Evergreen to pay for oyster bed damage after US container ship grounding

Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine has been ordered to hand over $676,200 to the US state of Maryland following the grounding of a container ship last March.

Salvage work to free the 12,118-teu Ever Forward (built 2020) damaged oyster beds in Chesapeake Bay after the vessel failed to make a right turn in Craighill Channel.

The Maryland Board of Public Works has now approved a wetlands license requiring Evergreen to pay the cash to the department of natural resources to help reseed and enhance the beds.

“The seeding of oyster bars will contribute to an improved aquatic habitat and provide long-term water benefits,” said deputy secretary of the environment Suzanne E Dorsey.

She added that the department has been “on the job” from the moment of the grounding to ensure that the bay habitat is protected.

Damage caused by dredging work to free the ship affected 14 acres of sea bed, 11.5 acres of which were in a natural oyster bay.

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A total of 41 acres will be reseeded, the US state said.

In December, a pilot was found at fault for the grounding of the vessel, according to an investigation conducted by the US Coast Guard (USCG).

A unified command consisting of the USCG, salvor Donjon-Smit and incident commander Witt O’Brien’s took five weeks to free the vessel by dredging around the ship and removing containers.

The USCG probe determined that the grounding occurred due to the pilot’s “failure to maintain situational awareness and attention while navigating” and conduct of “inadequate bridge resource management”.

In April, TradeWinds reported Maryland was preparing to discuss compensation of at least $100m.

By comparison, the Suez Canal Authority in Egypt demanded $900m in compensation following the grounding of Evergreen’s 13,000-teu Ever Given (built 2018) in March 2021. The figure was substantially negotiated down.

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