The Ship Blocking The Suez Canal Has Been Freed

The Ever Given might be freed, but a viral app allows you to place it wherever you want.
Chris Young
The Ever Given cargo ship1, 2

Salvage teams announced today, March 29, that the Ever Given container ship responsible for blocking the Suez Canal has been refloated and is on course for a technical inspection.

The report, from a canal services firm via AP News, brings an end to an almost week-long crisis that saw $9.6bn of cargo blocked daily from passing through the canal.

The report states that the freeing of the vessel came after dredgers vacuumed sand and mud from the vessel's bow and 10 tugboats pushed and pulled the vessel for five days.

Early this morning, March 29, the Chairman and Managing Director of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Admiral Osama Rabie, announced that the Ever Given container ship had been "partially refloated."

At the time, it was stated that efforts would be made from 11.30 onwards — with the help of a 2-meter high tide — to allow for "the full restoration of the vessel's direction so it is positioned in the middle of the navigable waterway." 

"In all certainty, work will be complete very soon," Admiral Rabie explained at the time in an SCA press statement.

The initial refloating — which led to the restoration of 80 percent of the vessel's direction — was carried out thanks to "successful push and tow maneuvers," the SCA statement explained.

Now that the Ever Given is fully dislodged, it is now being directed to the Bitter Lakes waiting area for technical inspection, the SCA said.

'We pulled it off!'

The salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given, Boskalis, also released a press statement confirming the successful salvage operation of the grounded 20,000-ton container vessel.

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"We pulled it off!" said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis. "I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given … thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again."

With a length of 400 meters (1,300 feet), the giant ship had been wedged in the vital waterway and shipping route linking the east and west since 23 March 2021, blocking all shipping traffic through the canal from that point on.

The ship became grounded after a sandstorm accompanied by 50 km/h (31 mph) winds drastically lowered visibility and caused the ship's cargo to act like sails.

Colossal Ever Given container ship becomes giant meme

The Ever Given became a viral sensation over the weekend, with an image of a digger tackling the banks of the Suez Canal next to the towering ship already becoming a David versus Goliath meme.

Now, of course, the meme has an unintended tinge of irony due to the fact that the container ship was dislodged sooner than many expected.

A digital maps curator has even developed an app that allows users to place the ship anywhere they want on Earth. Unsurprisingly, the internet was awash with images of blocked passageways and queues with images of the Ever Given poorly photoshopped over the top.

Now, as the internet and social media catch up with the latest on the story, the question remains of how long it will take for normal operations to resume on the Suez Canal.

As per an AFP News report, the tailback caused by the Suez Canal blockage — which led to some shipping companies deciding to take a massive detour around Africa's Cape of Good Hope — will take at least 3.5 days to clear.

This was a developing story and was updated as new information emerged.

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