Freighter stranded in Egypt’s Suez Canal for fifth day after efforts to free it failed

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Freighter stranded in Egypt's Suez Canal for fifth day after efforts to free it failed


A giant container ship got stuck on its side in the Suez Canal in Egypt for a fifth day on Saturday, as authorities prepared to make further attempts to free the ship and reopen an east-west waterway crucial to global shipping.
The owners of Ever Given say a gust of wind pushed it with its massive cargo of more than 20,000 shipping containers sideways into the canal on Tuesday, wedging it between the sandy shores of the canal. The huge ship got stuck in a single track stretch of the canal a few miles from its southern entrance.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, Ever Given’s technical director, said on Friday that an attempt to free him had failed.

Suez Canal traffic blocked by huge ship in Egypt
A general view of Ever Given, which is stuck in the Suez Canal.

Samuel Mohsen / alliance de photos via Getty Images

Plans were underway to pump water from the interior spaces of the ship, and two more tugs are expected to arrive on Sunday to join others already trying to move the massive ship, he said.

A Suez Canal Authority official said they plan to make at least two attempts on Saturday to free the ship when high tide goes down.

A maritime traffic jam rose to around 280 ships outside the Suez Canal on Saturday, according to channel service provider Leth Agencies. Some ships began to change course and dozens of ships were still en route to the waterway, according to data company Refinitiv.

Suez Canal in Egypt
A satellite image from Cnes2021, Distribution Airbus DS, shows the MV Ever Given freighter stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt on March 25, 2021.

Cnes2021 / Distribution Airbus DS / AP

Shoei Kisen chairman Yukito Higaki told a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Imabari, western Japan, that 10 tugs had been deployed and workers were dredging the banks and the seabed. near the bow of the ship to try to get it afloat as the high tide began to die out. .

Shoei Kisen said in a statement on Saturday that the company was considering removing the containers to lighten the ship if the refloating efforts failed, but it would be a difficult operation.

The White House said it had offered to help Egypt reopen the canal. “We have equipment and capabilities that most countries do not have and we are seeing what we can do and what help we can be,” President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday.

A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global chain of shipments. Some 19,000 ships crossed the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade passes through the canal, which is particularly crucial for the transport of oil. The shutdown could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East.

It is not known how long the block will last. Even after the canal that connects factories in Asia to consumers in Europe reopens, pending containers are likely to arrive at busy ports, forcing them to face further delays before unloading.

Apparently anticipating long delays, the owners of the stranded vessel hijacked a sister ship, the Ever Greet, on a route around Africa instead, according to satellite data.

Others are also hijacked. Liquid natural gas carrier Pan Americas has changed course in the mid-Atlantic, now aiming south to bypass the southern tip of Africa, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com.

The Financial Times reported on Friday that a number of shipping groups have contacted the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet about maritime safety concerns for ships that choose to sail south around Africa, which would place them in the waters off the mainland’s east coast which have a long history. piracy.

“Africa is at risk of piracy, especially in East Africa,” Zhao Qing-feng of the Chinese Shipowners Association in Shanghai told FT, saying owners might need to commit forces. extra security to board their ships before making the long voyage.

This is just one more factor that could cause a serious slowdown and potential rise in prices for goods moving to Europe and the United States from Asia, and another headache for a system. global supply chain already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

Egyptian authorities have banned media access to the site. The canal authority said its chief, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, would hold a press conference on Saturday in the town of Suez, a few kilometers from the ship’s site.

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