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Ever Forward To Undergo Inspection Prior To Resuming Journey

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A cargo ship that's been stuck for more than a month in the Chesapeake Bay, is finally floating again.

The cargo ship, known as the Ever Forward, is about six miles south of Annapolis near Thomas Point Park awaiting inspection. 

The U.S. Coast Guard said the inspection will be "to ensure there is no hull damage, or anything preventing the ship from seaworthiness.

From there, the ship will return to the Port of Baltimore to receive the containers that were removed, and is then expected to go to Norfolk."

The Ever Forward has been in limbo for five weeks. The more than 1000-foot vessel became stuck on March 13.

On March 29 and 30, officials made back-to-back attempts to refloat the ship using tug boats, which failed.

Subsequently, for several days in April, crews delicately removed 500 of the nearly 5,000 containers on the ship. After that endeavor, the vessel was able to float again.

A former ship captain who is not related to this case said the ship running aground in mud was more favorable than it running into rocks.

"They are very fortunate that the vessel, one, went into the mud," Sam Stephenson, a former ship captain, told WJZ via Zoom call. "It did not hit rocks or it could've reached the hull. And two, the vessel did not block the shipping channel."

Crews dug out 27 barges of mud in order to help free the ship.

Officials say the operation has created significant disturbance for oyster beds. 

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles said the state is now focusing on the environmental impact and financial compensation which could run into the millions.

"We're going to be using those legal tools and authorities to require the shipowner to pay the cost of what happened and the damage to our precious ecosystem but also the cost to the state and taxpayers in the state for responding," Grumbles said.

The U.S. Coast Guard is taking the lead on the investigation to figure out why the ship got off course and got stuck in twenty-four feet of mud.

Evergreen, the company that owns the Ever Forward, saw another one of its vessels get stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt last year.

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