Suez Canal Suez Canal Egypt's container ship huge blocked by
Wed, 24 Mar 2021 07:00:00 +0000
A ship the length of four football pitches is wedged across one of the world's busiest trade routes
Dozens of vessels are stuck after a giant container ship became wedged across Egypt's Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest trade routes.
Rescue boats are working to free the 400m-long (1312ft) vessel, which was knocked off course by strong winds.
Egypt says it has reopened the canal's older channel to divert traffic, amid fears it could remain blocked for days.
The incident has already created long tailbacks on the waterway, stopping dozens of other vessels from passing.
About 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.
The Ever Given, registered in Panama, was bound for the port city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China and was passing northwards through the canal on its way to the Mediterranean.
The 200,000 tonne ship, built in 2018 and operated by Taiwanese transport company Evergreen Marine, ran aground and became lodged sideways across the waterway at about 07:40 local time (05:40 GMT) on Tuesday.
At 400m long – the length of four football pitches – and 59m-wide, the ship has blocked the path of other vessels which are now trapped in lines in both directions.
Evergreen Marine said the ship was "suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate…
and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground".
The company that manages the container ship, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), confirmed on Wednesday that "all crew are safe and accounted for", with no reports of injuries.
The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said it was working to refloat the giant ship, using rescue and tug units.
Its chairman, Admiral Osama Rabie, also said they had reopened an older section of the canal to ease the bottleneck of marine traffic caused by the incident.
Diggers are also working on the ground to try to free the ship, which is wedged into the side of the canal bank.
Dr Sal Mercogliano, a maritime historian based in the US state of North Carolina, told the BBC that incidents such as this were rare, but could have "huge ramifications for global trade".
"This is the largest vessel ever to go aground in the Suez Canal," he said, adding that the ship got lodged in the embankment and would have lost power and its ability to steer.
"If they are unable to pull her free…
in a high tide, they are going to have to start removing cargo."
Julianna Cona, who says she is on board another ship located directly behind the Ever Given, 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…"
Experts warn the operation to move the Ever Given, which could include removing large amounts of sand from around the areas where the vessel is grounded, may take days.
The Suez Canal is an artery of world trade, connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, and providing an avenue for vessels to pass between Asia and the Middle East and Europe.
The main alternative, a passage round the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, takes considerably longer.
On average, nearly 50 vessels per day pass along the canal, although at times the number can be much higher than that – accounting for some 12% of world trade.
It is particularly important as an avenue for oil and liquified natural gas, enabling shipments to get from the Middle East to Europe.
The nightmare scenario, then, is for this crucial route to be blocked – which is exactly what has now happened with the stranding of the Ever Given.
The question now is how long the route stays impassable for, as a long delay would create serious problems for shippers – and delay consignments of goods and fuel.
On this occasion, reports suggest traffic could be flowing again relatively quickly, in which case the impact will be limited, although there has been a rise in the oil price.
But the incident has shown what can go wrong when the new generation of ultra-large vessels like the Ever Given have to pass through the relatively tight confines of the canal.
Although parts of it were expanded as part of a major modernisation programme in the middle of the last decade, it remains tricky to navigate – and accidents can happen.
The ship has the capacity to carry 20,000 20-ft shipping containers, according to Reuters news agency.
Nearly 19,000 ships passed through the canal in 2020, according to the Suez Canal Authority – an average of 51.5 ships per day.
In 2017, a Japanese container vessel blocked the canal after it ran aground following reported mechanical issues.
The Egyptian authorities deployed tug boats and the ship was refloated within hours.
1869 waterway first opened
2015canal expanded to include a 22 mile parallel channel
The Suez Canal crosses the Suez Isthmus in Egypt – a strip of land between the Mediterranean and Red Sea.
The canal is 193km (120 miles) long and incorporates three natural lakes.
In 2015, Egypt's government opened a major expansion of the canal that deepened the main waterway and provided ships with a 35km (22 mile) channel parallel to it.
Did you witness the incident? Are you on board another vessel on the Suez Canal? Tell us your story by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist.
You can also get in touch in the following ways:
If you are reading this page and can't see the form you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question or comment or you can email us at HaveYourSay@bbc.co.uk.
Please include your name, age and location with any submission.
Why the Suez Canal matters – in 60 secs
Egypt opens Suez Canal expansion
Israel's Netanyahu short of majority amid vote count
Benjamin Netanyahu might not win enough support to form a new government, latest results show.
Egypt's Suez Canal blocked by huge container ship
New 'double mutant' Covid variant found in India
Why some Americans are choosy about vaccine
Did this Nazi spy for the UK?
'Asian women are not weak, timid, or quiet' Video
Saving a home from fires only to lose it in floods
Russia's Eurovision star 'abused because of birthplace' Video
Fears for democracy as buoyant Bangladesh turns 50
Kente – the Ghanaian cloth that's on the catwalk
The clarinettist who took on Lebanon's vaccine scandal
BBC Worklife: Why ambiverts are better leaders
15 sayings from around the world
New 'double mutant' Covid variant found in India1
Egypt's Suez Canal blocked by huge container ship2
Queen becomes great-grandmother for 10th time3
Myanmar girl, 7, shot 'as she ran into father's arms'4
'I was working 72 hours a week – it was cult-like'5
Israel's Netanyahu short of majority amid vote count6
Oscar-nominated actor George Segal dies aged 877
Who are the victims of the US supermarket massacre?8
'Greed' helped UK's vaccines success, says PM9
EU plans tougher controls on vaccine exports10
© 2021 BBC.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.
Read about our approach to external linking.
Suez Canal Suez Canal
Wed, 24 Mar 2021 07:00:00 +0000
Tailback of ships threatens to delay global shipments and deepen Asia container shortage
Expert insights, analysis and smart data help you cut through the noise to spot trends, risks and opportunities.
Join over 300,000 Finance professionals who already subscribe to the FT.
Then $68 per month
New customers only
Cancel anytime during your trial
BEST VALUE – SAVE 20%
Then $74.75 every 3 months
– March 24, 2021
Suez Canal 2021 Egypt39;s blocked by huge container ship
Suez Canal blocked