ContainersGreater ChinaMiddle EastOperations

Suez Canal blocked by stranded Evergreen boxship

An ultra large container ship operated by Evergreen ran aground on the Suez Canal on Tuesday, blocking traffic on one of the world’s most important waterways.

A picture taken by crew onboard another ship in the canal, the Maersk Denver, shows the 2018-built 20,388 teu Ever Given, which was en route from Shenzhen to Rotterdam, blocking the canal in both directions after it got stuck near the Red Sea entrance of the canal yesterday morning.

A large backlog of ships is now massing on either side of the waterway, waiting to go through.

An Egyptian official who spoke to the Associated Press confirmed that efforts to remove the ship would take at least two days and blamed a strong 50 km/h gust of wind for the accident.

Multiple reports cite local agents saying the ship lost power before veering starboard, with its bulbous bow becoming lodged into the bank of the canal. Diggers are currently trying to dig around the bow, while Egypt has mustered every available tug to shift the giant 399 m long vessel.

Shipping agency GAC reported the ship, owned by Shoei Kisen and on charter to Evergreen, suffered a black out while transiting in a northerly direction at 07.40 hours local time yesterday. An update from GAC today shows there has been no discernible progress to dislodge the laden ship.

Leth Agencies reports today that seven tugs have been assisting the Ever Given thus far, while canal authorities have dispatched a dredger to help in the refloating efforts.

The vessel, built by Imabari, was among the first series of ships in excess of 20,000 teu to be constructed in Japan. It is the largest ship to run aground in the 152-year history of the key artery linking Europe with Asia.

TankerTrackers tweeted that there were a lot of fully-laden tankers stuck at either end of the canal carrying Saudi, Russian, Omani and US oil while data provided by eeSea below shows the volume of containerships heading for the Suez.

Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.




  2. Obscured sector must not be over 2 ship’s lengths, or 500 m, whichever is the less – as per Ch. V of SOLAS. IACS or local rules may demand better visibility. I believe they have easily met these rules as nobody would risk getting fired over vessel being refused transit. Yes, it is quite strange for the relatively modern vessel to have a black-out. Here is the other question though – why these ultra large container vessels are allowed with a single engine, ruder and propeller? Only Maersk decided to bulit 3E class with 2 separated ERs, to ensure proper level of redundancy. The rest blindly follows the path of least resistance and highest profit. That is, until…

    1. “… it is quite strange for the relatively modern vessel to have a black-out…” Actually no, it is not. It happens more than you think. In fact, brand new ships, while still going through their initial start up voyages at sea, could likely be worse than older ships, while the crew/engineers are working out all the brand new “bugs”. It’s my experience to be more concerned about “new” ships than as much as I am about decrepit old pieces of junk that have somehow managed to stay operational.

      “…why these ultra large container vessels are allowed with a single engine, ruder and propeller?” Because nobody is stopping them from doing so. Not the insurance industry, Flag States, or ANY regulator that should know better. It is entirely about money. Spending as little as possible to build a ship and earning the maximum amount at the same time, in revenues. Safety???? What’s that go to do with anything?

  3. Per Capt. J’s comment above, perhaps it was a result of a cyberattack? Strange that all power (and steering) was lost as the vessel is entering the strategically important Suez Canal…

    1. Do we know that for certain? I have read conflicting reports on power loss. In fact, the AIS history replay shows the ship actually sped up from 9 knots to 13 knots within the 30 minute window leading up to her grounding. So that would suggest there was no actual loss of propulsion.

  4. A 20,000 TEUs ULCS and a major Ship Manager (BSM) of “Ocean Expertise” were involved in Suez-crossing blunder that caused the indefinite blockage of the Canal and disrupted the east-west trades. BSM was impulsive to swiftly dismiss without a careful thought any possibility of mechanical or technical failure that would affect the company’s technical “image”. Despite that Evergreen said that “gusting winds of 30 kts” caused the container ship to deviate course leading to grounding, BSM declared “unable to confirm that the vessel had been hit by strong wind”. Does this mean BSM do not communicate with own crew? BSM is equally responsible with Canal Authority for allowing Canal crossing when both BSM and the authorities should know that under International Pilotage standards, handling a container vessel of LOA > 300 m in wind above 15 m/s is subject to established documentation incl. a checklist and calculation based on ship maneuverability speed data, actual draught, actual lateral area, speed at DS Ahead, wind speed/direction, and gust wind force calculation.
    This incident shows clearly the Maritime Technical and Seamanship /Procedural blunders, despite fancy data and digitalization, that cause significant financial implications. An approximate estimation of the wind force on the lateral area of this vessel fully laden at 10 layers at a wind speed of 30 knots (15-16 m/s) is 220 tons (bigger than the push of 4x50T bollard pool tugs). With a transit speed of 6-8 knots this force can cause 6-10 deg. drift angle, which for the 400m length ship is able to block the Canal within a small distance travel. The Ships, the agents and the canal Authorities should cooperate to avoid operations in this wind zone, including reallocation or reschedule of smaller tonnage in order to avoid ULCS transiting in these wind forces. Pilots and tugs should not operate the ULCS and plan the pilotage according to a special checklist with the final decision made onboard by the pilot and the master.

    1. Earlier, i read a post that Vessel speed was witnessed by observers on other Vessels, the Ever Green was believed to be travelling at 22 Knots.

  5. It appears from the level of the ship from the lines along its length the bow is beached higher than its centre of gravity level meaning removing the earth underneath will be a mammoth task as it will want to fill in the gaps created by the earth for quite some way. The option I would be exploring is sliding huge slings underneath the ship at various evened out distances, and attaching huge bags to either end at various points and then air filling the bags, as air is the most important factor keeping any ship afloat, you compensate the air needed to match the weight to rise the ship and you can raise it enough to free it from the beached state it is in. Another option is using a piled column into the earth many metres way back from the shore and using this as a cantilever to attach ropes to either end of the ship and pull it counter clockwise to free it using a major industrial tugging device.. But this may take some time to prepare and engineer

  6. MV Ever Given
    its all human error while in navigation
    responsibility in account of Master & pilot
    wind force has nothing to do

    hope vsl shall resume in due time
    bottom of vessel shall not be damage due mud

  7. …Easy to Get this Vessel “Unstuck” ——– Insert “Inflatable Floats” under the Vessel near to where it’s stuck….Next…Pump in air to “Inflate the Floats”…this Lifts the Bow as the Vessel Engines or Tugs Boats Pull the Vessel Backwards and Out of the Sand Bank Where It’s Stuck !

Back to top button