One of the most important waterways in the world, responsible for 10 percent of global trade, is currently blocked by a mega container ship that ran aground as a result of intense weather. Naturally, the ship plotted a course before it went sideways that was unfortunate, to say the least.
Updated Monday March 29, 2021 8:53 a.m. EST: The big boat is still stuck, but a little less so. An attempt to refloat the Ever Given failed on Wednesday, with another attempt to be made later on Thursday. Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, which is assisting in the salvage efforts, told a Dutch news station that clearing the canal could take weeks, according to CNBC. In the meantime, the owner of the Ever Given has issued an apology for the blockage according to the BBC:
“In co-operation with local authorities and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, a vessel management company, we are trying to refloat [the Ever Given], but we are facing extreme difficulty,” the owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, said in a statement on Thursday.
“We sincerely apologise for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal,” it added.
Lloyd’s List estimates that should the Ever Given be stuck for weeks, it would cost the global economy a staggering $10 billion in trade per day:
Westbound traffic carrying goods in containers is worth about $5.1 billion daily, and eastbound traffic is worth about $4.5 billion, bringing the total cost of the disruptions to $9.6 billion each day, shipping news website Lloyd’s List reported.
The ship was moved 100 feet down the canal Monday morning, causing tugboat operators to honk their horns in victory. There’s still a lot to be done however, and the bow of the ship is still firmly planted in the soft sandy Egyptian soil.
An advisor to the Eqyptian government and former Suez Canal Authority chairman is hopeful that the Ever Given will be dislodged from its spot in the Suez Canal over the weekend, CBS reports:
Efforts to dislodge one of the world’s largest cargo vessels, stuck sideways across the narrow canal since Tuesday, were picking up, and while one of the teams in charge of the operation said it could take weeks, an advisor to Egypt’s president offered a more optimistic time table.
Mohab Mamish, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s advisor on seaports and the former chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told the AFP news agency on Thursday that navigation through the canal “will resume again within 48-72 hours, maximum.”
Officials have been trying to free the Ever Given since high winds and a powerful sandstorm caused it to run aground Tuesday morning. Freeing the massive cargo ship certainly doesn’t sound like an easy task, as CNN reports:
The Ever Given, which is sailing under the flag of Panama, is lodged at the 151-kilometer (94-mile) mark of the canal after entering the the crucial East-West trade route on Tuesday morning. The container ship ran aground when it was approximately 6 nautical miles from the southern end of the estuary, Evergreen Marine, the vessel’s operating company, said in a statement.
Eight tug boats are working to float and unblock the 59-meter-wide (193.5 feet) vessel, which was en route to the port of Rotterdam, after 40-knot winds and a sandstorm caused low visibility and poor navigation, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement Wednesday.
“The vessel is 400 meters in length and 59 meters in width, with a total tonnage of 224,000 tons,” the authority added.
Officials with the Suez Canal Authority warned it could take a few days to free the Ever Given. Indeed, the tiny tugboats and construction equipment attempting to free the ship seem hilariously underpowered, but the canal officials seem to know what they’re doing. If it takes any longer, significant delays to shipping goods, as well as resources like gas and oil, could effect global markets.
The ship also made a few unfortunate navigational choices just before getting stuck and shutting down the vital global trade route, as Vice.com pointed out via John Scott-Railton, a researcher who checked out Vesselfinder.com.
The dick pic is pretty apt, considering how completely boned the ship currently is, along with the hundreds of vessels currently snarled in massive traffic jams at both ends of the all-important passage connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. At least 50 ships a day pass through the canal, according to the canal authority, and those ships have to stay put for the time being. Not a great solution, but the only one available at the moment:
We will update this story as it progresses.