The number of vessels stuck in a traffic jam outside the Suez Canal rose to 200 Friday as recent efforts to free a cargo ship wedged between the Canal’s two banks failed.
Dislodging the stuck ship, the Ever Given, could take up to a week, and the vessel can encounter structural issues while it remains stuck, a salvage expert told the Associated Press (AP).
The Suez Canal handles approximately 12% of international trade. Its recent blockage threatens to harm the world economy and poses a disruption to global supply chains, CNBC reported. (RELATED: Massive Cargo Ship Gets Stuck In Suez Canal, Interrupting International Trade)
Egypt’s Suez Canal is still blocked 3 days after a container ship the size of the Empire State Building got stuck.— AJ+ (@ajplus) March 26, 2021
Officials say it has yet to move, despite digging.
200+ ships are waiting to cross. Experts say the blockage may last weeks, delaying up to $10B in cargo per day. pic.twitter.com/ijGdabgRUd
“We are tracking the situation very closely,” said Press Secretary Jen Psaki at a Friday press briefing. “As part of our active diplomatic dialogue with Egypt, we’ve offered U.S. assistance to Egyptian authorities to help reopen the canal.”
The ship was twisted in a way that its bow got stuck in the V-shaped waterway’s eastern bank while its stern got trapped against the Canal’s western wall.
The ensuing traffic jams forced several cargo ships to consider taking a circuitous alternative route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.
The ship, loaded fully with nearly 20,000 containers, “is a very heavy beached whale,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Royal Boskalis Westminster, a firm hired by Ever Given’s Japanese owner to help free the vessel, The New York Times reported.
Two Thursday attempts to dislodge the ship failed, according to the NY Times.
Another attempt on Friday also failed, the AP reported.
Boskalis and Canal authorities have been working together to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the ship’s bow with tugboats and a specialized suction dredger, according to the AP. Two more tugboats are set to arrive Sunday, the outlet reported.