The giant Ever Given container ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal was partially refloated early Monday, raising hopes among players in the shipping industry and the business community that traffic could be resumed soon.
A statement by the Suez Canal Authority said the 400-meter-long container ship was moved 334 feet away from the bank.
“The position of the ship has been reorientated 80 percent in the right direction. The stern… moved to 102 meters (335 feet) from the shore compared to its position four meters from the shore previously”, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chief Osama Rabie said in a statement, according to Aljazeera.
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“The process will resume when water flow increases again from 11:30 am (0930 GMT)… in order to completely refloat the vessel, so as to reposition it in the middle of the waterway,” the statement added.
The vessel was en route to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands when it got stuck. The Suez Canal is one of the most important trade routes in the world as it allows for more direct trading between Asia and Europe, cutting off the need to circumnavigate Africa and reducing voyage time.
At least 12% of the global trade passes through the Suez Canal, which is often described as the artery of world trade.
The vessel, which is about the size of four football fields, got stuck on the canal last Tuesday, and several rescue operations, until today, to have the massive ship float, were unsuccessful.
The blockage caused massive traffic with hundreds of vessels waiting to pass through the Canal. Each day of blockage disrupts more than $9 billion worth of goods.
The crisis also triggered losses for Egypt. The Suez Canal is a major source of revenue for the North African country, earning an average of $15 million every day.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt in a Twitter post celebrated the moment, noting that “Egyptians have succeeded today in ending the crisis of the stuck ship in the Suez Canal despite the great complexities surrounding this situation in every aspect.”
On the massive traffic caused by the ship blockage, the Egyptian president’s advisor for the canal authority, Mohab Mamish, told Bloomberg that it could take a week to clear the backlog. It is also likely to cause a short-term spike in rates.
“For every day the canal remains blocked, the ripple effects on global capacity and equipment continues to increase and the blockage triggers a series of further disruptions and backlogs in global shipping that could take months to unravel, even after the canal is reopened,” Maersk said in a customer advisory issued on Sunday.
“For the immediate term, we also anticipate higher short-term (or spot) rates, with vessels being delayed this week and missing in the system.”
Meanwhile, some major container lines have begun to divert ships round the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.