Cargo ship shifted from Suez Canal blockage but supply bottlenecks expected

Author: Morgan Condon

2021/03/29

LONDON (ICIS)--The giant container ship lodged in the Suez Canal for almost a week has been cleared, according to maritime services company Leth Agencies.

The 400m-long vessel Ever Given was freed at 15:00 local time (14:00 BST) from the canal where it had been stuck since 23 March.

It has since started moving to Great Bitter Lake, which is connected to the Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea via the Suez Canal, to be inspected.

According to VesselFinder, Ever Given was en-route to the Port of Rotterdam and had been expected to arrive on 31 March.

All traffic on the Suez Canal remains temporarily suspended, according to Leth, with a total of 367 vessels waiting in the area.

Of these, 154 vessels are waiting at the north of the Port Said Anchorage, Egypt, with a further 171 waiting in the south and 41 ships waiting in the Great Bitter Lake in the Midway.

“For the refloating of the 224,000-tonne container vessel approximately 30,000 cubic meters of sand was dredged to help free the vessel and a total of eleven harbour tugs and two powerful seagoing tugs (Alp Guard and Carlo Magna) were deployed,” said dredging firm Boskalis, involved in freeing the vessel.

Initial efforts to refloat the vessel shifted Ever Given’s position 80%, widening the gap between the ship and canal bank to 102m from 4m, according to the Suez Canal Authority.

Although the waterway has been cleared, supply chains will face a bottleneck due to all of the delayed vessels waiting to travel the Suez Canal.

“Even when the canal gets reopened, the ripple effects on global capacity and equipment are significant and the blockage has already triggered a series of further disruptions and backlogs in global shipping that could take weeks, possibly months, to unravel,” said global shipping major Maersk.

Indian Minister for ports and shipping Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted that traffic would become normalised in the next 5-6 days and that Indian ports were gearing up to mitigate all consequential effects.

Prior to the Ever Given being cleared, some ships had been re-directed to travel around the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

Visit the ICIS Suez Canal closure topic page for analysis of the impact on chemical markets and links to latest news.

Front page image released by Suez Canal Authority: The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, is pulled by one of the Suez Canal tugboats. Source: Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock.