Containership in Suez Canal partially freed, Dutch dredging company says
Container ship the Ever Given, that ran aground last Tuesday in the Egyptian Suez Canal, has partially been freed. The rear of the 224,000-ton ship was loosened with the help of dredgers. “But that is no reason to cheer now”, CEO of Dutch dredging company Boskalis, Peter Berdowski, said to the AD. It is still unclear exactly how long it will take before ships can pass through the canal again.
The 400-meter-long vessel still has not been completely detached. “The head is still firmly stuck. You won’t hear me say that prying the ship loose is a piece of cake.” Boskalis sent a team to Egypt last week to help free the container ship and clear the canal.
A second ship to tug the Ever-Given out of the clay will arrive on Monday morning. In total, that will make 13 tugs that are busy trying to get the whole ship floating again. Detaching the ship from the ground, however, is tricky business. The tug must carefully pull the nose of the ship and guide it back to deeper water, according to Boskalis. If the tug pulls too hard, it could cause severe damage to the vessel.
Plan B to remove the boat is to inject water with high pressure under the ship, thereby, lifting it from the clay that is restricting it from moving.
A last solution would be to lift containers off the Ever Given, reducing its weight and making it easier to pull from the ground. “But we prefer not to do that because it is very time-consuming”, Berdowski says. The process would not only take a lot of time, but is also dangerous given the strong winds that blow over the Suez Canal. “When those containers are lifted ten meters into the air, they drift with the wind. It is different from lifting containers off of a stable ship in the port of Rotterdam.”
The congestion caused by the Ever-Given means that over 320 ships are waiting to pass. Should the back-up continue much longer, it could have serious consequences for world trade. Around twelve percent of global trade, worth ten billion dollars, passes through the 193-kilometer waterway every day. Some shipping companies opted to circumvent the blockade by taking a much longer route around the South Africa's Cape point.