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no return to normal for “a week”, estimates a professor of nautical sciences

“The tugs managed to rotate” the container ship Ever Given, confirmed Monday, March 29 on franceinfo Hervé Baudu, professor of nautical sciences at the National Maritime Superior School (ENSM), former naval officer and member of the Navy Academy. For nearly a week, the 200,000-ton vessel has been blocking the Suez Canal. It was therefore able to be redirected even if it has not yet cleared the passage. For Hervé Baudu, it will probably take “one week” before a return to normal in the channel.

>> Follow our live on the unblocking of the Suez Canal after the grounding of a cargo ship.

franceinfo: Can we say that the hardest part is having simply succeeded in removing the sand from this giant container ship?

Hervé Baudu: It would seem. The only doubt is that the ship was probably stranded on a riprap, that is to say that the banks are made of sand, but in places, there are rocks, even artificial rocks that are put to consolidate the sand banks a little. And it seems that this ship is mounted on a riprap, hence the difficulty in clearing it. But what is interesting to note is that the tugs managed to rotate it, that is to say they managed to roughly put it in the axis, which will allow some more powerful tugs to pull it in the axis, that is to say to go a little the opposite way to its grounding.

Explain to us how a boat 400 meters long can run aground like this?

There are three assumptions in this kind of channel. Either it is a machine damage which can lead to a bar damage. This is called a blackout but it seems that it is not. Either it is a human error, a rudder error, an error in transmitting a heading command which is generally given by the pilot. But a priori, that’s not it either. It seems that we are retaining what are called bank effects.

“When a boat sails near the shore of a canal or a river, the water flow forces are asymmetrical, which pulls the stern of the boat towards the bank.”

Hervé Baudu, professor of nautical sciences at the National Maritime Superior School

to franceinfo

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The bigger the boat, the greater this effect.

How long will it take to restore normal trade?

By the time the operations resume, the ship will be towed to a lake, a terminal, so that the crossings of the ships can resume. The authorities say that it is 50 ships a day that can pass. If they reduce the clearance between ships, you can increase to about a hundred ships per day. If we do the math, we have 400 at the top and 400 at the bottom, so in a week it’s done.

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