The huge Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal was successfully refloated on 29 March at 15:05 hrs local time, American Shipper reported.
The 400m long, 200,000 tonne vessel had been blocking one of the world’s biggest trade routes since Tuesday, holding up US$9.6bn of goods each day. Some 320 ships were reportedly waiting to transit the canal following the successful refloating.
Taiwanese firm Evergreen Marine Corp, which leases Ever Given through a time charter, said the vessel would be repositioned to the Great Bitter Lake in the canal for an inspection of its seaworthiness to determine whether it could resume its scheduled service.
“We are most grateful to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and all the concerned parties for their assistance and support through this difficult and unfortunate situation. We would also like to express our deepest appreciation to the crew who remain steadfast in their posts as well as the salvage experts and dredging team for their professionalism and relentless efforts over the past six days towards securing this outcome,” Evergreen said.
The Suez Canal provides the shortest link between Asia (including palm oil producers Malaysia and Indonesia) and Europe. Re-routing vessels around the Cape of Good Hope added around eight days to their total journeys, said the BBC.
According to AgriCensus, the canal is also particularly important to Black Sea grain or oilseed exporters as it cuts the time taken to connect Black Sea ports with major markets in the Middle East or Asia.
Ever Given is one of the world’s largest container vessels and is carrying 18,300 containers, with a total capacity of 20,000 containers. It reportedly ran aground at the southern end of the canal amid high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility.
Earlier on the 29th, the SCA said the Ever Given was partially refloated as a result of “successful push-and-tow manoeuvres, which led to the restoration of 80% of the vessel’s direction”.
The stern of the ship had been moved 102m clear of the shore, and refloating resumed later in the day during high tide, which allowed it to be positioned in the middle of the waterway.
The canal authority said earlier that an investigation would be needed to determine whether technical or human errors occurred in the accident.
Last year, the Suez Canal was used by an average of 51.5 ships per day, according to the BBC. The canal is 193km long and incorporates three natural lakes. In 2015, Egypt opened a major expansion of the canal, which deepened the waterway and provided ships with a 35km channel parallel to it. The expansion has allowed two-way traffic along part of the canal, as well as for larger vessels overall.