Rescue and floating operations for massive container ship blocking Suez Canal are underway

Mohamed Soliman , Wednesday 24 Mar 2021

The SCA explained that eight tug boats have been attempting to re-direct the vessel, which is 400 metres long, 59 metres wide and can carry up to 224,000 tons

Suez canal

Operations to rescue and float the giant container ship MV EVER GIVEN that lodged sideways and blocked navigation in the Suez Canal on Tuesday are underway.

The Egyptian Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in an official statement on Wednesday that eight tug boats have been attempting to re-direct the vessel, which is 400 metres long, 59 metres wide and can carry up to 224,000 tons.

The Suez Canal was expanded with a parallel waterway on part of its length in 2015, north of where the Ever Given is stranded.

Two senior Egyptian marine sources said some traffic would be diverted but it was unclear that this could free up congestion, according to Reuters.

The incident took place on Tuesday when the Taiwan-owned container ship that was coming from China and traveling as part of the southbound convoy on its way to Rotterdam lodged sideways at the canal's 151 Kilometre mark, the statement said.

The ability to guide the vessel as it traveled through the canal was lost as a result of the turbulent weather the country experienced yesterday, which led to the incident, the SCA added.

Since the early hours of Tuesday, Egypt has been hit by a sand storm marked by heavy winds that reached up to 40 knots.

The SCA Chairman Osama Rabie revealed that shipping through the original channel of the canal is proceeding normally.

Rabie stressed that the authority is exerting the utmost efforts to ensure the regular movement of ships through the canal in order to serve international trade.

Suez canal
Officials monitor a container ship which was hit by strong wind and ran aground in Suez Canal, Egypt March 24, 2021. REUTERS

About 12 percent of world trade passes through the Suez Canal, which is 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.

Ship's predicament?

Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp, which is leasing the vessel under a time charter, said the shipowner had informed the company that the ship “was suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from waterway and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground," according to Reuters.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the ship’s technical manager, said the Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, ran aground in the canal at around 05:40 GMT on Tuesday. It said an investigation was underway.

Tracking maps showed the ship grounded in the southernmost stretch of the canal, near the Red Sea port of Suez.

BSM said all the crew are safe and accounted for and that there have been no reports of injuries or pollution.

BSM has notified the authorities and “interested parties” but said it could not confirm who is the owner of the ship.

“All parties are currently investigating the cause of the grounding and it would be incorrect to speculate on any one given cause at this time,” BSM said in an e-mail to Reuters.

Oil prices rise

Brent crude rose by $1.75, or 2.9 percent, to $62.54 a barrel by 10:21 GMT on Wednesday, after tumbling 5.9 percent on Tuesday, as Egypt continues efforts end the disruption in traffic in the Suez Canal.

Ten tankers carrying 13 million barrels of crude and oil could be affected by the disruption of navigation in the Suez Canal so far, Vortexa Analytics, the oil and gas analytics platform, said on Wednesday.

“If tankers start diverting towards the Cape, any increase in tonne-miles will increase tanker utilisation and support rising freight rates in the short-term,” tweeted freight analyst Richier Arthur on the company's account.

Suez canal
a part of the Taiwan-owned MV Ever the Suez Canal Authority on March 24, 2021. AP

Suez canal
This satellite image from Planet Labs Inc. shows the cargo ship MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. AP

Suez canal
A container ship which was hit by strong wind and ran aground is pictured in Suez Canal, Egypt March 24, 2021. REUTERS

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