Thursday, March 25, 2021

Suez canal blocked by huge container ship after 'gust of wind'

Satellite imagery shows mega container ship blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal 

Capella’s #SAR constellation captures the Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal with very high resolution 50 cm imagery as of 9:36am local Egyptian time.

From The Guardian by Martin Farrer and Michaél Safi

One of the largest container ships in the world has run aground in the Suez canal after being blown off course by a “gust of wind”, causing a huge jam of vessels at either end of the vital international trade artery.

The 220,000-ton, 400-metre-long Ever Given – a so-called “megaship” – became stuck near the southern end of the canal on Tuesday.

Eight tugboats were working to free the vessel, blocking a lane through which about 50 ships a day passed in 2019, according to Egyptian government statistics.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the ship’s technical manager, said it ran aground in the canal at about 05.40 GMT on Tuesday.
It said an investigation was under way.

Early reports speculated the vessel suffered a loss of power, but the ship’s operator, Evergreen Marine Corp, told Agence France-Presse it ran aground after being hit by a gust of wind.
A part of the Taiwan-owned MV Ever Given (Evergreen), lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterway of Egypt’s Suez canal.
Impaled the canal shore with its bulbous bow.
Photograph: Suez canal/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm hit the area on Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 31 mph.

BSM said all crew were safe and accounted for, and there had been no reports of injuries or pollution.

A growing number of tankers were gathering near the entrance to the canal on Wednesday morning waiting to pass through. An extended blockage would have severe consequences for trade.
Asia-Europe container flows were picking up again after China’s lunar new year and the alternative route via the Cape was a week slower, Tan Hua Joo, a consultant with Liner Research, told Reuters.

Lars Jensen, the chief executive at SeaIntelligence Consulting, said delays increased the risk of congestion at European ports.
“When the canal reopens, this will mean that the delayed cargo will now arrive at the same time as cargo behind it which is still on track,” he said.

As of Wednesday, five laden liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers were unable to pass through the canal due to the grounded container ship, according to the data intelligence firm Kpler.
Of the five, three were bound for Asia and two for Europe, said Kpler analyst Rebecca Chia.
She said that if the congestion persisted until the end of this week, it would affect the transit of 15 LNG tankers.

This video shows that the obvious is not always true. 
On the occasion of the disputed incident of the ultra-large container ship Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal, the VesselFinder team made a video simulation of the movements of the ship in more detail, for some time before it got stuck in the canal and blocked the main artery of cargo flow between Asia and Europe.
"Suspected gust of wind’ sends 400m-long vessel into bank, sparking several failed attempts to refloat it."
A cargo container ship that’s among the largest in the world has turned sideways and blocked all traffic in Egypt’s Suez Canal, officials said Wednesday, threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Ever Given is one of a new category of ships called ultra-large container ships (ULCS), some of which are even too big for the Panama canal, which links the Atlantic and Pacific.
It is carrying hundreds of containers bound for Rotterdam from China.

Pictures taken from another ship in the canal, the Maersk Denver, show the Ever Given lodged at an angle across the waterway.
It dwarfs the tugs sent in by the Egyptian authorities to try to free it, and also a mechanised digger that appeared to be trying to excavate ground in order to free the bow.

Julianne Cona, who posted the picture from the Maersk Denver on Instagram, watched the drama unfold as her ship waited at anchor.
“Hopefully it won’t be too long but from the looks of it that ship is super stuck,” she wrote. 
“They had a bunch of tugs trying to pull and push it earlier but it was going nowhere … there is a little excavator trying to dig out the bow.”
Photograph: Suez CANAL/AFP/Getty Images

The shipping monitoring site showed the stricken ship surrounded by smaller tugs trying to free it from the banks.
The site also shows the traffic jam of other vessels at either end of the canal.
The trade monitor tweeted that there were “a lot of fully laden” tankers stuck at either end of the canal carrying Saudi, Russian, Omani and US oil.

Normally ships form convoys to traverse the Suez north and south up and down the canal.
The Ever Given was part of a northbound convoy when the incident occurred, according to the shipping agent GAC.

The Suez canal is one of the most important waterways in the world and links the Mediterranean with the Red Sea and shipping lanes to Asia. It is 120 miles (190km) long, 24 metres (79ft) deep and 205 metres wide and can handle dozens of giant container ships a day.
It was expanded in 2015 to enable ships to transit in both directions simultaneously, but only in part of the waterway.
Gen Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, second right, speaks to other staff onboard a boat near the stuck cargo ship.
Photograph: AP
Ships have been grounded in the canal before. In 2017, a Japanese ship became stuck but was refloated within hours.
Away from the canal, a more serious incident occurred near the German port of Hamburg in 2016 when the massive CSCL Indian Ocean ran aground and needed 12 tugs to set it free after five days.

But Flavio Macau, a senior lecturer in supply chain management at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, said one problem was that container ships had become much bigger in recent years.
He added: “Moving about 50 ships a day, the impacts of a stranded ship are negligible unless it takes weeks to float it. But that is very unlikely and it should be over in a couple of days, tops.”
 Copernicus -Sentinel1

The canal’s role as a cornerstone of international trade, particularly in oil, led the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, to announce an expansion of the vital waterway in 2014, a project promised as “a gift to the world”.

It cost $8bn (£5.2bn at that time), after the Egyptian dictator demanded the project be completed within a year, promising Egyptian citizens that it would prove to be an “artery of prosperity”.
Egypt welcomed world leaders to a grand ceremony marking the reopening of the new canal channel in 2015, amid a wave of nationalist fervour about the project.

Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority pledged that the expansion would double revenues from increased traffic, declaring that the canal would afford Egypt $13.23bn annually by 2023.
Last year, revenues fell to $5.61bn, according to the canal authority’s own figures.
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