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The Suez Canal, one of the most vital international trade arteries- has been blocked by a massive container ship from China

One of the most vital international trade arteries- the Suez Canal- has recently been blocked accidentally by a massive container ship that, as believed by sources, was blown off course by a gust of wind. Before digging deeper into the matter, let’s first take a look at why the Suez Canal is so important that its blockage made headlines.
The Suez Canal is so vital because it is the shortest maritime route between Europe and Asia. By shortest, we mean that in the absence of the Suez Canal, the ships headed towards Asia from Europe would have to go through the arduous journey around the Cape of Good at the southern tip of Africa. Being the longest canal in the world without locks, the Suez Canal’s almost nil accidents make it even more dependable. Also, note that the navigation through the canal takes place day in and out and thus, its blocking would have a large impact on international trade. Since the Canal can handle dozens of giant containers ships a day so any lengthy blockage can have serious impacts and could hold serious delays, although shipping experts expected it to be freed quickly. This is why it is being talked about so vigorously. Now, for the ongoing matter, as the 220,000-tonne mega-ship stuck near the southern end of the canal, a huge traffic jam of vessels has been created at either end of the vital artery. Several attempts to re-float the 400-metre-long ship have terribly failed.
To really understand what happened, we have to rely on information being given out by credible sources, which however is also being constantly updated as more data is coming out. From what can be said at this point, reports have speculated that the ship suffered a loss of power, only to be later pushed off by the gust of wind. The ship’s operator, Evergreen Maritime Corporation has disclosed that “the container accidentally ran aground after a suspected gust of wind hit it.” “The company has urged the shipowner to report the cause of the incident and has been in discussions with relevant parties including the canal management authority to assist the ship as soon as possible.” It has come to notice that the area just before the incident was plagued by high winds and a sandstorm, with winds gusting as much as 31 mph, as revealed by Egyptian forecasters. However, on the brighter side, all crew members are safe and accounted for, with no reports of injuries or pollution being reported by the Ship management. 
Apparently, the ship was carrying hundreds of containers bound for Rotterdam from China. The vessel under question is owned by the Taiwanese shipping company Ever Given corp. and registered in Panama. The Ever Given is a part of one of the new categories of ships called ultra-large container ships, some of which were even too big for the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal, which registered the shipping company links the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. There were some pictures from another ship in the Canal, the Maersk Denver, which showed the Ever Given from a distance across the waterway.  It dwarfs the tugs sent in by the Egyptian authorities to try to free it, and also a mechanised digger that appeared to be trying to excavate ground in order to free the bow. Julianne Cona, who posted the picture on Instagram wrote “Hopefully it won’t be too long but from the looks of it that ship is super stuck”. She further explained the process of how “They had a bunch of tugs trying to pull and push it earlier but it was going nowhere … there is a little excavator trying to dig out the bow.”
Undoubtedly, this isn’t the first time something of the sort had happened, especially looking at the weather pattern of the coast. About 4 years ago, in 2017, a Japanese ship became the victim of a similar case with it being stuck in the canal, however, was re-floated within hours. A more severe of such incidents took place in 2016 near the German port of Hamburg when the massive CSCL Indian Ocean ran aground. To set it free, about 12 tugs were called and put into action and the event stretched for a duration of about 5 days, a significant time considering the track record. Even for this one, a lot of tugs have gathered around the huge ship to set it free but the improvements haven’t been much especially because the size of the container ship heavily outlays that of the tugs, collectively. “There are a lot of tugs on the ship but it takes a lot of power to move a ship of that size. The tide schedule could also come into play because you get tides on the canal,” said Mike Schuler, the senior editor of shipping news site gcaptain.com.
The Ever Given, unlike the usual south up and down convoy, was a part of the northbound convoy when the incident occurred. “The ship was fifth in the northbound convoy. None of the vessels before it was affected, but the 15 behind it were detained at anchorages waiting for the canal to be cleared. The southbound convoy was also blocked.” On a good note, it is said that it is expected that they ship would be moved in days’ time at max, which is expected to have negligible impact on trade, as opposed to if it were stranded on for weeks. 

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