A 220,000-ton, 400-metre-long ‘Ultra Large Cargo Ship’ (ULCS) the Ever Given ran aground while traversing the Suez canal on Tuesday, blocking a significant portion of the crucial trade artery and bringing throughput to a grinding halt.
The huge length of the vessel and its almost-horizontal grounding meant that the main canal became completely impassable for larger vessels.
A statement given by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) attributed the mishap to high winds and impaired visibility caused by a sandstorm. SCA chairman Admiral Osama Rabie stated that “rescue and tug units are continuing their efforts” to free the MV Ever Given, as reported by RTÉ.
Approximately 150 vessels have now been backed-up either side of the canal both in the Mediterranean and Red seas by the event.
As of Thursday morning the ship had successfully been moved to a position alongshore, though the nature of the grounding and the sheer size of the ship means the vital waterway remains inaccessible for large cargo vessels.
Fears are growing that the dislodgement of the Ever Given will require unloading of cargo containers as well as fuel from the vessel in addition to dredging work around the site of the grounding, potentially requiring weeks of work before the canal can return to full operation.
The ship’s administrators, Evergreen Marine Corps, based in Taiwan, confirmed in a statement released Thursday that their chartered vessel had run aground while traversing the canal and attributed the mishap to ‘Gusting winds of 30 knots’ which ’caused the container ship to deviate from its course, suspectedly [sic] leading to the grounding’.
Despite the potential global impact to food and fuel prices as well as markets, the internet was quick to seize upon the absurdity of the situation.