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Huge Suez operation frees the Ever Given

The 20,388 teu Ever Given was refloated in the early hours of Monday morning according to the Suez Canal Authority. The giant 399m long Evergreen operated vessel will have an initial assessment for damages. The ship’s engines are running, and sources on site say the ship is fully mobile, but the decision has been made to take the ship under tow to the Bitter Lake to the north. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) will soon be in a position to start to get convoys underway to move the hundreds of ships waiting at either end of the vital waterway linking Europe with Asia.

“The Suez Canal traffic will resume later today on a first arrive, first transit basis but probably livestock vessels will get priority for obvious reasons,” a well placed source told Splash this morning.

A total of 15 tugs were used in a huge overnight operation, making the most of a spring tide. Dredging around the the bow area overnight had given the waterway’s eastern bank a depth of 18m to facilitate the floatation of the ship.

Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, today congratulated the teams behind the successful refloating operation.

“I thank every loyal Egyptian who contributed technically and practically to ending this crisis,” Al-Sisi said, while discussing the “tremendous technical complexity” of freeing the giant 199,629 dwt ship.

An update from German container line Hapag-Lloyd this afternoon stated: “The vessel EVER GIVEN has refloated in the early morning and will be towed to Great Bitter Lake for inspection. Towage operations for the vessel should commence very soon during high tide. Damaged area of the canal will be inspected and repaired if necessary.”

Hapag-Lloyd said it expects transits to start later this evening and that the current backlog should be cleared within four days.

As of this morning there were 367 ships waiting to transit the Suez Canal in both directions according to Leth Agencies. Last year, the daily number of ships transiting the canal was 51, although the authorities have the resources to ensure this daily figure is doubled.

The potential transit backlog from Tuesday’s grounding of the Ever Given could take up to a week to clear despite Hapag-Lloyd’s optimistic assessment. The acute pain points will then be felt at onward ports, especially in Europe. Ports will be facing three or four times the amount of ships they had planned for daily in the coming fortnight.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. It’s indeed a great relief for the crew, the Technical Manager and Owners of Ever Given. I feel very happy for them to be off the hook from the centre stage of attention. Incident disrupted >12% world trade through Suez Canal and increased maritime transportation costs by re-routeing of ships via Cape of Good Hope.

    I hope common sense will prevail without complacency in adopting preventive measures for future transits of such giant ships through the canal.

    It’s questionable as to whether any lessons were learned from the grounding of 400 mtr long, 18000 TEU ship, Al-Murayk on 26 November 2020, as it was re-floated fast and didn’t cause so much worldwide attention. The lack of lessons learned – could that be one of the contributory factors for the Ever Given incident to happen with tremendous stress for crew, Technical Managers and Owners?

    It’s beyond my comprehension as to why SCA did not make tug escorts mandatory for these huge ships and ensure stringent compliance with speed limit.

    What was the hurry?

    Evergreen said Owners are responsible for all delays ….Did they not insist on tug escort? Did they exert commercial pressure to exceed speed limit?

    Hope Panama Flag State and SCA will act with some urgency to publish the lessons learned and preventive actions, while Insurers will get overly busy with the multitude of claims. We are yet see their investigation report on Wakashio accident on 25 July 2020 in Mauritius, though.

    1. “It’s beyond my comprehension as to why SCA did not…”
      SCA “pilots” (using term loosely!) are notorious.

  2. Time is Money. Mixed crew nationalitys and many more issues on these vessels.The pressure and responsibilities are enormous.

  3. Apparently not the end of the story.Floated back in the sand 29 march pm.In Windy condition.

  4. She is showing a pronounced port list in the photos.
    Since she hit on her starboard bow, I would presume they managed to shift ballast (probably fuel) to port hoping it would enhance efforts to remove her from the mud.
    I note they are towing her South to the Bitters. I HOPE that is from an abundance of concern, rather than detected damage. Lightering such a vessel in the Bitters would be a task of Biblical proportions.

    Spell checker didn’t seem to understand “Lightering”!

    1. Correct my last. She is being towed NORTH!
      Again, hopefully out of caution, but the direction makes better sense.

  5. Hve the Suez Canal authorities confiscated the following –
    vessel’s log books
    data recorder/VDR
    m e logs, data recorder
    ECDIS data
    Did they interview the Master, D/O duty AB & the Pilot each on their own minus lawyers
    and tech. manager reps !!!!.
    If they hve not done this then forget any investigation, whoever does it – there will b plenty, It will b a waste of time.
    Reminds me of the nonsense going on with the Wakashio investigation !!!!! One year on & they still dont
    know why it happened ? What a joke !!!!
    turn out to b a whole ot of BS and carry on endlessly.

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