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the rescue of the container ship could take months

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                While due to reach the port of Rotterdam, the container ship Ever Given, flying the Panamanian flag, ran aground in the Suez Canal on Wednesday.  After being deported by a gust of wind, the ship got in the way of the canal blocking maritime traffic.  About a hundred ships have since been stationary, awaiting the resumption of navigation.  The Suez Canal is one of the busiest trade routes in the world.

                                    <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>After leaving the</span></span></span><strong> </strong><span><span><span>Port of Yantian in China to join that of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the container ship Ever Given put itself across the waterway in the southern part of the Suez Canal on Tuesday morning.  A gust of wind would be at the origin of its grounding.  It happens quite regularly that ships experience sand winds while crossing the channel, which greatly reduce their visibility.  In this case, they are quickly taken care of by the escort tugs of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).  It only takes a few hours to get the ship afloat.</span></span></span></span></span></span>

But this time around, the problem is of a different nature. The Ever Given is an XXL category container ship. 400 meters long, or the length of 4 football fields, 59 meters wide, 60 meters high, the equivalent of 20 floors and over 219,000 tonnes heavy, it carries 22,000 containers. Its size makes the rescue very complicated and for the first time momentarily paralyzes all traffic on the Suez Canal.

In 20 years, the size of merchant ships has tripled, making their maneuvers more and more difficult when crossing the canal. For the giant container ships, pilots come on board to guide the captain in his maneuvers during the passage of the canal. Currently several tugs are trying to free the giant from the seas, the authorities have brought in a dredge, but without success for the moment.

A sea route for oil

According to an evolving map from the Vesselfinder site, dozens of freighters are stationary at both ends and in the waiting area located in the center of the canal. On Thursday, the Egyptian Suez Canal Authority announced that maritime traffic was “ temporarily suspended »Until the Ever Given is back afloat.

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<p>The owner of the ship, the Japanese company Shoei Kisen Kaisha, announces that it is working closely with the canal authorities, but that the operation is “ <em><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>extremely difficult</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></em> <span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>".  According to the Dutch company Smit Salvage, commissioned by the operator of the stranded vessel, Evergreen Marine Corp, based in Taiwan, the operation could take "</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span> <em><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>days or even weeks</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></em> <span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>».  </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span>

This announcement provoked a strong reaction among oil tankers, for whom this sea route is very important for the transport of oil. All the Gulf countries producing black gold use the Suez Canal to transport their oil to European and North American markets. About 2 million barrels per day of crude and petroleum products have generally passed through the canal during the past 12 months. If the incident causes major traffic jams and delivery delays, it also generates additional costs for the companies, because although immobilized, the engines of the ships continue to run and consume fuel.

52 ships per day

The Suez Canal is a hotspot for global maritime transport, 12% of the volume of world trade passes through this maritime route. 193 kilometers long, the Suez Canal is one of the busiest trade routes in the world, crossed last year by 19,000 merchant ships, or 52 per day.

Inaugurated in 1869, the Suez Canal was built to allow ships connecting Asia to Europe to avoid bypassing Africa and passing the very eventful Cape of Good Hope. This breakthrough between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea restricted the travel time between the two continents from one to two weeks. This time saving makes it possible to reduce the cost of transport and therefore that of the goods.

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If the blockage persists, shipping companies could decide to divert via the Cape of Good Hope off South Africa. But this hypothesis is very complex to put in place overnight, it requires a complete review of the ship’s roadmap as well as port logistics. It can also turn into a headache for all the major ports in Asia, Europe and Africa that are likely to face significant cargo congestion.

The canal, which represents a major source of revenue for Egypt, $ 5.6 billion last year, has over time adapted its capacities to allow the largest container ships to cross it today. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had also announced in 2015 a project to develop the canal aimed at doubling the number of ships using it by 2023.


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