A container ship called the Ever Forward was finally pried free on Sunday from the muddy bottom of the Chesapeake Bay more than a month after it ran aground.
The Ever Forward is owned by the Evergreen Marine Corporation, the same company that owns the Ever Given, which famously ran aground and blocked the Suez canal for a week, disrupting the global supply chain.
The ship, which is the length of more than three football fields, was refloated early on Sunday by two barges and five tugboats.
The operation to free it from the bottom of the bay was the third attempt after two previous ones failed, and after the removal of roughly 500 of the 5,000 containers it was carrying
A full moon and high spring tide helped provide a lift to the salvage vessels as they pulled and pushed the massive ship from the mud, across a dredged hole and back into the shipping channel.
Once refloated, the Ever Forward was weighed down again by water tanks to ensure safe passage under the Chesapeake Bay bridge on its way to an anchorage off Annapolis, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Marine inspectors will examine the ship’s hull before the Coast Guard allows it to return to the port of Baltimore to retrieve the offloaded containers.
The cargo ship, operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp, was traveling from Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia, on 13 March, when it ran aground just north of the Chesapeake bay bridge.
Officials have said the grounding did not result in reports of injuries, damage or pollution. The Coast Guard has not said what caused the Ever Forward to run aground.
The ship became stuck outside the shipping channel and did not block marine navigation, unlike last year’s high-profile grounding in the Suez Canal of its sister vessel, the Ever Given.
Salvage crews continued to offload containers from the Ever Forward until 10.30pm Saturday. The containers were placed onto barges and taken to Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal.
After two failed efforts to free the more than 1,000-ft (305-meter) vessel, salvage experts determined earlier this month that unloading some of the containers offered the best chance to refloat it. Crews also continued dredging to a depth of 43ft (13 meters) around the vessel.