Cargo ship remains stuck in Suez Canal; wind conditions adding to the woes

WION Web Team
Singapore Published: Mar 25, 2021, 01:55 PM(IST)

The stuck ship Photograph:( Reuters )

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The Ever Given vessel ran aground diagonally across the single-lane stretch of the southern canal on Tuesday morning after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a statement.

A huge cargo ship wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal brought global shipping to a halt Thursday as at least 150 other vessels needing to pass through the crucial waterway idled waiting for the obstruction to clear.

Efforts to dislodge the 400 m (1,312 foot) long container vessel resumed at high tide on Thursday -- with five tugs working to drag the vessel to deeper water, according to ship-tracking data.

The Ever Given vessel ran aground diagonally across the single-lane stretch of the southern canal on Tuesday morning after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a statement. It is now blocking transit in both directions through one of the world's busiest shipping channels for goods, oil, grain and other products linking Asia and Europe.

In the time since, efforts to free the ship using dredgers, digging and the aid of high tides have yet to push the container vessel aside.

Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, which is trying to free the ship, said it was too early to say how long the job might take. He said the ship's bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the technical manager of Ever Given, said dredgers were working to clear sand and mud from around the vessel to free her while tugboats in conjunction with Ever Given's winches are working to shift it.

Marine services firm GAC issued a note to clients overnight saying efforts to free the vessel using tug boats continued, but that wind conditions and the sheer size of the vessel "were hindering the operation".

Ship-tracking software shows five tugs surrounding the Ever Given and three more heading towards it. The ship`s GPS signal shows only minor changes to its position over the past 24 hours, however.

Several dozen vessels, including other large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain have backed up at either end of the canal to create one of the worst shipping jams seen for years. Tug boats also nudged the vessel alongside it, trying to gain momentum. From the shore, at least one backhoe dug into the canal’s sandy banks, suggesting the bow of the ship had plowed into it.

Shipping experts say that if the blockage is not likely to be cleared within the next 24-48 hours, some shipping firms may be forced to re-route vessels around the southern tip of Africa, which would add roughly a week to the journey.

(with inputs)

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