Dutch salvage firm says bow of Ever Given is still ‘stuck fast’ in Suez canal bank

The Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal. Photo: EPA/Suez Canal Authority
The Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal. Photo: EPA/Suez Canal Authority

The container ship Ever Given has been refloated in the Suez Canal but the ship’s bow is still ‘stuck fast’, the head of Dutch dredging specialist Boskalis said on Monday morning.

The 400 meter-long, 200,000 tonne vessel ran aground last Tuesday, blocking the canal, which is the thoroughfare for 12% of all global trade including a million barrels of oil a day.

A tug boat managed to pull the stern away from the west bank of the canal, creating a 100 metre-wide channel, but the operation to free the bow will have to wait until the next high tide, Boskalis CEO Peter Berdowski told NOS.

Berdowski said shifting the back end of the ship was the easy part of the work and ‘we should not cheer too soon’, as Suez Canal Authority chairman Osama Rabie told Egyptian state television that shipping activity could resume by lunchtime.

A total of 367 cargo ships are currently queued behind the Ever Given. Smit Salvage, a subsidiary of Boskalis, is also involved in the dredging work.

Berdowski said the texture of the canal bank, a mixture of sand and clay, complicated the operation, which he likened to ‘having to shift a massive whale lying on the beach.’

‘There are dredging vessels on their way to reach the underside and spray water under high pressure so that the ship can work loose from the layer of clay,’ he said.

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