Suez Canal fallout: What caused the Ever Given’s grounding? Answer will be expensive for some.
Ships were once again gliding through the Suez Canal on Tuesday, but the impact of the calamity that halted travel through one of the world’s most vital shipping passages will be felt for weeks, months or even years.
The mammoth cargo ship Ever Given, wedged across a narrow section of the canal for a week, was finally dislodged Monday. More than 400 ships backed up by the incident have been moving again, but catching up could take a week or more, experts say.
That’s just the beginning.
The first priority is normalizing the global shipping industry. Ahmed Bashir, head of Global Execution Centers for global shipping giant Maersk, said his company had 34 ships stalled in the backup. As the company is notified when its ships can pass through, Bashir said his crisis team is working to mitigate the delays as much as possible.
The canal carries more than 10% of world trade, and the worldwide cost of the blockage has been estimated at up to $10 billion a day – about $400 million an hour. Bashir warned the shipping industry will “feel the ripple of this closure for some weeks to come.”
“It will take some time for the effects of this incident to be fully absorbed,” Bashir said in a video message to customers. “Aside from the delays directly caused by the closure, there is an inevitable bunching of vessels that occurs as they call their next ports.”
‘We pulled it off!’: Grounded cargo ship Ever Given freed in Suez Canal
William Lee, chief economist at the Milken Institute, said the incident is about more than finally getting goods to their destinations.
“The supply chain shortages that cause assembly lines to shut down – that will have a greater impact,” Lee said.
While Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority works on clearing the shipping backlog, investigators are combing the Ever Given for clues as to what caused the grounding. The Panamanian-flagged vessel weighs 220,000 tons, is nearly a quarter-mile long and carries 20,000 containers. The ship spun around and became stuck in the sand in a windstorm March 23.
Workers dredged 30,000 cubic meters of sand – enough to fill about a dozen Olympic-size swimming pools. The ship’s stern was freed Sunday, and the bow was removed from the canal bank Monday. A dozen tugboats were finally able to drag the ship back into the middle of the canal.
The ship “came out intact and it has no problems,” the canal authority said.
“This was the result of successful push and tow maneuvers, which led to the restoration of 80% of the vessel’s direction,” the canal authority said in a statement.
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