Stuck Ship in Suez Canal Finally Free – After Holding Up Nearly $60 Billion in Trade

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Mohamed Hossam/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11836216f)Reporters stand in front of a screen displaying a simulation of the pulling of Ever Given container ship in the Suez Canal, demonstrated during a press conference at the Maritime Training and Simulation Centre of the Suez Canal Authority in Ismailia, Egypt, 29 March 2021.
Mohamed Hossam/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock / Mohamed Hossam/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The massive shipping container that has been stuck in the Suez Canal and partially halted global trade for nearly a week, has been floated by a team of salvagers. A team of tugboats worked for several hours to free the bow from the sandbank it was grounded on, according to CNN.

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A total of 14 tugboats “pulled and pushed the Ever Given at high tide to try to dislodge it and were able to move the ship 30 degrees from left and right,” reported the BBC. As of early Monday, enough water had run underneath the bow to refloat the behemoth, measuring just a little shorter in length than the Empire State Building.

With over 12% of the globe’s entire trade passing through the Suez Canal, the blockage has caused massive losses. Data from Lloyd’s list suggests that the blockage held up an estimated $9.6 billion of trade each day. The Suez Canal Authority chairman Osama Rabie claimed that the Canal’s revenues were taking anywhere from $14 to $15 million hit for each day it has prevented free passage, according to the BBC.

There are at least 350 vessels waiting on either end of the canal to pass, with cargo ranging from oil to live animals.

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The salvage company Boskalis eventually freed the ship from the canal bank. Had they not succeeded, it could have taken weeks to offload the more than 20,000 containers, lightening the ship enough to more easily maneuver it back into the water.

Now that the ship has been freed, the process of relieving the backlog of vessels begins. The world’s largest container shipping company, Maersk, stated in a customer advisory on Monday that “even when the canal gets reopened, the ripple effects on global capacity and equipment are significant.” Maersk also stated that it believes it could take up to six days or more just for the current backlog of vessels to make passage.

The Ever Given might have been refloated, but the ship must still be assessed for any potential damage. Authorities are waiting for another high tide to send divers to assess with certainty that the middle area of the ship did not bear too much pressure during low tides.

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About the Author

Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who studied post-industrial capitalist structures at New York University. She has eight years of experience with concentrations in asset management, portfolio management, private client banking, and investment research. Georgina has written for Investopedia and WallStreetMojo. 
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