Ship Salvagers Keep Digging With Hopes on High Tide: Suez Update

Farmers on a horse-drawn cart passes The 'Ever Given' container ship blocking transit along the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on Sunday, March 28, 2021. (Photo: Islam Safwat/Bloomberg)

Salvage teams trying to free the Ever Given container ship stuck in the Suez Canal are still dredging the area -- digging deep into the bank of the waterway -- and hoping high Spring tides this week will help refloat the ship.

By Verity Ratcliffe, Jack Wittels and Salma El Wardany

Word Count: 1752
(Bloomberg) —Extra tugs are on their way to the vast beached ship after rescue teams managed to budge it 29 meters on Saturday. Efforts have so far included digging out 27,000 cubic meters of sand, to a depth of 18 meters.

The Suez Canal Authority’s chief hasn’t set a timeline for getting the vessel out, though an adviser to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said he hoped it would be refloated by Monday.

The pile-up of ships is one more problem for global supply chains already strained by the pandemic: The canal is a conduit for about 12% of global trade. Dozens of ships have rerouted to take the long and expensive trip around the southern tip of Africa and companies including Caterpillar Inc have flagged the risk of delays.

Latest stories:
Canal Workers Dredge To 18 Meters As 350 Ships Wait
Farmers on a horse-drawn cart passes The ‘Ever Given’ container ship blocking transit along the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on Sunday, March 28, 2021. A new attempt could be made Sunday to re-float the 400-meter-long container ship blocking the Suez Canal.


  • Refloat attempt planned at 4 a.m. local time on Monday, Inchcape Shipping Services says
  • Focus is on expanding the dredging area at the front of the ship by “removing the sides of the canal from this area:” Canal Authority
  • Maersk and CMA CGM divert more vessels to sail around Africa
  • There are more than 350 vessels waiting in the area
  • The ship’s front was damaged, though the vessel is now stable
  • Explainers: Why the Suez Canal is so important, and why shipping was in a bind even before this crisis

Dredging Efforts Expanded (Sunday, London 8 p.m.)

Efforts are focused on expanding the dredging area around the ship — including digging into the side of the waterway, according to the Suez Canal Authority.

A refloating attempt is scheduled for 4 a.m. local time on Monday after an extra tug arrives, Inchcape Shipping Services said. The authority gave no timetable for refloating efforts.

President’s Adviser Sounds Optimistic (Sunday London 7:40 p.m.)

An adviser to President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s said he was hopeful the ship could be freed on Monday.

“We hope that the ship stranded in the Suez Canal will be released tomorrow,” Mohab Memeesh, adviser for the canal, told Al Arabiya.

Tugs Surround Vessel, Wait for Winds to Calm (Sunday, London 3:50 p.m.)

Tugs are now around the ship but re-floating operations have not started due to strong winds, according to Inchcape Shipping Services, a maritime services provider.

The next high tide is at 11.23 p.m. local time, according to

Around 200,000 Animals Stranded (Sunday, London 2:30 p.m.)

About 200,000 animals could be stranded in the ships held up at the canal, according to an estimate from advocacy group Animals International. The group has tallied 18 vessels that departed Romania, Spain and South America and are currently stuck in the queue. Many are likely carrying sheep, said European Union director Gabriel Paun. Vessels can’t easily unload animals in other nearby countries due to health protocols or a lack of trade agreements, he said.

“It’s just another incident which shows that no matter which contingency plan you design, tragedies may occur over and over as long as we don’t replace the export of live animals with the export of refrigerated and frozen meat,” Paun said.

Bloomberg Quicktake


LOOK: New satellite images show the #EverGiven stuck sideways in the Suez Canal on Saturday.

Authorities are preparing to make two new attempts to free the vessel when the high tide goes down, with the help of tugboats
????: @Maxar

Sent via SocialFlow.

View original tweet.

Ever Given’s Front Was Damaged; Now Stable (Sunday, London 12:40 p.m.)

The ship’s front, or bow, was damaged and water entered two tanks, according to a spokesman for Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the vessel’s manager.

High-powered pumps were used to get the water out the compartments and the vessel is stable, said the spokesman. Once the Ever Given’s moved, there will be an assessment to determine whether it’s fit to leave the canal. There’s nothing at the moment to suggest it won’t be able to sail out the waterway, the spokesman said.

Authorities Prepare to Off-load Ship (Sunday, London 12:15 p.m.)

Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, told television channel Arabiya that he was preparing for the option of lightening the vessel by removing containers. But he hopes it won’t be necessary as it would be difficult and protracted.

Canal Authority Dredges to 18 meters (Sunday, London 11:30 a.m.)

The Suez Canal Authority said in a statement it’s so far shifted 27,000 cubic meters of sand around the ship to reach a depth of 18 meters.

More than 350 vessels waiting (Sunday, London 11:06 a.m.)

