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Workers Making Some Progress In Refloating Giant Container Ship Blocking Suez Canal

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Workers Making Some Progress In Refloating Giant Container Ship Blocking Suez Canal

The giant container ship Ever Given remained stuck sideways in Egypt's Suez Canal for a fifth day Saturday.

What Happened: On Saturday, authorities made new attempts to free the vessel and reopen the waterway. The New York Times reports that the container's rudder has been freed, and dredging is complete. 

By Friday night, dredgers had moved about 20,000 tons of sand from around the Ever Given's bow. 

The Suez Canal Authority chairman, Osama Rabie, said 9,000 tons of ballast water were removed from the ship, the BBC reported. Rabie said at a press conference on Saturday that workers were able to get the stern to move a little on Friday night, and also to get the rudder and propeller working again. Strong tides and winds had added to the difficulty of the effort.

He also said that an investigation was ongoing and did not rule out human or technical error.

Shoei Kisen, the Japanese company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts fail, Reuters reports. 

CEO Peter Berdowski of Boskalis, the salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given, said that the operation to free the vessel could take days, even weeks.

Why It Matters: The 120-mile-long Suez Canal enables 12% of the world's trade, with 50 ships per day navigating its waters. This activity includes the transport of 8% of all liquefied natural gas commerce. The Ever Given was traveling from Yantian, China, to Rotterdam carrying more than 100 containers. The containers are packed with cars, oil, livestock, laptops and other valuables. 

CNBC reports, quoting the shipping data and news company Lloyd's List, that the Suez Canal blockage is costing around $400 million an hour in trade. 

Reuters reports that the container ship blockage could cost global trade $6 billion to $10 billion a week.
Photo courtesy the NOAA National Ocean Service.  

 

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