The massive tanker blocking the Suez Canal has been refloated.
Suez Canal Authority chairman Osama said Monday that tugs dislodged the bow of the ship from the eastern bank of the canal, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“We are not finished yet, but it has moved,” he said.
It’s believed the ship has moved about 22 metres and tugboats are expected to continue assisting the ship to ensure it can continue moving up the canal.
It’s unclear how long it will take the re-open the waterway to traffic.
In a tweet, Inchcape Shipping said the MV Ever Given was successfully refloated at 4.30am (local time).
“She is being secured at the moment. More information about next steps will follow once they are known,” the post said.
Maritime traffic tracking sites Vesselfinder and myshiptracking also showed the stern of the boat had moved away from the canal’s western bank.
People can be heard saying “Allahu Akbar” (God is most great) and celebrating the achievement in footage posted on Twitter. Other footage showed the captain of a nearby ship giving a thumbs up as the Ever Given finally started moving.
However, The Citizen Lab senior researcher John Scott-Railton tweeted an image that shows most of the vessel is still not in the navigation channel.
‘A good sign’
The ship became jammed about a week ago after veering off course and running aground in a sandstorm.
It forced Egypt to abruptly one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, impacting 10 per cent of global trade, as authorities try to dislodge it.
Some experts had warned the shutdown could last weeks, forcing ships to re-route around the southern tip of Africa, making their journeys significantly longer.
Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chief Osama Rabie told an Egyptian news channel the ship had moved from side to side for the first time late Saturday.
“It is a good sign,” he said, adding that 14 tugboats were deployed around the stricken vessel and salvage crews were working round the clock.
Authorities decided on Sunday more tugboats would be needed to free the mammoth ship.
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Leth agencies, which provides crossing services to clients using the canal, said on Twitter late Sunday that the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) had postponed the attempt.
“SCA has decided to postpone the next refloating attempt until sufficient tug power is in place,” it said, adding “a likely time for the next attempt is Monday evening”.
The SCA did not confirm the news, saying in a statement earlier in the day that “operations have been stepped up around the bow of the ship”.
Richard Meade, an editor at shipping data and news company Lloyd’s List, said sources close to the salvage operation had voiced optimism “that the vessel could be moved within the next 24-48 hours”.
Salvage teams are pressing efforts to remove sand around the ship, with 27,000 cubic metres cleared so far at a depth of 18 metres, SCA spokesman George Safwat said Sunday.
But Ihab Talaat el-Bannane, a former Egyptian admiral, cautioned that the accident had taken place in a part of the canal where the ground was rocky and difficult to dig.
“At some point, the ground experts will have to stop digging to avoid earth collapsing onto the ship,” he said.
The area has been placed under tight security, with extra military and police personnel deployed.
Egyptian media reported President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had ordered “preparations” to offload containers in order to lighten the ship.
Human error could be to blame
The 200,000-tonne MV Ever Given, longer than four football fields, has been wedged diagonally across the canal since Tuesday, towering over nearby palm trees and strangling world supply chains.
Officials blaming 40-knot gusts and a sandstorm but Mr Rabie on Saturday said “technical or human errors” could have led to the grounding of the Taiwan-run, Panama-flagged container ship near the southern end of the 193-kilometre long canal.
The crisis has forced companies to choose between waiting or rerouting vessels around Africa, which adds a huge fuel bill, 9000 kilometres and over a week of travel to the trip between Asia and Europe.
Lloyd’s List has said the blockage is holding up an estimated $9.6 billion-worth of cargo each day between Asia and Europe.
Each day of the blockade could be costing global trade some $6-10 billion, according to a study published Friday by German insurer Allianz.
That translates to some 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points of annual trade growth each week.
And with over 300 ships and billions of dollars-worth of cargo now stalled at the entrances to the Suez Canal, many operators have already rerouted vessels around the Cape of Good Hope.
There has been a “surge” in the number of vessels opting for the African route, Lloyd’s List said Sunday.
“Most major container lines are now diverting ships round Cape of Good Hope and warning of supply chain disruption ahead. Some are starting to reject bookings,” it said on Twitter.
— with AFP