Ever Forward pilot ‘distracted by mobile phone’ before March vessel grounding

Chesapeake Bay, MD - April 6, 2022: the image is of the Ever Forward, owned by Evergreen Marine Corp. stuck in the Chesapeake Bay. The image was taken from a drone above the ship.

The pilot of the 12,000 TEU Ever Forward was distracted by his mobile phone when the vessel grounded in Chesapeake Bay in March, according to a new Coast Guard report.

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region released its marine casualty investigation into the incident on 6 December.

Investigators found that the in-charge Maritime State Pilot was solely relying on his Portable Pilot Unit (PPU) to navigate the 334-metre container vessel.

The pilot also made a series of five phone calls amounting to over 60 minutes of time during the course of his outbound trait, in addition to two text messages and the drafting of an email immediately prior to the running aground.

On 13 March, 2022, at approximately 6.12 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST), the Hong Kong flagged containership Ever Forward departed Seagirt Marine Terminal in Baltimore, Maryland en route to Norfolk, Virginia with a licensed Maryland State Pilot.

Prior to the grounding, the pilot was on the bridge with the Master and the bridge team until 7.30 pm, when the Master headed to dinner. At the time, the bridge team was comprised of the pilot, the Third Officer, Deck Cadet, and an Able Bodied Seaman who was at the helm.

Work began to free the vessel on 20 March.

General Average was declared by carrier Evergreen when multiple attempts to refloat the stranded ship failed on 29 and 30 March.

Salvors had to remove 550 containers from the ship to lighten the load in early April.

The Ever Forward was successfully refloated on 17 April after being stuck in Chesapeake Bay for almost a month.

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