The Ever Given, the skyscraper-sized container ship that had blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week since March 23, was dislodged on March 29. The blockage had disrupted global trade, causing losses worth billions of dollars in maritime commerce.
When convoys of ships began traveling through the crucial trade route linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea again, a canal service provider said more than 300 vessels, transporting everything from cattle to crude oil, were still waiting to travel. They also said the process could take days. Egyptian government officials, shippers, insurers, and other concerned authorities awaited further information about what caused the massive Ever Given to become wedged across the canal.
Experts had boarded the Ever Given on March 30 to look for signs of damage and determine what caused the ship to run aground. CEO and founder of shipping news website gcaptain.com Captain John Konrad warned the vessel could have suffered significant damage. While the ship was stuck, its middle moved with the tide—it bent up and down under the weight of approximately 20,000 containers across its 400-meter length. When workers partially floated the ship on March 29, all the pressure fell forward on its bow.
About the likelihood of heavy damage, Capt. Konrad said, “Structural integrity is No. 1. You know, there was a lot of strain on that ship as it was sagging in the waterway. They have to check everything for cracks and particularly that rudder and the propeller in the back that’s connected to the engine room.” He added, “And then they have to go through all the mechanical equipment, make sure they test the engines, all the safety valves, all the equipment, and then determine that it’s safe to sail either by itself or with a tug escort to the next port.”
When blame gets directed, it’s likely to lead to years of litigation to recover the costs of fixing the canal, repairing the ship, and reimbursing those whose cargo shipments suffered disruption. The matter caused international chaos as the ship is owned by a Japanese organization, operated by a Taiwanese shipper, got flagged in Panama, and stuck in Egypt.