Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal is partially refloated and turned after running aground six days ago, backing up billions of dollars of global trade

  • Rescue teams freed the 220,000-ton Ever Given container ship early on Monday in major breakthrough
  • Fleet of tugboats used the tidal boost from a king tide brought on by the supermoon to free the ship 
  • Two heavier tugboats joined efforts to free Panama-flagged vessel in Suez Canal in Egypt after it got stuck
  • Japanese-owned vessel got wedged in crucial trading passage last Tuesday, disrupting global shipping  
  • It was not immediately clear how long it would take to reopen the vital international trade route 

By Keith Griffith For Dailymail.com and Charlotte Mitchell and Jack Wright and Bhvishya Patel For Mailonline

Published: 05:00, 29 March 2021 | Updated: 07:12, 29 March 2021

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The massive container ship blocking the Suez Canal in Egypt has been ‘partially refloated’ from the bank of the vital trade route in a last-ditch bid to take advantage of the king tide brought on by the supermoon.

The 220,000-ton Ever Given was freed by salvage teams early on Monday, nearly one week after the 1,300ft-long ship ran aground and choked off global trade, according to maritime services provider Inchcape.

‘The MV Ever Given was successfully re-floated at 04:30,’ Inchcape said in a tweet. ‘She is being secured at the moment. More information about next steps will follow once they are known.’

Egyptian canal authorities said the ship had been turned ’80 per cent in the right direction’ after the stern of the vessel was shifted with ‘pulling manouevres’ that moved it 335ft from the shore.  

Satellite data from VesselFinder early this morning showed the straightened Ever Given surrounded by a squadron of tugboats with its stern no longer appearing to block the entire shipping route.  

Tugboats and salvage crews took advantage of high tides early Monday to partially refloat the Ever Given, which carries cargo between Asia and Europe. It was unclear how long it would take to fully reopen the canal after moving the ship, which was wedged some 3.7 miles north of its Red Sea entrance near the city of Suez.  

A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway, which is holding up around GBP6.5billion a day, could cause further delays in the global shipment chain.

Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, an average of 52 per day, according to official figures. About 10 per cent of world trade flows through the canal.

More than 300 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, are still waiting to pass through the canal, while dozens more are taking the alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip – adding some two weeks and thousands of miles to journeys and threatening delivery delays. 

The obstruction could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country amid concerns of delays of shipments arriving. Delays in freeing the mammoth container ship have highlighted still more pressure points in global trade, a year after supply chains were disrupted by the pandemic. 

Leth Agencies said the modest breakthrough came after intensive efforts to push and pull the vessel with around 10 tugboats while vacuuming up sand underneath the ship with several dredgers at high tide.

It was unable to immediately provide further details about when the vessel would be entirely set free, saying it was awaiting confirmation of the partial refloating from the Suez Canal Authority.   

Nighttime operations taking advantage of the supermoon king tide successfully re-floated the Ever Given early on Monday. The 1,300-foot ship had completely blocked shipping traffic on the vital Suez Canal for a week

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

A view from the canal early today as the captain of a rescue crew gives a thumbs-up (left) after the ship was rotated (right) 

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Satellite data from VesselFinder early this morning showed the straightened Ever Given surrounded by a squadron of tugboats with its stern no longer appearing to be blocking the entire shipping route

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

The Ever Given is seen in the dawn on Monday after a successful operation to re-float the stuck container vessel

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Officials had feared they’d have to unload the ship, a prospect that now appears off the table after the operation

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Shipping traffic maps showed the Ever Given (red) come free from the banks with the aid of tugboats (green)

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

The cargo ship, seen on Sunday before it was freed, had completely blocked traffic on the Suez Canal for a week

Why is the Suez Canal so important? 

The Suez canal, which is around 120 miles long links the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean and is the shortest shipping route between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. 

Before the canal, shipping from Europe either had to go overland or risk going around Cape Horn and the South Atlantic.  

In April 1859, construction of the canal officially begins, much of the work financed by France. 

