DUBAI: A giant container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal after a gust of wind blew it off course, the vessel’s operator said on Wednesday (Mar 24), bringing marine traffic to a halt along one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

DUBAI: A giant container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal after a gust of wind blew it off course, the vessel’s operator said on Wednesday (Mar 24), bringing marine traffic to a halt along one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
Traffic on the narrow waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula stopped on Tuesday after the MV Ever Given got stuck.
Advertisement
Advertisement
The MV Ever Given is a 400m-long and 59m-wide Panama-flagged container ship, with its owner listed in Japan.
Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corp, which is leasing the vessel under a time charter, said the shipowner informed it that the ship “was suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from waterway and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground”.
“The company has urged the shipowner to report the cause of the incident and has been in discussions with relevant parties including the canal management authority to assist the ship as soon as possible.”
Advertisement
Advertisement
The Ever Given’s bow was touching the canal’s eastern wall, while its stern looked lodged against its western wall, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com.
“Tug boats are currently trying to re-float the vessel,” Leth Agencies, which provides crossing services to clients using the canal, said on Twitter.
TRAFFIC JAM OF VESSELS
Bloomberg reported the incident had caused a build-up of more than 100 ships seeking to transit the canal.
Advertisement
Instagram user Julianne Cona posted a photo of the grounded ship from the Maersk Denver, now also stuck behind the Ever Given.
“Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways,” she wrote. “Looks like we might be here for a little bit.”
More than 150 years old, the Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important trade routes, providing passage for 10 per cent of all international maritime trade.
Nearly 19,000 ships passed through it last year with a total tonnage of 1.17 billion, according to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
Canal authorities could not be immediately reached early on Wednesday. The ship appeared to be stuck about 6km north of the southerly mouth of the canal near the city of Suez.
Cargo ships and oil tankers appeared to be lining up at the southern end of the Suez Canal, waiting to be able to pass through the waterway to the Mediterranean Sea, according to MarineTraffic data.
A United Nations database listed the Ever Given as being owned by Shoei Kisen KK, a ship-leasing firm based in Imabari, Japan. The firm could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday. The ship had listed its destination as Rotterdam in the Netherlands prior to getting stuck in the canal.
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West. Around 10 per cent of the world’s trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners.
In 2015, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the worlds largest vessels.
Egyptian authorities are yet to comment on the incident.