Container shipwreck near Baltimore delights enthusiasts and concerns environmentalists
They came with family or friends and brought binoculars and folding chairs, all focused on one thing: the container ship Ever Forward, stranded for a month on the Chesapeake Bay off the east coast of the United States.
This spring spring, enthusiasts gather at a park in Pasadena, Maryland, and enjoy a privileged opportunity aboard a ship a few hundred yards[6 m]off the coast.
“Even though we have storms in the Gulf here, we do not have ships sailing like that,” says retired Frederick Schroeder, who came from East Baltimore with his camera and telephoto lens to document the scene, “once a lifetime,” he says.
From March 13 to 14, the Taiwanese company Evergreen’s ocean giant, 334 m long and capable of carrying nearly 12,000 containers, did not shake itself as it failed to return to deep water in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. .
Stretching from the state of Virginia in the south to Maryland in the north, Gulf of Chesapeake is a vast estuary with high maritime traffic. The bay thus bathes the Port of Virginia and Baltimore, the second and third most important ports on the east coast of the United States, respectively.
– Excavation and tug boats –
The erratic adventure of Ever Forward (“always forward”) is reminiscent of another Evergreen container ship, the Evergreen, which blocked traffic across the Suez Canal for almost a week in March 2021.
The U.S. Coast Guard has been trying to float Ever Forward for more than three weeks with the help of trawlers and excavation boats. Not successful yet.
In recent days, cranes have been busy around the ship, freeing it from its many containers and illuminating it.
Asked by the AFP, he said the Coast Guard had already unloaded more than 130 containers, but that a new attempt to re-float should be preceded by a date to be determined.
“The captain in trouble must be very ashamed,” said John Jacqueline, a nearly eight-year-old retiree who, with his companion from Bethesda on the outskirts of Washington, “eagerly” made the one-hour trip to see Ever Forward. .
But if interested people gather on shore to watch the ship, its landing worries environmentalists.
– Asprey’s “Epicenter” –
Doug Myers, a scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an environmental association, warns AFP of the risk of corrosion of the surface, which could release hundreds of liters of fuel oil.
“Every time a ship runs aground, you have this risk,” the expert explains, adding that he has a lot of experience in oil spills, especially when he worked in Texas in the 1990s.
With the excavation activities, Doug Myers worries that the ship may list the containers in the Gulf and lose them.
“The ship has already been damaged by landing in shallow water, and these sand dunes (…) contain clams and other very important habitats for worms and fish,” he laments.
Outside the water, birds are at risk of oil spills, with migratory birds nesting in the bay at one time or nesting in the summer.
“The bay is the epicenter of a kind of osprey overflow,” says Duck Myers, who is concerned about these birds of prey.
Scientists have yet to take into account environmental risks and want a safety ring to be set up around Ever Forward to prevent oil spills.
Because, according to him, if the danger is not “immediate”, such a leak could reach the shores on both sides of the bay in a matter of hours.
“This berry represents everything for Marylanders,” says Doug Myers.
“Many people get their income directly or indirectly from the Gulf, whether it’s tourism, fishing or owning property on the water.”