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Ships Start to Move in Canal After Ever Given Freed: Suez Update

The 'Ever Given' container ship blocking transit along the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, on Sunday, March 28, 2021. Photographer: Islam Safwat/Bloomberg

Ships were starting to move in the Suez Canal after the dislodging of the giant Ever Given container ship cleared the key trade route for traffic.

At least three vessels were on the move, according to ship-tracking data. The return of navigation will come as a relief for global trade that was under strain even before the latest crisis.

There were 437 ships waiting to transit through the waterway, shipping agent GAC said earlier, citing the canal authority. Container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd AG expects the backlog to be cleared within four days.

The Ever Given reached the Great Bitter Lake, where it will undergo inspections. Horns sounded in celebration after the ship was earlier freed from the canal’s bank in an operation that involved moving 30,000 cubic meters of sand.

Latest stories:


  • Ships start to move in Suez canal
  • Ever Given reaches Great Bitter Lake
  • Veterinary teams dispatched to some livestock carriers
  • 437 vessels are waiting to transit the canal, GAC says
  • Explainers: Why the Suez Canal is so important, and why shipping was in a bind even before this crisis

Vets Dispatched to Livestock Carriers (8:32 p.m. London)

The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture dispatched veterinary teams to five livestock carriers from Romania and Spain that were caught in the canal, bound for Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The 60,400 sheep and 421 cattle aboard were generally in good health, and ships were supplied with extra feed and water, the ministry said in a statement. The European Commission is in touch with Romanian authorities about its livestock vessels that have been held up by the traffic jam, and the situation doesn’t currently give cause for concern, a spokesperson said.

First Ships Leave Great Bitter Lake (7:15 p.m. London)

The container ship YM Wish, the first vessel to leave the Great Bitter Lake anchorage, has now entered the southern part of the canal as it heads for the Red Sea. It is followed by two more container vessels, the Maersk Esmereldas and the Ever Globe, a sister ship to the Ever Given, which spent most of the past week blocking the waterway. There is also a line of as many as 12 vessels entering the northern end of the canal, led by the Biglift Barentsz, a heavy load carrier heading for Singapore. More ships in the Great Bitter Lake anchorage are also changing their status from anchored to underway, ship tracking data show.

Ships on The Move in Suez Canal (5:40 p.m. London)

At least three vessels started to move in the Suez Canal. The Ever Globe and YM Wish vessels were moving south from Great Bitter Lake, according to ship tracking data.

Ever Given Reaches Great Bitter Lake (4:49 p.m. London)

The Ever Given arrived at the Great Bitter Lake, leaving traffic on the canal to start. The ship will be inspected at the lake

Romania Pushes to Prioritize Livestock Vessels (4:15 p.m. London)

Romania’s veterinary watchdog said steps are being taken to ensure ships transporting livestock receive priority in crossing the canal. Eleven vessels from the country — carrying 105,727 sheep and 1,613 cattle — are among those caught in the queue. The Suez Canal Authority and Egypt’s agriculture ministry have sent experts and veterinarians to the ships and additional food and water, it said.

Ship Moving Under Own Power (3:47 p.m. London)

The Ever Given appeared to be moving under its own power as it made its way north along the Suez Canal to the Great Bitter Lake, where the ship’s hull will be inspected. The tugs that were initially accompanying the vessel have dropped back, according to ship tracking data monitored by Bloomberg.

Ever Given is moving at about 7 knots and should reach the anchorage at about 5:30 p.m. London time if it maintains that speed.

Suez Traffic to Start Once Ever Given at Bitter Lake (3:18 p.m. London)

The ship is expected to arrive at the Great Bitter Lake in 1 1/2 to 2 hours, and once it’s there other traffic can resume, shipping agent GAC said, citing the canal authority. Transit is expected to return to normal in three to four days, after the backlog of ships are cleared, according to the statement.

There are 193 southbound vessel waiting at Port Said, 201 northbound at Suez and another 43 are waiting at Bitter Lake, GAC said.

Ship Moving to Bitter Lake to be Inspected (3:09 p.m. London)

The Ever Given is heading to the Great Bitter Lake where it will undergo a full inspection, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the ship’s technical manager, said in a statement.

Hapag-Lloyd Sees Suez Transit Starting Monday (2:50 p.m. London)

Hapag-Lloyd expect transit on the Suez canal to start later this evening, and the backlog could be cleared within four days. It’s still not clear if any vessels might be prioritized for passage, according to the container shipping company said.

Tanker Shares Slide (2:46 p.m. London)

Share prices of oil tanker companies pulled back after the blockage was cleared. Frontline Ltd. was down as much as 10% in Oslo, while Euronav NV fell as much as 4.7%. Peers including DHT Holdings Inc. and International Seaways Inc. also declined after sharp gains on Friday, when it looked like a prolonged Suez canal disruption could boost earnings as ships sail around Africa.

Ever Given Being Towed Away for Inspection (2:40 p.m. London)

A total of 11 harbor tug boats and two “powerful seagoing tugs” called the Alp Guard and Carlo Magna were deployed to free the Ever Given, Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the parent company of the salvage team, said in a statement. About 30,000 cubic meters of sand was dredged

The vessel is now towed to a location outside the channel for further inspection, he said.

