Suez Canal Partially Reopens as Ship Refloats

The Ever Given was partially refloated early Monday and is nearly free. The ship has been obstructing traffic in the Suez Canal for nearly a week, disrupting global trade. It is the fastest route from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the East Coast of the United States.

In what appeared as the culmination of one of the largest and most intense salvage operations in modern history, the giant cargo ship Ever Green blocking one of the world’s most strategic maritime arteries was pulled out from the shoreline and set partially afloat again early Monday. This has raised hopes that the gridlock experienced in the past six days could be cleared to ease movement in the Suez Canal.

The Ever Green Ship Credit: AFP

The Ever Green slowly regained buoyancy after a concerted effort from rescue teams working on both land and water for five days and nights.  An extremely delicate mission, with crews attempting to move the 400m-long Ever Given ship weighing 200,000 tonnes without unbalancing it or breaking it apart. Although it has a maximum capacity of 20,000 containers, it is currently carrying 18,300 containers.

Credit: Scott Reinhard

The 400m long Ship is wedged diagonally across a canal that is not more than 200metres wide. Egyptian authorities including shipping officials expressed optimism that the ship would soon be completely free.

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According to the Suez Canal Authority, although the ship was moving, a protrusion (the bulbous bow) at the front of the ship just below the waterline must be clear of debris or obstructions from rocks, otherwise, the early optimism may fade away.

Footages on social media showed tugboat crews rejoicing over the development in the predawn hours. The next high tide is expected to peak at 11:42 a.m. local time, and crews will continue manoeuvres as the water rises.

Nearly 12% of global trade, around one million barrels of oil, and approximately 8% of liquefied natural gas pass through the canal each day. The daily blockade of the canal puts global supply chains another day closer to a full-blown crisis as vessels packed included vehicles, crude oil, electronics, livestock among others.   

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Offical sources, corroborated by the SCA chairman Osama Rabie states that for each day of the blockage, the Canal authorities record between $14m-$15m loss.

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