Traffic Jam In The Suez Canal; Container Ship Run Aground

A vital shipping lane has been blocked in Egypt, as a 220,000 ton container ship, the MV Ever Given, became lodged sideways in the channel Tuesday morning local time. The Suez Canal, long a region of trading and strategic importance, has been blocked to travel in both directions as authorities make frantic efforts to free the ship.

Live tracking shows a flurry of activity around the stricken vessel. If you find yourself transiting the Suez Canal next week, don’t do this. Everyone’s patience is going to be pretty thin.

The Ever Given is carrying goods from China to Rotterdam, making a northward journey through the canal. The exact reason for grounding remains unclear, though such incidents are often due to mechanical malfunction or navigational errors in the tight confines of the channel. Like many important waterways, the Suez Canal requires transiting vessels to take on a pilot. This is to ensure that ships passing through the canal have someone onboard with experience of navigating the 673-foot wide passage. However, incidents still happen, as with huge container ships, there is minimal room for error.

A flotilla of tugboats dispatched to the area have begun working to free the ship, working in concert with excavators on the banks of the canal. This photo taken by [Julianne Cona] at the incident shows the sheer scale of the problem — with the excavator digging at the bow a tiny speck in the shadow of the gigantic ship.

We’re sure shipping firms and residents of the Netherlands are eager for a quick resolution, whether its to avoid costly delays or simply to get those online purchases sooner. If you live near the canal and want to keep an eye on what’s happening, you could always grab a software-defined radio and track things in real time. Alternatively, watch the progress on Vessel Finder. And, if you’ve got strong opinions on the proper procedure for navigating the Suez Canal, sound off in the comments!

66 thoughts on “Traffic Jam In The Suez Canal; Container Ship Run Aground

  1. One thing that many people don’t understand about cargo ships is that they can’t steer without headway: you have to be moving to steer. If you have to stop, and you don’t by some miracle, have thrusters or a tugboat nearby, you have no real control of the orientation of the ship. Container ships, with that big stack of containers, have a lot of sidewise wind resistance and it iis no surprise if this one got blown into the sideways position.

          1. Perhaps channels need to be virtually narrowed (or ships virtually widened), and ships kept in mobile contact with virtual banks, similarly to how tracks restrict and control movement of trains.
            But this has to be structural (realized by some large structures instead of computerized steering) in order to be fail-safe. Channel banks, and perhaps some central longitudinal structure separating directions, if channel is wide, need to be reinforced to absorb pressure of forces affecting ship’s course, and equipped with some kind of rails with cars with extensible protrusions which ship hull presses against at several strong points (where hull ribs contact the outer shell).

      1. I would think that with that much mass the ship has reefed everything underwater at least 100 feet into the canal side believing that the sides aren’t square but “U” shaped . Going to be toug to pull it back out

    1. yeah right! Lately HaD has been mostly old youtube video promotions and general news. ’bout time to find another website for daily reads.

      Before HaD it was Slashdot. Seems commercialization ruins good tech news sites …

      1. I enjoy hackaday articles on the bigger news stories because there is usually a bit more technical detail than mainstream coverage and sometimes there are insightful comments from people with useful expertise.

        It’s not like every article is covering bigger stories, they a sprinkled in amongst other content.

      2. No one’s holding a gun to your head to read any particular type of article that you don’t want to. Then again no one held a gun to your head to write a whiny comment yet here we are …

          1. Nah. It would be a Pi-4 and we’d all be posting that it should have been a 555. Then a year later someone would do it again with their own semiconductors made from chewing gum, various chemicals and that scary acid that kills you by sending your bone calcium to your heart. After that we’d stop talking about it out of embarrassment for not being able to do all that ourselves.

  2. Please don’t link to instagram.com: it’s impossible to access the webpage in practice because it forces you to sign up to see the image (and on mobile you can’t even see a thing besides that popup). Prefer a bibliogram instance.

    See the description on the project page ( http://bibliogram.pixelfed.uno/ ): “Bibliogram is a website that takes data from Instagram’s public profile views and puts it into a friendlier page that loads faster, gives downloadable images, eliminates ads, generates RSS feeds, and doesn’t urge you to sign up.”

    The article link becomes http://bibliogram.pixelfed.uno/u/fallenhearts17 and the image is at http://bibliogram.pixelfed.uno/p/CMxEKHanW62 (and you can even right-click and “View image”!).

    Some public instances (taken from the UntrackMe app on F-Droid): https://bibliogram.art, https://bibliogram.snopyta.org, https://bibliogram.dsrev.ru, https://bibliogram.pussthecat.org .

  3. I used Firefox with uBlock Origin and noscript.

    Somewhat funny, that the programmers at mozilla work their asses off to implement all functionality that a browser seemingly needs to have nowadays, but the users have to install third party addons that switch all of that off to be able to read a simple newspaper article.

    A lot of wasted energy, it seems.

    1. Didn’t even think of using Noscript… when this happens I usually just quickly key-shortcut my way to the web developper pane, find the guilty block in the DOM and remove it. Will probably try something like noscript next time this happens, thanks for the tip.

  4. Holy smokes.

    I sell Smoothieboard-power laser cutters to schools around Europe. For one customer, we are 18 months late on delivering a laser cutter.

    We had a few issues at the factory, and exceptionally were late on production (it usually never happens, this was our first time out of dozens of machines). Then as soon as the machine was supposed to be produced, the factory closed due to Covid. Then we had issues coming up with the money for transport, because Covid caused unforseen costs, and the cost of transport was increased. Then recently we finally had the machine produced and shipped, and *right as it’s approaching Suez*, THIS HAPPENS.

