Suez Canal blockage continues into next week, US offers assistance
On Tuesday, the 20,000 TEU Ever Given ran aground while traveling northbound through a single-lane portion of the Suez Canal on her journey from China to Rotterdam. The ship became lodged perpendicular to the Canal, blocking all vessel passage in both directions.
As of Thursday evening, more than 200 vessels were awaiting passage at the north and south ends of the route that connects the Mediterranean and Red Seas and sees fully 12% of world trade by volume pass through it annually, and thirty percent of daily global container traffic.
The Ever Given, built in 2018, is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall – 400 meters or more than 1,300 feet. The Suez Canal Authority, operated by the Egyptian government, has been working to free the vessel which thankfully saw no injuries to her crew or damage to the vessel.
The damage to trade, however, at a time when global supply chains are already severely constrained, is obvious. There are a number of websites now that offer vessel tracking using AIS – essentially GPS data for marine vessels. You can see in this screenshot taken Friday morning the Ever Given wedged in the middle and the massing of vessels to the north and south.
Vessel operators are planning alternate east / west passages which require sailing entirely around the Cape of Good Hope at the continent’s southern tip to get to the other side. These now longer transits are also driving up both freight rates and oil prices.
How long will the Canal be blocked? The vessel’s owner is denying reports that the ship is expected to be dislodged by Saturday night. Attempts to free the vessel at high tide on Thursday failed. Expert salvors are en route from Europe and the United States has offered help and technical expertise as well.
If efforts to free the vessel in her current condition are unsuccessful, then the potentially time consuming process of having to unload her cargo, ballast water and fuel oil might be a necessary step in reducing her draft.
Alba is continuing to monitor both the Ever Given and the vessels trapped at anchor on either side of the passage which are being delayed in their journeys and will continue to keep clients updated as we receive further information from carriers.
Meanwhile, we strongly recommend bookmarking the website gCaptain, a valuable resource that was founded by a maritime captain, as the site is providing wall-to-wall and up-to-date coverage including stories, pictures and videos featuring analysis and news from Egypt.
- Posted by Joe DeSilvetri
- On March 26, 2021
- 0 Comments