The grounded ship Ever Given was nonetheless within the passageway
The Suez Canal crisis stretched until the sixth Sunday with little hope that a massive, grounded ship blocking transit through the vital passage would soon be moved.
Eleven tugs worked all day and all night on Saturday in addition to the ongoing dredging work, which removes sand and mud from the Ever Given, one of the largest cargo ships in the world, according to the ship’s technical manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) .
Two more tugs joined the effort on Sunday. The Ever Given, 200,000 tons and nearly a quarter mile long, got stuck Tuesday in a narrow section of the canal – about 985 feet wide – near the Egyptian city of Suez.
The workers tried to take advantage of the tide, which was aided by a full moon on Sunday evening, a Suez Canal Authority pilot told The Associated Press. The full moon provides a spring or royal tide where the tide is higher and the ebb is lower due to the effects of gravity during a straight line alignment of the earth, moon and sun.
“Sunday is very critical,” said the pilot, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to instruct journalists. “It will determine the next step, which will most likely involve at least partial unloading of the ship.”
Removing some or all of the cargo could add days to efforts to remove the Japanese-owned ship from the canal. Hundreds of ships are waiting to be crossed.
How did Evergreen’s ship get stuck? A closer look at the heaviest traffic jam in the world.
The canal is operated by Egypt through the state Suez Canal Authority. According to estimates by the German insurer Allianz, the 120 mile long shipping connection between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea accounts for around 13% of world trade.
“We reckon that every day of immobilization could cost world trade $ 6-10 billion,” the alliance said in a statement.
In the US, the blockade could exacerbate months of growling in the global supply chain and lead to a shortage of products such as toilet paper, coffee and furniture in the US
A prolonged shutdown could also drive energy prices up – nearly 2 million barrels of oil flow through the canal every day. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments north to Europe and elsewhere from the Middle East. Syria has started rationing fuel amid concerns about late deliveries.
Some shipping companies are rerouting ships across Africa, thinking this will be faster than waiting for the canal to reopen for a few more days – and then a few more days for the backlog of ships to move through it.
As long as it was an overturned skyscraper, the Ever Given was sailing with two canal pilots on board through the canal north to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, when it was stuck in the mud.
Blocking the Suez Canal could exacerbate shipping delays: Bottlenecks possible
BSM said its initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure. Canal authorities said they had not ruled out these possibilities, adding that high winds in a sandstorm ultimately pushed the ship to one side. The bow is aground on the east bank of the canal and the stern on the west bank. The result was a traffic jam of more than 320 ships.
No one was injured during the grounding and the crew was removed from the ship.
“After floating again, the ship will undergo a full inspection and BSM will fully cooperate with the authorities on all investigations,” the company said.
Featuring: Paul Davidson, George Petras, and Stephen J. Beard, USA TODAY; The Associated Press