Satellite images show dozens of ships stranded in the Gulf of Suez – at the northern end of the Red Sea – while the 1,300-foot-long Ever Given is stuck diagonally in the channel, blocking their winding path.
Tiny Dover satellites operated by San Francisco-based company Planet and the Airbus-built Pleiades satellite captured soaring images of the flotilla waiting to enter the blocked channel, Space.com reported.
The mix of stranded ships includes at least 41 bulk carriers, 33 container ships, dozens of tankers and at least one Russian warship, The Drive reported, citing Lloyd’s List.
The fully loaded Ever Given – moving 220,000 tons – was hit by unexpected high winds on Tuesday that pushed it into the banks of the 673-foot-wide canal.
Meanwhile, several shipping companies around the world have contacted the U.S. Navy over the possibility of pirates targeting their rerouted ships, the Financial Times reported.
Rescue experts said it would take weeks to resolve the mess, which has forced the industry to consider anchoring billions of dollars in cargo at sea or taking long – and potentially risky – routes around the ‘Africa.
A spokesperson for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet told the Financial Times that he had received several inquiries over the past two days from shipping companies about maritime security in the region, which has a history of piracy.
Zhao Qing-feng, an official with the Chinese Shipowners Association, said there are safety considerations in re-routing vessels.
“Africa is at risk of piracy, especially in East Africa,” he told the outlet, adding that companies may need to hire additional security guards.
Willy Lin, chairman of the Hong Kong Shippers Council, said warships from various countries may be needed to protect ships in the region.
While pirates have long targeted ships along East Africa, there has been a recent surge in kidnappings at sea and other maritime crimes in West Africa.
The US Navy told the Financial Times that naval operations had not yet been affected in the region, but companies feared that if the blockade continued, their ships could be at risk.
James Wroe, head of line operations at Denmark’s Maersk Asia Pacific, wrote on social media that the decision to redirect the ships was a “roll of the dice,” according to the outlet.
On Friday, tugs and a specialized suction dredger worked to dislodge the Ever Given as nearly 240 other vessels remained stranded indefinitely.
Using data from the Automatic Identification System’s trackers on vessels at sea, data company Refinitiv shared analysis with The Associated Press showing that more than 300 vessels remained en route to the waterway during the two following weeks.