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failed freighter refloating operation

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                A failed sea giant's bailout attempt on Friday did not work.  It may take several days or even weeks to complete this complex operation.  In the meantime, more than 200 ships find themselves immobilized on both sides of the Suez Canal.

                                    <p>Will it take a few days or a few weeks to unblock the Suez Canal?  Efforts continued, Friday March 26, to free a container ship 400 meters long stuck for four days across this crucial route for sea freight, badly affected.

The company commissioned for the “rescue” of Ever Given was cautious, citing “days, even weeks” for the resumption of traffic on the canal, which sees pass nearly 10% of international maritime trade, according to experts.

An operation to refloat this giant of the seas, which is equivalent to four football fields in length “failed” on Friday, said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), a Singapore-based company which provides technical management of the ship, adding that “two additional 220-240 ton tugs” would arrive by Sunday to help refloat the vessel.

The incident on Tuesday and caused by high winds combined with a sandstorm, according to various sources, resulted in massive traffic jams.

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According to the specialist magazine Lloyd’s list, more than 200 ships are stranded at both ends and in the waiting area in the middle of the canal, causing significant delays in deliveries of oil and other products, with a brief repercussion on the price of black gold Wednesday.

Shipping giant Maersk and Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd said on Thursday they plan to divert their ships and pass through the Cape of Good Hope, a 9,000-kilometer detour and 10 additional days around the African continent. .

However, the overall costs are high in the field of maritime transport of goods in containers. According to Lloyd’s list, the stranded container ship blocks the equivalent of around $ 9.6 billion (€ 8.1 billion) in cargo every day.

International aid

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Since Wednesday, the Egyptian Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has been trying to free the vessel weighing more than 220,000 tonnes. 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand would have to be removed to reach a depth of 12 to 16 meters and put the ship afloat, explains the SCA, which said on Friday that 87% of the sand removal process had been carried out by the dredges.

A significant high tide, expected early next week, could help the technical teams to unblock the ship.

Egypt has received several offers of international aid, notably from the United States, according to the SCA.

Turkey has also offered to send a tugboat to tow the container ship, an aid offer that comes as Ankara struggles to calm relations with Cairo, strained since the 2013 overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi. , supported by Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The company that operates the vessel, Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp, has asked Dutch company Smit Salvage and Japanese company Nippon Salvage to put in “a more effective plan” for the rescue. The first experts arrived on Thursday.

Smit Salvage has taken part in major rescue operations in recent years, notably on the Costa Concordia, an Italian cruise ship which ran aground off Tuscany in 2012, and on the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk, which sank. with 118 men on board in August 2000.

Dependence on maritime transport

Nearly 19,000 ships used the canal in 2020, according to the SCA, an average of 51.5 ships per day.

According to a report by insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty on maritime safety, “the Suez Canal has an excellent overall safety record with shipping incidents being extremely rare – in total, 75 shipping incidents were reported in the past decade “.

According to the British journalist Rose George, author of a book on maritime transport, the latter “still brings us 90% of everything (…) and we are fundamentally dependent on it”.

According to her, “more than two thirds of maritime accidents are due to human error”.

But according to a Russian diplomat official, Nikolai Korchunov, the blockade of the Suez Canal “has highlighted the need above all for the further development of the Northern Sea Route”, an increasingly Russian Arctic sea route. more practicable because of climate change.

With AFP


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