    The heck! Should I have been careful not walking bellow ladders or something ???

  5. I was wondering why my chinese-made 24V DC electric scooter motor hadn’t arrived yet… maybe if they hook it up to the prop they could get the ship going again? [THAT would be the hack]

    1. Are you actually serious? Do you really think there is a chance this will take more than a day to resolve ??? Can you elaborate a bit on how you think that’d work? This is such shit luck for me if so, I didn’t expect it to actually last significant amounts of time, but if it does, it’ll delay the boat I’m waiting for. Life sucks !!!

      1. It has been stuck for more than a day and hasn’t moved an inch, so… yes, I would be betting on it taking a tad longer. The whole bulbous bow has rammed into the side of the canal. They are currently trying to excavate the bow. Although I doubt that one excavator is going to make much difference. I assume that more machinery is on the way. And then they’ll need an army of tugboats to pull that ginormous freighter back from the side, whle simultaneously rotate it back into the correct lane position.

        I’d say another 24-48 hours at least.

        1. This is exactly what we need civilian-use A-bombs for. Imagine if they were never used militarily, there might be companies using them for like … digging canals and stuff, and in this situation they’d just use one to speed things up.

          I’m curious to know if it’d be economical, if losing the entire boat is worth it compared to the money they’re losing due to all those boats being delayed.

  6. “We’re sure shipping firms and residents of the Netherlands are eager for a quick resolution”
    Rotterdam is one of the biggest container ports in the world, so it won’t just be Dutch people waiting for those shipments. There’s probably containers on that ship, destined for every country in Europe.

  7. “This photo taken by [Julianne Cona] at the incident shows the sheer scale of the problem…”

    Nope: “This Account is Private. Already follow fallenhearts17? Log in to see their photos and videos.”

    * Give this one a try instead:

    https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/-/media/lloyds-list/images/ever-given/suez-canal-authority_ever-given-07.png?w=790&hash=545679D38F59468EC6E7852FA6342AC2

    Full article: “Questions raised over cause of Ever Given grounding. How a large modern containership came to block world trade is a question that will need answering quickly to prevent a repeat occurrence.”

    https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1136250/Questions-raised-over-cause-of-Ever-Given-grounding

    * This link is a cornucopia overflowing with Ever Given images that you can see without having to log in:

    https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=%22Ever+Given%22&iax=images&ia=images

    * Here’s some good news, “Elite Salvage Team Expected to Clear Up Suez in 5 to 6 days. Posted in Accidents by Ankur Kundu on Mar 25, 2021 at 13:12.” Evidently, “…the best chance for freeing the ship may not come until Sunday (28-Mar-2021) or Monday (29-Mar-2021) when the tide will reach a peak.” Read more:

    https://www.fleetmon.com/maritime-news/2021/33125/elite-salvage-team-expected-clear-suez-5-6-days/

  8. I would say, this is not realy an accident.

    https://splash247.com/6bn-and-counting-suez-snarl-up-stretches-into-third-day/

    The ship’s manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, insists the accident happened because of high winds, something backed up
    by vessel tracking of the accident (see below) which shows how the ships in the convoy behind the Ever Given moved
    erratically too, and were nearly involved in a collision.

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schulte_Group

    “…Im März 2019 wurde bekannt, dass sich Schulte Group aus dem Venezuelageschäft zurückzieht – welches laut Eigenangaben seit
    2003 besteht.[4] Bisher betrieb die BSM über ihre zypriotische Niederlassung 13 Tankschiffe der staatlichen venezolanischen
    Ölgesellschaft PDVSA. Da es wegen Venezuela auferlegten Sanktionen zu Zahlungsrückständen in Höhe von 15 Mio. Euro kam,
    wurden die Schiffe von Gläubigern in ausländischen Häfen festgesetzt.[5]

    Am 13. Juni 2019 wurde der von BSM bereederte Tanker Kokuka Courageous während der Spannungen im Golf von Oman etwa 25
    Kilometer vor der Küste des Iran im Golf von Oman angegriffen.[6][7]
    …”

    google translation:
    “… In March 2019 it became known that the Schulte Group is withdrawing from the Venezuela business – which, according to its own statements, has been since
    2003 exists. [4] So far, the BSM has operated 13 tankers of the Venezuelan state through its Cypriot branch
    Oil company PDVSA. As the sanctions imposed in Venezuela resulted in arrears of 15 million euros,
    the ships were arrested by creditors in foreign ports. [5]

    On June 13, 2019, the BSM-managed tanker Kokuka Courageous was turned around 25 during the tensions in the Gulf of Oman
    Attacked kilometers off the coast of Iran in the Gulf of Oman. [6] [7]
    … ”

    https://www.handelsblatt.com/finanzen/maerkte/devisen-rohstoffe/golf-von-oman-angriff-auf-oeltanker-us-flotte-alarmiert-oelpreise-steigen-deutlich/24451674.html

    Sorry for the german links but can’t find some english versions.

    And always the same “Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement”.

    Such a coincidence is very unlikely.
    I think we should fasten the seatbelts…. :/

  9. Ever Given is FREE![1] High tide at full moon helps as do more tugs-a-tuggin’. See the Ever Given’s position in live time here [2].

    * References:

    1. How the ship Ever Given was finally freed from blocking Suez Canal. By Yaron Steinbuch. March 29, 2021 | 12:20pm EDT

    https://nypost.com/2021/03/29/how-the-ship-ever-given-was-freed-from-blocking-suez-canal/

    2. See Ever Given’s position in near real time:

    https://www.vesselfinder.com/?imo=9811000

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