Saturday March 27th 2021
Blockade by container ship
“Slight movement” in the Suez Canal
The hoped-for exposure of the container ship “Ever Given” in the Suez Canal is progressing in small steps. The shipping and logistics company GAC spoke of more than ten tugs and three dredgers that are in use to reopen one of the world’s most important waterways for trade. There is “slight movement”. The freighter is still aground.
The canal authority announced on Friday evening that nine large tugs were involved in the work. Shipping on the canal was stopped after the 400-meter-long container ship ran aground on Tuesday. This has caused a long traffic jam. According to the authorities, around 320 ships are waiting for passage at both entrances to the canal, the Danish shipping company Maersk speaks of “traffic chaos”.
The ship “Ever Given” of the Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen sails under the Panamanian flag. Admiral Usama Rabi, chairman of the canal authority, did not give a timeframe for the exposure. “We are working around the clock to end the crisis.” Several factors played a role in the maneuvers, especially the wind direction, the rocky bottom and the ebb and flow of the tide, Rabi said. It is a “complicated technical operation”. Unloading the cargo in order to expose the ship is also not ruled out. Rabi said that the cause could not be ruled out due to a technical problem or human error.
US Navy sends team of experts
Egypt’s Prime Minister Mustafa Madbuli spoke of an extraordinary incident. The USA and other countries offered help to Egypt. According to CNN, the US Navy wanted to send a team of experts to the channel on Saturday to investigate the situation.
The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea and thus offers the shortest shipping route between Asia and Europe. In 2020 almost 19,000 ships passed through the canal, an average of around 50 a day. According to Allianz insurance, around 13 percent of the total world trade volume was carried through the canal in 2019. With several expansions, the canal was to remain attractive for ever larger freighters and container giants.
In 2015, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi opened the once again expanded channel in the hope of increasing income and international prestige. It would be a serious damage to the image of Egypt if the uncovering of the “Ever Given” were to take days or even weeks. Some countries have already started to send the first ships on a detour around the Cape of Good Hope. According to the Hamburg shipping company Hapag-Lloyd, this will extend the journeys by around a week. At the same time, the waters off the coast of West Africa, especially in the Gulf of Guinea, are particularly dangerous because of possible pirate attacks.