'Ever Given’ still blocking Suez Canal

Evergreen containership remains wedged in the key shipping channel despite efforts to re-float it, adding further disruption to an already highly disrupted ocean freight supply chain.

'Ever Given’ still blocking Suez Canal

Evergreen containership remains wedged in the key shipping channel despite efforts to re-float it, adding further disruption to an already highly disrupted ocean freight supply chain.

 

The 20,000 teu containership ‘Ever Given’ is continuing to block the Suez Canal despite efforts to re-float the Evergreen Line vessel, adding further disruption to an already highly disrupted ocean freight supply chain, and the ship’s salvors have warned that the operation may take several days.

 

In an update this morning, Evergreen said: “After 48 hours of proactive efforts to re-float Ever Given, the time-chartered vessel’s grounding situation has not been resolved. The shipowner confirms that the crew, ship and cargo are all safe, and no marine pollution has materialized. There had been no blackout resulting in loss of power prior to the ship’s grounding.”

Evergreen said the shipowner had appointed two maritime professional rescue teams – Smit Salvage from the Netherlands and Nippon Salvage from Japan to attend the ship, noting: “These teams will be working with the Captain and the Suez Canal Authority to design a more effective plan for refloating the vessel as soon as possible.

 

“Evergreen Line will continue to coordinate with the shipowner and Suez Canal Authority to deal with the situation with the utmost urgency, ensuring the resumption of the voyage as soon as possible and to mitigate the effects of the incident.”

As the vessel is chartered, Evergreen said the responsibility for the expense incurred in the recovery operation, and third-party liability and the cost of repair – if any – rests with the owners.

 

As Lloyd’s List reported yesterday, it is not clear what caused the grounding. Initial reports suggested that Ever Given had experienced engine trouble, but a spokesman for BSM, the vessel’s technical managers, confirmed that an initial investigation has ruled out any suggestion of mechanical or technical failure.

In an statement yesterday, Evergreen said that “gusting winds of 30 kts” caused the container ship to deviate from its course, leading to the grounding. “Evergreen has urged the shipowner to investigate the cause of this accident, and work closely with Suez Canal Authority and related agencies to refloat the stranded ship as soon as possible,” it said.

Other containerships blocked

 

As of yesterday, Lloyd’s List Intelligence tracking data indicated that around 165 vessels were either waiting at either end of the canal or blocked from exiting, including 33 containerships. By midday today, that had increased to more than 200 vessels, including 41 containerships.

 

Containerised goods represent around 26% of total Suez traffic and in value terms delays will be significant, Lloyd’s List highlighted. It said rough calculations suggest westbound traffic is worth around $5.1bn daily while eastbound traffic is worth $4.5bn. 

Previous groundings in the Suez have seen smaller vessels get into trouble, including the 12,562 teu MSC Fabiola, which blocked southbound transits for two days in 2016, and the 9,971 teu Maersk Shams, in the same year. That vessel was refloated on the same day with little disruption, Lloyd’s List reported.

It is unclear how long any operation to clear Ever Given will take. One option will be to dig out a wide ‘turning circle’ in the soft sand banks that line the canal, but that too will take time and equipment. But it may also be necessary to lighten the vessel, which will require a more complicated salvage operation, Lloyd’s List noted. Given the size of the ship and the fact that it is fully laden, efforts to remove containers using a crane barge will be challenging. 

Stick or twist? 

Shipping lines that use the canal will now have to make the decision whether to stick or twist, either waiting for Ever Given to be moved and the canal to reopen, or reroute around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal, Lloyd’s List said.

 

“All shipping companies therefore have to weight their options right now,” Sea Intelligence Consulting chief executive Lars Jensen wrote on LinkedIn yesterday. “How long do they expect this process to take? If they are optimistic on the timeframe, they should proceed as per normal and just get delayed a few days.”

If they were more pessimistic about the outcome, they should already be contemplating diverting vessels around Africa on Asia-northern Europe and Asia-US east coast services, he added.

 

“This will take approximately one week more than the Suez routing — and also burn more fuel. In the pessimistic case, however, there is another effect. The longer the canal is closed, the larger a queue of vessels will be lined up to transit. This can create a backlog meaning that additional waiting times must be anticipated even when the canal does open up again.”

But he warned that the grounding of a similar sized ship, the 19,000 teu CSCL Indian Ocean, on the Elbe in 2016 took six days to re-float.

 

If the canal does reopen quickly, vessels waiting now should be able to make up time without too much disruption to the supply chain, which is already weighed down by port congestion and inland transportation delays, Lloyd’s List noted.

A longer disruption, however, could lead to even more pain for shippers.

 

 

Source : Lloyd’s List