Home — Travel n Tour Massive cargo ship turns sideways, blocks Egypt’s Suez Canal

Massive cargo ship turns sideways, blocks Egypt’s Suez Canal

Massive cargo ship turns sideways, blocks Egypt’s Suez Canal

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A cargo container ship that’s among the largest in the world has turned sideways and blocked all traffic in Egypt’s Suez Canal, officials said Wednesday, threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic. The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship that carries trade between Asia and Europe, became grounded Tuesday in the narrow, artificial waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the Ever Given to turn sideways in the canal. Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said in a statement provided to The Associated Press that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea, but none of its containers had sunk. GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, described the Ever Given as suffering “a blackout while transiting in a northerly direction” without elaborating.


Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 50 kph (31 mph). An Egyptian official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists, similarly blamed a strong wind in the area for the incident. “All crew are safe and accounted for,” said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, who manages Ever Given. “There have been no reports of injuries or pollution.” The management company denied the ship ever lost power.

Egypt's Suez Canal

The Ever Given’s bow was touching the canal’s eastern wall, while its stern looked lodged against its western wall, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com. The data showed that several tug boats surrounded the ship, likely attempting to push it correctly. An image posted to Instagram by a user on another waiting cargo ship appeared to show the Ever Given wedged across the canal as shown in the satellite data. A backhoe appeared, digging into the sandbank under its bow to free it.

The vessel ran aground some 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southern mouth of the canal near Suez, an area of the channel that’s a single lane. The Egyptian official said tugboats hoped to refloat the ship and that the operation would take at least two days. That could have a significant knock-on effect for global shipping moving between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, warned Salvatore R. Mercogliano, a former merchant mariner and associate professor of history at North Carolina’s Campbell University.

“Every day, 50 vessels on average go through that canal, so the closing of the canal means no vessels are transiting north and south,” Mercogliano told the AP. “Every day the canal is closed … container ships and tankers are not delivering food, fuel, and manufactured goods to Europe, and goods are not being exported from Europe to the Far East.”

The Ever Given had listed its destination as Rotterdam in the Netherlands before getting stuck in the canal. The ship, built in 2018, with a length of nearly 400 meters (a quarter-mile) and a width of 59 meters (193 feet), is among the largest cargo ships in the world. It can carry some 20,000 containers at a time.

In 1869, the Suez Canal provided a crucial link for oil, natural gas, and cargo shipped from East to West. Around 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway, and it remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. In 2015, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government completed a significant canal expansion, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest vessels. However, Ever Given ran aground before that new channel portion. The incident Tuesday marks just the latest to affect mariners

amid the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands have been stuck aboard vessels due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, shipping demands have increased, adding to the pressure on tired sailors, Mercogliano said.”. “It’s because of the breakneck pace of global shipping right now. Shipping is on a very tight schedule,” he said.””. dd to it, that mariners have been unable to get on and off vessels because of COVID restrictions.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here