By Rogers Wanambwa
KIU, Main Campus – The 200,000 metric-ton container ship, MV Ever Given has been freed from the Suez Canal banks, increasing hopes that the canal, one of the most crucial in the world will shortly be reopened.
This came after the ship got stuck in a narrow stretch of the canal practically a week ago. The 400-metre (1,300ft) long Ever Given was re-floated at 0230 GMT and was being secured, Inchcape, a global marine services provider said on Twitter.
The Ever Given, which became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal, on March 23rd had halted traffic on the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
Consequently, at least 369 vessels have been waiting since to transit the canal, Osama Rabie, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chief, said. These include dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels.
Besides, many other ships have already been re-routed around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope so as to circumvent the Suez blockage. This is a 5,500-mile (9,000km) diversion that takes an extra 7-10 days and increases the fuel bill of the Europe-Asia voyage.
Rabie said that, “It is a good sign that the ship had been freed” and around 14 tugboats had been deployed around the vessel and salvage crews were working the clock.
In addition, Richard Meade, an editor at shipping data and news company Lloyd’s List, said that close sources to the salvage operation had pronounced optimism “that the vessel could be moved within the next 24-48 hours.”
Diggers had been labouring to remove parts of the canal’s bank and increase dredging close to the ship’s bow to a depth of 18 metres (59ft), the SCA said in a statement.