A further 23 vessels will arrive for transit through Suez Canal in the next 24 hours, according to Inchcape Shipping Services, a maritime services provider. There are 352 cargo vessels — either moving or stationary — within the waiting areas of Port Said Anchorage, Great Bitter Lake and South Suez Anchorage, the firm said.

Syrian Oil Supplies Delayed (Sunday, London 10:30 a.m.)

Syria’s oil ministry said the stranded ship has delayed the arrival of a tanker carrying fuel to the country. The government is rationing supplies as a result. “Waiting for the return of normal movement of navigation via the Suez Canal may take an unknown time,” it said.

HMM to Divert 3 Ships Around Africa (Sunday, Seoul 1 p.m.)

HMM Co. will divert three container ships around Cape of Good Hope this week because of the Suez Canal blockage, a spokesman at South Korea’s biggest shipping company said Sunday.

Two of the vessels, which can each carry 24,000 20-foot containers, are headed to Europe and the third to Asia.

Ship Moved Slightly; Refloating Ops Halted (London 9:39 p.m.)

Tugs working to refloat the Ever Given managed to shift the stricken container ship 29 meters (32 yards) on Saturday, and dredgers succeeded earlier in freeing the propellers from the sediment that’s glued the vessel to the bank of the Suez Canal since Tuesday.

Dredging work will continue until 4 p.m. local time Sunday, at which point the refloating operations will resume, Inchcape Shipping Services said. Another two tugs are set to arrive, adding to the 11 currently on site, according to Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, technical manager for the vessel.

The Ever Given’s charterer said it could take at least a couple of days of dredging before enough mud and sand is cleared to attempt a refloat on a high tide. Meanwhile, the rescue team said it would start lifting containers off the vessel to lighten its load.

Ship’s Propeller Is Free, More Tugs on Way (8:30 p.m. London)

Eleven tugs worked throughout Saturday alongside the dredging operations which removed sand and mud from around the port side of the bow, according to a statement from Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the vessel’s technical manager. Another two tugs are set to arrive Sunday.

The vessel’s rudder has been released from the sediment.

Initial investigations have ruled out mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding, according to the statement.

CMA CGM Diverts Two Vessels (8 p.m. London)

French shipping company CMA CGM Group has diverted two vessels, the Leo and the Attila, around the Cape of Good Hope, according to the firm’s web site.

The Leo is en route from Charleston, South Carolina, to Port Klang, Malaysia. The Attila is plying a route from Kingston, Jamaica, to Singapore, according to shipping data.

The company has 10 ships stuck in or near the canal, plus another nine partner vessels.

Pumping Water Into Sand Could Work (7:35 p.m. London)

The Ever Given could be freed by pumping water into the sand beneath the vessel, the emeritus professor of engineering design at the University of Edinburgh told The Scotsman newspaper.

“I would give it a 50/50 chance of working,” Professor Stephen Salter said.

Ever Given Moves Slightly, Egypt Today Reports (6:44 p.m. London)

The ship has moved 30 meters northward, according to a tweet by Egypt Today Magazine, adding that this suggests the reflotation process will work.

Line of Ships Grows Longer (4:13 p.m. London)

The number of ships waiting to enter the Suez Canal is lengthening as the waterway remains blocked. Data compiled by Bloomberg shows there are 429 vessels queued up Saturday, compared with around 100 at the start of the blockage.

Bulk carriers typically hauling commodities such as grains, coal and iron ore account for the biggest share of the vessels stuck in and around the canal. The data also indicate as many as 14 vessels that could be carrying thousands of livestock.

Vessel Type Count (Saturday)
Bulk Carrier 82
Container Ship (Fully Cellular) 72
General Cargo Ship 35
Chemical/Products Tanker 32
Crude Oil Tanker 27
Vehicles Carrier 17
Livestock Carrier 14
LPG Tanker 11
LNG Tanker 8
Total 429

* Listed are the categories with highest number of vessels waiting

Canal Chief Sounds Optimistic Note (2:05 p.m. London)

The latest efforts to free the vessel have begun to pay off, and new attempts to refloat it could begin Saturday or Sunday, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie told reporters.

Declining to lay out a timeline for when the operation could be completed, Rabie said 10 tug boats are on site. There are currently more than 320 ships waiting to move, and authorities are working to provide them with all necessary services.

The canal is taking a revenue hit of as much as $14 million a day from the blockage, Rabie said.

Excavation Could Take Days (1:50 p.m. London)

Excavation will take at least two to three days of digging to reach the required depth for the stranded ship to refloat, charterer Evergreen Line said in a statement dated March 26.

Maersk Diverts 14 Container Ships South of Africa (12:52 p.m. London)

Logistics company AP Moller-Maersk A/S has diverted 14 vessel around the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, to avoid the Suez canal. The number of rerouted ships is up from 12 yesterday and the company said it expects the number to increase.

“For every day the canal remains blocked, the ripple effects on global capacity and equipment continues to increase,” Maersk said in a statement.

–With assistance from Tarek El-Tablawy, Abdel Latif Wahba and Megan Durisin.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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