April 17, 2021

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Suez Canal Traffic Blocked After Massive Ship Runs Aground – NPR

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In this Aug. 6, 2015 file photo, an army zodiac secures the entrance of the new section of the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt. The Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, revolutionized maritime travel by creating a direct shipping route between the East and the West. Amr Nabil/AP hide caption

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Amr Nabil/AP

In this Aug. 6, 2015 file photo, an army zodiac secures the entrance of the new section of the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt. The Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, revolutionized maritime travel by creating a direct shipping route between the East and the West.

Amr Nabil/AP

A waterway crucial to global trade is currently blocked by a massive container ship, causing a traffic jam that could last days.

The Ever Given, sailing under a Panamanian flag bound for The Netherlands from China, ran aground Tuesday morning. The ship was traveling northward through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean from the Red Sea when it reportedly lost power.

The ship, wedged at an angle across the waterway, now blocks the path of other container vessels in both directions. Julianne Cona, who was aboard the Maersk Denver directly behind the Ever Given, shared an image of the vessel on Instagram.

The ship is owned by container shipping company Evergreen Line. The Ever Given was built in 2018 and stands 400m long and 59m wide.

Egyptian tug boats have thus far failed to pull the ship free. The website, Vessel Finder, shows the Ever Given surrounded by at least five tug boats.

The Suez Canal is a crucial global trade route that provides the shortest maritime route from Europe to Asia. It’s 120 miles long, 79 feet deep, and 673 feet wide. Thousands of ships travel through the canal every year; more than 18,000 ships traveled the canal in 2018.

A traffic jam along the waterway could have “huge ramifications for global trade,” Campbell University maritime history professor Sal Mercogliano told the BBC.

“This is the largest vessel ever to go aground in the Suez Canal,” he told the news organization.

The Suez Canal is especially important to the shipment of oil. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said “The inability of oil to transit a major chokepoint, even temporarily, can lead to substantial supply delays and higher shipping costs, resulting in higher world energy prices.”

The Suez Canal has been the site of other incidents that temporarily snarled shipping traffic. Two container ships, the German-flagged MV Colombo Express and the Singapore-flagged MV Maersk Tanjong, collided in 2014.

In 2015, Egypt completed a 22-mile expansion of the Suez Canal, allowing two-way traffic and accommodating larger vessels.
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