Suez Ship Is Refloated in First Step to Clearing Canal
Tug boats pull the Ever Given container ship along the Suez Canal after being freed from the canal bank in Suez, Egypt, on Monday, March 29, 2021.

Ship Moving North Toward Bitter Lake (2:35 p.m. London)

Horns sounded in celebration as the Ever Green moved north toward Bitter Lake after being freed from the mud it was stuck in for days. Ship tracking data showed the vessel was 2 kilometers from where it was grounded.

Ship Is Pulled Free (2:12 p.m. London)

The Ever Given was finally pulled free, allowing the canal to reopen to traffic.

The vessel is now fully afloat, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement.

Latest Attempt to Free Vessel Failed (1:05 p.m. London)

An attempt to free the Ever Given that began around 11:30 a.m. local time appears to have failed, and a person with knowledge of the matter said another attempt would be made at 3 p.m.

Once the vessel is fully refloated and navigation on the canal resumes, ships will pass through at a rate of 100 a day to clear the backlog, the person said.

Shipping Rates Jump on Lack of Capacity (12:08 p.m. London)

Vessel delays will effectively cut the available container shipping capacity on the route at a time when it’s urgently needed, said Greg Knowler, senior European editor at IHS Markit’s Journal of Commerce. Spot freight rates from China to northern Europe are up almost 400% year on year, he said.

“Even once the Ever Given is out of the way and the convoys resume, it will still take many days to clear the backlog of vessels at each end of the canal, then a week for the westbound container ships to reach ports in north Europe,” Knowler said in a note. “That could see the Suez ships arriving around the same time as the dozens of vessels rerouted around Africa.”

Ship Is Moved To and Fro to Break Suction (12 p.m. London)

Tugs are moving the stern of the ship to and fro in order to dislodge the front hull from the mud, people familiar with the operation said. The movement resembles the wiggling of a tooth, one of the people said.

Tugs to Resume Work to Pull Vessel Free (10:45 a.m. London)

Live television pictures showed several tugs roped up to the ship in the canal’s turquoise water, but it wasn’t clear if there was any movement.

Dredging is still continuing around the bow, and the tugs will subsequently resume efforts to haul the vessel free, two people familiar with the operation said.

Egypt Has Ended the Crisis, Says President (Monday, 10:30 a.m. London)

“Egyptians have today succeeded in ending the crisis of the stranded ship at the Suez Canal, despite the huge technical complication that has surrounded the process from every side,” President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said in a statement.

Queue Could Last for Six Days, Says Maersk (Monday, 9:56 a.m. London)

“Assessing the current backlog of vessels, it could take six days or more for the complete queue to pass,” Maersk says in a statement.

Maersk and its partners have three vessels stuck in the canal and 29 waiting to enter. More are expected to reach the waterway today.

Too Early to Celebrate, Says Boskalis (Monday, 8 a.m. London):

“We need to be realistic and that is that the stem of the ship is still very much stuck,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis Westminster,

“Putting the rear end of the ship afloat was the easy part,” he said to Dutch NPO Radio. “The challenging part will be the front of the ship. Now, we will start working at the front. We do not want to celebrate too early.”

Ship Will be Able to Use Own Propulsion (Monday, 7:50 a.m. London)

When the Ever Given is ready to be moved, the ship will probably be able to use her own propulsion capability to sail to the Bitter Lake, said people familiar with the situation.

Ever Given vessel in Suez Canal

Euronav Says Will Take Time to Clear Queue of Ships (Monday, 7:05 a.m. London)

“It’s one thing to refloat the ship, it’s another thing to completely clear the canal of traffic,” Hugo De Stoop, CEO of oil-shipping firm Euronav, said to Bloomberg Television. “Whatever has been accumulated so far will take time to clear. Tentative timeline is probably two to three weeks, because the Suez canal was used probably at full capacity.”

Maneuvers Continue, Says Canal Authority (Monday, 6:50 a.m. London)

The ship’s been refloated and work will continue this morning around the time of high tide, the Canal Authority said.

The vessel’s course has been moved 80%, it said in a statement.

“The maneuvers are scheduled to resume again as the water level rises to its maximum height at 11:30 a.m., reaching 2 meters, allowing the ship’s course to be completely modified to the middle of the shipping course,” the authority said.

Navigation in the canal will resume once the ship is fully refloated and moved to the Great Bitter Lake area for technical checks, the authority said. The Bitter Lake is north of where the Ever Given ran aground.

Ship Partly Refloated in Dawn Rescue Effort (Monday, 4:44 a.m. London)

The giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal has been at least partially refloated, the first step toward getting one of the world’s most important trade arteries moving again.

The Ever Given was successfully refloated at about 4:30 a.m. local time in Egypt and the vessel is currently being secured, maritime services provider Inchcape Shipping Services said in an email. It followed a new attempt to dislodge the ship involving 10 tug boats, according to the Suez Canal Authority.


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