Ship in Suez Canal has been freed

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0155 GMT (0955 HKT) March 30, 2021
2 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
8:49 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

World's largest shipping company says it could take 6 days or more to clear Suez Canal backlog

From Charles Riley and Pamela Boykoff

Stranded ships wait in queue in the Gulf of Suez to cross the Suez Canal at its southern entrance near the Red Sea port city of Suez on March 27, as the waterway remains blocked by the Panama-flagged container ship "MV Ever Given".
Stranded ships wait in queue in the Gulf of Suez to cross the Suez Canal at its southern entrance near the Red Sea port city of Suez on March 27, as the waterway remains blocked by the Panama-flagged container ship "MV Ever Given". Mahmoud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images

Shipping Giant Maersk has issued an advisory telling customers it could take “6 days or more” for the queue created by the Suez canal blockage to pass. The company said that was an estimate and subject to change as more vessels reach the blockage or are diverted. 

Maersk currently has 3 vessels stuck in the canal, 30 waiting to enter and has redirected 15 to Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa.

“These decisions were made close to the point of no return and it is expected that they will continue via the south of Africa, also to reduce the number of vessels in the queue,” the advisory said. 

Maersk expects the long term impact of the blockage could take months to resolve. “Even when the canal gets reopened, the ripple effects on global capacity and equipment are significant and the blockage has already triggered a series of further disruptions and backlogs in global shipping that could take weeks, possibly months, to unravel.” 

8:36 a.m. ET, March 29, 2021

The ship stuck in the Suez Canal has been partially dislodged — but it's not fully free yet

From CNN's Asmaa Khalil, Mostafa Salem, Magdy Samaan and Jessie Yeung

A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 29, 2021, shows tugboats pulling the Panama-flagged MV 'Ever Given' container ship lodged sideways impeding traffic across Egypt's Suez Canal waterway.
A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 29, 2021, shows tugboats pulling the Panama-flagged MV 'Ever Given' container ship lodged sideways impeding traffic across Egypt's Suez Canal waterway. Handout/Suez Canal Authority/AFP/Getty Images

The Ever Given container ship has been partially dislodged after blocking the Suez Canal for almost a week, authorities say, but efforts to fully refloat it are likely to continue for some time.

There were promising signs early Monday when the rear of the vessel was freed from one of the canal's banks, but the boss of the Dutch company working on the operation says its bow is still stuck "rock solid."

Egyptian officials struck a more optimistic note, saying that crews plan to refloat the vessel later Monday. But the shipping crisis that has dominated headlines and captured the world's attention for a week appears destined to continue.

About the ship: The Ever Given, a 224,000-ton vessel almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, ran aground in the Egyptian canal on March 23. Crews from Egypt and around the world have been working nonstop to try to refloat the ship, with the operation involving 10 tug boats, sand dredges and salvage companies.

Previous efforts have failed — but this latest attempt is being executed during high tide where the water in the channel is at its highest.

The massive salvage effort has focused on dredging sand from below the front and rear of the ship, before pulling the ship with tugboats.

Rescue teams started digging deeper and closer to the ship on Sunday, with dredging reaching 18 meters (or about 59 feet) at the front of the ship, the SCA said in a statement. Over 27,000 cubic meters (953,000 cubic feet) of sand has been removed so far, said Rabie.

The rescue operation has intensified in both urgency and international attention as each day ticked by. Ships from around the world, carrying vital fuel and cargo, were blocked from entering the canal on both sides, raising alarm over the impact on global supply chains.