Explanation: How a giant container ship blocks the Suez Canal | Invest News

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CAIRO (Reuters) – A huge container ship has run aground and is blocking traffic in the Suez Canal, one of the busiest waterways in the world and the shortest sea route between Europe and the Asia.

HOW IS THE SHIP BLOCKED?

The 400-meter-long container ship Ever Given ran aground early on March 23 as it headed north from the Red Sea towards the Mediterranean, twisting diagonally across the width of the canal.

The main causes were high winds and a sandstorm that reduced visibility and made the ship unable to follow a straight course through the canal, according to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA). At the time of the incident, stormy weather was shaking Egypt, forcing the closure of several ports in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

When ships enter the Suez Canal, they are embarked and steered in convoy, using one or two tugs. Sometimes they get stuck but are usually released quickly with little impact on other expeditions.

WHY HAS THE TRAFFIC BEEN STOPPED?

The Ever Given blocks the southernmost section of the canal which has only one lane, which means that no other ships can pass.

In 2015, Egypt opened a second lane for simultaneous two-way traffic on a 35 km (22 mile) stretch of the canal, but the extension is further north, beyond an area where the canal s ‘expands into the Great Amer Lake.

The SCA cleared a convoy of ships to enter the canal from its northern end at Port Said on March 24, hoping the Ever Given would be released soon, but the ships anchored in a holding area of ​​the Great Amer Lake.

Graphic: Suez Blockade – https://graphics.reuters.com/EGYPT-SUEZCANAL/SHIP/gjnvworxbvw/Suez-blockade.jpg

WHAT IS DONE TO RELEASE THE VESSEL?

At least eight tugs, including one with a towing power of 160 tonnes, attempted to free the vessel by pushing it and pulling it away from the banks, using the vessel’s own winches.

Diggers cleared the dirt from the bow of the ship, which was buried in the east side of the canal, and the SCA deployed two dredges.

Local maritime sources said ballast water, which is used to help stabilize ships, was discharged from the Ever Given amid efforts to refloat it.

WHAT ELSE COULD BE TRYED?

The shipowner has appointed two professional rescue teams from Dutch company Smit Salvage and Japanese Nippon Salvage to help “devise a more effective plan” to refloat Ever Given.

Martijn Schuttevaer, spokesperson for Smit Salvage’s parent company, Boskalis, said additional ships could be deployed alongside the tugs, but a calculation would be needed on how much energy could be used without damaging the door. -containers.

Other options include dredging under the ship and unloading the containers, although shipping sources say that removing the cargo could be a long and complex logistical operation given the size of the vessel and its position.

(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed in Islmailia, Nadine Awadalla in Cairo and Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; written by Aidan Lewis; edited by Alison Williams)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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