Ever Given container vessel unblocked from Suez Canal

The giant Ever Given container ship that has blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week has been successfully refloated.

Ever Given

Ever Given – a vessel that is 400m long and nearly 60m wide – had been wedged in the canal since 23 March 2021, blocking all shipping traffic.

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According to Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), the course of the ship was adjusted by 80 per cent, with its rear pulled away from the shore by about 102m.

Tugboats will assist the vessel away from the grounding site and reposition it in the Great Bitter Lake for a seaworthiness inspection that will determine whether the ship can resume its service.

Ever Given is a 220,000 ton, 20,000 TEU-class container ship currently leased by Evergreen Marine Corp and deployed on a Far East-Europe service route.

The ship completely blocked the canal which is home to as much as 12 per cent of the world’s seaborne trade and caused a backlog of hundreds of ships waiting to enter the Suez Canal. Boskalis assisted with the salvage operation and said around 30,000 cubic metres of sand was dredged and 11 harbour tugs, plus two seagoing tugs, were deployed to shift Ever Given.

Peter Berdowski, CEO Boskalis said: “Our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given on 29 March at 15:05 hrs local time, thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again. The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented.”

Commenting on the disruption to shipping and trade, Paul Adams, director at management consultancy, Vendigital, said: “At last, the shipping industry can breathe a sigh of relief, but the backlog of vessels could take several weeks to ease.

“Further up the chain, Western companies reliant on raw materials or parts from Asia should expect some disruption to deliveries over the next few weeks. The impact will vary by sector but many manufacturers are dealing with reduced volumes at present.

“The speed at which global trade picked up at the end of last year was a surprise for many manufacturers and where appropriate, they have been keeping more stock in the system to build in additional agility. The Suez Canal blockage is yet another example of an unforeseen event causing significant supply chain disruption and it further underlines the importance of creating a more resilient operating structure.”