Stuck in the Suez Canal

By Makenna Adams

The world let out relieved sigh on Monday, March 29 when tenacious dredgers finally dislodged Ever Given from her stuck spot in the Suez Canal. A massive fleet of more than 100 ships idled anxiously at the entrance of the canal for days before the cargo ship’s release, which will now pass through the canal with celebratory spirit. 

On Tuesday March 23, news broke that the 200,000 ton cargo ship, Ever Given, had gotten stuck in the Suez Canal. People panicked—the blockage began to immediately affect shipping globally. Loaded with around 18,000 shipping containers of goods, Ever Given prevented businesses from acquiring the vital supplies held aboard. One UK company, Seaport Freight Services, shared that they awaited the arrival of 20 containers of goods aboard Ever Given. “We’re waiting on food goods like coconut milk and syrups,” the company contested, “[along with] some spare parts for motors… some fork lift trucks, some Amazon goods on there, all sorts.” While the wedged vessel created an immediate problem of preventing companies from getting goods, it also created a global repercussion on trade; Ever Given held up an estimated $9.6bn of trade along the waterway each day. “That equates to $400m and 3.3 million tonnes of cargo an hour, or $6.7m a minute,” reports BBC news. 

The Suez Canal first opened for international navigation in 1869. A vital trade route, ships steered through the canal for decades relatively unscathed, until now: the entrapment of Ever Given marks the largest canal accident to date. At 120 miles long and 205 meters wide, the canal “is relatively easy to navigate” contends Irish sea captain Nelly Logan in an interview with BBC. Some evidence from the ship’s owner company, Ever Green Marine Corps, suggests that the accident was not entirely a result of faulty captainship, but rather unanticipated weather conditions. Amid high winds and a sandstorm, the ship became difficult to navigate, and became grounded in the bank of the canal. Yet reports from the Egypt Suez Canal Authority state that weather conditions were “not the main reasons” for the accident, and instead give credit to technical and human error. An ongoing investigation into the cause of the lodging will conclude the exact details of what happened, and hopefully determine how this tragedy can be prevented in the future.