Suez Canal Update as Map Shows How Stuck Container Ship Has Blocked Sea Traffic

Fifteen ships remain unable to pass through the Suez Canal in Egypt, the waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, since the grounding of a giant container ship on Tuesday. The vessel is lodged sideways in the canal, blocking all traffic across the waterway.

A map shared by MarineTraffic, a provider of ship tracking and maritime intelligence, shows the current real-time traffic situation at the entrance of the canal where several vessels are waiting to pass through and shipping delays are expected.

The 200,000 gross tonnage Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, ran aground in the canal around 7:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday en route to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The vessel experienced a black out while in transit, according to port agent GAC.

A spokesperson for GAC told Newsweek: "As per available information from SCA [Suez Canal Authority]...the vessel partially refloated and [is] currently alongside the Suez canal side bank."

Ever Given containership Suez Canal March 2021
An image of the Ever Given ship currently on the Suez canal side bank. GAC

Up to this moment there is "no progress on floating the vessel and clear the canal," as the SCA is still trying to assist the ship.

"Convoy and traffic will be back to normal within a very short time and as soon as the vessel is towed to another position," the spokesperson said.

As of Wednesday, 15 ships were reported to be waiting at anchorages and "there is currently no indication of when the Canal will be clear and transits will be able to resume," GAC said on its website.

"Suez Canal tugs have been working to free the 400 metre LOA laden vessel but wind conditions and its size are hindering the operation. So far, no progress has been made," according to the GAC website.

Follow the #Suez Canal traffic live on https://t.co/lzq1CVkc6w
This is what the situation looks like right now, following yesterdays incident involving the Ever Given containership. #EverGiven pic.twitter.com/3DZgvyhWJE

— MarineTraffic (@MarineTraffic) March 24, 2021

All crew members were reported to be safe and there were no reports of injuries, pollution, or cargo damage. "Initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding," a spokesperson for Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), which handles the ship's crew and technical issues, said in a statement.

"BSM's immediate priorities are to safely re-float the vessel and for marine traffic in the Suez Canal to safely resume. The continued efforts of the Suez Canal Authority and those involved in ongoing re-floating operations are greatly appreciated and BSM will continue to work closely with all parties involved in this operation.

"Once re-floated, the vessel will undergo a full inspection and BSM will cooperate fully with the relevant authorities on reports of the incident.

"More information will be provided when there are material developments," the spokesperson advised.

BSM said it could not confirm who the owner of the ship is. But it has notified "the relevant authorities and interested parties," according to an earlier statement.

"All parties are currently investigating the cause of the grounding and it would be incorrect to speculate on any one given cause at this time," BSM told Reuters.

The owner of Ever Given was reported to have told Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corporation, which is leasing the ship under a time charter, that the vessel "was suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from [the] waterway and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground."

"The company has urged the shipowner to report the cause of the accident and to work out a plan with related units such as the canal administration to assist the ship in getting out of trouble as soon as possible," Evergreen Marine Corporation said in a statement.

The Suez Canal, one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, is reportedly blocked because someone accidentally got stuck with their giant container ship. The photo is unreal. pic.twitter.com/I2ACkBqPi2

— Marcel Dirsus (@marceldirsus) March 23, 2021

The ship, currently sitting at the coordinates 30.01762 N and 32.5802 E, was expected to arrive in Rotterdam on March 31, according to VesselFinder, a ship tracking website.

Spanning 1,312 feet long and 193 feet wide, Ever Given can carry up to 20,000 20-foot equivalent (TEU) shipping containers.

Connecting Europe and Asia, the Suez Canal is one of the world's most important trade routes, allowing the passage of around 10 percent of all international maritime trade.

Nearly 19,000 ships passed through the canal last year, according to the SCA, which amounts to around 52 ships per day.

The blockage of the canal could exacerbate container ship shortages, with 30 percent of global container ship capacity passing through the waterway, according to data from Liner Research Services.

Continued blockage may have severe consequences, since the alternative route via the Cape route will be a week slower, according to Tan Hua Joo, a consultant with Liner Research.

Newsweek has contacted the SCA and the Evergreen Marine Corporation for comment.

The graphic below, produced by Statista, illustrates the annual number of vessels and net tonnage transiting the Suez Canal.

Suez Canal transit traffic
STATISTA

The graphic below, produced by Statista, illustrates the level of seaborne oil transiting possible chokepoints in 2018.

Seaborne oil transit chokepoints 2021
STATISTA

This article has been updated with comment from BSM.