Container vessel blocks Suez Canal

A large container ship has blocked a narrow channel in Egypt’s Suez Canal this week.

The Evergreen Marine vessel, Ever Given, reportedly ran aground while turning in the narrow channel.

This artificially made shipping lane is a critical chokepoint for the global oil trade.

Registered to Panama, the ship was travelling from China to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. It was passing through the canal heading towards the Mediterranean when it got stuck.

Inbound and outbound shipping traffic appears to be blocked according to vessel tracking websites.

The Ever Given was due to arrive at its destination on 31 March.

It could take days for a major salvage operation to rescue the vessel.

This situation has potential to constrain the container supply chain which is not ideal during a time when the global freight industry is struggling to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A significant delay in container trade could also exacerbate supply issues for manufacturers already experiencing supply issues with parts and components required to make headway on trailer manufacturing backlogs.

Evergreen Marine Corporation is a Taiwanese container transportation and shipping company headquartered in Taiwan.

A live view of the container vessel blocking the Suez Canal.

UPDATE – 29.3.2021

Salvage company, Boskalis, has confirmed the Ever Given has been refloated, enabling it to make free passage through the Suez Canal.

Egyptian officials expect the ship backlog to clear over the next three days.

These delays, however, will impact global shipping, stretching delays potentially by weeks.

“I’m extremely proud of the outstanding job done by the team on site as well as the many SMIT Salvage and Boskalis colleagues back home to complete this challenging operation under the watchful eye of the world,” said Boskalis CEO, Peter Berdowski.

“The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented and the result is a true display of our unique capabilities as a dredging and marine services provider.”

For the refloating of the 224,000-tonne container vessel approximately 30,000 cubic meters of sand was dredged to help free the vessel and a total of eleven harbour tugs and two powerful seagoing tugs (Alp Guard and Carlo Magna) were deployed. The vessel has been towed to a location outside the channel for further inspection.