Cairo: The mammoth cargo vessel ‘Ever Given’ suck for past six-days in the Suez Canal was freed by Salvage teams after the giant vessel ran aground in one of the world’s most important trade paths. The ship got stuck on Tuesday due to strong sand storm.
While the ship is floating again, it wasn’t immediately clear how soon the waterway would be open to traffic, or how long it will take to clear the logjam of more than 450 ships stuck, waiting and en route to the Suez that have identified it as their next destination.
The backlog is one more strain for global supply chains already stretched by the pandemic as the canal is a conduit for about 12% of global trade. Some ships have already opted for the long and expensive trip around the southern tip of Africa instead of Suez.
The breakthrough in the rescue attempt came after diggers removed 27,000 cubic meters of sand, going deep into the banks of the canal.
-27,000 cubic meters of sand were dug out, to a depth of 18 meters
-Egypt had set a deadline of Tuesday to start unloading the ship if it wasn’t refloated yet
-The ship’s front was damaged, though the vessel is stable
-Explainers: Why the Suez Canal is so important, and why shipping was in a bind even before this crisis.
History of Suez Canal
It is to be mentioned that, the 120-mile-long Suez Canal is a man-made waterway linking the Red and Mediterranean seas. It is owned by Egypt and generates a large chunk of revenue for the country.
When it opened in 1869, the canal increased the ease of global trade by offering a route that circumvented the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. It remains crucial to international trade, including for the oil sector.
In 1956, Israel, Britain and France invaded Egypt in an attempt to seize control of the strategic waterway after the country nationalized it and later, their forces withdrew from the country.
In 2015, Egypt government launched a major and costly renovation of the canal.
How did the giant vessel get stuck?
Cargo ship navigation through the canal is a carefully planned operation. According to figures from the Suez Canal Authority, more than 50 ships passed through it on average each day last year.
Despite of the the expansion completed in 2015 provided two separate shipping lanes for some parts of the canal, the area near the Gulf of Suez where the ‘Ever Given’ got stuck on Tuesday is just one 984-foot wide lane.
The ‘Ever Given’, larger than the Eiffel Tower, is one of the largest ships in operation, at 193 feet wide and 1,312 feet long, exactly the maximum length allowed in the canal.
During a sandstorm this week, the ship was battered by heavy winds and the large number of containers it was handling may have acted as a sail, forcing it off course to become wedged sideways across the canal. However, its two pilots on board during the incident along with the 25 crew members, were all reported safe.