Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, center, head of the Suez Canal Authority, with a team walk along the bank of the Suez Canal where the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, has become wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway. (Suez Canal Authority via AP)

Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, center, head of the Suez Canal Authority, with a team walk along the bank of the Suez Canal where the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, has become wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway. (Suez Canal Authority via AP)

Ship still stuck in Suez Canal as backlog grows to 150 other ships

The vessel has been stuck sideways for the past 3 days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping

Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked Friday to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping.

The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground in the narrow canal that runs between Africa and the Sinai Peninsula. It got stuck in a single-lane stretch of the canal, about six kilometres (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.

The ship, owned by the Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, has blocked traffic in the canal, causing headaches for global trade.

Around 10% of world trade flows through the canal, which is particularly crucial for the transport of oil. The closure also could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East.

At least 237 ships were waiting for the Ever Given to be cleared, including vessels near Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez on the Red Sea and those already stuck on a lake mid-canal, said Leth Agencies, which provides services for the canal.

Using data from Automatic Identification System trackers on ships at sea, data firm Refinitiv shared an analysis with the AP showing that over 300 ships remained en route to the waterway over the next two weeks.

Some ships now may be changing course to avoid using the Suez Canal. The liquid natural gas carrier Pan Americas changed course in the mid-Atlantic, now aiming south to go around the southern tip of Africa, according to satellite data Friday from MarineTraffic.com.

Internationally, many are getting ready for the effect that the shipping pause will have on supply chains that rely on precise deliveries of goods. Singapore’s Minister of Transport Ong Ye Kung said the country’s port should expect disruptions.

“Should that happen, some draw down on inventories will become necessary,” he said in a Facebook post.

The backlog of vessels could stress European ports and the international supply of containers, already strained by the coronavirus pandemic, according to IHS Markit, a business research group. It said 49 container ships were scheduled to pass through the canal in the seven days following Tuesday, when the Ever Given became lodged.

The delay could also result in hefty insurance claims by companies, according to Marcus Baker, Global Head of Marine & Cargo at the insurance broker Marsh, with a ship like the Ever Given usually covered at between $100 – $200 million.

But as of Friday morning, the vessel remained grounded, Leth Agencies added, as Egyptian authorities prohibited media access to the site. It remains unclear when the route would reopen.

“We certainly hope that the canal will be open, and the accident can be handled properly as soon as possible,” said a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, Hua Chunying.

An Egyptian official at the Suez Canal Authority said those trying to dislodge the vessel wanted to avoid complications that could extend the canal closure. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to talk to journalists. In a Friday statement, the authority said it welcomed offers of international support to help free the vessel, including one from The United States. It did not specify what kind of assistance was offered.

Satellite and photos distributed by the canal’s authority show Ever Given’s bow touching the eastern wall, while its stern appeared lodged against the western wall.

A team from Boskalis, a Dutch firm specialized in salvaging, started working with the canal authority Thursday. The rescue efforts have focused on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow.

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 authority said late Thursday that it would need to remove between 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters (530,000 to 706,000 cubic feet) of sand to reach a depth of 12 to 16 metres (39 to 52 feet). That depth is likely to allow the ship to float freely again, it said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the Ever Given to become wedged on Tuesday. GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, said the ship had experienced a blackout without elaborating.

Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said in a statement that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the canal from the Red Sea, but that none of its containers had sunk.

The Suez Canal Authority also blamed bad weather for the incident.

The Ever Given was involved in an accident in northern Germany in early 2019, when the freighter ran into a small ferry that was moored on the Elbe river in the port city of Hamburg. No passengers were aboard the ferry at the time and there were no injuries, but the collision caused serious damage to the boat.

Hamburg prosecutors opened an investigation of the freighter’s captain and pilot on suspicion of endangering shipping traffic, but shelved it in March 2020 for lack of evidence, spokeswoman Liddy Oechtering told The Associated Press on Friday.

Pilots from Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority board transiting ships to guide them through the narrow canal, but the ship’s captain retains ultimate authority over the vessel, according to shipping experts.

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Map show what athorities will have to do the move the Ever Given vessel from the Suez Canal.

Map show what athorities will have to do the move the Ever Given vessel from the Suez Canal.

Just Posted

School District 51 reported a potential COVID-19 exposure at Grand Forks Secondary School on Thursday, April 22. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
School board reports possible COVID exposure at Grand Forks high school

School District 51 said a member of the school community had tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization was considering closing the tower

Fruits and veggies made a big splash at the last Grand Forks and District Fall Fair, held at Dick Bartlett Park and the nearby curling rink in September 2019. Fair president Danna O’Donnell said there would not be a return to in-person events this fall, citing COVID and financial constraints. Photo: Jensen Edwards
Grand Forks fall fair cancels in-person events for 2021

The fair’s board of directors is meanwhile considering relocating the fairgrounds

File photo.
Let’s cut the ‘and’ in ‘Mental Health and Addictions’

We need to acknowledge that addiction is a mental health issue

Four homes in Johnson Flats were at serious risk of falling into a neighbourhood section of the Kettle River, according to capital project manager Justin Dinsdale. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks shields riverside homes against erosion

Crews have built a modified dike along a section of the Kettle River in Johnson Flats

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read