Suez Canal blocked as 200,000-tonne ‘mega ship’ gets stuck

Traffic builds on either side of 400m-long ‘Ever Given’ container ship

Kate Ng
Wednesday 24 March 2021 08:30
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The giant ship Ever Given was stuck in the Suez Canal en route from China to Rotterdam
The giant ship Ever Given was stuck in the Suez Canal en route from China to Rotterdam

A giant container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal on Tuesday, blocking one of the world’s busiest trade routes in both directions for nearly 19 hours.

The 200,000-tonne Ever Given was en route from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean when it became stuck sideways in the canal at around 5.40am GMT, according to shipping agent GAC.

As of 11.30pm, data from vessel tracking site Marine Traffic showed the ship was still in the same position, with at least five tug boats attempting to pull it free.

The ship, operated by Evergreen Marine, measures 400m long and 59m wide and its predicament has caused a build-up of shipping traffic.

A photo posted on Instagram, apparently by a crew member on nearby ship, showed a small excavator attempting to clear soil along the bank to free the vessel.

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The caption said: “Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways looks like we might be here for a little bit…”

The Ever Given is bound for the port of Rotterdam from the Yantian district in China, and has so far travelled through Taipei and Malaysia.

Vessel tracking sites show the Ever Given container ship stuck sideways in the Suez Canal and surrounded by tug boats attempting to pull it free

It was scheduled to arrive in the Netherlands on 31 March.

The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, providing the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. It is around 193km (120 miles) long and runs through three natural lakes.

It was constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869, and officially opened on 17 November 1869. 

A US$8bn megaproject launched by Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to increase the canal’s capacity and attract more ships was completed in 2015.

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