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Dredging company does not yet know how long the Suez Canal congestion will last | NOW

It is still unclear how long it will take to release the container ship blocking the Suez Canal. This is what a spokesman for Boskalis said, which, through its dredging company Smit Salvage, assists in resolving the congestion. However, a plan of action is starting to emerge to pull off the 400-meter-long Ever Given.

The Ever Given moved diagonally in the Egyptian channel earlier this week, possibly due to strong winds. The sides of the canal are shallower than the fairway in the middle, trapping the front and rear.

Dredging company Smit Salvage is aiming for a dual approach. The soil under the bow of the ship should be excavated where possible. At the same time, fuel must be pumped out of the ship to make the vessel lighter. There has already been a technical inspection of the Ever Given on Thursday.

A Boskalis spokesperson explains that there are still a number of uncertainties. For example, it remains to be seen how far dredgers can reach underneath the stranded ship to remove soil. The soil type under the Ever Given is also a big question mark.

“Sand washes away quickly, that would be beneficial. You can compare it to digging a hole on a beach. When a wave passes over it, it washes away quickly. But with clay-like soil you can dig whatever you want, but the ground stands next to it, “said the spokesman. “But the soil is rarely a homogeneous layer. You cannot say: this whole stretch of a canal has this type of soil.”

Search started for suitable ships

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The question is also where and when the Smit Salvage team can find vessels for the job. Among other things, the company is looking for a suitable ship for pumping away fuel, and then the question is where that fuel can be stored for so long. Also, for straightening the container ship, it would be better to have tugs with more power than the vessels now on the south side of the Ever Given.

The Egyptian government’s advisor for seaports, Mohab Mamish, was more confident about the time remaining to clear the blockade. Against news agency AFP he said that ships “will be able to sail again in 48 to 72 hours”. “I have experience in multiple rescue operations and as a former CEO of the Suez Canal Authority, I know every inch of the canal,” added Mamish.

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