Plans to refloat the cargo ship Ever Forward from shallow water after grounding Sunday, March 13, in the Chesapeake Bay continue a full month later.
Here is what is known about the vessel and the issues that potentially are responsible for such low tides.
The Evergreen container ship grounding
Ever Forward, a 1,095-foot container vessel that grounded in the Chesapeake Bay, near Craighill Channel is registered to Evergreen Marine Corp. based in Taiwan.
The ship was headed from the Port of Baltimore to Norfolk, Virginia.
The ship is part of a fleet of more than 160 container vessels and has 315 service locations, in 114 countries with its shipping network. Evergreen's network includes several east-west routes linking southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, Korea and Japan with the East and West coasts of the U.S.
According to the company, "to meet a growing demand for the global transportation of raw and fresh goods, Evergreen has employed brand-new micro computer-controlled reefer containers to ensure a professional transportation service."
Are there travel and environmental concerns?
The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed in a statement watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region received the initial report at 9 p.m. March 13. Initial reports indicated no injuries, pollution or damage to the vessel as a result of the grounding.
Coast Guard watchstanders have issued a Safety Marine Information Broadcast to mariners in the area stating that a safety zone will be in place during salvage operations. Currently, the Ever Forward is not obstructing the navigational channel.
Vessels operating in the vicinity will be required to conduct one-way traffic and transit at a reduced speed.
During Wednesday's Board of Public Works meeting, Comptroller Peter Franchot noted he was concerned of a possible hull breach leading to "ecological risk to Maryland."
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation confirmed it was already in contact with the Maryland Department of the Environment and had been monitoring the situation almost since the ship was first grounded.
They too said being aground for such a long time puts a large amount of pressure on the hull and could cause a breach.
What's the plan to move the ship?
Two previously unsuccessful attempts to free the grounded ship led to efforts to remove some of the cargo to lighten the load of the cargo ship.
Efforts to dredge to a depth of 43 feet, or 13 meters, continue to create a clearance for the vessel for the next refloating operation.
"Salvage experts determined they wouldn't be able to overcome the ground force of the more than 1,000-foot, or 305 meters, Ever Forward, loaded with nearly 5,000 containers," said the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maryland Department of the Environment in a news release.
As soon as two crane barges are installed, containers will be removed and taken back to Baltimore's Seagirt Marine Terminal, officials confirmed. Then, tugs and pull barges will try again to refloat the ship. The shipping channel will remain open to one-way traffic during the operation, which is expected to take about two weeks.
"The Coast Guard has said it hasn't determined what caused the Ever Forward to run aground," the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement. "The ship is outside the shipping channel and has not been blocking navigation, unlike last year's high-profile grounding in the Suez Canal of its sister vessel, the Ever Given."
What's up with the low water advisory?
The National Weather Service issued a "low water advisory" March 15 for the Delmarva coastline stretching from Fenwick Island in Delaware to Cape Charles in Virginia.
"Below normal water levels will result in hazardous navigating conditions," said the advisory.
It covered the coastal waters 20 nautical miles out from Fenwick Island, Delaware, to the North Carolina border. The advisory also covers the Chesapeake Bay areas of Virginia's Eastern Shore.
Low tides have also been seen in areas around Tangier Island.
The historically low tides come on the heels of historically high tides on the island this past fall, when hard west winds and above normal sea levels flooded the most inward parts of Tangier Island.
Issues of low water now threaten some areas where other smaller boats and larger vessels may have been able to travel previously.