Giant container ship that blocked Suez Canal set free

SUEZ, EGYPT (AP) — Salvage teams yesterday set free a colossal container ship that has halted global trade through the Suez Canal, bringing an end to a crisis that for nearly a week had clogged one of the world’s most vital maritime arteries.

Helped by the peak of high tide, a flotilla of tugboats managed to wrench the bulbous bow of the skyscraper-sized Ever Given from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged since last Tuesday.

After hauling the fully laden 220,000-ton vessel over the canal bank, the salvage team was pulling the vessel toward the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal, where the ship will undergo technical inspection, canal authorities said.

Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com confirmed that the ship was moving away from the shoreline toward the centre of the artery.

Video released by the Suez Canal Authority showed the Ever Given being escorted by the tugboats that helped free it, each sounding off their horns in jubilation after nearly a week of chaos.

“We pulled it off!” said CEO of Boskalis Peter Berdowski, the salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given, in a statement. “I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given.. thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again.”

The obstruction has created a massive traffic jam in the vital passage, holding up USD9 billion each day in global trade and straining supply chains already burdened by the
coronavirus pandemic.

A view of the Panama-flagged MV ‘Ever Given’ container ship. PHOTO: AFP