Egypt's Suez Canal Authority welcomes cooperation with US in dislodging giant container ship blocking waterway

Ahram Online , Friday 26 Mar 2021

On Thursday, the SCA began extensive dredging operations to remove 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand from around the vessel’s bow in an attempt to float the ship

Suez Canal
A satellite image shows stranded container ship Ever Given after it ran aground in Suez Canal, Egypt March 25, 2021. REUTERS

Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said it “looks forward to cooperating with the United States” in efforts related to dislodging the giant Ever Given container ship that has blocked the canal since Tuesday.

In a short statement on Friday morning, the SCA said it “values the offer of the US to contribute to these efforts,” expressing gratitude for all the other offers of assistance to free the container ship.

The SCA affirmed keenness on ensuring the resumption of regular global maritime traffic in the strategic canal as soon as possible.

The SCA's welcoming of the US assistance comes as efforts continued for a fourth consecutive day to dislodge the giant Ever Given cargo ship that has blocked the waterway since Tuesday after it dislodged sideways before running aground.

On Thursday, the SCA began using two dredgers to remove 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand from around the vessel’s bow in an extensive attempt to float the ship.

The dredging operations, which are underway in cooperation with the Dutch firm Smit Salvage, targets reaching a depth level of 12 to 16 meters to allow for the vessel’s floating.

Egypt hired Smit Salvage, a subsidiary of the Dutch marine services company Boskalis, to help with the rescue and flotation operations of the vessel, which is 400 metres long, 59 metres wide, and can carry up to 224,000 tons

Flotation efforts underway include towing and pushing the vessel through nine large tug boats, each two of which are have a towing power of 160 tons.

The SCA's suspension of all navigation through the waterway on Thursday stopped the world's busiest maritime trade route linking Asia and Europe.

The number of vessels stranded in Suez or at anchor awaiting transit rose to over 200 vessels, according to shipping expert Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

Rough calculations suggest westbound traffic is worth around $5.1billion daily while eastbound traffic is worth $4.5 billion, according to Lloyd’s.

About 12 percent of world trade passes through the Suez Canal, which is the fastest water artery between Europe and Asia.

The canal is a main source of foreign currency for Egypt, bringing in $5.6 billion in revenues in 2020. 

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