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Ever more speculation about Evergreen groundings

Maritime experts say Ever Forward and Ever Given situations are different and latest incident will not have ‘major global ramifications’

A response crew from Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay monitors the condition of the container ship Ever Forward. (Photo: Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Kimberly Reaves)

#EverForward, #EverGiven, #EverStuck. There have been many comparisons on social media this week between two Evergreen Marine container ships that, almost a year apart, became stuck while laden with cargo. 

The Ever Forward ran aground Sunday night in Chesapeake Bay after departing from the Port of Baltimore. As of late Thursday afternoon, the container ship, with a carrying capacity of 11,850 twenty-foot equivalent units, still had not been refloated. On March 23, 2021, another Evergreen Marine vessel, the 20,000-TEU Ever Given became wedged between the banks of the Suez Canal and brought traffic on the waterway to a standstill for a week. 

“But this is one of those events which should not be blown out of proportion,” Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Marine, cautioned in a LinkedIn post. “Ever Forward gives many associations to Ever Given and the Suez blocklage last year. But [the] reality is that vessels do at times get stuck and this is not an event with major global ramifications.”

The Ever Given’s weeklong Suez Canal shutdown greatly affected global maritime trade. The International Chamber of Shipping said the blockage of the canal cost $5.1 billion in world trade per day.

Jensen said while it appears it’s going to take time before the Ever Forward is refloated, it is not blocking Chesapeake Bay traffic. “Hence the problem is confined for now to the shippers unlucky to have cargo onboard the vessel.” 

William P. Doyle, executive director of the Maryland Port Administration, confirmed in an email to American Shipper late Thursday afternoon that the Ever Forward’s location just off Gibson Island near the Craighill channel was not preventing other ships from transiting to or from the Port of Baltimore. 

“Business and commerce-related activities at the Port of Baltimore continue as normal,” Doyle said. 

He said the U.S. Coast Guard is overseeing and coordinating federal, state and local resources as they work to free the Ever Forward. 

“Technical experts have been onboard and have been surveying the vessel since Monday,” Doyle said. “A salvage team, naval architects and divers are working to determine the best course of action to free the ship.”

Sal Mercogliano, a Campbell University department chair and frequent FreightWavesTV guest, said the freeing of the Ever Forward will be difficult. He illustrated the similarities and differences between the Ever Forward and Ever Given situations in a 40-minute “What’s Going on With Shipping?” episode.

“The vessel, unlike Ever Given, is not aground just at the bow and stern. She’s completely aground, meaning she has rammed up onto a shoal, an embankment, meaning all underneath, the entire length of the hull, is sitting on ground,” Mercogliano said.

He said one option to free the ship would involve repeated steps of dredging and pulling the Ever Forward. That would be “a long, laborious operation,” one complicated by the fact that the container ship is listing to the portside, which means there is a potential for the Ever Forward to roll.

On top of that, the Ever Forward is compressing into mud, according to Mercogliano. “She’s in a pretty bad situation.”

Meanwhile, the grounding of the Ever Forward leaves the Ocean Alliance — Evergreen, CMA CGM, Cosco and OOCL — one vessel short on its Asia-U.S. East Coast service. 

“It was supposed to continue up to New York for final discharge and load and then go back through the Panama Canal to Xiamen, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong and Yantian to pick up cargo in mid-April,” Jensen said. 

In the case of the Ever Given, it was tied up in inspections and legal proceedings long after it was freed from the Suez Canal. It would be four months after it was refloated before it arrived at its destination, the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. 

Container ship runs aground in Chesapeake Bay

Car carrier — and Bentleys, Porsche and Lamborghinis — sinks

Ever Given containers finally being offloaded at Port of Rotterdam

Click here for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.