In March 2022 Ever Forward, a containership was grounded in Chesapeake Bay. The pilot guiding the ship at the time, Steven Germac has settled with The Maryland Board of Pilots.
Permanently surrendered his license
Steven Germac has permanently surrendered his Maryland pilot license in the settlement agreement with the Maryland Board of Pilots. The board accepted the settlement closing two matters regarding Germac contribution to the incident which grounded the 11,850 TEU containership.
According to the terms of the settlement, Germac “agrees, admits, and consents” to violating the statutes for his profession “by failing to use all available means to monitor the position of the Ever Forward while piloting it … and by failing to recognize the incorrect vessel position display in time to avoid the grounding.”
The board agreed to settle the matters when Germac offered to surrender his license and conditioned that he would never reapply for the license. Further penalties including a $2,000 civil monetary penalty were withdrawn by the board. The pilot’s license was previously temporarily suspended and a hearing for disciplinary actions was scheduled regarding the Ever Forward grounding.
The negligence which leads to the Ever Forward grounding
The U.S. Coast Guard who reported the incident said that the pilot was not making full use of the ship’s systems. He was instead using personal devices at the time. Investigators later found that Germac was also talking on his cell phone, texting, and sending emails during the transit from Baltimore on the Chesapeake. They came to the conclusion that he was distracted with his phone for 63 minutes before the grounding. He was writing an email when the vessel failed to make a critical turn into the Lower Craighill Channel.
A rule change
Grounding of Ever Forward lead the Maryland Board of Pilots to make a rule change. In January 2023 they announced the rule that forbids on-duty pilots from using their phones. There was no such rule related to using phones before the grounding.
The Ever Forward was stuck for 35 days in the Chesapeake while becoming a tourist attraction. After several failed attempts the area was dredged removing approximately 500 containers and freeing the ship on a seasonal high tide.