Ever Given is refloated, towed to Great Bitter Lake

Grounded ULCV Ever Given (IMO 9811000) was freed from its wedged position in the Suez canal early yesterday morning, Monday March 29th, and was fully refloated later in the day.

By Monday evening local time it was situated in the Great Bitter Lake. Northbound traffic had resumed.

Leth Agencies said yesterday afternoon that “once the vessel had arrived at Great Bitter Lake it was expected that the Suez Canal Authority would allow vessels located there exit the canal southbound.

It had not yet been officially announced how the convoys would turn out, but it appeared that the SCA allowed northbound vessels to move first. southbound

Shortly after daybreak, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and operator Evergreen had confirmed that the vessel had straightened considerably, with the bow and stern away from the Canal’s edges, but that Ever Given was not yet fully refloated.

After dredging and excavation work over the weekend, rescue workers from the SCA and a team from Dutch firm Smit Salvage succeeded in partially refloating the ship, although the ship was still stuck on sandy clay. The channel is only at sufficient depth for a fully laden ship such as the Ever Given to move for a width of about 175 metres. By 15:05 yesterday local time the vessel had been straightened sufficiently for it to move.

“The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Smit Salvage owner Boskalis.

To refloat the 224,000-ton vessel, approximately 30,000 cubic meters of sand was dredged and 11 harbour tugs plus two powerful seagoing tugs were deployed, according to Boskalis.

Earlier on Monday Berdowski had been in strong expectation management mode in the face of increasingly ebullient statements from some other parties. He told Dutch  radio on Monday that much would need to be done between partial and full reflotation.

“The good news is she’s moved. But she is still stuck in the mud. A second large anchor-handling tug will arrive this morning. Hopefully they will be able to pull her free.”

As well as the new tug arriving to help, water was injected under the ship’s bow to help free it. It would appear that this did the trick, eliminating the need to remove containers – a scenario that everybody was dreading.

The ship was reballasted and the high tide on Monday did the trick, achieving full reflotation.

Ever Given technical manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said that it extended “its deepest gratitude to all parties involved in the emergency response, including the Suez Canal Authority, SMIT Salvage and the crew on board, who worked tirelessly to free the vessel and to restore navigability in the Suez Canal”.

The vessel’s operator Evergreen Line said that the vessel left the grounding site with the assistance of tugboats. “The chartered vessel will be repositioned to the Great Bitter Lake in the Canal for an inspection of its seaworthiness. The outcome of that inspection will determine whether the ship can resume its scheduled service”, said Evergreen.

“Once the inspection is finalized, decisions will be made regarding arrangements for cargo currently on board.”

Evergreen expressed its gratitude to the SCA, the salvors, and the 25 crew, “who remain steadfast in their posts”

Evergreen said that it would coordinate with the shipowner to deal with subsequent matters after the shipowner and other concerned parties complete their investigation reports into the incident.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al Sisi said early on Monday, before the full reflotation had been achieved, that “today, the Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis of the delinquent ship in the Suez Canal despite the tremendous technical complexity that surrounded this process from every side. I thank every loyal Egyptian who contributed technically and practically to ending this crisis. Today, the Egyptians have proven that they are always responsible, and that the canal they dug with the bodies of their ancestors and defended Egypt’s right to it with the souls of their forefathers .. will continue to bear witness that the Egyptian will go where the Egyptians decide.”

Earlier in the day there was a short period of nervousness after  Sky News and Reuters reported that the Ever Given had swung back across the channel “just hours after it was partially refloated”, amid high winds, citing a witness and one other source. However, the ship’s bow remained afloat in the water despite its change of position, and  the vessel did not reground.

2018-built, Panama-flagged, 219,079 gt Ever Given is owned by Luster Maritime/Higaki Sangyo care of Shoei Kisen KK of Imabari-shi, Ehime-ken, Japan. It is entered with UK Club on behalf of Luster Maritime SA.