The Ever Forward Finally Free
At 7:12 Sunday morning, the Ever Forward was refloated after being stuck in the mud at Chesapeake Bay for more than a month. A high tide, along with a month’s worth of hard work – dredging around the ship and moving 505 containers – finally brought success, however, now the State of Maryland has asked Evergreen to establish a so-called responsibility fund to pay for costs related to the month-long grounding of the vessel.
William Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, thanked the “many good people and companies” involved in the salvage work on LinkedIn: “A tremendous team effort with a little help from the Easter Sunday rising tide in the Chesapeake Bay. The Evergreen, Ever Forward has been refloated.”
Evergreen Line said in a press release that the ship will undergo underwater inspections at anchorage, then return to the Port of Baltimore to reload the containers that were discharged, and continue on its previously scheduled voyage, beginning with a stop in Norfolk, Virginia.
The carrier noted that the ship appears to be free of damage from the grounding, and that there has been no indication of fuel leakage during its month in the mud.
Responsibility Fund for the Ever Forward?
In a letter to Benjamin Tsai, president of Evergreen Shipping Agency (America) Corporation, Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot said, “While we do not know the full scope of the environmental impact thus far, a 131,420-ton ship, carrying tons of cargo and fuel, getting stuck in our waters undoubtedly has resulted in disruptions to the Bay’s fragile ecosystem.” Franchot asked the company to set up a $100m fund to cover the environment-related costs, as well as economic costs, in particular for the seafood industry.
“The damage that this incident has already caused – and could potentially continue to cause – will require financial resources to correct,” he said.
Regarding the dredging undertaken to help free the ship, Franchot wrote: “While this may have been a necessary action, among its potential consequences include damage to oyster beds and disruptions to the spawning season for several species that our seafood industry – already struggling economically due to labor shortages – will harvest in the coming months.”
Franchot said money from the fund would potentially compensate workers in the seafood industry if they are impacted, and pay the cost of labor for employees from federal, state and local agencies involved in refloating the ship.
“The establishment of this fund will send a clear message that Evergreen is a good faith actor,” he said, that “understands the environmental and economic damage this incident has caused to the state of Maryland.”