Fresh bid to dislodge stranded Suez Canal container ship gets under way

Fresh bid to dislodge stranded Suez Canal container ship gets under way”

The chief of Egypt's Suez Canal Authority said on Saturday that technical or human errors led a giant container ship to become stuck in the canal, as pressure mounted to clear the global waterway.

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What is the Suez Canal?

The blockage of Egypt's Suez canal by a giant container ship is causing a "traffic jam" in the Red Sea, according to a merchant seaman on a nearby ship.

About 10 per cent of world trade flows through the canal, which is particularly crucial for transporting oil.

"Shipping companies are being forced to confront the spectre of taking the far longer route around the Cape of Good Hope to get to Europe or the east coast of North America", said Lloyd's List, a shipping data and news company.

The ship's bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal.

Worldwide companies are preparing for the effect that the canal's blockage will have on supply chains that rely on precise deliveries of goods.

The backlog of vessels could stress European ports and the global supply of containers, already strained by the coronavirus pandemic, according to IHS Markit, a business research group.

According to BBC data based on information from navigation tracking devices, more than 160 ships are held up in front of the Suez Canal, and include 24 oil tankers and ships that carry consumer goods. More than 150 other ships (shown here as yellow and orange dots) are waiting for the Ever Given (in the red square) to get out of their way.

It remained unclear how long the blockage would last.

Plamen Natzkoff, an expert at VesselsValue, said teams would likely throw even more resources behind their efforts in the coming days to make the most of that opportunity.

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The canal extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez.

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If the tides don't help free the vessel, Shoei Kisen said in a statement Saturday that it would consider removing the containers to reduce the vessel's weight.

A team from Boskalis, a Dutch firm specialized in salvaging, started working with the canal authority Thursday.

The MV Ever Given has been wedged diagonally across the span of the Suez canal since Tuesday.

The Suez Canal Authority, which operates the waterway, deployed tugboats and a specialized suction dredger that is able to shift 2,000 cubic meters of material every hour.

The canal has had to contend with ever larger container vessels using the average tonnage per container ship reaching 119,000 tonnes in the 12 months to 28 February, 2020 from 93,500 in 2015, according to Panjiva.

An excavator tries to free the ship.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the Ever Given to become wedged on Tuesday. GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, had previously said the ship had experienced a power blackout, but it did not elaborate. And when Britain, France and Israel invaded Egypt - the former two to protect corporate interests that hinged on the Canal - the many hypocrisies of the colonisers' "liberal values" were exposed in the original Suez Crisis.

Mohab Mamish, the Egyptian presidential adviser on Suez Canal projects and sea ports, told MBC Misr TV a floating crane should be used to transfer some of the Ever Given's containers to another ship to lighten the vessel and enable it to float.

"Many companies are looking at their risk-mitigation strategies and determining what they can do to ensure that their supply chains aren't disrupted too much", he said.

Oechtering also could not say what the investigation had determined the cause of the 2019 crash was, but officials at the time suggested that strong winds may have blown the slow-moving freighter into the ferry.

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