Suez Canal: Wedged container ship 'could soon be refloated'

The stranded Ever Given mega-container in the Suez Canal

The stranded Ever Given mega-container in the Suez Canal

In fact, many people may have never heard of the region until recently, after a massive cargo ship got stuck diagonally across the canal.

A decade later, at the outbreak of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war - also known as the Six-Dar War - Egypt closed the Suez Canal to global shipping traffic.

And while the Japanese owner of the ship has declared that it could be freed as soon as Saturday, experts believe that is an overly optimistic assessment.

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

Elselehdar's ship is the Aida VI, which she navigated through the then-newly expanded Suez Canal in 2015 during its opening ceremony, a milestone detailed in the Arab News article.

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.

Currently, the only alternative to using the canal is to sail around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, adding 14 days and 5,000 nautical miles to the journey.

Some ships now may be changing course to avoid using the Suez Canal.

Shipping companies are increasingly going around the Cape of Good Hope, which could add hundreds of thousands of dollars to fuel costs and more than 10 days to their voyage.

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. It remains unclear when the route would reopen.

"We can certainly do advising, but we cannot escort all of them", the official said.

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Egypt considers compensating stalled ships in Suez Canal
The Ever Given , which is a quarter of a mile long, became wedged across the busy shipping route during a sandstorm on Tuesday. One of the most shared photographs was taken from a ship following the Ever Given , and showed it blocking the canal.

Most of the millennials and Gen Z'ers posting memes about the current Suez Crisis may not be entirely aware of the historical and political symbolism of the canal.

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

The SCA announced on Friday resuming efforts to re-float the ship, using 9 very big tugboats, including "Baraka 1" and "Izzat Adel", after the completion of the dredging work near the vessel's bow using "Mashhour" dredge.

The ship is now wedged sideways in a single-lane stretch of the canal, roughly four miles north of the waterway's southern entrance.

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.

So far, the official said, there has not been any approval for such a move.

"The ship is not taking water".

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the Ever Given to become wedged on Tuesday.

The shipping journal said two major companies, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, were looking into whether to re-route their vessels. At least 200 vessels are backed up at both ends of the canal - at Port Said on the Mediterranean and Suez on the Red Sea - as well as in the canal itself, according to Lloyd's List, a data analyst specializing in container traffic.

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

Approximately 1.9 million barrels of oil are routed through the Suez Canal each day, according to Lloyd's.

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