According to official information, the giant container ship “Ever Given” which ran aground in the Suez Canal is free again. A Reuters reporter saw the ship move. A so-called ship tracker and Egyptian television showed the freighter in the middle of the canal.
The tugs involved in the rescue operation sounded their ship’s horns to celebrate the successful rescue, as reported by AFP correspondents. “We freed them,” said the Dutch salvage company Boskalis. The experts from the subsidiary Smit Salvage, in close cooperation with the sewer authority, succeeded in getting the “Ever Green” going again at around 3 pm.
In order to get the ship loaded with 13,800 containers afloat again, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) had recently prepared an unloading. Ultimately, however, the ship was released with the help of tugs. According to Boskalis, 30,000 cubic meters of sand had to be dug up for this. 13 tugs were in use. According to the salvage company, Ever Given is now to pass the Suez Canal and will then be technically checked.
The complete towing was “not an easy exercise,” warned Berdowski on the Dutch radio.
The canal operator SCA announced on Monday that traffic in the waterway, which is so important for global shipping, would be resumed. The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had not yet made a public statement on the situation in the Suez Canal. On Monday he said Egypt had ended the crisis and secured resumption of trade through the canal.
The accident disrupted supply chains around the world. The Danish shipping company Maersk said that even if the canal is now reopened, there will still be weeks, if not months, significant effects on international shipping. The corona pandemic had already led to bottlenecks in entry and clearance in ports around the world. At Maersk and also at Hamburg’s rival Hapag-Lloyd, several ships are directly affected by the recent blockade, as they either got stuck in the canal, had to wait in front of them or were diverted.
According to the canal authority, around 370 ships were waiting for passage on both sides of the canal, including 25 oil tankers. Financial news service Bloomberg reported 450 ships waiting on Monday. Several shipping companies had already started sending their ships across the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.
According to Maersk, it could take at least six days before the traffic jam can be completely resolved. The canal operator SCA, on the other hand, assumes a maximum of three days and promised to accelerate the transport of the waiting ships through the canal after the Ever Given has been salvaged. “We won’t waste a second,” promised SCA chairman Osama Rabie.
The Kiel Institute for the World Economy is also expecting after-effects for world trade after the Ever Given has been salvaged. The rating agency Fitch assumes that reinsurers will face losses of hundreds of millions of euros because of the blockade. This will have an impact on the balance sheets and will also drive up the prices for reinsurance for shipping.
On the other hand, the railway reports positive effects: According to a company spokesman, the blockade in the Suez Canal has noticeably increased the demand for rail transport to and from Asia. With ten days, the trains to China were only about half as long as the ship. The demand had already increased with the beginning of the pandemic.
The first effects of the day-long canal blockade can already be felt: Syria said on Saturday that it had started rationing the fuel supply in response to a lack of oil delivery.
Animal rights activists worried meanwhile about the fate of 130,000 sheep on board of eleven Romanian freighters. The veterinary authorities in Bucharest announced on Saturday evening that contact had been made with the transport companies for the live animals. This would have assured “that there is enough food and water on board for the coming days”.
At the weekend, hopes rose for the first time that the “Ever Given” could be made afloat again. 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.
The head of the Japanese ship owner Shoei Kisen, Yukito Higaki, said there were no problems with steering and propulsion: “As soon as the ship moves again, it should be operational.”
The first ships were diverted
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.
Regardless of the progress, several major shipping companies such as Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd planned 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 ways of transporting the cargo by air or rail “over the Silk Road” are currently being examined.