(SUEZ CANAL) — A containership that ran aground Tuesday in the Suez Canal could be stuck for days, blocking one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes that’s vital for the movement of everything from oil to consumer goods, Bloomberg reported.
The 1,312-foot Ever Given grounded in the southern part of the canal in Egypt, leaving dozens of vessels gridlocked as they attempt to transit between the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea. The 120-mile canal is among the most trafficked waterways in the world, used by oil tankers shipping crude from the Middle East to Europe and North America.
No progress has been made so far in floating the vessel and clearing the canal, the Gulf Agency Company (GAC), which provides services including Suez transits, said by email. Images released by the Suez Canal Authority showed the vessel’s hull firmly wedged into the bank. Eight tugboats have been deployed so far to try to pull the ship free.
Shipowners are in talks with SMIT Salvage, which has larger tugs, to assist.
Ever Given grounded early Tuesday amid poor visibility caused by a dust storm. Wind speeds reached 40 knots, resulting in a “loss of the ability to steer the ship,” according to the canal authority. A “blackout” was the cause of the accident, GAC said, without providing more detail.
The vessel deviated “from its course due to suspected sudden strong wind,” Taiwan-based Evergreen Line, the time charterer of the vessel, said in an emailed response to questions. Japan’s Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., among those listed as the ship’s owner, declined to comment.
“The salvage operation with tugs is under way, and hopefully the vessel will be freed soon, but it could last days,” said Ralph Leszczynski, head of research at shipbroker Banchero Costa & Co.