Ship “partially refloated”, but still stuck in the Suez Canal

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SUEZ, EGYPT – Engineers ‘partially refloated’ on Monday the colossal container ship that continues to block traffic on the Suez Canal, a canal services company said, without providing more details on when the ship would be. fully paid up.
Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed that the vessel’s bulbous bow, once firmly lodged in the east side of the canal, had been partially torn from shore – although it remained stranded. With the bow no longer sunk into the bank, the ship’s stern had tilted and was now in the middle of the waterway, according to tracking data.

Almost a week ago, the Ever Given skyscraper got stuck on its side in the crucial waterway, creating a massive traffic jam. The obstruction has blocked $ 9 billion every day in global trade and strained supply chains already weighed down by the coronavirus pandemic. At least 367 ships, carrying everything from crude oil to livestock, were still waiting to pass through the canal, while dozens took the alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, adding around two weeks in travel and threatening delivery delays. .

The partial release of the ship came after intensive efforts to push and pull the ship with 10 tugs when the full moon brought in the spring tide, Leth Agencies said, raising the water level in the canal and hoping for a breakthrough. Videos widely shared on social media appeared to show tugs in the horn-sounding channel to celebrate Ever Given being ripped from shore, the most significant sign of progress to date.

On Monday morning, an Associated Press reporter could see that the ship’s position had changed – where previously only the stern of the ship was visible, the side of the ship could now be seen.

Lt. Gen. Oussama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, confirmed that the vessel had been partially refloated after successfully responding to “push and pull maneuvers.” He said workers had straightened the vessel’s position by 80% and the stern had moved 102 meters (334 feet) from the canal bank.

The price of international benchmark Brent crude fell about 2% on the news, to just over $ 63.

When high tide returns at 11:30 a.m. local time on Monday, rescue teams will resume their attempts to pull the ship down the middle of the waterway and toward Great Amer Lake, a large body of water midway between the ‘north and south end of the canal, where it will undergo a technical review, he said.

During the night, several dredgers had worked hard to suck 27,000 cubic meters of sand and mud from around the ship. Another powerful tugboat, Carlo Magno, arrived on the scene to join the efforts on Monday.

Although the vessel is vulnerable to damage in its current position, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the Ever Given, dismissed concerns on Monday, saying the vessel’s engine was functional and could continue on its journey. normally when released. It was not clear whether the Japanese ship, flying the Panamanian flag, carrying goods from Asia to Europe, would be heading to its original destination, Rotterdam, or whether it will have to enter another port for repairs. .

Shipowners and operators did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the vessel’s partial refloating on Monday.

Ship operators have not offered a timetable for reopening the crucial canal, which carries more than 10% of world trade, including 7% of world oil. More than 19,000 ships passed last year, according to the canal authorities. Millions of barrels of oil and liquefied natural gas flow through the Persian Gulf artery to Europe and North America. Chinese-made goods – furniture, clothing, supermarket staples – destined for Europe must also pass through the canal, or take a detour 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) around the southern tip of Africa.

The unprecedented shutdown threatened to disrupt oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East and raised fears of prolonged delays, good shortages and increased costs for consumers.

Canal authorities desperately tried to free the ship relying solely on tugs and dredges, even as analysts warned that a ship 400 meters long and weighing 220,000 tons could be too heavy for such an operation. . As the window for a breakthrough narrows with the high tide receding this week, fears have grown that authorities will be forced to lighten the ship by removing the ship’s 20,000 containers – a complex operation, requiring specialized equipment. not found in Egypt, which could take days. or weeks.

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DeBre reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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