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Ever Forward? Cargo Ship Doesn't Budge In First Refloat Attempt

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- After more than a week of dredging mud, crews made their first attempt Tuesday at refloating the Ever Forward, a massive container ship that has been stuck in the Chesapeake Bay for more than two weeks.

The U.S. Coast Guard said the Maryland Department of the Environment and other coordinating agencies worked to tug the ship out of its position Tuesday after a dredging operation to remove mud from beneath it.

There was "no indication of movement" Tuesday.

In fact, WJZ learned from Geoffrey Donahue, the Maryland Department of the Environment's Emergency Preparedness & Planning director, that refloat operations aimed at freeing the Ever Forward were unsuccessful.

Donahue provided an update on Tuesday evening.

But operations are expected to re-start tomorrow.

Coast Guard officials told WJZ that an additional two feet of water would give the cargo ship more buoyancy.

Unfortunately, the wind has been creating a bit of a challenge, pushing water out of the area and creating a lower tide.

The Ever Forward ran aground 24 feet deep into the mud on March 13.

Crews have had to dig out 84,000 cubic yards of mud from around the vessel. The Department of the Environment said that's about 27 barges worth of mud.

Five tugboats a fraction of the size of the ship have the job of pulling that boat, but under adverse conditions, it hasn't budged yet.

The agency initially planned to free the ship last weekend, but a rainy forecast kept the operation from moving forward.

The last time something like this happened was last year a ship owned by the same company got stuck and blocked the Suez Canal in Egypt, and that disrupted billions of dollars a day in global trade.

If required, additional dredging operations will commence and a second attempt to refloat the Ever Forward would then be expected early next week, the Coast Guard said. And if that doesn't work, they will go to Plan C, which is to carefully unload some of the containers on board to lighten the ship.

Hopefully, it doesn't come to that.

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