Suez Canal traffic resumes after liberated stranded container ship

Maritime traffic through Egypt’s Suez Canal resumed on Monday after a giant container ship that had blocked the lively waterway for almost a week returned, the canal authority said.

The 400-meter-long Ever Given got stuck diagonally across a southern part of the canal in strong winds at the beginning of last Tuesday and stopped traffic on the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

Live footage of a local TV station showed the ship surrounded by tugs moving slowly in the middle of the canal. The station, ExtraNews, said the ship was moving at a speed of 1.5 knots.

“Admiral Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), announces that shipping traffic will resume on the Suez Canal after the authority managed to rescue and float the giant Panamanian container ship EVER,” said a statement from SCA.

FRANCE 24’s Eduard Cousin reports

“She is free,” said an official involved in the rescue operation.

The commander of the Container ship Ever Given confirmed that it had returned to the Suez Canal at 3 pm local time on Monday and was on its way to Great Bitter Lake where it would undergo a full inspection.

“There have been no reports of contamination or load damage and initial investigations rule out anything or engine failure as a cause of grounding,” Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said in a statement.

After dredging and excavation over the weekend, rescue workers from SCA and a team from the Dutch company Smit Salvage had managed to partially return the ship earlier on Monday with tugboats.

Hundreds of ships are waiting

At least 369 vessels are waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container vessels, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, SCA’s Rabie said.

The authority said earlier that it could speed up convoys through the canal when Ever Given was liberated. “We will not waste a second,” Rabie told Egyptian state television.

He said it could take two and a half to three days to clear the backlog, and a canal source said more than 100 ships could enter the canal daily. The shipping company Maersk said that the disruption in global shipping could take weeks or months to trigger.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who had not publicly commented on the blockade, said Egypt had ended the crisis and ensured the resumption of trade through the canal.

Oil prices were about one percent lower at $ 63.95 a barrel. Shares in Taiwan-listed Evergreen Marine Corp – the ship’s lessor – rose 1.75 percent.

About 15 percent of the world’s shipping traffic crosses the Suez Canal, which is an important source of foreign exchange revenue for Egypt. The stop costs the channel $ 14- $ 15 million a day.

Shipping prices for oil-producing vessels almost doubled after the vessel ran aground and the blockade disrupted global supply chains, threatening costly delays for companies already handling Covid-19 restrictions.

Maersk was among shippers who diverted cargo around the Cape of Good Hope, giving up to two weeks for travel and extra fuel costs.

( Jowharwith REUTERS)