Blockade of Suez Canal jeopardizes delivery of protective equipment in Europe



An excavator attempts to move the bank of the canal after the ship runs aground. / Suez Canal / AFP

An excavator attempts to move the bank of the canal after the ship runs aground. / Suez Canal / AFP

The Suez Canal, which crosses Egypt to connect the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, was blocked by a stranded cargo ship.

The images showed Ever Given perpendicular to the channel, clearly blocking the passage of other ships. He is aided by an army of tugs and shore support, including an excavator, who appeared to be trying to free the bow of the ship.

According to information from the freighter on MarineTraffic, the vessel sails under the Panamanian flag and was built three years ago.

He was on his way to Rotterdam, the Netherlands from China before encountering problems. The canal is a key waterway for the global freight trade. It typically carries over 50 ships per day.

Oliver Chapman, Group CEO of Supply Chain Supply Company OIC, warned that the accident and the resulting delay could have a significant effect on the transport of personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a huge number of deals going on right now, coming from China, Malaysia and Vietnam… a lot of cargo is carrying essential health care kits suitable for COVID-19. Now is not the right time to go. make that happen, ”he told CGTN Europe.

Satellite images show Ever Given stuck in the channel and perpendicular to its usual direction. / Planet Labs

Satellite images show Ever Given stuck in the channel and perpendicular to its usual direction. / Planet Labs

The company that operates the vessel, Evergreen Marine, said the incident was caused by unexpected high winds.

“[The craft is] suspected of having been struck by a strong and sudden wind, causing the hull to deflect … and accidentally hitting bottom and running aground. “

Chapman said this raises serious concerns about the size of modern freighters and the possibility of such incidents happening again.

“We all know that in shipping this sort of thing happens – that strong winds have a huge impact on such large ships. We could perhaps question this new era of super-maximum size vessels carrying 20,000 TU [20-foot equivalent containers] … We have to ask ourselves, what other significant impact could this have on other scenarios in the future? “

Julianne Cona, a crew member on another ship, posted this photo on Instagram. “Looks like we could be here for a little while …” she wrote. / Instagram / fallen hearts17

Julianne Cona, a crew member on another ship, posted this photo on Instagram. “Looks like we could be here for a little while …” she wrote. / Instagram / fallen hearts17

It is believed that the Ever Given can carry around 20,000 containers and, according to Marine Traffic, its draft (how deep the ship is in the water) is currently 15 meters.

This has led some to question whether the ship will need to be unloaded before it can leave the banks of the canal.

“If they are unable to release it (…) at high tide, they will have to start removing the cargo,” said maritime historian Sal Mercogliano.

He added: “It is the biggest ship ever stranded in the Suez Canal”, explaining that the ship got stuck in the embankment and would have lost its power and its ability to steer.

If efforts to remove Ever Given take much longer, Chapman said shipping companies will have to decide whether it is better to wait or invest in the much longer and more expensive trip around Cape de Bonne. – Hope in South Africa, an itinerary undertaken by sailors in previous centuries.

“If the Suez Canal is blocked for more than a day … the other option really takes us back hundreds of years … to cross the entire region of southern Africa,” he said. -he explains.


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