It was opened for navigation on November 17, 1869 for vessels from all countries, although the British government later wanted to have an armed force in the area to protect shipping interests having picked up a 44 per cent stake in the canal in 1875. 

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

The Suez Canal links the Red Sea and the Mediterranean providing a short cut from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic 

From then, while nominally owned by Egypt, the canal was run by Britain and France until its until its nationalisation in 1956 . 

The nationalisation by Nasser saw Britain and France launched an abortive and humiliating bid to recapture the vital waterway. 

The canal was shut briefly following the attempted invasion. 

However, in 1967 the canal was shut for eight years following the Six Day war with Israel. 

Due to the instability in the region, the canal remained closed until 1975 – its longest ever closure, as the waterway had been mined and some vessels had been sunk in the main channel.  

The Suez Canal is actually the first canal that directly links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

In 2015 a new section of the canal opened, allowing vessels to traverse the waterway in both directions at the same time. 

Future plans will see the two-lane system extended across the entire network- doubling current capacity of the canal.  

 The largest cargo vessels pay more than GBP180,000 in tolls to traverse the canal. 

On average about 40-50 cargo vessels use the canal on a daily basis in a trip that takes around 11 hours, as speed along the waterway is limited to about 9kts to prevent the banks of the canal getting washed away. 

Along the canal there are emergency mooring slots so vessels can pull over if they are suffering a mechanical issue.  

When the canal first opened, the channel was approximately 26 feet deep and 72 feet wide at the bottom.

The surface was between 200 and 300 feet wide to allow ships to pass. 

By the 1960s, dredging of the canal increased the depth to 40 feet and widened the waterway to allow larger vessels.   

Now, the minimum depth of the canal is 66feet, though this is been increased to 72 feet – allowing even larger vessels.  

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The rescue efforts came as Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ramped up efforts to unblock the single-lane stretch and ordered preparations for the possible removal of some of the ship’s 18,300 containers if dislodging efforts failed. 

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) confirmed the process of unloading the cargo would have gone forward if efforts to dislodge the ship failed, while SCA Chairman Osama Rabie said any operation to lighten the ship’s load would not start before Monday. 

This weekend saw a so-called ‘supermoon’ full moon, which provided higher tidal maximums than usual due to its gravitational pull on the earth’s surface. 

As the high tides came in last night, diggers set to work removing parts of the canal’s bank and expanded dredging close to the ship’s bow to a depth of 59ft (18m) but the large ship remained entrenched in the waterway, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement.  

A newly arrived specialist tug also joined efforts to float the giant container ship, the vessel’s technical manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said. 

‘Further attempts to re-float the vessel will continue this evening once the tug is safely in position along with the 11 tugs already on site,’ the SCA said in a statement. 

It came soon after rescue crews desperately trying to free the container ship today said they had made a breakthrough and had managed to move the skyscraper-sized vessel by nearly 100ft. 

The major breakthrough was made on Sunday, when rescue crews told NBC News foreign correspondent Raf Sanchez they have managed to move the enormous carrier by around 98ft (30m) after deploying two tugboats.  

The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard and the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno, which were called in to work alongside tugboats already on scene, reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez earlier today. 

They helped nudge the Ever Given as dredgers continued to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side. They shifted at least 27,000 cubic metres of sand around the ship to reach a depth of 60ft (18m) , the authority said in a statement.  

Workers planned to make two attempts on Sunday to free the vessel coinciding with high tides helped by a full moon on Sunday night, a top pilot with the canal authority said. 

‘Sunday is very critical,’ the pilot told the Associated Press. ‘It will determine the next step, which highly likely involves at least the partial offloading of the vessel.  

Taking containers off the ship likely would have added even more days to the canal’s closure, and required special equipment that wouldn’t have arrived until later in the week.

Economists say the Ever Given’s disruption of shipping through the Suez Canal probably won’t have an impact on global trade for more than a few weeks, and is unlikely to derail global growth this year as more people get Covid-19 vaccines and economies reopen.

But it’s another wake-up call for companies that have set up their business to rely on supply chains with little room for error, said William Lee, chief economist at the Milken Institute.

