Hopes rise of ending Suez Canal blockage in days

Published March 28, 2021
This satellite imagery released by Maxar Technologies shows tug boats and dredgers on Saturday attempting to free the Taiwan-owned MV Ever Given lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across Suez Canal. — AFP
This satellite imagery released by Maxar Technologies shows tug boats and dredgers on Saturday attempting to free the Taiwan-owned MV Ever Given lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across Suez Canal. — AFP

CAIRO: Hopes rose on Saturday that a mega-ship blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal could be refloated within days, even as the crisis forced companies to consider re-routing vessels around the southern tip of Africa.

The president of Shoei Kisen — the Japanese firm which owns the giant container vessel — said it could be freed from the canal bed later on Saturday, while the parent company of the Dutch salvage firm in charge of the operation eyed a target of early next week.

Millions of dollars are at stake. Billions of dollars of cargo are now stalled at either end of the vital shipping lane between Asia and Europe, with their owners mulling whether to wait it out or take the longer and more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope at the cost of up to 12 additional days at sea.

The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields, has been wedged diagonally across the span of the canal since Tuesday, blocking the waterway in both directions.“We are continuing work to remove sediment as of now, with additional dredging tools.” In the Netherlands, the executive director of Royal Boskalis, parent company of Smit Salvage, set a less demanding target.

“With the ships we’ll have in place by then, the earth we’ve managed to dredge, and the high tide, let’s hope that’ll be enough to budge the ship at the start of next week,” Peter Berdowski said.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2021

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