After nearly six days of being lodged aground, the Ever Given ship is now afloat. However, the ship being floated may not fix the entire problem, as the giant Ever Given still needs to be maneuvered to free passage through the canal.
The Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important waterways. Located 75 miles east of Cairo, the capital, it links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, allowing for direct shipping from Europe to Asia.
Roughly 12% of the world’s shipping traffic and a chunk of its oil supply goes through the manmade canal, which has become particularly vital following pandemic-related disruptions to shipping.
If the canal’s cargo traffic is disrupted, that means delays in everything from oil to food to clothing to semiconductors. Which is why it’s a big deal that a 1,312-foot-long cargo ship called Ever Given has been blocking the Suez Canal since last Tuesday.
With the waterway blockage entering its sixth day, the fallout is reverberating around the world. But Monday morning (Egypt time), a breakthrough was reached.
The Ever Given was lodged firmly into the embankments on each side of the Suez Canal. Now, after six days of rigorous efforts, the ship has been refloated, according to Inchcape.
“The MV Ever Given was successfully re-floated at 04:30 lt 29/03/2021. She is being secured at the moment. More information about next steps will follow once they are known,” the company tweeted.
It’s a pivitol moment of progress, but the saga isn’t over quite yet. The Ever Given is longer than a skyscraper is tall and more importantly is longer than the canal is wide. It’ll need to be moved around — a tough task — before the 300-plus ships stuck in the canal bottleneck can gain passage.
The vessel’s refloating comes after two additional tugboats were deployed on Sunday, as reported by AP News, to help a fleet of around 10 similar boats extract the 200,000-ton Ever Given. At the same time, the Suez Canal Authority over the weekend deployed more onland heavy machinery working to dig around the ship’s bow, which would make it easier for the vessel to be pulled out.
Authorities have been working to extract the vessel for nearly a week. Time is of the essence here. Experts say a couple days of delay would be a major inconvenience for shipping companies, but that a week or more of delays could prove catastrophic and not just for shipping companies.
Ever Given is a 200,000-ton cargo ship that spans a quarter mile, roughly the length of four football fields. You’ll notice “Evergreen” is the written across its body but, confusingly, that’s branding for the Taiwanese company that operates the ship, Evergreen Marine Corp.