Shipping losses of cargo ship stuck in Suez Canal increase –

Shipping losses of cargo ship stuck in Suez Canal increase

ISMAILIA, Egypt (AP) – Dredgers, tugs and even a backhoe failed to free a giant freighter wedged into Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday as the number of stacked vessels unable to traverse the important waterway rose to 150 and losses worldwide. shipping assembled.

The skyscraper-sized Ever Given, carrying cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow man-made canal that divides mainland Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. Even with the help of high tides, authorities have been unable to remove the Panamanian-flagged container ship and are looking for new ideas to release it.

In a sign of the confusion the blockade has caused, the ship’s Japanese owner even offered a written apology.

“We are determined to continue working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” said Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. “We would like to apologize to all parties affected by this incident, including ships traveling and planning to travel through the Suez Canal.” .

When efforts to free it resumed in daylight on Thursday, an Egyptian canal authority official said workers hoped to avoid unloading containers from the ship as it would take days to do so and extend the lockdown. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

Until now, the dredgers have tried to clear the silt around the huge ship. The tugs pushed the boat alongside him, trying to gain momentum. From the shore, at least one backhoe dug into the sandy banks of the canal, suggesting that the ship’s bow had crashed into it. However, satellite photos taken Thursday by Planet Labs Inc. and analyzed by The Associated Press showed that the vessel was still stuck in the same location.

Lieutenant General Osama Rabei, head of the canal authority, said navigation through the waterway would remain halted until the Ever Given is refloated. A team from Boskalis, a Dutch salvage firm, arrived at the canal on Thursday, although one of its top officials warned that removing the vessel could take “days or weeks.”

A team from Boskalis’ SMIT subsidiary “spent the day doing inspections and calculations to assess the condition of the ship and a plan on how to refloat the ship,” spokesman Martijn Schuttevaer told AP. He did not offer a time frame.

The Suez Canal Authority said one idea the team discussed was scraping the bottom of the canal around the ship.

Boskalis president Peter Berdowski described the ship on Wednesday as “a very heavy whale on the beach.”

“The ship, with the weight that it is now, can’t really break free. You can forget it, “he told the Dutch current affairs program” Nieuwsuur “.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the company that runs Ever Given, said its 25-member crew was safe and numbered. Shoei Kisen Kaisha said that the entire crew came from India.

The ship had two pilots from the Egypt Canal Authority aboard the ship to guide it when the grounding occurred around 7:45 am Tuesday, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said.

Channel service provider Leth Agencies said at least 150 ships were waiting for Ever Given to be cleared, including ships near Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez on the Red Sea, and those already trapped in the system. of canals in the Great Bitter Lake of Egypt.

Cargo ships already behind the Ever Given in the canal will revert south back to Port Suez to free the canal, Leth Agencies said. Authorities hope to do the same to Ever Given when they can release him.

Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said Ever Given had been overtaken by strong winds when it entered the canal, something Egyptian officials previously said as well. Strong winds and a sandstorm hit the area Tuesday, with gusts of 50 kph (30 mph).

An initial report suggested that the ship suffered a power outage prior to the incident, something that Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement denied.

“Initial investigations rule out any mechanical or motor failure as the cause of the ground connection,” the company said.

In Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that the Suez Canal is part of a crucial international sea route and that the Japanese government was gathering information and working with local authorities.

The shutdown could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East, which rely on the canal to avoid navigating through Africa. The international benchmark Brent crude price stood at more than $ 63 a barrel on Thursday.

Overall, the famous shipping magazine Lloyd’s List estimates that each day the Suez Canal closes it disrupts more than $ 9 billion in goods that should be passing through the waterway. A quarter of all daily Suez Canal traffic comes from container ships like the Ever Given, the magazine said.

“Blocking something like the Suez Canal really sets in motion a series of dominoes that fall into each other,” said Lars Jensen, CEO of Denmark-based SeaIntelligence Consulting. “The effect will not only be simple and immediate with cargo being delayed for the next few weeks, but it will actually have repercussions several months later for the supply chain.

Built in 2018 with a length of almost 400 meters (a quarter of a mile) and a width of 59 meters (193 feet), the Ever Given is among the largest cargo ships in the world. It can transport about 20,000 containers at a time. He had previously been to ports in China before heading to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas, and cargo. It also remains one of Egypt’s main sources of foreign exchange. In 2015, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to house the largest ships in the world. However, the Ever Given ran aground south of that new part of the canal.

Tuesday’s stranding marks only the latest to affect sailors amid the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands have been trapped aboard vessels due to the pandemic.. Meanwhile, the demands on shipping have increased, increasing the pressure on weary sailors.


Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Isabel DeBre in Dubai and Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed.


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