The container ship stuck in the Suez Canal is free

Boaty McStuckface is now unstuck.

As of Monday evening local time, Ever Given, the massive container ship that had blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, is free.

The dayslong saga of the stuck ship disrupted global trade to the tune of billions of dollars and captivated the world’s (and the internet’s) attention.

The 1,312-foot-long container ship was traveling from China to the Netherlands through the narrow canal last Tuesday when Egyptian authorities say a dust storm brought low visibility and heavy winds that caused the ship to run aground.

With the bow of the ship touching the eastern wall of the canal and the stern against the western wall, the vessel completely blocked the waterway, leaving dozens of smaller ships stranded on both sides.

It remained wedged there for days — creating what amounted to the world’s largest traffic jam in one of the most important shipping transit routes on earth.

Completed in 1869, the Suez Canal provides one of the shortest maritime routes between Asia and Europe by connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas and allowing ships to avoid having to go around the Horn of Africa.

Some 80 percent of the world’s trade travels by sea, and around 12 percent moves through the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal is also an important route for tankers transporting fossil gas and oil.

In an effort to increase traffic, the Egyptian government undertook an $8 billion expansion of the Canal back in 2015, extracting 260 million tons of sand to build a new channel and deepen and widen sections of the old canal. In 2020, 19,000 ships passed through the canal — more than 50 ships per day.

That number dwindled to zero while Ever Given remained lodged in the canal, prompting Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority, which operates and maintains the canal, to work furiously to try to free the vessel.

Expert salvage crews, tugboats, and excavating equipment were dispatched to the scene. Finally, after six long days — and with the help of the full moon, which caused the tide in the canal to rise — the ship was freed.

And the celebrations were glorious.

The ship has now been towed to Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake, about midway through the canal, where it will undergo an inspection, the head of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Osama Rabie said, according to state-run Al Ahram newspaper.

After that’s completed, the boat’s charter company will then decide on what to do next, CNN reported.

“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, according to CNN.

The location of the container ship Ever Given as of 12:26 pm EDT on March 29, 2021.
VesselFinder

In the meantime, traffic has finally resumed in the channel — bringing a happy (if expensive) end to one of the wildest stories of 2021 so far.

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