By CBS Baltimore Staff

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Crews have been working since Saturday to lighten the load of the Ever Forward in another bid to refloat the massive container ship stuck in the Chesapeake Bay. It has been there for over a month.

The U.S. Coast Guard and coordinating agencies started an operation Saturday to remove exactly 500 containers of its nearly 5,000 container load.

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Officials told WJZ Friday that 320 containers have been removed from the ship, and they hope to have the rest off by next week.

“We’re about 65 percent, roughly, through the offload process,” said Jeoffrey Donahue, director of emergency preparedness & planning at the Maryland Department of the Environment. “The hopes we’re looking towards probably like Sunday, Monday, if everything goes well.”

When the offloading is complete, crews will try again to tug the ship out and refloat it.

The offloading happens only during the daytime for safety reasons. Once the containers are removed, tugs and pull barges will attempt another refloat.

Cranes take containers off the Ever Forward container ship in Pasadena, Maryland, on April 13, 2022, as the cargo ship sits in the Chesapeake Bay after it ran aground near Baltimore. – Container removal began April 9, 2022, as part of the Ever Forward boxship refloat operation in Chesapeake Bay. The process, using barges alongside, will continue in daylight hours throughout this week with four to five containers being offloaded per hour in the complex operation. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Ever Forward ran aground 24 feet deep into the mud on March 13.

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Crews have already had to dig out at least 84,000 cubic yards of mud from around the vessel. The Department of the Environment said that’s about 27 barges worth of mud.

Two weeks ago, crews made their first refloat attempt after a week of dredging. Five tugboats couldn’t get the ship moving forward, so the next day, they tried seven tugboats. No dice.

The Evergreen Line determined that its shareholders would have to proportionately share the losses associated with the Chesapeake Bay debacle under a maritime law known as “general average.”

As of now, the ship has remained stable and shown no signs of pollution, but the Coast Guard and responders are continuing to monitor the ship.

The last time something like this happened was last year a ship owned by the same company, the Ever Given, got stuck and blocked the Suez Canal in Egypt, and that disrupted billions of dollars a day in global trade.

During the Suez fiasco last year, istheshipstillstuck.com, went viral, along with hundreds of Ever Given memes. That website has now been repurposed for the Ever Forward.

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CBS Baltimore Staff