Egyptian officials reported that one of the world’s largest cargo container ships had blocked all traffic in Egypt’s Suez Canal this week. The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship, was on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands when the incident happened. The vessel turned sideways, blocking the narrow, human-made waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula.
Cargo container ship affected by Strong Winds
It wasn’t immediately clear to Canal authorities what had caused the container ship that carries trade between Asia and Europe to turn sideways. GAC, worldwide shipping and logistics organization, described the ship as suffering from a blackout while transiting in a northerly direction. According to them, the lack of power caused the ship to become grounded in the canal.
The Evergreen Maine Corp, a major Taiwan-based shipping company, on the other hand, provided a different reason as to why the ship stopped working. The company that operates the ship said in a statement that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. The company said the wind caused the ship to turn, but none of its containers had sunk. Additionally, all the crew remained safe and accounted for, with no reports of injuries or pollution from the vessel.
An Egyptian official speaking on condition of anonymity also told reporters that the strong winds caused the incident. Egypt’s weather forecasters had reported the possibility of high winds and sandstorms a day before the incident occurred. The forecasters predicted gusting winds as much as 50 kph (31 mph).
The Ever-Given set to disrupt global shipping
From MarrineTraffic.com, Ever Given’s bow could be seen touching the canal’s eastern wall from satellite data. The ship’s stern, on the other hand, looked lodged against the canal’s western wall. Several tug boats encircled the ship, likely trying to push it the right way. An image posted on Instagram by a user on another cargo ship also showed the Ever Given wedged across the Suez Canal, as seen in the satellite data.
The Ever-Given ran ground some 6 Kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the Southernly mouth of the Suez Canal near Suez’s city. The area of the canal is a single lane. Egyptian officials said tugboats would manage to refloat the ship, but the operation would take at least two days. This has raised worry as the blockage might disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.
Problems affecting the Suez Canal
About 50 vessels on the average move within the Suez Canal every day. With the closure of the pathway, no vessels will manage to transit any goods north and south. Each day the canal remains closed container ships, and tankers don`t deliver fuel, food, and manufactured goods to Europe. Moreover, goods exported from Europe cannot reach the Far East.
The Suez Canal was launched in 1869. It provided a crucial link for natural gas, oil, and cargo shipped from East to West during the time. Currently, around 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway. The canal remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. However, the incident involving the Ever Given marks just the latest to affect mariners amid the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of crew members and captains remain stuck aboard vessels due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, shipping demands have increased, adding to the pressure on tired sailors.