The Full Moon Played a Vital Role In Unblocking the Suez Canal

The high tide from this month's super moon 'helped enormously,' a salvage team operator said.
Chris Young
The Ever Given blocking the Suez CanalAirbus

Rising tides from a Super Worm Moon provided the last push the Ever Given container ship needed to become dislodged from the banks of the Suez Canal, according to several reports.

On Tuesday, March 23, the ship, owned by Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine, had been lodged diagonally across the vital waterway, blocking $9.6bn in cargo daily for almost a week.

Traffic resumed on March 29, when the 400-meter-long (1,300 feet) ship was freed by salvage teams using diggers, tug boats, and dredgers.

Though the Ever Given would not have become dislodged without the hard work of the salvage teams, another factor did also play a vital role in the operation — the Moon.

A Super Worm Moon is the name used for a full moon that coincides with the Moon's perigee — the point in the Moon's monthly orbit in which it is closest to Earth.

As the Moon’s orbit is not perfectly circular, its proximity to the Earth fluctuates from approximately 360,000 to 410,000 kilometers (225,700 to 251,900 miles).

Ever Given salvage teams 'helped enormously' by high tide

On March 29, a rising high tide at noon, thanks to the super moon helped to provide the extra leverage needed to allow the tugboats to remove the Ever Given from the banks of the canal.

"We were helped enormously by the strong falling tide we had this afternoon," said Peter Berdowski, CEO of the firm Boskalis which worked on the salvage operation, told Dutch radio station NPO 1, via AP News.

"In effect, you have the forces of nature pushing hard with you and they pushed harder than the two sea tugs could pull."

The Super Worm Moon of March 29 was the first of 2021. Though negligible, super moons do exert a slightly stronger gravitational pull on Earth. 

A Suez Canal Authority (SCA) statement on March 29, also referred to the importance of the high tide on allowing operations to resume in the canal.

A report by Wall Street Journal explained that "the salvage team pinned their hopes on this week’s full moon, when, beginning Sunday, water levels were set to rise a foot-and-a-half higher than normal high tides."

From Monday evening, traffic on the Suez Canal started to flow once more, much in the same way high tides send water flowing upstream in tidal rivers worldwide.

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