A gigantic cargo ship that is wedged diagonally inside Egypt’s Suez Canal could take weeks to dislodge.
The 400m long MS Ever Given became stuck in the canal on Tuesday during strong winds, and has caused a big backlog of ships unable to move through the waterway that’s the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe, and where up to 12 percent of annual world trade flows.
A Dutch salvage company contracted to refloat the ship said the Ever Given resembled a “beached whale.”
“We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Boskalis CEO Peter Berdowski told Dutch television programme Nieuwsuur.
“It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand. We might have to work with a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tug boats and dredging of sand.”
The Suez Canal Authority has not commented on how long it could take to get the ship going again, while Boskalis did not respond to a request for comment from VICE World News.
The ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha has apologised for the disruption. “We sincerely apologise for causing a great deal of concern to the vessels scheduled to sail and their related parties while navigating the Suez Canal due to the accident of this vessel,” the group said in a statement, adding that there was no information on crew injuries or oil spills.
While it’s not totally clear what caused the ship to ground, Evergreen, the Ever Given’s Taiwanese operator, said strong winds were to blame.
“Evergreen has urged the shipowner to investigate the cause of this accident, and work closely with Suez Canal Authority and related agencies to refloat the stranded ship as soon as possible,” Evergreen said in a statement.
The Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, is one of the world’s busiest waterways. Service provider Leth Agencies said 156 vessels were waiting in the vicinity of the canal. Eight tugs are working to dislodge the Ever Given, as well as at least one lil’ digger.
Speaking of tugs, the Ever Given has acquired a cult status online after VICE World News publicised the fact that the ship had charted a dick-shaped course immediately before getting wedged in the Suez.