Suez Canal ship 'now moving,' owner and officials say

Monday, 29 Mar, 2021

A specialist US Navy team is heading to the Suez Canal to to advise local authorities attempting to free the huge container ship that has been stuck there for days. According to a study by German insurer Allianz, each day of the blockage in the canal could cost global trade between $6 billion and $10 billion.

The SCA announced on Friday resuming efforts to re-float the ship, using 9 big tugboats, including "Baraka 1" and "Izzat Adel", after the completion of the dredging work near the vessel's bow using "Mashhour" dredge.

Teams using excavators and tugs have battled to free the ship, hoping to refloat it without having to remove its cargo - a complex and time-consuming operation that would involve handling thousands of containers far from the usual port facilities.

The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields, has been wedged diagonally across the span of the canal since Tuesday, blocking the waterway in both directions.

In an interview with Egypt's Extra News on Sunday, Osama Rabie, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, said Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al Sisi ordered preparations for lightening the ship's cargo.

Ikea and Dixons Carphone are among retailers with goods stuck on the container ship that is now stranded in the Suez Canal. He said that workers had straightened the vessel's position by 80% and that the stern had moved 102 meters (334 feet) from the canal bank.

Shoei Kisen, the ship's Japanese owner, told Nikkei that the ship was pulled by tugboats, as well as engaging the engine of the ship to add power.

Egypt orders lightening stranded ship's cargo in Suez Canal
Officials preparing to remove cargo from ship blocking Suez Canal

A canal official, who requested anonymity, said that the team on the ground had started technical checks, and were reassured that the ship's motor was working.

Ever Given's bow has been partially moved and the operation to free it completely is continuing, said the people, asking not to be identified given they're not authorized to speak to media.

On Sunday evening a shipping company, Leth agencies, had said Egyptian authorities had decided more tugboats were needed to shift the vessel and had postponed the refloating attempt around Sunday's high tide.

The crisis has forced companies to reconsider re-routing vessels around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, a longer and more expensive way to travel between Asia and Europe. Nowadays, the canal oversees around eight percent of global maritime trade annually, and tolls paid by passing vessels are a vital income source for the Egyptian government.

Ikea had around 110 containers on board the ship, and is looking into whether more of its products are delayed on other vessels waiting to enter the channel.

Syria had already begun rationing fuel as the blockage of the Suez Canal has worsened the country's shortages.