▶ Watch Video: Cargo ship could be stuck in Chesapeake Bay for a week, officials say

It’s been three weeks since the Ever Forward first became stuck in the Chesapeake Bay, and the cargo ship is still trapped despite numerous attempts to set it free, CBS Baltimore reports. Now a new plan has emerged: instead of floating the ship at its current weight, crews will work to remove its nearly 5,000 containers. 

In order to offload the containers, crews will dredge 43 feet deep and two crane barges will be installed. The containers will be removed during the daytime and taken to the Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore, CBS Baltimore reports. It could take crews at least two weeks.

“Salvage experts determined they would not be able to overcome the ground force of the EVER FORWARD in its current loaded condition,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The ship first ran aground on March 13 when it became trapped in 24 feet of mud. Crews’ first attempts to free the ship involved removing 84,000 cubic yards of mud from around its base in an attempt to refloat the ship. Still, seven tugboats were unable to pull it free. 

Tugboats pull on the Ever Forward container ship in Pasadena, Maryland, on March 29, 2022, trying to free the cargo ship as it sits in the Chesapeake Bay after it ran aground near Baltimore. – As a 1,095-foot cargo ship remained stranded in the Chesapeake Bay March 25, environmental experts raised concerns about a potential oil spill as crews worked to free the ship from the mud that its stuck in.

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The ship is not currently polluting the Chesapeake Bay, but it’s still being monitored by officials and the Coast Guard. The Ever Forward’s grounding has impressed even seasoned professionals.

Several weeks ago, CBS Baltimore‘s Ava-Joye Burnett traveled out onto the bay with U.S. Coast Guard engineers and investigators as they tried to bring the vessel afloat.

“It’s rare for a vessel to run aground in the Chesapeake Bay,” Captain David O’Connell, the section Sector Commander of the Maryland-National Capital Region, said ahead of the excursion. He leads Coast Guard operations in the coordination of all maritime safety, security and environmental missions in the region.

The vessel resembles a skyscraper on its side. It’s more than 100 stories long and more than 4,900 containers are on board.

“You think of something that’s 1100 feet long and around 160 feet wide… it’s just massive,” Geoffrey Donahue, director for the Office of Emergency Preparedness and response for the Maryland Department of the Environment, told CBS Baltimore.

As an undertaking to free a ship this size can cost an exorbitant amount, Evergreen Line, the ship’s parent company, declared a maritime law called “general average” last week. This will split the cost of excavation and additional losses on the shoulders of the companies shareholders, according to CBS Baltimore. 

The news comes only a year after another ship run by Evergreen Line, called the Ever Given, blocked the Suez Canal for days, causing a $1 billion a day pause in global trade and inspiring even more memes. A popular website, istheshipstillsuck, has now been repurposed to track the progress of the Ever Forward. 

“This one is a lot more chill,” the website reads. “You can basically just drive around it.”