One of the largest cargo container ships in the world has turned sideways and blocked all traffic in Egypt’s Suez Canal, threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.
The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship that carries trade between Asia and Europe, became grounded on Tuesday in the man-made waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula.
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 Suez Canal from the Red Sea but none of its containers had sunk.
Here are the latest updates:
Ship in blocked convoy in Suez Canal on move, say source and witness
The first ship from a convoy that had been blocked by the stranded vessel in the Suez Canal is on the move, indicating a resumption of traffic in the waterway, a shipping source and witness told Reuters.
Port agent GAC said the stranded ship had been partially refloated and moved alongside the canal bank.
Container ship’s bulbous bow stuck in shore
A large part of the bulbous bow of the Ever Given was stuck in the shore of the Suez Canal, as excavator cranes were seen trying to dig out the the ship.
Wow.. It seems there almost all bulbous bow of the Ever Given stick in the shore.. Considering the mass and size of the vessel, it is understandable why they still cannot pull it out.
For comparision pic.twitter.com/nzpt0gXLjB
— Yuri Lyamin (@imp_navigator) March 24, 2021
Tankers blocked from traversing in both direction
Tracking maps shown the ship grounded in the southernmost stretch of the waterway, between the Great Bitter Lake and the Red Sea port of Suez.
At least 30 ships were blocked to the north of the Ever Given, and three to the south, local sources said. Several dozen ships could also be seen grouped around the northern and southern entrances to the canal.
A mega containership called EVER GIVEN got stuck in the southern end of the Suez Canal and has now blocked off a lot of fully-laden tankers from traversing in either direction. Tankers carrying Saudi, Russian, Omani and US oil are waiting on both ends. #OOTT @MarineTraffic pic.twitter.com/sGu2ztN9O5
— TankerTrackers.com, Inc.⚓️🛢 (@TankerTrackers) March 23, 2021
GAC said on Wednesday on its website that 15 other ships in the northbound convoy behind the Ever Given were detained at anchorages waiting for the canal to be cleared. A southbound convoy was also blocked.
Egypt’s Suez Canal: A history of the key route
Egypt’s Suez Canal opened 150 years ago. Since then, it has been regularly expanded and modernised and today is capable of accommodating some of the world’s largest supertankers.
Here is a look back at key stages in the enlargement of the waterway, which handles roughly 10 percent of international maritime trade.
Container ship partially refloated: Port agent GAC
The container ship has been partially refloated in the canal and traffic is expected to resume soon, port agent GAC told Reuters.
Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said it was working to refloat the ship, with the authority’s chairman saying older sections of the canal were being opened in a bid to ease the bottleneck of backed-up marine traffic.
Pictures posted on social media showed the ship positioned diagonally across the canal, blocking its full width. Photos shared by the SCA showed a digger removing earth and rock from the bank of the canal around the ship’s bow.
Oil prices climb over Suez blockage
Oil prices climbed as investors assessed the impact on global crude flows after the ship ran aground, Bloomberg reported.
Here’s the full story: Suez canal blockage sends oil prices rebounding after sell-off
Ten crude tankers could be affected by Suez Canal blockage
Ten tankers carrying 13 million barrels of crude could be affected after a container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking vessels passing through, oil analytics firm Vortexa said on Wednesday.
The approximate rate of backlog is about 50 vessels a day and any delays leading to re-routings would add 15 days to a Middle East-to-Europe voyage, Vortexa told Reuters news agency.
The uncertainty over the blockage sent oil prices up, as investors tried assessed the impact on the global crude market.
‘Strong winds’ behind ship’s stranding: official
A Egyptian official, who spoke to The Associate Press news agency on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to brief journalists, blamed a strong wind in the area for the incident.
Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area on Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 50km/h (31 mph).
Egypt’s Alexandria and Dekheila ports, which both lie along the Mediterranean, were closed on Wednesday due to poor weather conditions, the Alexandria Port Authority said in a statement.