Suez Canal: Huge Ever Given container ship is 'partially refloated'

Monday, 29 Mar, 2021

Leth Agencies said early Monday that the modest breakthrough came after intensive efforts to push and pull the ship with 10 tugboats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at spring tide.

The Gibraltar-flagged container ship Indian Express (C-front) and the Panama-flagged container ship Elegant (C-behind) near the entrance of the Suez Canal, by Egypt's Red Sea port city of Suez, March 28, 2021.

Lloyds List, a shipping data and news company, said it had also seen a "surge" in vessels opting to go around Africa instead of waiting for the canal to be cleared. The THSD Causeway, a dredger registered in Cyprus, was expected to arrive by Tuesday.

Aerial photos from a plane flying over the Suez Canal on Saturday have shown just how bad the traffic jam of ships has become, five days after a giant container ship ran aground and blocked the vital trade route.

With more than 360 ships waiting to enter the canal, which handles around 10% of worldwide maritime trade, Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi ordered preparations to begin to remove some of the 18,300 containers from the vessel.

Rabie said that the president authorized the acquisition of special equipment necessary to move some of the 18,000 containers from the vessel.

Billions of dollars-worth of cargo is now stalled at either end of the Suez Canal and each passing day results in millions of dollars in losses for Egypt and commercial enterprises around the world.

A top pilot with the canal authority, speaking on the condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief journalists, confirmed that the ship had been partially refloated and said that workers were still struggling to dislodge the bow.

Race To Free Giant Ship From Suez Canal Continues
We are racing against time to return navigation to the Suez Canal, says Egypt's Prime Minister - Egypt Independent

However, at least one initial report suggested a "blackout" struck the vessel, which was carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.

Around 9000 tons of ballast water have been removed from the ship, Mr Rabie said, with the dredging taking place during low tides while 14 tugs worked during high tides. He said officials had been in talks with the U.S. about that possibility, without elaborating.

The official from Shoei Kisen said the Ever Given was "stuck at an angle of 30 degrees towards the canal but that has eased", adding that the ship "has turned" but it "is not afloat". Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal a year ago, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal.

The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East.

Officials began preparing to unload cargo from the Ever Given after the massive cargo ship has remained lodged in the Suez Canal since Tuesday. Rabei told the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya that authorities planned to offer provisions to help them.

Nearly as long as New York's Empire State Building is high, the ship is diagonally blocking the 193-kilometre (120-mile) long canal, and more than 320 ships are stalled at either end, Rabie said.

"The current number (of) redirected Maersk and partner vessels is 14 and expected to rise as we assess the salvage efforts along with network capacity and fuel on our vessels now en route to Suez", the shipper said.

Concerns rose over the weekend about the impact of the blockage on global supply chains.