Refloating Of Cargo Ship In Suez Canal Finds An Unlikely Hero In The Supermoon

31 March 2021

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​After almost a week, the Ever Given cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal finally got relieved and resumed its journey.

What unfolded in the last 6 days of testing methods and ways to refloat the grounded ship was nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece. Apart from all the other efforts, the unlikely hero in the operation is the supermoon which caused a high tide that helped push the ship.

A supermoon is a rare celestial event when a full moon comes quite close to the earth making it appear quite large and causing high tides that raise water levels through gravitational pull.

Reports showed how the ship got partially refloated in the waterway after remaining grounded for days.

The Salvage Operation

In an attempt to free the ship, authorities tried several techniques like wresting the ship’s now from the shore, using 2 huge tug boats along with 12 other tugs to move the ship.

But none seem to work as a rock trapped under the ship’s now made it difficult to move. Dredgers removed 950,000 cubic feet of sand to dig 60 feet deep in order to free the bow.

This unprecedented effort caused a blockage in the canal causing 369 ships to line up. The entire shipping world went through a trying time as more than 15% of world trade manoeuvred through the Suez Canal. Without it, trading routes from Europe to Asia will move towards the long journey through the Cape of Good Hope

The breakthrough moment came later on Sunday night when workers started offloading some of the 18300 containers of the ship. This lightened the ship for refloating on Monday.

Human Error Behind Grounding?

At present authorities are investigating the matter. Initial reports suggest high winds and sandstorms resulted in the grounding of the ship as visibility was affected. However, Egyptian authorities are now pointing towards human error for the ship getting grounded.

The Cost of the Blockage

The 6-day blockage cost a whopping USD 9.6 billion loss per day for the shipping industry as ships couldn’t move into Europe and Asia.

The Suez Canal is responsible for more than 10% of global trade which includes 7% of oil trade. It was only natural that oil prices soared following the news of the blockage and continued its upward trajectory until the news of refloating hit the market. As soon as the news came, oil prices dipped by 3%.

Suez Canal Authorities revealed that 19000 ships passed through the waterway last year which included oil and natural gas flow from the Persian Gulf to Europe and North America, goods like furniture, clothes, supermarket stuff from Asia to Europe.

The blockage cast doubt on the oil supply to Europe as oil from the Middle East reaches Europe through this route. It sparked fear of prolonged goods shortages and rising costs for consumers

Source: Marine Insight