Vessel Blocking Suez Canal Could Take Days to Weeks to Dislodge
A container ship is wedged across the Suez Canal, blocking one of the world’s busiest waterways since Tuesday. The 224,000-ton vessel could take “days to weeks, depending on what you come across,” said Peter Berdowski the CEO of Boskalis.
The Ever Given, ran aground on March 23rd after being caught in 40-knot winds and a sandstorm that caused low visibility and poor navigation. An attempt to re-float the vessel failed on Thursday morning. Authorities will make another attempt to re-float the vessel Thursday afternoon. At least 160 ships carrying vital fuel and cargo are waiting to pass through the blocked waterway.
Berdowski told Dutch TV that “the ship with the weight that it has now has is impossible to pull.” The first step would be to remove fuel oil and ballast water from the ship and try to move it at high tide. If that is unsuccessful, staff will have to remove containers and try to dig or flush away the sand banks in which the ship is now lodged.
The company SMIT salvage is working to free the ship. SMIT has worked on several high-profile salvage operations in the past, including the Costa Concordia, which was grounded off the coast of Italy in 2012.
Roughly 30% of the world’s shipping container volume transits through the 120 mile (193-kilometer) Suez Canal daily, and about 12% of total global trade of all goods. Incoming ships will now anchor in the waiting areas of the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
Some shipping firms may reroute vessels around the southern tip of Africa, which would add about a week to their journey. Maersk said Wednesday that seven of its vessels have been affected by the crisis.