May 17. 2021. 5:25

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Stranded Ever Given ship partially refloated and straightened in Suez Canal

Tug boats work to free the Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned Ever Given, which is lodged across the Suez Canal, on Sunday. Photograph: Suez Canal Authority via AP


The stranded container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week was almost fully refloated on Monday and has restarted its engines, a shipping source with knowledge of the matter said, raising hopes the busy waterway will soon be reopened.

The 400m long Ever Given has been straightened in the canal and will undergo initial inspections before being moved, two sources said.

Video posted on social media appeared to show the ship’s stern had swung around, opening space in the canal.

Ship-tracking service VesselFinder has changed the ship’s status to under way on its website.

The Ever Given became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds early on Tuesday, halting shipping traffic on the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

At least 369 vessels are waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, Suez Canal Authority chairman Osama Rabie told Egypt’s Extra News on Sunday.

Earlier on Monday, marine services firm Inchcape Shipping Services said the ship had been successfully re-floated at 4.30 am local time (3.30am Irish time) and was being secured.

The ship’s technical manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

Egypt’s Leth Agencies tweeted the ship had been partially refloated, pending official confirmation from the SCA.

The Suez Canal salvage teams intensified excavation and dredging on Sunday and were hoping a high tide would help them dislodge the ship.

Crude oil prices fell after news the ship had been re-floated, with Brent crude down by $1 per barrel to $63.67. Shares of Taiwan-listed Evergreen Marine Corp – the vessel’s lessor – rose 3.3 per cent.

About 15 per cent of world shipping traffic transits the Suez Canal, which is a key source of foreign currency revenue for Egypt. The current stoppage is costing the canal $14-$15 million a day.

Shipping rates for oil product tankers nearly doubled after the ship became stranded, and the blockage has disrupted global supply chains, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with Covid-19 restrictions.

Some shippers had decided to reroute their cargoes around the Cape of Good Hope, adding about two weeks to journeys and extra fuel costs.

A note from A.P. Moeller Maersk seen by Reuters said it had so far redirected 15 vessels around the Cape after calculating that the journey would be equal to the current delay of sailing to Suez and queuing.

The SCA has said it can accelerate convoys through the canal once the Ever Given is freed. – Reuters