Coal ship freed from bay shoal

March 08, 2007|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,Sun reporter

A 712-foot ship loaded with coal that ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay was freed yesterday morning, a week after it became stuck off the coast of Tilghman Island.

Workers tried for nearly three days to unload a portion of the 74,000 tons of coal aboard the carrier before finishing the job late Tuesday night. It took another eight hours to remove the ship's ballast water. Once its load was lightened, four tugboats wrested the MV Montrose off the shoal.

The ship, which was bound for Romania, is now anchored at Solomons Island, where the Coast Guard is inspecting it. Divers will also examine the ship's bottom to make sure it isn't damaged, Coast Guard Petty Officer Christopher Evanson said.

"If all is well with the inspection, and they're given the go-ahead, the coal will be placed back on the ship, and they'll continue on to Romania, where they were headed," Evanson said.

The Coast Guard's investigation will continue after the Montrose leaves, officials said. The state, which licenses the bay pilots who guide vessels through the bay en route to the ocean, may also investigate the incident.

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