Attempts to free Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal postponed till Monday

Ahmed Morsy , Sunday 28 Mar 2021

Two additional tugboats have been deployed to aid efforts to re-float the skyscraper-sized vessel wedged for almost a week across the crucial waterway

Ever Given
A view shows the stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, after it ran aground, in Suez Canal, Egypt March 27, 2021. (Photo: Reuters)

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has decided to postpone Sunday's attempt to re-float the Ever Given container ship blocking the canal until sufficient tug power is in place, Suez Canal’s service provider Leth Agencies said.

According to the tide table, the service provider said a likely time for the next attempt is Monday evening.

The high tide, which is favourable for re-floating attempts, occurs every 12 hours. According to Tide Forecast website, the Suez Canal will witness a high tide on Monday at 11:42am Cairo time (GMT+2) and then on Tuesday at 12:08am.

Earlier on Sunday, Leth Agencies announced that the scheduled towing operation for the massive container ship was adjourned from 4pm to 10pm Cairo time (GMT+2) to utilise favourable tidal conditions.

Two additional tugboats have been deployed to aid efforts to free the skyscraper-sized vessel wedged for almost a week across the crucial waterway.

The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard, a specialist tugboat, arrived at the location on Sunday, according to the ship's technical management company, Bernard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM).

The second one is the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno was also close, having reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data from showed.

Both tugboats, along with at least 10 others already there, will nudge the 400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, said BSM.

Head of the SCA Osama Rabie said on Sunday the authority has intensified dredging work around the bow of the Ever Given to reach a depth of 18 metres and consequently facilitate the efforts to re-float the giant vessel.

Rabie explained that the dredging work is mainly executed by the authority’s Mashhour dredger, which removed 27,000 cubic meters of sand, as well as other onshore excavators that are able to get closer to the ship more than Mashhour, which has to stay at least 10 meters away from the ship for safety considerations.

An additional dredger the THSD Causeway would arrive from Cyprus by 30 March, BSM said on Sunday.

In parallel, the Egyptian authorities are preparing for the undesired scenario of offloading the ship, which would probably take weeks, to ease the salvaging process of the vessel.

Rabie revealed in TV statements that the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ordered preparations for unloading the Ever Given.

With the number of stranded ship rose to 369 due to the closure of the canal for the seventh day, Rabie declared that the authority "is considering discounts for vessels" affected by the jam.

The canal is losing $13-14 million in revenue daily due to this blockage.

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