‘This is a warning about how vulnerable our supply chains are and how the just-in-time inventory techniques that have been so popular have to be rethought,’ he said. ‘The shortages and the supply chain shortages that cause assembly lines to shut down – that will have a greater impact.’

Many countries got a harsh lesson in those realities last year when commerce, was disrupted in myriad ways after new coronavirus outbreaks began in China, the world’s factory floor.

Consumers everywhere soon found that ordering online was an adventure in the unknown, with many factories shut down and trade between Chinese provinces stalled. Obtaining supplies of medicines and vital personal protective equipment such as face masks and other medical supplies became challenging, and sometimes impossible.

This weekend it was revealed that ships containing livestock and IKEA furnishings had been left stranded in the  maritime traffic jam.

Gerit Weidinger, EU coordinator for NGO Animals International, told The Guardian: ‘My greatest fear is that animals run out of food and water and they get stuck on the ships because they cannot be unloaded somewhere else for paperwork reasons.’

Meanwhile IKEA said it had 110 containers on the stricken Ever Given and on other ships.

‘The blockage of the Suez Canal is an additional constraint to an already challenging and volatile situation for global supply chains brought on by the pandemic,’ an IKEA spokesperson said.   

Ships already are having to detour around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to avoid the canal.

That slows the arrival of containers at their destinations and when they can be emptied and then refilled with other goods bound somewhere else. That can drive up costs – price increases that eventually reach consumers.

‘Shipping prices are going to go up,’ said Gary Hufbauer, nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. ‘That will tighten up supply lines and mean shortages at the consumer level, and it will also mean somewhat higher prices for oil.’

The incident is another ripple worsening shortages of shipping containers in Asia, which means retailers may be late getting TVs, furniture, clothes, auto parts and many other goods that are shipped via containers.

About 12% of global trade by volume goes through the Suez Canal, but it accounts for 30% of the world’s daily shipping container freight. That makes it the most important conduit for trade between Europe and Asia.

Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures.

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Rescue teams intensified excavation and dredging efforts around the Ever Given container ship after high tides were created by the full Worm Moon 

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

The Japanese-owned ship disrupted global shipping valued at more than GBP6.5billion per day and exacerbated the global economic crisis triggered by Covid-19

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Officials said they wanted to make use of the the high tides created by the supermoon to dislodge the 220,000-ton skyscraper-sized Ever Given

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

An aerial view taken on March 27, 2021 from the porthole of a commercial plane shows stranded ships waiting in queue in the Gulf of Suez to cross the Suez Canal at its southern entrance near the Red Sea port city of Suez

Lee of the Milken Institute points to the semiconductor industry as an area especially vulnerable to disruptions from shipping delays and is already plagued by shortages. Companies in Europe often get the components they need to make computer chips from suppliers in Asia.

‘The shortage of semiconductors right now is so severe, that kind of delay in supply, even by a week or two, could also lengthen the delays in semiconductor production, which has stalled automobile and other electronics’ production,’ Lee said.

The closure also affects oil and gas shipments.

Nearly 10% of oil shipments and 8% of global liquid natural gas moves through the Suez Canal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Much of the traffic involves transpiration of crude oil from the Middle East to Europe and the U.S. It’s also become an important link for Russian oil to Asia.

The disruption from the canal blockage comes at tricky time for international trade and shipping, noted Fiona Boal, global head of commodities at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

‘The cost of shipping goods from Asia to Europe hit a record high in recent months and global freight rates are already near three times the level of a year ago,’ she said.

At the same time, oil prices may be kept in check by worries that demand for oil will weaken amid renewed pandemic lockdowns in Europe.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for May delivery fell £1.03 to £59.91 per barrel on Monday after rising £2.41 on Friday. Brent crude oil for May delivery lost £1 to £63.43 per barrel after gaining £2.62 on Friday.

North and Latin America are likely to be less affected than Europe by the blockage in the Suez Canal, because much of the shipping container traffic that runs between the Americas and Asia moves through the Pacific to hubs like the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, or crosses through the Panama Canal.

‘The impact on the U.S. will be less than on Europe,’ Hufbauer said.

