Wednesday, January 19News That Matters

Ship which ran aground in Suez Canal partially refloated, authorities say

Eight tug boats have helped to partially refloat a huge container ship which ran aground, blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal.

Traffic is expected to resume soon, port agent GAC said on Wednesday, citing the Suez Canal Authority.

The first of a convoy of boats blocked by the container ship has started to move again, witnesses have said.

Shipping website Vesselfinder showed 210 ships at either end of the canal, though it’s not clear which were waiting to travel through.

Oil analytics firm Vortexa said that 10 oil tankers carrying 13 million barrels of crude could be affected and rerouting would mean a 15-day delay.

The ship, called Ever Given, ran aground in the narrow shipping channel at about 5.40am GMT on Tuesday, according to its technical manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM).

Operated by Taiwanese transport company Evergreen Marine, the 224,000 tonne, 400-metre long vessel appears to have been blown off course by high winds and a dust storm.

A large shipping container has blocked Egypt's Suez Canal, causing a traffic jam of ships, vessel tracking websites show. Pic: Suez Canal Authority
Image: The blockage has caused a traffic jam of ships. Pic: Suez Canal Authority

Evergreen Marine said the shipowner told them the Ever Given, which is 59 metres wide, “was suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from the waterway and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground”.

According to shipping company GAC, it suffered a blackout when it was travelling northwards in a convoy.

It could take up to two days to move it, an official reportedly told local news outlet Cairo24.

The three-year-old cargo ship is one of the largest in the world.

It is registered in Panama, and was on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China when it became stuck.

BSM said all crew are safe and accounted for and there are no reports of injuries or pollution.

The ship is stuck in the Suez Canal. Pic:
A queue has formed behind the ship
Image: A queue has formed behind the vessel. Pics:

The busy Egyptian shipping lane connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, and is the quickest maritime link between Asia and Europe.

Julianne Cona, who is on the vessel behind – the American-registered Maersk Denver – said the Ever Given was stuck sideways.

She wrote on Instagram: “Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways looks – like we might be here for a little bit.”

The waterway, which is around 193km (120 miles) long, was built by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869 – officially opening in 1869.

About 12% of the world’s trade volume passes through it, making it one of the world’s busiest waterways.

Almost 19,000 ships – or an average of 51.5 ships per day, with a net tonnage of 1.17 billion tonnes – passed through the
canal during 2020, to according to the Suez Canal Authority.

Evergreen Marine said: “The company has urged the shipowner to report the cause of the accident and to work out a plan with related units such as the canal administration to assist the ship in getting out of trouble as soon as possible.”