The Japanese company that owns the giant container ship stuck on the side of the Suez Canal in Egypt said an attempt would be made to refloat the ship taking advantage of tidal movements on Saturday, as the crisis forced companies to redirect vital seaway services around Africa.
The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football pitches, was stuck diagonally on the canal span – about 6 km (3.7 miles) north of the south entrance near the town of Suez – since Tuesday. It still blocks the waterway in both directions.
At a press conference in Japan on Friday, the president of Shoei Kisen – the ship’s owner – told local media that there were no signs of damage to her engines and various instruments.
“The ship is not taking water. There is no problem with its rudders and propellers. Once it has refloated it should be able to function, ”said Yukito Higaki in the Japanese town of Imabari in western Japan, according to Asahi Shimbun.
Work crews hoped to remove the ship as early as Saturday night Tokyo time, he said, taking advantage of the tidal movements.
“We are continuing our work to remove the sediment now, with additional dredging tools,” he added, according to Nikkei Asia.
“We apologize for blocking the traffic and causing enormous problems and concerns to many people, including the parties involved.”
“ Complex ” operation
The Egyptian Suez Canal Authority said the Ever Given deviated from its course and ran aground on Tuesday when high winds caused a sandstorm that affected visibility.
The blockage caused a huge traffic jam for more than 200 ships at both ends of the 193 km (120 mile) canal and significant delays in the delivery of oil and other products.
Shoei Kisen said in a statement on Saturday that the company had considered removing its containers to lighten the ship, but that would be a very difficult operation. The company said it could still consider this option if continued bailout efforts fail.
“This is a complex technical operation” which will require several attempts to free the ship, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said in a statement.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the ship’s technical management company, said on Friday that an attempt to refloat the ship had failed.
“The focus is now on dredging to remove sand and mud from the port side of the bow of the ship,” BSM said.
Smit Salvage, a Dutch company that has worked on some of the most famous wrecks in recent years, confirmed that “two more tugs” would arrive on Sunday to help, he added.
There had been “no report of pollution or damage to the cargo and initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as the cause of the grounding”.
Crews had been seen working through the night, using a large dredging machine in the spotlight.
But the vessel, with a gross tonnage of 219,000 and a deadweight of 199,000, has not yet moved.
The Suez Canal Authority has said it welcomes international assistance. The White House said it had offered to help Egypt reopen the canal. “We have equipment and capabilities that most countries don’t have and we see what we can do and what help we can be,” US President Joe Biden told reporters.
The Egyptian government has accepted “an offer of assistance”, CNN reported on Friday, adding that the US Navy in the region plans to send “an assessment team of dredging experts to the Suez Canal as early as Saturday”.
‘Much longer route’
“Shipping companies are forced to face the specter of taking the much longer route around the Cape of Good Hope to get to Europe or the east coast of North America,” said Lloyd’s List, a company maritime data and information.
“The first container ship to do this is Evergreen’s Ever Greet … a sistership to Ever Given,” he said, noting that the route can take up to an additional 12 days.
About 10 percent of world trade passes through the canal, which is particularly crucial for the transportation of oil. The shutdown could also affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East.
Oil markets are absorbing the disruption for now, analyst Toril Bosoni said.
“Oil stocks have declined but are still relatively large,” she told The Associated Press, adding that she believed the effect might be more pronounced in the oil sector than in industry. petroleum.
“We are not losing any oil reserves, but it will block the tankers for longer if they have to go around,” she said.
Lloyd’s List said data showed 213 ships were now stranded at either end of the canal, which connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
The blockade was holding around $ 9.6 billion in goods every day between Asia and Europe, he said.
“Rough calculations suggest westbound traffic is worth about $ 5.1 billion per day, while eastbound traffic is worth $ 4.5 billion.”