On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were ‘not the only cause’ for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others.

Lt. Gen.

Osama Rabei said that an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Rescue crews desperately trying to free the container ship blocking the Suez Canal today said they have made a breakthrough and had managed to move the skyscraper-sized vessel by nearly 100ft

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

The massive Ever Given (pictured), a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck on Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal 

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

A tugboat is seen on Sunday near the Ever Given container ship which ran aground in the Suez Canal, Egypt

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

The plan is for the tugboats to nudge the 400-meter-long Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given, said

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

A handout satellite image made available by MAXAR Technologies shows excavation around the bow of the Ever Given and dredging operations in progress, in the Suez Canal, Egypt, March 28, 2021

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that their ‘initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.’

However, at least one initial report suggested a ‘blackout’ struck the hulking vessel, which is carrying some 20,000 containers, at the time of the incident. 

Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: ‘I can’t say because I do not know.’ 

Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the vessel, earlier said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.

On Friday, Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given, said that the company hoped to pull the container ship free within days using a combination of heavy tugboats, dredging and high tides.

Berdowski told the Dutch current affairs show Nieuwsuur that the front of the ship was stuck in sandy clay, but the rear ‘has not been completely pushed into the clay and that is positive because you can use the rear end to pull it free’. 

Berdowski said two large tugboats were on their way to the canal and were expected to arrive over the weekend. 

‘The combination of the (tug) boats we will have there, more ground dredged away and the high tide, we hope that will be enough to get the ship free somewhere early next week,’ he said.    

Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10 per cent of world trade flows through the canal.

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Rescue crews on Sunday managed to move the skyscraper-sized vessel by nearly 100ft after it found itself wedged across the crucial waterway in Egypt

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

 Workers planned to make two attempts to free the vessel on Sunday, coinciding with high tides, a top pilot with the canal authority told The Associated Press

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were ‘not the only cause’ for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others.

Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei (pictured) said that an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

 

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Stranded ships are now waiting in a queue in the Gulf of Suez after the container ship blocked the waterway

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard and the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno were called in to assist the tugboats already in the canal and had reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early on Sunday, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com. Pictured: Two boats are seen at the entrance of the Suez Canal on Sunday

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Rescue crews  descended upon the scene in an effort to free the container ship blocking the Suez Canal today

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Emergency crews were ordered to start offloading containers off the enormous carrier and workers plan to make two attempts on Sunday to free the vessel

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Hopes that the cargo ship could be freed were given a boost today as emergency crews started offloading containers from Ever Given

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Rescue teams arrive to the scene as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Workers at the site have so far shifted 27,000 cubic metres of sand around the ship to reach a depth of 60ft 

The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East.

Syria has already begun rationing the domestic distribution of fuel. 

The country, which has been mired in a bloody civil war since 2011, faces a severe economic crisis. In March, it announced a more than 50 per cent rise in the price of petrol.

As of early Sunday, more than 320 ships were waiting to travel through the Suez, either to the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, according to canal services firm Leth Agencies.

Dozens of others still listed their destination as the canal, though shippers increasingly appear to be avoiding the passage.

The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, warned its customers that it would take anywhere from three to six days to clear the backlog of vessels at the canal.

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

The Ever Given is wedged about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the canal’s Red Sea entrance near the city of Suez.

A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global shipping chain

Ever Given is FREED from Suez Canal in last-ditch attempt using supermoon king tide one week after the cargo ship ran aground in vital trade route

Ships and boats are seen at the entrance of Suez Canal after it was blocked by the stranded container ship Ever Given 

The firm and its partners already have 22 ships waiting there. 

‘The current number [of] redirected Maersk and partner vessels is 14 and expected to rise as we assess the salvage efforts along with network capacity and fuel on our vessels currently en route to Suez,’ the shipper said.

Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest, said it had already rerouted at least 11 ships around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal.

It turned back two others, and said it expected ‘some missed sailings as a result of this incident.’

‘MSC expects this incident to have a very significant impact on the movement of containerized goods, disrupting supply chains beyond the existing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,’ it said.  

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