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container ship stuck in Suez Canal moved slightly, but low tide keeps it hung

   March 28, 2021 3:06 AM
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by The Oregon Herald Staff

Ever Given Refused to lodge free Made minor progress but not enough
Huge efforts to free the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal have caused its stern and rudder to move but not much more. It's unclear when the ship will be freed. The massive efforts ultimately failed Saturday night as a high tide to help float the vessel did not arrive.

The 200,000-ton ship continues to block hundreds of ships from passing through the Canal. The net result is a loss of billions of dollars in global trade each day. The fifth day of the salvage operation demonstrates the technical and weather challenges facing the team attempting to free the Ever Given from the eastern bank of the canal.

Hopes for blocked Suez Canal hinge on rising tide potentially freeing ship

"Unfortunately, the tidal conditions didn't help refloating Ever Given tonight," Leth Agencies, the canal's service provider, tweeted early Sunday morning, adding that "dredgers will continue their work; tugs will assist in new attempts again tomorrow."

Those attempts to pull the vessel out of the muck and mud will be helped by two larger and heavier tug boats, both scheduled to arrive on Sunday in the canal.

The company in charge of crew and maintenance, said that the salvage efforts will begin again on Saturday at 2 p.m., this after "significant progress" was made to free the vessel's rudder from the abundand sand and mud lining the sides of the canal. However by midnight, with 11 tug boats tied and pulling, it was clear that the dredging operations to remove thousands of tons of sediment around the vessel's bow would need more time and effort.

Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie at a news conference Saturday said there were signs of small movement and that "at any time the ship could slide and move from the spot it is in."

He acknowledged the huge challenges involved to dislodge the ship, especially the tide's impact on the salvage efforts. The ship's stern on Friday began to move in the direction of Suez, however by 11 p.m., "the tide fell significantly and we stopped."

If the tide continues against dislodging the cargo of 20,000 containers, some of the cargo on the Ever Given would need to be moved off ship to lighten it enough to float.

On Sunday it there was the arrival of a U.S. Navy team of dredging experts to assist in the operation. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a U.S. Naval Fifth Fleet spokeswoman, told the media that nothing had changed since Friday.

"We have offered and stand ready to assist Egypt, and will look to support any specific request we receive," read the statement. "We continue to monitor and assess the situation, but have nothing to provide on any potential specific support at this time."


Egyptians welcomed American offers to help and on Saturday Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly gave appreciation for the offer from foreign allies to help free the ship.

The salvage effort has truly become an international operation led by an Egyptian, Dutch and German team with large tug boats now from Italy and the Netherlands, mirroring the global shipping industry and the Ever Given it. The ship is owned by a Japanese company, operated by a Taiwanese firm, its crew is Indian, and it sails under a Panamanian flag.

Another six ships entered the canal on Sunday. That brings the number of vessels trapped in the massive maritime congestion to 327.