Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021. Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed)

Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021. Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed)

New attempts planned to free huge vessel stuck in Suez Canal for 5 days

Using a combination of tug boats, more ground dredged away and the high tide, officials hope to get the ship free sometime early next week

A giant container ship remained stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for a fifth day Saturday, as authorities prepared to make new attempts to free the vessel and reopen a crucial east-west waterway for global shipping.

The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow canal that runs between Africa and the Sinai Peninsula.

The massive vessel got stuck in a single-lane stretch of the canal, about six kilometres (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.

In a press conference Saturday in Suez, the head of the canal authority, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, told reporters that they could not lay out a set timetable for when the ship might be dislodged. He said he remained hopeful that a dredging operation could free the ship without having to resort to lighten it by removing its cargo.

“It’s difficult to deal with easily,” he said.

A maritime traffic jam grew to around 321 vessels near Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez on the Red Sea and in the canal system on Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake, according to Rabei.

Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given, said the company hoped to pull the container ship free within days using a combination of heavy tugboats, dredging and high tides.

He told the Dutch current affairs show Nieuwsuur on Friday night that the front of the ship is stuck in sandy clay, but the rear “has not been completely pushed into the clay and that is positive because you can use the rear end to pull it free.”

Berdowski said two large tugboats were on their way to the canal and are expected to arrive over the weekend. He said the company aims to harness the power of the tugs, dredging and tides, which he said are expected to be up to 50 centimetres (20 inches) higher Saturday.

“The combination of the (tug) boats we will have there, more ground dredged away and the high tide, we hope that will be enough to get the ship free somewhere early next week,” he said.

If that doesn’t work, the company will remove hundreds of containers from the front of the ship to lighten it, effectively lifting the ship to make it easier to pull free, Berdowski said.

A crane was already on its way that can lift the containers off the ship, he said.

The salvage mission was turning its focus to the ship’s lodged bow, after some progress was made towards freeing the ship’s stern, the canal service provider Leth Agencies said Saturday.

Egypt Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly called the ship’s predicament “a very extraordinary incident,” in his first public comments on the blockage.

Shoei Kisen, the company that owns the giant container ship said the company was considering removing containers to lighten the vessel if other refloating efforts fail.

The White House said it has offered to help Egypt reopen the canal. “We have equipment and capacity that most countries don’t have and we’re seeing what we can do and what help we can be,” President Joe Biden told reporters Friday.

An initial investigation showed the vessel ran aground due to strong winds and ruled out mechanical or engine failure, the company and the canal authority said. GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, had previously said the ship had experienced a power blackout, but it did not elaborate.

Rabei, the canal authority head, said the winds were one of the factors but “not the only cause” of the incident. He said an investigation into the cause of the grounding was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

Some vessels began changing course and dozens of ships were still en route to the waterway, according to the data firm Refinitiv.

A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global shipment chain. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East.

It remained unclear how long the blockage would last. Even after reopening the canal that links factories in Asia to consumers in Europe, the waiting containers are likely to arrive at busy ports, forcing them to face additional delays before offloading.

Apparently anticipating long delays, the owners of the stuck vessel diverted a sister ship, the Ever Greet, on a course around Africa instead, according to satellite data.

Others are following suit. The liquid natural gas carrier Pan Americas changed course in the mid-Atlantic, now aiming south to go around the southern tip of Africa, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

This satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows the cargo ship MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, Saturday, March 27, 2021. Authorities are preparing to make new attempts to free the giant container vessel stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal for a fifth day and reopen a crucial east-west waterway for global shipping. (©Maxar Technologies via AP)

This satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows the cargo ship MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, Saturday, March 27, 2021. Authorities are preparing to make new attempts to free the giant container vessel stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal for a fifth day and reopen a crucial east-west waterway for global shipping. (©Maxar Technologies via AP)

Just Posted

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

Kaslo mushroom farmer given green light for unique project

Robin Mercy will plant mushrooms in the Kaslo Community Forest

The Kootenay Lake ferry terminals will receive a number of upgrades this year. File photo
Kootenay Lake ferry terminals to receive upgrades

The transportation ministry announced the $5.5-million project Thursday

Red dresses hang in the trees outside Nelson City Hall to remind us about missing and murdered Indigenous women. The REDress Project, created by the Winnipeg Métis artist Jaime Black, also exists as an exhibit in the Touchstones gallery, running until May 29. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Vogue highlights red dress installation in Nelson

The project by artist Jamie Black was featured in the fashion magazine

Castlegar byelection candidates participated in an online forum April 7. L-R, top: Heather Fancy, moderator Suzanne Lehbauer, Gord Lamont, Gordon Zaitsoff. Middle: Florio Vassilakakis, Brian Bogle, Lawrence Chernoff, Kirk Duff. Bottom: Sandy Bojechko, Shirley Falstead
VIDEO: Castlegar candidates share views at forum

Byelection forum hosted by Castlegar Chamber of Commerce

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Most Read