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A timeline look on the process of freeing the ship that blocked the Suez Canal.

Bloomberg, Content provider

March 29, 2021

8 Min Read
The Taiwan-owned MV 'Ever Given' (Evergreen) container ship, a 400-metre- (1,300-foot-)long and 59-metre wide vessel, is lodg
The Taiwan-owned MV 'Ever Given' (Evergreen) container ship, a 1,300-foot-long vessel, is lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterway of Egypt's Suez Canal, on March 26, 2021. Tugboats and dredgers were working to free the giant container ship.AFP/GettyImages

The Ever Given container ship stuck in the Suez Canal was finally pulled free, allowing the crucial trade route to reopen to traffic.

The vessel is now fully afloat, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement. Tug boats hauled the giant vessel away from the side of the waterway, where it had been lodged since last Tuesday.

Efforts will now get under way to restart shipping navigation, with more than 450 vessels waiting near the canal. The backlog has strained global supply chains already stretched by the pandemic as the route is a conduit for about 12% of global trade.

Brent crude dropped 0.6% to trade at $64.20 a barrel as of 2:16 p.m. in London.


  • Vessel is refloated; plan is to move the ship north of where it grounded to the Bitter Lake

  • Explainers: Why the Suez Canal is so important, and why shipping was in a bind even before this crisis

Ship Is Pulled Free (2:12 p.m. London)

The Ever Given was finally pulled free, allowing the canal to reopen to traffic.

The vessel is now fully afloat, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement.

Latest Attempt to Free Vessel Failed (1:05 p.m. London)

An attempt to free the Ever Given that began around 11:30 a.m. local time appears to have failed, and a person with knowledge of the matter said another attempt would be made at 3 p.m.

Once the vessel is fully refloated and navigation on the canal resumes, ships will pass through at a rate of 100 a day to clear the backlog, the person said.

Shipping Rates Jump on Lack of Capacity (12:08 p.m. London)

Vessel delays will effectively cut the available container shipping capacity on the route at a time when it’s urgently needed, said Greg Knowler, senior European editor at IHS Markit’s Journal of Commerce. Spot freight rates from China to northern Europe are up almost 400% year on year, he said.

“Even once the Ever Given is out of the way and the convoys resume, it will still take many days to clear the backlog of vessels at each end of the canal, then a week for the westbound container ships to reach ports in north Europe,” Knowler said in a note. “That could see the Suez ships arriving around the same time as the dozens of vessels rerouted around Africa.”

Ship Is Moved To and Fro to Break Suction (12 p.m. London)

Tugs are moving the stern of the ship to and fro in order to dislodge the front hull from the mud, people familiar with the operation said. The movement resembles the wiggling of a tooth, one of the people said.

Tugs to Resume Work to Pull Vessel Free (10:45 a.m. London)

Live television pictures showed several tugs roped up to the ship in the canal’s turquoise water, but it wasn’t clear if there was any movement.

Dredging is still continuing around the bow, and the tugs will subsequently resume efforts to haul the vessel free, two people familiar with the operation said.

Egypt Has Ended the Crisis, Says President (Monday, 10:30 a.m. London)

“Egyptians have today succeeded in ending the crisis of the stranded ship at the Suez Canal, despite the huge technical complication that has surrounded the process from every side,” President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in a statement.

Queue Could Last for Six Days, Says Maersk (Monday, 9:56 a.m. London)

“Assessing the current backlog of vessels, it could take six days or more for the complete queue to pass,” Maersk says in a statement.

Maersk and its partners have three vessels stuck in the canal and 29 waiting to enter. More are expected to reach the waterway today.

Too Early to Celebrate, Says Boskalis (Monday, 8 a.m. London)

“We need to be realistic and that is that the stem of the ship is still very much stuck,” said Peter Berdowski, chief executive officer of Boskalis Westminster, the parent company of the salvage team.

“Putting the rear end of the ship afloat was the easy part,” he said to Dutch NPO Radio. “The challenging part will be the front of the ship. Now, we will start working at the front. We do not want to celebrate too early.”

Ship Will be Able to Use Own Propulsion (Monday, 7:50 a.m. London)

When the Ever Given is ready to be moved, the ship will probably be able to use her own propulsion capability to sail to the Bitter Lake, said people familiar with the situation.

