PASADENA, Md. — Jeff Woolley of Towson decided to spend Tuesday, his 60th birthday, observing what he called a “once-in-a-lifetime situation happening close to home.”
Like dozens of others on a 34-degree afternoon, Woolley and his wife, Mary Louise, traveled to a beach at Downs Park to get a glimpse of efforts to free the Ever Forward, a 1,095-foot cargo ship that has been stuck for more than two weeks. Beginning at noon, five tugboats spent more than five hours pushing and pulling the ship, the largest to ever run aground in the Chesapeake Bay.
“The big boat’s stuck,” one elementary-school-aged girl explained while looking out from the shore around noon.
By Tuesday evening, that statement remained as true as it has been for the past 16 days. After spending all afternoon pulling without progress, the tow lines from tugboats went slack around 6 p.m., and at least two of the tugboats left the salvage area.
The Ever Forward has been lodged in mud since March 13, when it missed a turn, entered shallow waters and ran aground outside of the Craighill Channel. The U.S. Coast Guard has been working alongside the Maryland Department of the Environment and the ship’s owner, Evergreen Marine Corp., on the salvage process.
Dredging began on March 20, and after more than a week of such efforts, authorities announced that Tuesday would be their first attempt to refloat it. During the attempt, traffic in the Craighill Channel was stopped but is slated to resume at midnight.
Authorities had originally planned to try once again on April 3 or 4 using five tugboats — plus two anchored pulling barges. However, on Tuesday evening, the Coast Guard said it would again try to pull the ship Wednesday, when the tide will be higher.
Authorities have not named a reason for the grounding, but the U.S. Coast Guard is investigating, Captain David O’Connell, the section commander, said last week.
“We’re still investigating, gathering data, doing interviews, so it’ll probably be several weeks until we have a determination,” he said.