Suez Canal: Ever Given container ship ‘partially refloated’
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The Japanese owned Ever Given ship has finally found itself afloat, six days since it first became stuck in the Suez Canal. Rescue workers from the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and a team from Dutch firm Smit Salvage used tug boats to free the ship, according to two marine and shipping sources. And water has now started to flow underneath the giant boat in a major breakthrough for the operation.
The Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important water transportation routes.
The 120-mile long canal links the Mediterranean Sea to Red Sea, meaning it helps to facilitate direct shipping from Europe to Asia.
About 12 percent of the world’s shopping traffic operators using this stretch of water, located some 75 miles from Cairo, Egypt.
So the grounding of the massive tanker has sparked a major crisis.
READ MORE: Suez Canal jam: 220,000-ton Ever Given ‘re-floated’ – sources
More than 320 ships have been blocked from travelling down the passage, carrying everything from oil to live animals.
And with the blockage now reaching its sixth day, there are concerns this could spark major disruption to global trade.
Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO of supply chain risk management firm Interos, warned: “If the ship were to remain stuck for another week it could cause massive delays in the delivery of products, and every second of delay leaves billions of dollars’ worth of disruptions on the line.”
However, the rescue operation has finally reached a breakthrough in attempts to free the grounded ship.
On Sunday night, or Monday morning Egypt time, the Ever Given was successfully refloated.
Tweeting the news, Inchscape said: “She is being secured at the moment. More information about next steps will follow once they are known.”
The news comes after 12 tugboats were deployed to aid the mammoth operation, helping to push and pull the massive ship from its position wedged into the embarkment.
The Suez Canal Authority also released some heavy duty machinery to dig into the ground surrounding the ship’s bow in an attempt to free her.
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Authorities have been working to free the ship for almost a week now, but the operation is not quite over yet.
While the Ever Given is now afloat, there’s still a lot more work to be done.
Given the sheer size of the tanker, which is almost as long as the Empire State Building in New York is tall, the mission to manoeuvre it back onto the waterway may be tough.
The boat is longer than the canal is wide, and as it is currently positioned diagonally across the stretch of water it will need to be moved before the queue of more than 300 boats can pass through the canal once again.
But officials have cautioned this may be more a matter of weeks rather than days.
Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the company leading the rescue effort, said: “We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation.
“It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand.”
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