Some Success in Freeing the Cargo Ship Blocking the Suez Canal

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After six days and nights of working to free the cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal, salvage teams were finally able to begin moving the ship. As of almost an hour ago, the ship has been fully freed from its position in the canal. The massive cargo ship had been blocking traffic in this very important waterway for the past week, and salvage teams have been working on both water and land in efforts to free the ship. Teams were deeply motivated to free the ship as soon as possible in order to prevent great economic disruption from occurring. 

NBC News describes, “The 1,400-foot long cargo ship jammed diagonally across a southern section of the Suez Canal, leaving a total of 367 ships, including dozens of container ships and bulk carriers, unable to use the key trading route as of Monday morning.”

The cargo ship blocking the Suez Canal (cnbc.com)

The New York Times adds, “With concerns that the salvage operation could take weeks, some ships decided not to wait, turning to take the long way around the southern tip of Africa, a voyage that can add weeks to the journey and more than $26,000 a day in fuel costs.”

At first, a total of fourteen tugboats were used to pull the ship in three different directions, which was somewhat successful, but further efforts resumed once the tide was high again. This morning, the tugboats have been more victorious in straightening out the ship and inching closer to freeing it. However, the salvage teams credit the majority of the success to the moon and the tides, which they believe fully helped move the ship. 

Tugboat pulling the cargo ship (egypttoday.com)

According to The New York Times, “Salvage crews had worked around a schedule largely dictated by the tides: working to make progress during the six hours it would take for the water to go from low point to high and then back again.”

Since the full moon was Sunday, this ultimately made the 24 hours after ideal to advance the ship.

Although every move, no matter how small, the ship made was encouraging, chief executive Peter Berdowski of Royal Boskalis Westminster warned everyone that the struggle was ongoing, and the teams of engineers and experts needed to stay extremely focused on the task before celebration. Divers have stated that there appears to be no damage on the hull of the ship thus far, but it is to be reinspected now that it has been freed.  

As of right now, the plan is communicated to be towing the ship to Great Bitter Lake. This would allow traffic going through the Suez to resume. However, before other ships are able to use the canal again, further inspections of the waterway itself must take place to ensure safety for all. This inspection combined with the hundreds of ships already backed up may result in many days before everything will return to normal.