Giant cargo ship with all Indian crew blocks the Suez Canal. All you need to know

30 March 2021

Digging efforts are ongoing as a way to remove sand from the front hull of the vessel to tug the vessel from the side.

The giant cargo ship Ever Given remained stuck in the Suez Canal for the third consecutive day creating a huge backlog of ships in the canal. The Japanese owner of the ship, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, has said that the entire crew of 25 Indian nationals were safe and no oil leaks have been detected, reported the BBC.

The Suez Canal authority has temporarily suspended traffic along the waterways while some experts predict that it will take several days to clear the canal costing global trade billions of dollars.

“I can’t exclude that it can last weeks if the ship is really stuck,” Bloomberg quoted Peter Berdowski, chief executive officer of Boskalis Westminster, the parent company of the salvage team as saying.


“It is like an enormous beached whale. It's an enormous weight on the sand. We might have to work with a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tug boats and dredging of sand,” Berdowski added, reported Reuters.

What has happened so far


The front of the ship is wedged around 5 meters into the canal wall, restricting the re-floating efforts, reported Bloomberg.


The trouble began on Tuesday as the strong winds kicked up sands along the banks of the 120-mile narrow Suez canal. The over 200,000-tonne vessel was on its way from China to Rotterdam when the gusts as high as 46 miles an hour swept the dust around it making the crew lose control of the ship. Then the ship dashed into a sandy embankment that blocked nearly the entire canal. The vessel is still in the same position as it was when it careened, Bloomberg quoted Inchcape Shipping Services, a maritime services provider


Digging efforts are ongoing as a way to remove sand from the front hull of the vessel to tug the vessel from the side.




The 400 meters long ship has choked both ways of one of the busiest canals linking Asia with Europe. A line of 156 large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels with grains have created a massive traffic jam, also referred to as one of the worst shipping jams seen in years.


Around 30 per cent of the world’s shipping container volume and 12 per cent of the total global trade of all goods pass through the narrow canal.


As per rough estimates, the blockage in the backdrop of the global economy affected by Covid-19 will cost about $9.6 billion worth of traffic a day, as per Lloyd’s List. Westbound traffic is worth around $5.1 billion a day and eastbound traffic is around $4.5 billion a day, reported Bloomberg.

Kaisha has apologised for the disruption but said dislodging Ever Given seems extremely difficult, reported BBC. “In co-operation with local authorities and Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, a vessel management company, we are trying to refloat [the Ever Given], but we are facing extreme difficulty,” BBC quoted Kaisha as saying.


The shipping container vessels have nearly doubled in size in the past decade, even with the Suez Canal widening and deepening to make the transit easier. The block highlights the risk for the shipping industry as the ships get bigger and waterways get congested making such incidents common.


Container ships have to wait for the canal to get clear or opt for sailing around the southern tip of Africa, Cape of Good Hope, which will take two more weeks of travel.

Nick Sloane, the salvage master that led the re-flotation of the capsized cruise ship at the coast of Italy in 2012 believes that the best chance for normal shipping will return by Sunday or Monday when the tide will reach its peak. The salvors may have to lighten the vessel by unloading heavy elements from the ship, even fuel for that matter, things that aid the ship to keep steady at sea.

By | Edited by Deepali Sharma

UPDATED ON MAR 25, 2021 11:02 PM IST

Comments (0)

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