CAIRO, 29 March 2021 – The giant container ship that has blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal for nearly a week was nudged free Monday, as the canal reopens to maritime traffic.
“We pulled it off!” Boskalis, a salvage company that helped with the operation, said in a statement Monday.
The refloating of the vessel was met with triumphant celebrations, the jubilant honking of horns, and a huge sigh of relief, especially from the over 300 ships that had been trapped on either end of the canal.
Tug boats honked their horns in celebration as the Ever Given [never mind EverGreen written along the length of the ship itself] was dislodged from the sand prison its stern and bow had dug themselves into.
“Boskalis announces the successful salvage operation of the grounded 20,000 TEU container vessel Ever Given in the Suez Canal,” the firm said.
The vessel had been wedged, blocking this vital international shipping route since last March 23.
While the blockade lasted, goods worth an estimated $400 million were delayed from getting to market every hour for a total of $9.6 billion every 24 hours.
Marine traffic shared a video of the massive ship on its website as it rolled away from the banks of the Suez Canal.
In what a commentator described as “sluggish majesty”, the 1,300-feet-long (400-meter-long) vessel the height of a skyscraper was towed towards Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake at a speed of 1.5 knots.
The vessel will be inspected before it resumes its voyage, the state-run Al Ahram newspaper said, citing the head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie.
“The outcome of that inspection will determine whether the ship can resume its scheduled service. Once the inspection is finalized, decisions will be made regarding arrangements for cargo currently on board,” charter company Evergreen said in a statement.
It had been projected that the vessel would be refloated within 72 hours last Friday, by an advisor of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on maritime affairs.
Mohab Mamish, who is a former chairperson of the Suez Canal Authority, had told reporters Friday that he expects that navigation through the canal “will resume again within 48-to-72 hours, maximum”.
The owners of the vessel apologized Thursday, to the rest of the shipping world for holding up traffic on the man-made waterway.
“We would like to apologize to all parties affected by this incident, including the ships traveling and planning to travel through Suez Canal,” Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd had said in a statement, pledging to “keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible”.