By: Ryan Malone
The huge vessel, one of the largest of its type in the world, ran aground on Tuesday, causing a backlog of ships in the waterway.
Thursday 25 March 2021 00:46, UK
Huge container ship blocks Suez Canal
original article found at Sky News
Authorities are still "working to refloat" a container ship which ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking the Egyptian waterway, officials have said.
Ten tug boats have been helping with the operation to free one of the world's largest container ships from the vital waterway.
Photos showed a digger removing earth and rock from the bank of the canal around the ship's bow, while satellite images showed its diagonal position across the channel.
Image:The blockage has caused a traffic jam of ships. Pic: Suez Canal Authority
Image:A satellite image shows the Ever Given stranded in the Suez Canal. Pic: Planet Labs Inc via Reuters
Professor Jasper Graham-Jones, a mechanical marine engineer from Plymouth University said: "They would try to be removing anything that is easy to remove, but the location where they are stuck is not near a port, it's actually quite a distance away from anything.
"This is where the clear option is lots and lots of tug boats and digging around the sides."
Reports earlier on Wednesday from marine agent GAC that the Ever Given had been partially refloated were inaccurate, Ahmed Mekawy, an assistant manager at GAC's Egypt office, said.
Mr Mekawy blamed it on "inaccurate information" that the Dubai-based agent had received.
It could take up to two days to move it, an official reportedly told local news outlet Cairo24, but Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Osama Rabie was more optimistic.
He said: "Once we get this boat out, then that's it, things will go back to normal. God willing, we'll be done today."
A southbound convoy was on the move, he told local media, adding that the authority was trying to keep traffic flowing between waiting areas as best it could, while salvage efforts continued.
Dr Laleh Khalili, Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University, said: "A prolonged closure would mean that there would be ships stacking up in both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, riding at anchor, waiting for the canal to open."
Dozens of ships carrying crude, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and retail goods were unable to sail through the canal on Wednesday.
At least 30 ships were blocked to the north of the Ever Given, and three to the south, local sources said.
Several dozen ships could also be seen grouped around the northern and southern entrances to the canal.
Mr Rabie said the SCA was considering compensation for delays, which experts say could run to millions of dollars.
Oil analytics firm Vortexa said that 10 oil tankers carrying 13 million barrels of crude could be affected and rerouting would mean a 15-day delay. Oil prices rose more than 2%.
Image:A queue of ships had formed at both entrances to the canal by 1600, Wednesday
Tiredness may have played a part in the grounding, according to Peter Aylott, the UK Chamber of Shipping's Director of Policy, who described navigating the canal as "exhausting".
It is, he said "a 16-19-hour transition with a lot of preparations either end. Once you're in the canal it's relatively straightforward, it's a bit like a tunnel, but the entrance and the exit are the problems".
The ship ran aground in the narrow shipping channel at about 5.40am GMT on Tuesday, according to its technical manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM).
Operated by Taiwanese transport company Evergreen Marine, the 224,000 tonne, 400-metre long vessel appears to have been blown off course by high winds and a dust storm.
Evergreen Marine said the shipowner told them the Ever Given, which is 59 metres wide, "was suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from the waterway and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground".
The SCA said in a statement it had lost "the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm".
According to GAC, it suffered a blackout when it was travelling northwards in a convoy.
The three-year-old ship is registered in Panama, and was on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China when it became stuck.
BSM said all crew are safe and accounted for and there are no reports of injuries or pollution.
The busy Egyptian shipping lane connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, and is the quickest maritime link between Asia and Europe.
About 30% of global container shipping volumes pass through the canal each day, carrying everything from fuel to consumer goods.
Julianne Cona, who is on the vessel behind - the American-registered Maersk Denver - said the Ever Given was stuck sideways.
She wrote on Instagram: "Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways looks - like we might be here for a little bit."
The waterway, which is around 193km (120 miles) long, was built by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869 - officially opening in 1869.
About 12% of the world's trade volume passes through it, making it one of the world's busiest waterways.
Almost 19,000 ships - or an average of 51.5 ships per day, with a net tonnage of 1.17 billion tonnes - passed through the canal during 2020, according to the SCA.
Evergreen Marine said: "The company has urged the shipowner to report the cause of the accident and to work out a plan with related units such as the canal administration to assist the ship in getting out of trouble as soon as possible."