A Massive Ship Has Gotten Stuck And Blocked The Suez Canal

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It’s creating hindrance for one of the most important global shipping waterways.

A gigantic container ship is stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, creating hindrance for marine traffic via one of the world’s engaged and most critical waterways, based on a Wednesday statement from the Bernhard Schulte Ship management (BSM) company.

Rescue boats (almost eight!) are attempting to float and release the vessel — known as the Ever Given — which is 193.5 ft (59 m) long. The ship ran ashore after 40-knot winds, and a sandstorm minimized visibility and the ship’s ability to navigate.

The Suez Canal is an important shortcut for Egypt’s worldwide business — warranting direct water-based transportation between Europe’s Mediterranean Sea and Asia via the Red Sea. Multiple centuries ago, navigators touring or shipping goods had to move around the southern coast of Africa, immensely increasing shipping times and efficiently dividing the two sides of the greater Eurasian geographical region.

Through this time, the waterway has been extended in various instantiations from roughly 2,000 B.C. It wasn’t until 1869 A.D. that the Suez Canal was properly opened under French reign, decreasing the travel distance by 43%. While Egypt has long since earned its independence from colonial powers, the canal is still a critical connection between the two parts of the world.

The 224,000-ton ship, which sailed below a Panama flag, was traveling down the 119-mile (192-km) waterway on the way to the Dutch port of Rotterdam when it was moved off course by high winds and a sandstorm. The ship — which is as long as the Empire State Building is tall — is right now stuck between this global outcross at the canal’s 94-mile (151-km) point.

Many other convoys to the south are stopped now. All Ever Given crew is secure, with no reports of casualties, pollution, or even cargo damage. Investigation on the accident has already crossed out mechanical or engine failure due to the colossal ship being stuck, based on the press release.

The Suez Canal Authority’s instant efforts are to securely re-float (or “un-ground”) the colossal vessel, post which the ship will be inspected, based on the BSM press release.

Tanker Trackers — which use satellite and maritime data to monitor passing vessels — said the incident created other nearby ships’ tailbacks. “Tankers carrying Saudi, Russian, Omani, and U.S. oil are waiting on both ends,” said the entity, according to a CNN report.

The ship was en route north from the Red Sea when it struck an obstacle at approximately 1:40 AM EDT, experiencing a complete blackout, based on a Reuters report stating the port agents. Almost 15 other ships on a northbound heading following the Ever Given were held at anchorages while the canal is re-opened. Another convoy, farther south, is also choked.

Wedged ship in Suez Canal could take a prolonged period to re-float

According to the Suez Canal Authority, almost 19,000 ships — counting an average of 51.5 ships daily and a net tonnage of 1.3 tons of shipping — moved via the canal in 2020. The artificial canal gives a crucial waterway passage to approximately 12% of global trade volume — becoming a major source of hard currency for Egypt.

“This can have consequences on freight very much,” stated a shipbroker from Singapore to CNN. “If it continues longer, it can result in shipment delays both ways.” Oil and gas flow worldwide will be overblown, but the shipping hiccup limit will be based on the time duration it takes to clear the container ship.

“If it increases to, say, weeks, it will, of course, affect all shipping hugely,” said Managing Director Ashok Sharma of Singapore-based shipbroker BRS Baxi in the CNN report. “But I believe there should be enough resources available and pretty much close to deal with the situation fast, in days instead of weeks.”

It’s difficult to say how long this shipping will stay stalled in the Suez Canal, as the eight tug boats work to re-float the Ever Given and move it on its way. But it’s riveting to note how even now, with so many global events based on extremely online happenings on social media — sometimes a massive wedged ship can act as a cork — or thrown shoe — in the system of global business and trade.

This was a breaking announcement and was updated regularly as latest information became accessible.

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