A 400-meter ship likened to a “stranded whale” blocking the Suez Canal could take weeks to move, authorities have warned.
The Ever Given, a three-year-old 220,000-ton ship, was jammed on the world’s largest shipping lane for the first time on Tuesday.
Five tugs are working to pull the ship into deeper water, according to ship tracking data.
New photos released today show tugs at work and dredgers trying to remove sand and mud from around the stuck ship.
Peter Berdowski, CEO of the Dutch company Boskalis, which is trying to free the ship, said it was too early to say how long the job could be.
“We cannot rule out that it may take weeks, depending on the situation,” Berdowski told the Dutch television program Nieuwsuur.
He said the bow and stern of the ship had been raised against both sides of the canal.
Mr. Berdowski added, “It’s like a giant beach whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand.
“We may have to work with a combination of weight reduction, removing containers, oil and water from the ship, pulling boats and dredging sand.”
The ship ran diagonally across the single-lane section of the southern canal on Tuesday morning after losing the ability to steer in high winds and dust storms, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a statement.
Efforts to displace the 1,312-foot container that clogged traffic along the Suez Canal resumed Thursday at high tide.
It is now blocking transit in both directions through one of the busiest shipping channels in the world for goods, oil, grain and other products connecting Asia and Europe.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), Ever Given’s technical director, said dredgers were working to remove sand and mud from around the ship to free it, while tugs in conjunction with Ever Given’s winds were working to remove it to move.
The sea service company GAC issued a notice to customers overnight stating that efforts to free the ship with tugs continued, but the wind conditions and sheer size of the ship “hampered operations”.
The ship tracking software shows five tugs surrounding Ever Given and three more approaching it.
However, the ship’s GPS signal shows only minor changes in its position over the past 24 hours.
Several dozen vessels, including other large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels carrying grain, have secured themselves at either end of the canal, causing one of the worst shipping jams in years.
Around 30 percent of the world’s shipping container volume is handled daily via the 193 km long Suez Canal, and around 12 percent of all global trade in all goods.
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Shipping experts say some shipping companies may be forced to divert ships around the southern tip of Africa if the blockage is not expected to clear within the next 24 to 48 hours.
This would add about a week to the trip.
However, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority told the media that despite the blockade, some cargo could make its way south and efforts to oust Ever Given would continue.