The container ship Ever Given, which ran aground in the Suez Canal on Tuesday 23 March, has been refloated. After the stern of the ship came loose on Monday morning, the bow has now also been freed. Eyewitnesses reported to Reuters that the ship was under its own power, but according to salvage company Boskalis, the ship is being towed away. The rest of shipping traffic is also resuming, according to the canal authority.

The Ever Given ran aground in a sandstorm last Tuesday in the southern part of the Suez Canal. The ship, owned by a Japanese shipowner but sailing in the service of a Taiwanese company, is one of the largest container ships in the world with a length of 400 metres and a width of almost 60 metres. As a result, it is very sensitive to crosswinds. When the ship grounded, it was lying against both banks of the canal.

At the last count, about 450 ships were stuck waiting or heading for the waterway, which accounts for about twelve per cent of world trade. Other ships have diverted and are taking the longer route around Africa. Mohab Mamish, advisor to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi expects it will take ‘about a week to get all ships out of the Suez Canal corridor.’

‘We pulled it off!’

Boskalis’ subsidiary Smit Salvage was involved in the salvage operation of the grounded 20,000 TEU container vessel and is quick to respond to the good news by saying ‘We pulled it off!’ on its website.

‘I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given on 29 March at 15:05 hrs local time, thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again,’ says Peter Berdowski, CEO Boskalis. ‘I’m extremely proud of the outstanding job done by the team on site as well as the many Smit Salvage and Boskalis colleagues back home to complete this challenging operation under the watchful eye of the world. The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented and the result is a true display of our unique capabilities as a dredging and marine services provider.’

Also read: Attempts to pull bow of container ship in Suez Canal free about to start

30,000 cubic metres of sand dredged

For the refloating of the 224,000-tonne container vessel approximately 30,000 cubic metres of sand were dredged to help free the vessel and a total of eleven harbour tugs and two powerful seagoing tugs (Alp Guard and Carlo Magna) were deployed.

The vessel’s charterer, Evergreen Line says the ship will be repositioned to the Great Bitter Lake in the Canal for an inspection of its seaworthiness. The outcome of that inspection will determine whether the ship can resume its scheduled service. Once the inspection is finalised, decisions will be made regarding arrangements for cargo currently on board, according to Evergreen.

Evergreen will coordinate with the shipowner to deal with subsequent matters after the shipowner and other concerned parties complete investigation reports into the incident.

Also read: Container ship that grounded in Suez Canal moves, but ‘too soon to celebrate’

Source (in part): ANP

Picture by Boskalis.