The Suez Canal has been closed a few times throughout history, whether it is because of armed conflict, which happened back in 1956, or a result of accidents such as what happened yesterday. Yesterday, at 7.40 AM, a colossal mega-ship called The Ever Given suffered a blackout and drifted because of heavy winds. Now, the ship is blocking the New Suez Canal, blocking one of the most critical naval trade routes that connect east and west.
The Ever-Given Ship – What Happened?
Rescue boats are currently working around the clock in order to float and then release the Ever Given. The Ever Given is a 59-meter-wide ship (193.5 feet). It has run aground after strong wings (40 knots), and a sandstorm caused poor navigation and low visibility, according to the SCA (Suez Canal Authority), through a statement today. The 224,000-ton vessel was sailing under a Panama flag, and it was en route to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The ship is wedged across the vital Suez Canal near the 151km mark. It is almost blocking it completely because of its gigantic size and length at 400 meters. It is nearly as big as the Empire State Building.
The container Ever Given entered the route on Tuesday Morning, and the incident happened around six nautical miles from the south end of the estuary. Currently, eight tug boats are trying to free the large container. They are trying to free it because it is halting traffic through one of the most important and busiest waterways in the world.
Suez Canal – A Huge Traffic Jam Is in the Making
Tanker Trackers that monitor the vessels through maritime and satellite data said that this incident caused many other vessels' tailbacks. It added that tankers carrying US, Omani, Russian and Saudi oil are waiting on both ends of the canal. Fifteen vessels in the northbound convoy behind the Ever Given are holding at anchorages until the Suez Canal is clear. The southbound convoy is also blocked until it is clear for passage.
According to the Suez Canal Authority, it can take at least two days to float and clear the Suez Canal. The official told CNN that he is not authorized to speak to the media; therefore, he anonymously made that statement. He said that the amount of time depends on the equipment they use to float the ship. He also added that due to the ship's damage, the Ever-Given would most likely be unable to sail. Therefore, it would need to be towed to the nearest ship-parking area. The nearest one is the Great Bitter Lake, which is about 30 Km to the north.
The Importance of the Suez Canal
The Suez Canal accounts for almost 30% of the container ship traffic globally every day. The alternative route that connects Europe and Asia is the African Cape route, which takes one week longer. Nearly 19000 ships passed through the canal in 2020. That means that almost 51.5 ships pass through it per day, with a net of 1.17 billion tonnes per year.