Following the failure to refloat the 12,000 teu Ever Forward this week, Evergreen announced, today that, with the increasing costs of the salvage operation, it had declared General Average.
The Ever Forward container ship ran aground in Chesapeake Bay on March 13 when it was headed from the Port of Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia.
The ship has not been blocking any navigation, unlike its sister vessel, the Ever Given, which got stuck and blocked traffic for days in the Suez Canal a year ago.
On March 16, It was hoped that a high tide would help free the vessel but unfortunately the ship did not budge.
An update on the same day from from Marine and Transit claims Consultancy WK Webster noted that professional salvors were appointed by shipowners on commercial terms to assist the refloating operation.
The ship “is likely to have grounded in shallow water on a predominantly muddy bottom,” noted the report. “The vessel’s draft at the time of departure from Baltimore is reported to have been 13 metres whereas the average depth of the Bay is approximately only 6.4 metres. Significant efforts may therefore be required to refloat the vessel and it is possible that recovery issues may arise in respect of any time- and/or temperature-sensitive cargo in the event of any prolonged delay in the vessel’s schedule.”
Salvors were brought in to begin dredging around the ship on Sunday March 20. No timeline was released or estimates on how much material they were expecting to remove from around the vessel before they attempted to pull the Ever Forward free of the mud and back into the shipping channel.
The plan involved releasing ballast (ballast is extra weight added to a ship when it unloads its cargo – without it, the ship would pop out of the water like a cork and could become unstable) to lighten the load, dredging the bay’s muddy floor around the ship and making space between the propeller, rudder and the seabed. Once the ship was light enough, and sufficient amount of mud was removed, the salvors were going to wait for a high tide and deploy tugboats to shift the 334 m long boxship.
On Tuesday March 29, five tugboats were brought out, working to free the ship. After the tugs worked for five hours, the vessel didn’t budge.
Winds from the northwest were pushing water out of the bay, preventing the high tide considered necessary for success.
According to the US Coast Guard, there was “no indication of movement” after the day’s efforts.
The original plan, if the first attempt didn’t work, was to do more dredging around the ship and try again to move it on April 3 or 4.
Evergreen said the move to declare general average came in light of the increasing costs arising from the continued attempts to refloat the 334 m long vessel.
“Considering that the complexity of further rescue operations will require more manpower, equipment and costs to refloat the stranded vessel as soon as possible, Evergreen has for cautionary purposes declared general average and nominated Richards Hogg Lindley as the GA adjuster,” the company said in a statement.
Another attempt to free the vessel is due to start on Sunday. In the meantime, salvage teams are working to remove mud from alongside and below the vessel.
It is understood that, should this next attempt fail, equipment will be brought in by another salvage company to unload some of the containers still aboard.