Additional tugs will arrive by Sunday to attempt floating ship blocking Egypt's Suez Canal: BSM

Menna Alaa El-Din , Friday 26 Mar 2021

'The focus is now on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow,' the technical manager of the Ever Given said

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

An attempt on Friday to re-float the giant Ever Given container ship blocking Egypt’s vital Suez Canal has not been successful, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the technical manager of the container ship, announced.

According to an official statement, BSM said Dutch rescue team Smit Salvage team, which has been hired by Egypt to help in efforts to free the ship, confirmed that two additional tugs of 220 – 240 T bollard pull will arrive by 28 March to assist in the re-floating attempts.

“The focus is now on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow,” it said.

A specialized suction dredger arrived on site on Thursday to support the dredging operations, BSM said, adding that the dredger can shift 2,000 cubic meters of material per hour.

“Arrangements are also being made for high-capacity pumps to reduce the water levels in the forward void space of the vessel and the bow thruster room,” BSM said.

It added that initial investigations suggest that the vessel, transiting northbound through the waterway while en route to Netherland’s Rotterdam, was grounded due to strong wind.

BSM added that all 25 crew members, all Indian nationals, remain onboard safe and in good health.

Earlier on Friday, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie said dredging operations around the giant Ever Given container ship blocking the canal have reached 87 percent of target.

Rabie said the SCA's dredger Mashhour, which began operations on Thursday evening, removed around 17,000 cubic meters of sand from around the vessel’s bow.

The SCA's tug boats Baraka 1 and Ezzat Adel will resume towing attempts after the completion of the targets in the dredging work, he explained.

The dredging operations, which are carried in coordination with Smit Salvage, target removing 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand from around the bow in order to reach a depth level of 12 to 16 meters to allow the vessel to float.

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

Over 200 vessels have been stranded in Suez or at anchor awaiting transit due to the blockage, 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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