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Can Dredgers, Tugboats, High Tides Free the Ever Given?

The giant container ship has blocked the Suez canal for days
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2021 11:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – A giant container ship remained stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for a fifth day Saturday, as authorities prepared to make new attempts to free the vessel and reopen a crucial east-west waterway for global shipping. The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow canal that runs between Africa and the Sinai Peninsula. In a press conference Saturday in Suez, the head of the canal authority, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, told reporters that they could not lay out a set timetable for when the ship might be dislodged. He said he remained hopeful that a dredging operation could free the ship without having to resort to lighten it by removing its cargo. “It’s difficult to deal with easily," he said.

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A maritime traffic jam grew to around 321 vessels near Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez on the Red Sea and in the canal system on Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake, according to Rabei. Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given, said the company hoped to pull the container ship free within days using a combination of heavy tugboats, dredging and high tides. He told the Dutch current affairs show Nieuwsuur on Friday night that the front of the ship is stuck in sandy clay, but the rear “has not been completely pushed into the clay and that is positive because you can use the rear end to pull it free.” If that doesn’t work, the company will remove hundreds of containers from the front of the ship to lighten it, effectively lifting the ship to make it easier to pull free, Berdowski said.

(Read more Suez canal stories.)

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