What happened to the ship in the Suez Canal? So far, a whole lot of nothing.
As of Sunday, March 28, the MV Ever Given is still stuck in the Suez Canal — five days after getting wedged between the banks of the waterway.
Worse yet, the jam is holding up billions of dollars of global trade every day, according to estimations, since the Suez Canal passes through Egypt and connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, forming a vital thoroughfare for cargo ships going from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas.
What happened to the ship in the Suez Canal?
On Tuesday, March 23, the Ever Given and its cargo of more than 20,000 shipping containers got stuck in a single-lane portion of the canal, a few miles from the waterway’s southern entrance, after a gust of wind during a sandstorm pushed the ship sideways, according to its owners.
The ship is 164 feet wide and 1,300 feet long — almost as long as the Empire State Building is high — and threading a ship of that size through the Suez Canal is “like brain surgery,” marine underwriter Giora Kaddar told CBS News.
But human error could have contributed to the mishap, too. “A significant incident like this is usually the result of many reasons: The weather was one reason, but maybe there was a technical error, or a human error,” Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, chief of Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority, said during a news conference on Saturday, March 27, per the The New York Times.
Indeed, nearby villagers explained to the Times that similar ships had passed through the canal amid similar weather conditions.
Capt. Paul Foran, a marine consultant, was also skeptical. “I am highly questioning, why was it the only one that went aground?” he told the newspaper. “But they can talk about all that later. Right now, they just have to get that beast out of the canal.”
Efforts to dislodge the ship from the Suez Canal are ongoing.
On Friday, March 26, salvage crews managed to free the Ever Given’s rudder. “Yesterday at 10:30 p.m., the rudder moved and the engines started rolling,” Lt. Gen. Rabie said at Saturday’s conference. “We were hoping for a big push, but the tide was very low. … I cannot give a timetable for when we will be done.”
The president of Shoei Kisen, the Japanese company that owns the ship, announced that 10 tugboats had been deployed to the scene and that workers were dredging the banks and the canal floor near the bow of the ship, according to CBS News. That president, Yukito Higaki, also said in a statement the company may start removing containers from the deck of the Ever Given if the ship can’t be re-floated.
The Suez Canal incident is causing a huge traffic jam.
The Suez Canal provided passage to around 19,000 vessels in 2020, with 10 percent of world trade flowing through the waterway, CBS News reports.
And around 280 ships were jammed up outside the canal as of Saturday, while others had changed course to travel around the southern tip of Africa instead.
According to The New York Times, shipping analysts have estimated that the jam has blocked nearly $10 billion in trade each day. “All global retail trade moves in containers, or 90 percent of it,” Alan Murphy, founder of maritime data and analysis company Sea-Intelligence, told the newspaper. “So everything is impacted. Name any brand name, and they will be stuck on one of those vessels.”