operations were dealt with are remarkable and extraordinary. It was a collaborative effort of the first order from each of the responding agencies. Safety of the public and personnel involved in the salvage operations was the priority, while pollution hazards were kept in check and potential economic consequences were also taken into consideration. What’s more, the dredged material removed during the operations was used to offset erosion at the Paul S. Sarbanes Ecosystem Restoration Project.
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