Ships have resumed transit via Egypt’s Suez Canal, a day after a massive container ship that had been blocking the critical trade route was released.
Thirty-seven ships that were hit at the midpoint of the waterway cleared the waterway overnight, while 70 more are scheduled to navigate the entire length on Tuesday.
Within three and a half days, the canal authorities expect to clear the traffic congestion with 300 vessels waiting to use it.
Meanwhile, experts would inspect the liberated ship for seaworthiness.
After running aground in high winds, the 400m-long (1,312ft) 200,000-tonne Ever Given became wedged diagonally across the canal a week ago.
After a rescue operation involving a flotilla of strong tug boats and dredging vessels that pushed 30,000 cubic meters (1,059,000 cubic feet) of mud and sand, it was refloated on Monday afternoon.
The 193-kilometer (120-mile) canal that links the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea connection between Asia and Europe carries about 12% of global trade.
Osama Rabie, the president of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), announced at a news conference on Monday night that the canal would be operating at full capacity to clear the backlog as quickly as possible.
“We won’t sleep. This is a new challenge we are working on,” he said. “We will work around the clock until we get through the ships. We have faith in this.”
As of Tuesday morning, Leth Agencies reported that 306 vessels were waiting in the canal: 163 in the Red Sea, 137 in the Mediterranean, and six in the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water that marks the halfway point.
Forty-five ships are sailing south in two convoys, one of which will meet up with the six vessels in the bay, while 25 ships are sailing north from Suez. Around 11 and 12 hours is the normal transit time.
What is going on with the Ever Given?
According to the ship’s operator, Evergreen Marine, the ship is grounded in the Great Bitter Lake, where it is undergoing “an inspection of its seaworthiness.”
“Whether the ship will resume its scheduled operation will be decided by the results of the inspection,” the Taiwanese company said on Monday.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the Ever Given’s technical managers, said there had been no evidence of contamination or cargo harm.
Initial investigations indicated the vessel ran aground due to high winds, according to the article. They also ruled out the possibility of mechanical or engine failure as a contributing factor.
Authorities haven’t ruled out the risk that the ship’s crew or the two Egyptian canal pilots on board made a mechanical or human mistake.
What effect has foreign trading had?
According to Lloyd’s List details, the blockage kept up an estimated $9.6 billion (£7 billion) worth of goods each day.
According to Michelle Wiese Bockmann, an expert at the shipping journal, the delays will not go away easily.
“It will take a couple of weeks to clear the backlog. And then, of course, you have the issue, especially with container ships, [of the vessels] all arriving at once at European ports, causing widespread congestion and delays that will trickle all the way down throughout the container shipping sector,” said.
“It will delay empty boxes getting back to China and to Asia to load goods, and then there will be congestion at those ports.”
As a result, economists expect that the cost of exporting merchandise to Europe will increase.
All of this occurs at a time when supply chains that are still delicately balanced are unable to deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.