A Dutch company working to float a giant container ship stranded in the Suez Canal said that it is possible to liberate the ship within the next few days if heavy locomotives and ongoing operations to plow sand around its head and a high tide would displace it from its place.
The 400-meter-long Ever Giffen drifted in a southern section of the canal in heavy winds on Tuesday, disrupting global shipping operations after the closure of one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
About 15 percent of global shipping traffic passes through the canal, and hundreds of ships are waiting to pass through the canal once its closure ends.
Dredgers had raised about 20,000 tons of sand from around the bow of the ship by Friday, but towing operations to free it were suspended overnight.
“We are aiming to get this done after the weekend, but everything has to work towards it,” Puskalis CEO Peter Berdowski told Dutch TV show Newser late Friday.
Boskales owns a company called Salvage, which was brought in last week to bolster the Suez Canal Authority’s efforts to float the ship.
“The front is really stuck in the sand layer. But the stern is not completely bursting into that layer, which is positive. We can try to use that as a tool to release it,” Berdowski said.
“Heavy locomotives with a total capacity of 400 tons will arrive at the weekend. We hope that thanks to a combination of locomotives, dredging of sand around the bow of the ship and a high tide, we will be able to liberate it at the weekend,” he added, referring to the week that begins on Monday.
Today, Saturday, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly thanked the foreign partners who offered to help in floating the ship and said that the head of the Suez Canal Authority will speak to the media shortly about the details of the ongoing process of liberating the ship.
Higher freight rates
Shipping prices for oil product tankers nearly doubled after the ship stranded and the impact of the canal closure on global supply chains, threatening to create costly delays for companies already suffering due to Covid-19 restrictions.
If the canal continues for a long time, shipping companies may decide to change the route of the ships to orbit around the Cape of Good Hope, which adds two weeks to the voyages in addition to more fuel costs.
A source in the shipping industry said that the number of ships waiting to continue their journey in the Suez Canal or enter the shipping course reached 288 vessels as of Friday, including 65 container ships, 63 cargo carriers and 23 LNG or oil gas tankers.
Three shipping agents confirmed today, Saturday, that none of the ships waiting around the entrances to the canal had requested a change of route. Boscalis and Smit Salvage have warned that applying excessive force to the towing of a ship could cause damage.
Berdowski said that a ground crane would arrive within days, which could lighten the load of Evergiven by landing containers, but experts warned that such a process could be complicated and lengthy.
“If we do not succeed in liberating it next week (which starts on Monday), we will have to unload about 600 containers from the bow of the ship to reduce the weight,” Berdowski added.
He continued: “This will delay us at least days because where we will leave those containers will be a mystery to a large extent.”
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