Euronav says Will Take Time to Clear Queue of Ships (Monday, 7:05 a.m. London)

“It’s one thing to refloat the ship, it’s another thing to completely clear the canal of traffic,” Hugo De Stoop, CEO of oil-shipping firm Euronav, said to Bloomberg Television. “Whatever has been accumulated so far will take time to clear. Tentative timeline is probably two to three weeks, because the Suez canal was used probably at full capacity.”

Maneuvers Continue, Says Canal Authority (Monday, 6:50 a.m. London)

The ship’s been refloated and work will continue this morning around the time of high tide, the Canal Authority said.

The vessel’s course has been moved 80%, it said in a statement.

“The maneuvers are scheduled to resume again as the water level rises to its maximum height at 11:30 a.m., reaching 2 meters, allowing the ship’s course to be completely modified to the middle of the shipping course,” the authority said.

Navigation in the canal will resume once the ship is fully refloated and moved to the Great Bitter Lake area for technical checks, the authority said. The Bitter Lake is north of where the Ever Given ran aground.

Efforts are underway to prepare the ship to sail out of the channel, Mohab Mamish, the Egyptian president’s adviser for the Suez Canal, said.

“Today we will start our plan for all the ships to cross the canal,” he said. “It could take around one week to get all ships out of the Suez canal corridor.”

Ship Partly Refloated in Dawn Rescue Effort (Monday, 4:44 a.m. London)

The giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal has been at least partially refloated, the first step toward getting one of the world’s most important trade arteries moving again.

The Ever Given was successfully refloated at about 4:30 a.m. local time in Egypt and the vessel is currently being secured, maritime services provider Inchcape Shipping Services said in an email. It followed a new attempt to dislodge the ship involving 10 tug boats, according to the Suez Canal Authority.

Oil Tumbles as Vessel Partly Refloated (Monday, 4:36 a.m. London)

Oil retreated as salvage teams partly refloated the giant container vessel that had been blocking the Suez Canal, and traders weighed the impact of renewed lockdowns on global demand before an OPEC+ policy meeting. West Texas Intermediate lost as much as 1.9%, while Brent fell. Crude has been hit by rising volatility in recent sessions, with WTI swinging between gains and losses last week.

Powerful Winds Led to Grounding (Monday, 1:15 a.m. London)

The Ever Given experienced strong winds and gusts in excess of 35 to 40 miles an hour around the time of its grounding in the Suez Canal according to an analysis from weather technology company ClimaCell. Conditions may have made the 400-meter long vessel more difficult to maneuver or kicked up desert sand reducing visibility, Chief Scientist Daniel Rothenberg said in an email. “Such strong winds happen infrequently -- only once every few years -- in our historical analysis,” he said.

The Line Gets Longer (Sunday, London 8:45 p.m.)

The number of ships waiting to enter the Suez Canal now exceeds the size of the entire U.S. Navy fleet. Data compiled by Bloomberg show there are 453 vessels queued up Sunday, compared with around 100 at the start of the blockage.

Bulk carriers typically hauling commodities such as grains, coal and iron ore account for the biggest share of the vessels stuck in and around the canal. The data also indicate as many as 15 vessels that could be carrying thousands of livestock.

Vessels stuck in Suez Canal

Around 200,000 Animals Stranded (Sunday, London 2:30 p.m.)

About 200,000 animals could be stranded in the ships held up at the canal, according to an estimate from advocacy group Animals International. The group has tallied 18 vessels that departed Romania, Spain and South America and are currently stuck in the queue. Many are likely carrying sheep, said European Union director Gabriel Paun. Vessels can’t easily unload animals in other nearby countries due to health protocols or a lack of trade agreements, he said.

“It’s just another incident which shows that no matter which contingency plan you design, tragedies may occur over and over as long as we don’t replace the export of live animals with the export of refrigerated and frozen meat,” Paun said.

 Ever Given’s Front Was Damaged; Now Stable (Sunday, London 12:40 p.m.)

The ship’s front, or bow, was damaged and water entered two tanks, according to a spokesman for Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the vessel’s manager.

High-powered pumps were used to get the water out the compartments and the vessel is stable, said the spokesman. Once the Ever Given’s moved, there will be an assessment to determine whether it’s fit to leave the canal. There’s nothing at the moment to suggest it won’t be able to sail out the waterway, the spokesman said.

--With assistance from Tarek El-Tablawy, Abdel Latif Wahba, Joe Carroll, Fred Pals, Verity Ratcliffe and Aaron Clark.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Related: Suez Canal blockage disrupting global trade

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