Stranded ship blocking Suez Canal partially refloated, more work needed

WION Web Team
Cairo, Egypt Published: Mar 29, 2021, 09:52 AM(IST)

The stranded Ever Given container Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The SCA said Ever Given has been straightened in the canal and further tugging operations would resume once the tide rises later on Monday. Marine traffic through the canal will resume once the ship is directed to the lakes area, a wider section of the canal, it added.

A colossal container ship blocking Egypt's Suez Canal for nearly a week has been partially refloated, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said on Monday.

An official from Shoei Kisen said the skyscraper-sized Ever Given was "stuck at an angle of 30 degrees towards the canal but that has eased," adding that the ship "has turned" but it "is not afloat."

The SCA said Ever Given has been straightened in the canal and further tugging operations would resume once the tide rises later on Monday. Marine traffic through the canal will resume once the ship is directed to the lakes area, a wider section of the canal, it added.

A video posted on social media appeared to show the ship's stern had swung around, opening space in the canal.

The 400 metre (430 yard) long Ever Given became wedged diagonally across a southern section of the canal amid high winds early on Tuesday, blocking one of the world's busiest waterways. The obstruction is holding up $9 billion each day in global trade and straining supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

About 15 per cent of world shipping traffic transits the canal and hundreds of vessels are waiting to pass once the blockage is cleared.

At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, SCA Chairman Osama Rabie told Egypt`s Extra News on Sunday.

Rabie earlier said he hoped it would not be necessary to remove some of the 18,300 containers to lighten the ship's load, but that strong tides and winds were complicating efforts to free it.

Tugging attempts restarted on Saturday afternoon and further efforts were planned on Saturday night and Sunday morning, SCA sources said, though they added it could be necessary to remove more sand from around the ship to free it. The Suez Canal Authority had earlier said in a statement that tugging operations to free the ship had resumed.

Also read | Russia offers to help Egypt in freeing Suez Canal ship

Dredgers removed some 20,000 tonnes of sand from around its bow by Friday. A Dutch firm working to free the vessel said it could be freed by the start of next week if heavier tugboats, dredging and a high tide succeed in dislodging it.

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Saturday thanked foreign partners for offers to help refloat the ship.

Fourteen tugs had been involved in efforts to refloat the Ever Given till Saturday.

Shipping rates for oil product tankers nearly doubled after the ship became stranded, and the blockage has disrupted global supply chains, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

(The headline and the text of the story have been edited to accommodate the statement by the marine services firm.)

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