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.