Suez Canal Blockade: Ten Minutes Save the Trade; Ever Grin Finally Limped off the Banks

Story Highlights
  • Almost a week to release the giant vessel
  • Longest closure after 1967 Six-day war
  • Might take 4 days for the canal activities to normalize

World: After a week’s struggle to dislodge the giant vessel stuck in the Suez Canal ended on Monday as the ship was freed and traffic resumed through the most vital waterways of the globe. Either side of the Ever Grin held hundreds of vessels from oil to livestock in line. The blockade compromised around 12 % of global trade and threatened to further strain supply lines already stretched by the pandemic. 

Horns were blown in the celebration as the 220,000-ton giant container cleared the canal passage after a painstaking operation that saw teams of tugs and dredgers working day and night. 

The tides and the full moon aided in pulling the ship from deep inside the sandy bank, shoving 30,000 cubic meters of sand.  Part of the problem was a five-day wait for two large tugboats, according to Peter Berdowski, chief executive officer of Boskalis Westminster, the parent company of the salvage team.  He said, “The men were euphoric of course. But there was a tense moment when this giant was floating freely. You need to bring it under control quickly with the tugboats before it gets stuck on the other side, we would have gone from bad to worse. Those were a tense 10 minutes.” 

The blockade is reported to be the longest closure after eight years following the 1967 Six-Day War.  The long-term impact of the canal’s $10-billion-per-day closure will likely be small given that global merchandise trade amounts to $18 trillion a year. 

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