Efforts to dislodge ULCV Ever Given (IMO 9811000) resumed at high tide on Thursday. Some eight tugs were scheduled to be at work by later in the day, with salvors Smit Salvage ion site and heavier duty tugs being brought into play. Later reports said that there were nine tugs now in play.
Marine and salvage engineers failed in their refloating attempt on Thursday morning. Another attempt was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
By Thursday afternoon there were reported to be 206 vessels, comprising large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain, that were backed up at either end of the canal.
About 29 ships were reported to be waiting at Suez anchorage, and about 36 at Port Said outer anchorage.
The SCA, which had allowed some vessels to enter the canal in the hope the blockage could be cleared, said onThursday that it had temporarily suspended all traffic.
The Ever Given’s GPS signal showed only minor changes to its position over the past 24 hours.
The Suez Canal Authority said on Thursday it had discussed the option of dredging around a vast container ship stranded in the waterway during a meeting with a rescue team from Dutch firm Smit Salvage.
Current efforts to free the ship include the use of two dredgers, nine tugs, and four diggers on the canal bank, the authority added in a statement.
Owner Shoei Kisen has appointed two maritime professional rescue teams to help refloat the ship: Smit Salvage and Nippon Salvage.
The teams will be working with the captain and the Suez Canal Authority to design a more effective plan for refloating the vessel as soon as possible, the company said.
The Ever Given ran aground diagonally across the single-lane stretch of the southern canal on Tuesday morning after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm, the SCA said.
Peter Berdowski, CEO of Netherlands-based Smit Salvage parent company Boskalis, said that it was too early to say how long the job might take.
“We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Berdowski told the Dutch television programme Nieuwsuur. Berdowski said that both the ship’s bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal – although pictures of the incident did not indicate that the stern was touching the visible edge of the channel. It would therefore be a grounding rather than a crash, at the stern at least.
“It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand. We might have to work with a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tug boats and dredging of sand”, said Berdowski.
Ever Given technical manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said that dredgers were working to clear sand and mud from around the vessel to free it, while tugboats in conjunction with Ever Given’s winches were working to shift it.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha said it was trying to resolve the situation as soon as possible, but that dislodging the Ever Given was proving extremely difficult. “We sincerely apologize for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal,” the company said.
Marine services firm GAC issued a note to clients overnight Wednesday/Thursday saying efforts to free the vessel using tug boats continued, but that wind conditions and the sheer size of the vessel were hindering the operation. Consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the biggest impact would be on container shipping, although by Wednesday night there were also a total of 16 laden crude and product oil tankers whose transit had been delayed by the incident. That amounted to 870,000 tonnes of crude and 670,000 tonnes of clean oil products