The hope that the container ship “Ever Given”, which has been stuck in the Suez Canal for six days, will be able to get afloat again at the beginning of the week, increased further on Sunday. According to the tracking apps MarineTraffic and VesselFinder, two more tugs were on their way to the important waterway on Sunday to help with the recovery. The Dutch specialist company Smit Savage, which was commissioned with the rescue, is also relying on a spring flood that will set in on Sunday evening.
The 400-meter-long and over 220,000-ton container ship went off course in a sandstorm on Tuesday and ran aground near the banks of the Suez Canal. Since then it has blocked the waterway between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and all ships in it cannot continue. Efforts by the Egyptian canal authority SCA have been in full swing since Wednesday to get the “Ever Given” free again.
Most recently, more than 320 ships with cargo worth billions of dollars have been stowed on both sides of the canal. Every day the Suez Canal remains blocked, according to a report by the insurer Allianz, global trade costs between six and ten billion dollars. According to the canal authority SCA, Egypt loses between $ 12 million and $ 14 million per day of closure.
Large shipping companies are evading
The first concrete effects are already being felt: Syria said on Saturday that it had started rationing the fuel supply in response to a lack of oil delivery. Animal rights activists are worried about the fate of 130,000 sheep on board eleven Romanian freighters.
SCA boss Osama Rabie hopes that the “Ever Given” can be made afloat again by Sunday night. Thanks to the 27,000 cubic meters of sand already removed from under the bow and with the help of around a dozen tugs, the ship “moved 30 degrees to the left and right” for the first time on Saturday, he said on Egyptian television. According to the rescue company, the additional unloading of containers is also being considered.
The head of the Japanese ship owner Shoei Kisen, Yukito Higaki, was also optimistic. There are no problems with steering and propulsion, he said on Friday: “As soon as the ship moves again, it should be operational.”
Regardless of the optimistic tones, several major shipping companies such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd are planning to switch to the much longer route via the Cape of Good Hope. The French shipping company CMA CGM told the AFP news agency on Sunday that it had decided to divert two of its ships via the Cape of Good Hope. Other options for transporting the freight by air or rail “over the Silk Road” are currently being examined.
In view of the ongoing blockade, the US Army offered its support. Talks have already been held with the Egyptian authorities, said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Friday. A team of experts from the US Navy could quickly be dispatched to the Suez Canal – a central task of the Central Command responsible for the Middle East is to protect the merchant ships in the region.
The head of the canal operator has now ruled out that the sandstorm alone was responsible for the accident. Technical problems or “human error” may also have contributed.