Jammed container ship causes enormously costly traffic jam in Suez Canal

Stuck container ship blocks Suez Canal

The 400m-long container ship Ever Given's hull became wedged lengthwise across the canal on Tuesday, causing a pile-up of at least 100 vessels seeking to transit between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, according to ship brokers and mapping data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ever Given, a almost 60m-wide, 400m-long cargo ship sailing under a Panamanian flag, has caused a transcontinental logjam in the Egyptian waters, which directly connect Europe to Asia.

The lane's water surface width is 313 metres, but the Suez Canal Authority says the navigation channel is between 200 and 210 metres wide.

"The Egyptian government certainly did not expect the route to be blocked both ways by a single ship", said Flavio Macau, a supply chain management expert at Edith Cowan University in Australia, in an interview with The Washington Post.

The Suez Canal is among the busiest waterways in the world, utilised by oil tankers shipping crude from the Middle East to Europe and North America. "There have been no reports of injuries or pollution".

Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said in a statement provided to The Associated Press that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea but none of its containers had sunk.

An image shared by a crew member aboard a ship stuck behind Ever Given gave a glimpse of the colossal traffic jam taking place.

Container ships sail in Suez Canal during the 150th anniversary of the Suez Canal
Container ships sail in Suez Canal during the 150th anniversary of the Suez Canal

Container ships sail in Suez Canal, during the 150th anniversary of the Suez Canal. "Looks like we might be here for a little bit".

Shipping website Vessel Finder said the ship was bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and it is unclear why the supertanker has stopped moving. Vessels to the north and south waited as the tugs tried to free the ship.

The Suez Canal is a crucial global trade route that provides the shortest maritime route from Europe to Asia.

It has been a boon for Egypt's struggling economy in recent years, with the country earning $5.61 billion in revenues from the canal in 2020.

Ship tracking data showed the Ever Given still in the same position as of about 2 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo.

A Egyptian official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief journalists similarly blamed a strong wind in the area for the incident.

The journey between ports in the Gulf and London, for example, is roughly halved by going through the Suez - compared to the alternate route via the southern tip of Africa.


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