Suez Canal Update as Stuck Ship Seen in Satellite Images

At least 150 ships are waiting to transit the Suez Canal in Egypt, where a giant container ship remains stuck after becoming grounded on Tuesday.

Satellite images shared on social media show the ship lodged in a diagonal position in the waterway, blocking all traffic across the canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

The Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, ran aground en route to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands "due to strong winds" with two canal pilots aboard, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the vessel's technical manager, said late on Wednesday.

Gusting winds of 30 knots were reported to have caused the giant vessel to "deviate from its course, suspectedly leading to the grounding," said Evergreen Marine Corporation, the ship's operator, on Wednesday.

Leth Agencies, a canal service provider for the Suez and other waterways, tweeted on Thursday: "The #grounding of M/V EVER GIVEN in the #SuezCanal remain unchanged as we are still waiting for further updates from authorities."

Ever Given ship Suez satellite image 2021
A satellite image of the Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal in Egypt, at 9:36 a.m. local time on Wednesday, March 24. Capella Space

BSM said late on Wednesday: "Dredgers are working to clear sand and mud from around the vessel to free her. Tugboats in conjunction with Ever Given's winches are working to shift the vessel."

Seven tugs and one large tug were reported to be working on re-floating the Ever Given, according to Leth Agencies.

The re-floating operation was suspended on Wednesday evening and was expected to resume on Thursday morning, Leth added.

A spokesperson for port agent GAC said late on Wednesday that the Suez Canal Authority had yet to release any official information on the progress of the operation.

A massive 400 meter-long container ship, Ever Given, is stuck in the #Suez Canal, blocking traffic in one of world’s busiest maritime trade routes. The ship can be seen in this Planet Dove satellite image captured yesterday, March 23rd. pic.twitter.com/as8SRpzSSC

— Planet (@planetlabs) March 24, 2021

Transit delays continue, with 71 vessels awaiting northbound transit at the Suez anchorage and 79 awaiting southbound transit "of which 34 are anchored at Great Bitter Lake & 45 at Port Said Outer Anchorage," according to Leth Agencies.

All 25 crew members on the Ever Given were reported to be safe and accounted for, with no reports of injuries, pollution or cargo damage.

LOOK: A closer view of the 400-meter, 224,000-tonne Ever Given container ship, leased by Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp, seen blocking the Suez Canal on March 24. Photo by European Space Agency Copernicus Sentinel-2 Satellite Image/Maxar Technologies via Reuters pic.twitter.com/gyntGylqxC

— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) March 25, 2021

BSM said on Wednesday: "Initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.

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

BSM said it could not confirm who the owner of the ship was. But in an earlier statement, it said it had notified "the relevant authorities and interested parties."

"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.

Low tide slows work to clear Suez ship blockage; traffic jam builds https://t.co/rHRWWUQ3aq pic.twitter.com/hRKsmCI6rF

— Reuters (@Reuters) March 25, 2021

The Evergreen Marine Corporation 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."

The Suez Canal is one of the world's most important trade routes. Around 19,000 ships passed through the canal in 2020, according to the SCA, which amounts to around 52 each day.

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

Suez Canal transit traffic
STATISTA

The graphic below, produced by Statista, shows the canal's importance to global oil shipments.

Seaborne oil transit chokepoints 2021
STATISTA
Ismailia canal in Cairo Egypt 2021
An aerial view of Egypt's Ismailia Canal, which connects the Nile to the Suez Canal, captured on January 15. Amir Makar/AFP via Getty Images