The 400-meter-long Ever Given wedged diagonally over a southern section of the canal amid high winds early Tuesday, blocking one of the world’s busiest waterways.
More than 20,000 tons of sand have already been removed by dredges, while 14 tugs were deployed on Saturday to use high tides to move the Japanese ship 400m.
In a major breakthrough, rescue crews reportedly told NBC News foreign correspondent Raf Sanchez that they had managed to move the massive transporter about 30 meters.
Mr Sanchez wrote on Twitter: “Rescue crews say they managed to move the vessel about 30m. This is something, but not enough when you have a ship almost the height of the Empire State Building blocking the #Suez Canal.
“12 tugs will be in action today in an attempt to continue the progress. ”
Over the weekend, progress was made in the movement of the vessel through a combination of dredging equipment around the tanker and pulling and pushing the vessel with tugs.
However, strong winds and a strong tide made the job of freeing the boat more difficult.
The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard and the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno, called in to help the tugs already present, reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez on Sunday morning, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com.
The tugs will push the Ever Given as the dredges continue to suck sand under the ship and stuck mud on the port side, said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, who manages the Ever Given.
Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei said an investigation was underway but did not rule out human or technical error.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that “the first investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as the cause of the grounding”.
However, at least one initial report suggested that a “power failure” had struck the ship, which was carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.
Asked when they plan to release the ship and reopen the canal, Lt. Gen. Rabei replied, “I can’t say because I don’t know.”
Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd, the company that owns the ship, said it plans to remove the containers if further refloating efforts fail.
Workers plan to make two attempts on Sunday to free the ship, coinciding with high tides aided by a full moon on Sunday night.
Peter Berdowski, chief executive of Boskalis, told Dutch TV show Nieuwsuur on Friday that he expected the ship to be released on Sunday evening.
“If we fail to release it next week, we will have to remove some 600 containers from the bow to reduce the weight,” he added.
“It will put us back at least days, because where to leave all those containers will be a big headache.”
Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly thanked foreign partners on Saturday for their offers to help bail out the ship.
Tanker shipping rates nearly doubled after the ship failed, threatening costly delays for businesses already facing Covid-19 restrictions.
It comes as experts warned of price hikes in UK stores after the lockdown caused global trade to fall.
Buyers may find it difficult to source products ranging from screws to patio furniture, as experts have warned that the “phenomenal impact” of the Ever Given blockage will be felt for “months”.
About 10 percent of world trade passes through the canal, with some 19,000 ships passing through last year, according to official figures.
The shutdown could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has started rationing fuel distribution in the war-torn country amid fears of shipments delays due to the blockage.
As of early Sunday, more than 320 ships were waiting to cross the waterway, either to the Mediterranean or to the Red Sea, according to channel services company Leth Agencies.
Dozens more have still indicated that their destination is the canal, although shippers increasingly appear to be avoiding the passage.
The world’s largest shipping company, Denmark’s AP Moller-Maersk, has warned customers it will take between three and six days to clear the backlog of ships on the canal. Already, the firm and its partners are expecting 27 ships there.
“We have so far redirected 15 vessels where we estimated that the delay in navigation around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa was equal to the current delay in navigation to Suez and the line of ‘waiting,’ said the sender.
Mediterranean Shipping Co, the second largest in the world, said it has already hijacked at least 11 ships around the African Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal.
He pushed back two other ships and said he expected “missed departures as a result of this incident.”
“The MSC expects this incident to have a very significant impact on the movement of containerized cargo, disrupting supply chains beyond the existing challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. declared.