The “Ever Given” Partially Refloated After Six Days, Suez Canal Authority Says
After getting stuck in the Suez Canal on Tuesday and holding up approximately $9 billion in goods per day, the cargo ship Ever Given has finally been partially refloated. This will soon allow the 367 ships stranded by the blockage to continue on their journeys.
The Ever Given, a 1,400-foot long ship, got jammed diagonally across the Suez Canal on Tuesday, reportedly due to a strong windstorm that caused low visibility. Efforts to move the gigantic ship began soon after, with a total of 14 tugboats working on getting it afloat. After these efforts appeared unsuccessful, the Egyptian government proposed offloading some of the ship’s 18,300 containers, which would have added a couple of weeks to the process.
“If it goes more than five days, then we start to see our schedule back up. I’m sure other ships are on a much tighter schedule than we were… It’s going to affect shipping schedules all around the world,” Joe Reynolds, chief engineer at Maersk Ohio, told the BBC in an interview on Saturday.
Luckily, even though efforts to move the ship had seemed futile for several days, Inchcape, a maritime service provider, has reported today that the ship has been successfully re-floated and is secured at the moment. The Suez Canal Authority said the efforts have successfully moved the ship 334 feet away from the shore and toward the middle of the waterway.
The overall damage is yet to be definitively calculated. However, it’s estimated that each day is costing more than $9 billion due to goods being stuck in containers in the canal, which amounts to approximately $400 million an hour.
An investigation into how the incident happened is also underway. Some preliminary results suggest that faulty equipment or human error could be to blame, instead of a windstorm, as was first thought.
With about 12% of global trade heading through the Suez Canal, representing the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe, the stranded ship has caused a catastrophic blockage in maritime transport.
With the canal blocked, the only alternative route for 367 ships currently waiting for the canal to open is going around the Cape of Good Hope, which would add an additional two weeks to the journey and increase the cost of both fuel and time for such a trip. However, the Ever Given’s sister ship, the Ever Greet, was one of the first ships to reroute.
The jam may yet force ships to change their route to travel around Africa, which not only makes the journey significantly longer and costlier, but also increases ships’ exposure to potential pirate attacks. While many say that the pirate threat along the coast of Somalia has been blown out of proportion and is now under control, it’s still a route many would prefer not to take.
Of course, while almost everyone will welcome the canal’s reopening, the stranded ship has already become an internet sensation, with games and memes exploding on social media networks. It’s safe to say that solving this blockage, especially with the disruption brought on by COVID-19 restrictions and the rise in shipping rates for oil product tankers, is of paramount importance for returning global supply chains to something approaching normal.