Jalopnik's Foolproof Plans For Freeing The Suez Canal Ship [Updated]

Illustration for article titled Jalopnik's Foolproof Plans For Freeing The Suez Canal Ship [Updated]
Photo: Getty, JDT (Getty Images)

The cargo ship Ever Given has been blocking the Suez Canal for a few days now, blocking a crucial trade route and causing the rerouting of a bunch of other container ships carrying the landfill-bound junk that keeps the non-financial scam part of the modern economy going. We’re fine with it staying stuck, it’s generating decent traffic.

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[Update Monday, March 29 9:45 a.m. The Boat Is Unstuck!]

It looks like the fun’s coming to an end. The Ever Given is floating now, according to a report from CNET. They still have a lot to do, but Inchcape, a company I heard of for the first time a few minutes ago and which is probably real, says the Ever Given is now floating:

It’s noteworthy that the boat was freed in more or less exactly the way that our own David Tracy suggested late last week—applying more tugboats:

In the extremely unlikelihood (read: impossibility) that somehow Maxtrax do not work, the next step is hooking up a bunch of tug boats, which — as I understand — is something that’s already been tried. But if it’s me, I’m gathering every damn tug boat within 1,000 miles of the Suez, hooking them to an enormous kinetic energy recovery strap (OK, tug boat rope is not that different), lining all the tugs up, and waving a start flag so they can charge full speed ahead and give this ship the biggest yank this world has ever seen outside of Derek Jeter.

According to this report from the AP, two more big tugboats were headed toward the Ever Given Sunday, joining the ten that were already there.

Bloomberg Quicktake has short video of some of the work, though unfortunately, not the tugging part or the freeing part:

It’s been a real hoot looking at bad memes about the Ever Given. Not quite as much of a hoot as the GameStop thing, but pretty fun. Oh well.

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[End Update]

But, for the right price, we’d consider applying our considerable brainpower to the problem of moving this stupid boat. For a sampling of some of our ideas, read on:

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Rory Carroll — Ram It

I’ll admit that this is kind of a high risk maneuver, but it would be sweet to try to like, ram a similarly sized ship into the stern of the Ever Given to try to get it turned. Of course, you could end up with two ships kind of wedged in there, which...boo hoo. Think of the traffic we’d do if David Tracy wrote 6,000 words about that.

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Erin Marquis — Leave It Where It Is

The Suez Canal was completed in 1869. Surely, in 2021 we have the ability to dig an entirely new stretch that bypasses the Ever Given. The ship currently lodged in the Canal like a piece of popcorn in the esophagus of a greedy movie-goer is one of the largest ever constructed. As Mideast Eye points out, if you were to stand the Given on its end, it would rival some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers in height. I say, leave the ship where it is as the world’s largest art installation and a testament to the hubris and folly of man. But make sure all other cargo ships have to pass it on their way through the new canal.

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It would be like a visual warning akin to Praetorian Guards who whispered ‘Thou art mortal” in the ear of Caesar as he held his triumph through Rome.

Justin Westbrook — All The Balloons And Helicopters In The World

Look — it’s been days. The Suez Canal happens to be parked in the middle of one of the most active military zones, unfortunately, in the world, with dozens of countries and their tons of military equipment all sitting around waiting for work. Well here is some work! With a bunch of helicopters and chains and you don’t even have to completely lift the boat — you just need to lift it enough to give the eight tug boats that already tried moving Ever Given some help. They could also just help unload the boat so that it becomes lighter.

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If you don’t want to fly all of those helicopters so close, then the alternative for lift would be a giant Zeppelin-like balloon and something like all of the world’s remaining supply of party helium. Or just Up! it like Pixar and start mailing the world’s regular balloon supply to Egypt.

Illustration for article titled Jalopnik's Foolproof Plans For Freeing The Suez Canal Ship [Updated]
Image: St. Simons Sound Incident Response
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Also Justin Westbrook — Cut It In Half With A Huge Chain

Back in December, we highlighted how it’s possible to cut a giant capsized cargo ship in half with a chain of equally giant measure. To do this like they did with the capsized MV Golden Ray ship off of the coast of Georgia, all it would take is a giant bespoke crane installed over the site, hundreds of workers and months of tedious metal-grinding by pulling a giant anchor chain through the body.

