After being towed to anchorage on Sunday, the Ever Forward has been examined and found to be undamaged by its month in the mud of Chesapeake Bay. However, the damage the ship might or might not have caused to the local environment looks set to be a matter for the lawyers.
“The condition of the vessel is good,” said US Coast Guard Cmdr. Baxter Smoak. “We’re lucky it grounded in soft mud.”
The Evergreen vessel is now set to pick up at the Port of Baltimore the containers that were removed as part of the salvage operation. It will then carry on with its originally planned voyage.
An investigation by the US Coast Guard into the ship’s grounding is expected to take several months to complete. The ship, under pilotage, was doing 13 knots, far faster than recommended, when it careened out of a shipping channel last month.
The Taiwanese liner is now gearing itself up for a battle with local authorities, questioning whether the ship has caused tens of millions of dollars of damage to the local environment.
The State of Maryland has asked Evergreen to establish a so-called responsibility fund to pay for costs related to the month-long grounding.
In a letter sent earlier this month to Benjamin Tsai, president of Evergreen Shipping Agency (America) Corporation, Maryland comptroller Peter Franchot asked the company to set up a $100m fund to cover the environment-related costs, as well as economic costs, in particular for the seafood industry.
The move by local politicians was quickly attacked by many Splash readers including this site’s lead columnist, Andrew Craig-Bennett, who labelled the action “shameless”, commenting: “I hope Evergreen and their P&I Club treat this attempt at blackmail with the contempt it deserves.”
“We will be fully cooperating with the investigation into what caused this incident. After this investigation has been completed, a more decisive view on accountability will be available,” Evergreen stated in an update sent to Splash.