Latest on Suez Canal: Trapped Ship Partially Refloated

Not clear when it might be fully freed
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 29, 2021 1:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – Engineers on Monday “partially refloated” the colossal container ship that continues to block traffic through the Suez Canal, a canal services firm said, without providing further details about when the vessel would be fully set free. Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed that the ship’s bulbous bow, once firmly lodged in the canal's eastern bank, had been wrested partially from the shore—although it remained aground. With the bow no longer plowed into the bank, the ship's stern had swung around and was now in the middle of the waterway, the tracking data showed. The partial freeing of the vessel came after intensive efforts to push and pull the vessel with 10 tugboats when the full moon brought the spring tide, Leth Agencies said, raising the canal's water level and hopes for a breakthrough, the AP reports. On Monday morning, an AP journalist could see that the ship’s position had changed—where previously only the ship’s stern was visible, the ship’s side could now be seen.

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Videos shared widely on social media appeared to show tugboats in the canal sounding their horns in celebration of the Ever Given being wrenched from the shore, the most significant sign of progress yet. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, confirmed that the vessel had been partially refloated after responding successfully to “pull-and-push maneuvers.” He said that workers had straightened the vessel's position by 80% and that the stern had moved 334 feet from the canal bank. When high tide returns at 11:30am local time on Monday, salvage crews will resume their attempts to pull the ship into the middle of the waterway and toward the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal, where it will undergo technical examination, he said. Ship operators did not offer a timeline for the reopening of the crucial canal, where at least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, were still waiting to pass. (Read more Suez canal stories.)

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