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I know we all want the boat to move again, because that is the least messy solution. But at some point a decision will need to be made, and if you’re going to cut a cargo ship in half, you better start planning sooner than later is all I’m saying.

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Mercedes Streeter Idea 1 — Have Elon Musk Do Something Useless

Elon Musk; he’s a guy who really knows how to attempt to do something useful in an emergency. Remember when he built that half-assed rescue submarine when a dozen kids and their soccer coach got trapped in a cave in Thailand? The kids were saved, though not by Musk’s silly contraption. Still, it seemed to the billionaire like it was the thought that counts when it comes to rescuing human lives. Which maybe is why he called that heroic caver who actually helped save those kids a pedo for the sin of saying Musk’s useless submarine was useless.

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I think similar logic will work here. Maybe Musk takes the long way around to reinventing the tugboat. His is smaller, complicated to operate, looks like a dystopian octagon and doesn’t work great but you’ll be able to play Metroid on the sonar screen when it’s not in use. The operator of that little digger will be so inspired by how dumb it is they’ll work with renewed and determined grit to free the Ever Given. Sure, Musk will have to come up with a new insult for someone who actually helped, but that’s the power of Musk.

Mercedes Streeter Idea 2 — Blow It Up

You know what everyone loves? Explosives. Use enough of them and you can dislodge just about everything. Plus, you’ll win absolutely all of the internet points and make Michael Bay blush.

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When you’re finished, I’ll trade you the blown up ship for a well-used school bus. I’ll cobble it back together using tape and use it to help me buy every car in Japanese auto auctions. Ever Given will also make a sweet camper.

Jason Torchinsky Idea 1 – Rockets 

So, you’ve got a massive ship stuck in your canal? Hey, relax, Suez! All you have to do is the same thing your dad did when you got your head stuck between those bannister poles — get it out with a couple of M-80s sourced from one of his dirtbag friends in South Carolina.

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Only this time it’s a lot bigger than a kid’s head, so we’ll need something with more kick than some M-80s. We’ll need some real rockets.

Luckily, Egypt happens to have a bunch of R-300 Elbrus short-range ballistic missiles. These are known in the West as Scud missiles, which we’ve all heard of, and they’re liquid-fueled single-stage rockets, basically.

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So, what the Suez people need to do is buy a bunch from Egypt (sans warheads), and put them in two main groups: one set mounted horizontally, to provide lateral thrust, and one set vertically, to pull up on the ship. Here’s a quick diagram:

Illustration for article titled Jalopnik's Foolproof Plans For Freeing The Suez Canal Ship [Updated]
Illustration: Jason Torchinsky
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Once securely mounted, the rockets will all be configured to fire concurrently; the result should be a simultaneous kick up and out, lifting and shoving the stuck-ass boat just enough to get the bow out of the bank and back into the water.

You get it right? Up and over!

Illustration for article titled Jalopnik's Foolproof Plans For Freeing The Suez Canal Ship [Updated]
Illustration: Jason Torchinsky
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Plus, it’ll make for a hell of a show!

I’ll leave it up to the Canal’s engineers to figure out just how many they’ll need — let those bastards earn their big bucks.

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Jason Torchinsky Idea 2 — Sell It To David So It Turns To Rust Immediately

OK, if the rocket idea is too complex, I have a backup plan: The owners of the Ever Given would reach out to our own David Tracy, and they would agree to sell David the entire boat for $400.

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Once David wires over the money and the boat’s owners sign over the title to him, David’s unique powers will immediately sense that the vessel is now under David’s ownership, and as such will rust itself to almost-dust nearly instantly.

At this point the Canal’s work crews need only to get their tetanus booster and just kick the crumbling brown vessel apart, then demand David come and collect the massive pile of rusty scraps immediately or be subject to fines.

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David Tracy — Maxtrax

There were a few critical moments in my life that ultimately shaped me into the car-person I am today (I have a solid axle in place of legs). Among those moments: My dad taking my brothers and me off-roading in a HMMWV on an army base in Germany, and my brothers and I off-roading the crap out of our parents’ 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee on Missouri River floodplains.

