If things go according to plan, the large container ship Ever Given that is stuck in the Suez Canal could be free again after the weekend. That is what CEO Peter Berdowski of dredging and maritime services provider Boskalis said on Dutch television programme Nieuwsuur. Boskalis and its subsidiary Smit Salvage are on site to help free the 400-metre-long ship.
‘Then things will have to go according to plan,’ Berdowski acknowledges. But his company is banking on that. According to the CEO, two large tugboats (together some 400 tonnes bollard pull) are on their way to Egypt. They will help pull the ship loose. His company is already dredging on site to remove soil from around the front of the ship. Next week there will be a few days of high tide, which is good because the water is a little higher then. Then the ship has to be pulled loose.
Also read: Huge container ship blocks Suez Canal
Crane being set up
Berdowski hopes that the plan will work, but there is an alternative. Work is also being done on this. A crane is being set up on land that can remove containers from the front of the ship. That would make that part of the ship lighter and raise it a little more, which would make it easier to get it off. If necessary, as many as 600 containers could be removed.
Transport flows disrupted
Since it ran aground earlier this week, the ship has been stuck in the channel in such a way that it is blocked for other ships. This affects worldwide transport flows considerably, as there are normally many ships sailing there. The canal accounts for about twelve per cent of world trade. Every day, nearly 10 billion dollars’ worth of goods pass through the canal.
Experts already feared that it will probably take days, and possibly even weeks, before the most important shipping route between Asia and Europe is accessible again. If the blockage of the Suez Canal lasts much longer, it could possibly result in empty shelves in shops.
The first ships are now choosing to make a trip around Africa instead of joining the queue of waiting ships at the Suez Canal. That means a lot of extra sailing time.
Picture by Suez Canal Authority.