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You know what made those moments so memorable? Things went wrong — namely, we got stuck in gigantic mud puddles, not unlike what our container-carrying friend has done here.

Getting out of a mud pit can be tricky, but I’ve never failed. The first step is a shovel, which it appears crews have been wielding for quite some time now. The next step is to shove stuff between the rut and the stuck vehicle — sticks, rocks, floor mats. Usually these things don’t work, but what does work? MAXTRAX. Based on all of the promotion videos I’ve watched, all this ship needs is two bright orange, grippy Maxtrax boards shoved between the mud and the hull, and the vessel will be out in no time. I’m honestly surprised nobody has thought of this before. Someone owes me a commission.

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In the extremely unlikelihood (read: impossibility) that somehow Maxtrax do not work, the next step is hooking up a bunch of tug boats, which — as I understand — is something that’s already been tried. But if it’s me, I’m gathering every damn tug boat within 1,000 miles of the Suez, hooking them to an enormous kinetic energy recovery strap (OK, tug boat rope is not that different), lining all the tugs up, and waving a start flag so they can charge full speed ahead and give this ship the biggest yank this world has ever seen outside of Derek Jeter.

If somehow the Maxtrax don’t work and the kinetic energy recovery rope attached to 100 tug boats doesn’t work, then it’s winch time. Remove all of the containers from the Ever Given, then find some enormous, heavy ships, perhaps aircraft carriers or barges or other container ship. Make sure they’re nice and heavy — winching a Toyota Land Cruiser with a Suzuki Jimny rarely works — and anchor them down. Then hook up some winches, and pull the Ever Given out of its hole. Also, since this canal doesn’t seem that wide, maybe just winch from the shore.

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I’m fairly sure the digging, winching, and tug boat-ing methods have been employed to no avail. That means it’s Maxtrax time. Seriously, just two bright orange boards. Squeeze them between the ship and the mud, put the ship into reverse, and prepare to be amazed. It’s simple physics.

Raphael Orlove — Let My Ever Given Go

As I prepare for this year’s Passover seders this weekend, it strikes me as odd that anyone would want to remove a crossing over the Red Sea. This seems like one of the things you leave to God to figure out when God is good and ready.

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Look at Moses! He defeated Pharaoh’s magicians with a cool snake. He led the Jews out of bondage in Egypt. He personally delivered the Ten Commandments, and got the Jews spared from God’s wrath over the golden calf. He led them through the desert and all the way back to the Promised Land. Did he get to enter with the Jewish people? No he did not. He was impatient one time and hit a rock to get some water and God banned him from it. Maybe give God a minute here. Or 40 years. Whatever.

José Rodríguez Jr. — The Answer Is Beavers

I don’t know much about waterways or sea-faring or logistics, but I know of two brilliant dudes who just might: The Beaver Brothers! Dag and Norb, short for Daggett and Norbert, can surely move the Big Boat and get the Suez Canal flowing again.

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Illustration for article titled Jalopnik's Foolproof Plans For Freeing The Suez Canal Ship [Updated]
Screenshot: Nickelodeon

I mean, these two are like the Tappet Brothers of irrigation. They’ve got an impressive CV overflowing with experience on the water and they won’t eat or sleep until the job is done; they’ll be up all night.

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I’m thinking they can chew us up a wood crane strong enough to get this thing unstuck. David Tracy can consult with the two and check their math to make sure the crane is on the up-and-up.

Jalopnik EIC '48 Willys CJ-2A, '84 Porsche 911, '15 VW GTI, '07 Lexus GX 470.

DISCUSSION

tahoe-guy
GMT800 Tahoe Guy

Two thoughts:

1. This is the funniest thing I’ve read on Jalopnik in awhile. Bravo to everyone.

2. This is a fun thing to think about because it makes you realize that one of these freighters moving at like school-zone speed is literally the most “powerful” object on earth that isn’t a powerplant. Just sheerly based on the function of mass and velocity, it’s momentum needs scientific notation to be realized. That’s why despite Torch’s rocket idea, Rory’s idea of just drilling it with another one is the most practical way of generating enough force to move it.

Fucking awesome.