Giant container ship stuck in Suez Canal could affect supply of ‘anything you see in stores’

This week, a 220,000-metric ton, 1,312-foot container vessel got stuck diagonally in the Suez Canal which accounts for some 12% of the world trade. This accident could have a big effect on shipping logistics around the world.

Suez canal blockage seen from space showing the stuck container ship (Photo: Airbus-built Pléiades high-res. satellite image camera)
Suez canal blockage seen from space showing the stuck container ship (Photo: Airbus-built Pléiades high-res. satellite image camera)

According to 9to5Mac, Apple has increased its use of container ships due to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chance Miller for 9to5Mac:

The backstory here is that a severe dust storm and poor visibility caused the container vessel, called the Ever Given to become stuck sideways in the Suez Canal. The Ever Given in particular holds over 20,000 shipping containers, this canal generally allows around 50 cargo ships to pass daily.

Thus far, all attempts to get the Ever Given moving again have failed, so it’s still sitting there and blocking access for other containers. Shipping logistics experts cited by NBC News now fear that this logjam will have a ripple effect on industries around the world.

Lars Jensen, an independent container shipping expert cited by NBC News, fears that “basically anything you see in the stores” will be affected by this delay in cargo shipping. This ranges from “food, furniture, clothes, shoes, exercise equipment, electronics, car parts, and carpets.”

An image showing the Ever Given skewed across the canal was captured by a crew member on the ship behind (Photo: EPA)
An image showing the Ever Given skewed across the canal was captured by a crew member on the ship behind (Photo: EPA)

The Beeb:

As it’s firmly grounded on both banks, all efforts to shift it so far have proved unsuccessful, says Sal Mercogliano, an expert in maritime history at Campbell University in the US.

The company which manages the running of the vessel, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said an attempt to refloat the ship on Friday had failed but that efforts would continue.

The company says two further tugs are due to arrive on Sunday to assist in the operation.

Excavators on the ground work to clear sand and mud away from the Ever Given's bow (Photo: Reuters)
Excavators on the ground work to clear sand and mud away from the Ever Given’s bow (Photo: Reuters)

MacDailyNews Take: The excavator looks puny, which gives some sense of the scale of the issue. In fact, you can see it from space (with a high res camera)!

28 Comments

  1. The ship is called “Ever Given” and “Evergreen” is the company that owns the ship. (And many others.) At first I thought everyone was making some kind of typo over and over.

    1. The BBC story discusses that. This is a 200,000-ton vessel carrying 20,000 containers that would have to be offloaded individually by huge floating cranes brought in from elsewhere. The off-loading would have to be done very carefully or the ship might capsize or break its back, blocking the canal for at least months. They are offloading fuel and ballast, but that may not be enough.

      1. No one said it would be easy or could be done haphazardly. The purpose of ballast is to stabilize the ship. Do you think unloading ballast will keep it from capsizing? The full moon is Sunday and they’re missing an opportunity.

    2. They likely will unload the boat, much of its fuel and ballast too — if they can safely do it without flipping the boat.

      How long do you project it will take to, let’s say, take half the containers off the ship? It’s not located in a port where the enormous cranes handle this stuff. The ship holds 20,000 containers. Where are you going to get all these boats with cranes high enough to reach them, and how are you going to get another freighter safely in position to receive to cargo? Oh by the way, another windstorm is bearing down on the region at this very moment.

      Experts project it will be several weeks before the ship will be freed. Not likely anything will be coming off the boat this weekend.

      1. You could use CH-47’s to sling load the containers and off load them nearby. Being an old ICBM, I’d have to let knowledge helicopter pilots address the feasibility. How many could operate simultaneously operate, how long it would take to off load at a maximum effort, fueling issues, maintenance, etc. I’m also sure we have quite a few CH-47 in Djibouti, Egypt, Qatar, and Bahrain. Love to hear some expert insights.

          1. Yes, leave it to an American to think of the most expensive possible way to solve any problem: with military apparatus.

            Turns out the earth moving equipment and tugboats did the job in conjunction with the high tide. No aircraft carrier full of exotic jet fuel guzzling helicopters necessary, no specially trained American fly boys needed.

            With all due respect, America’s military in the last 70 years has established an extremely poor record of leaving places better than when they found it.

  2. “…could affect supply of ‘anything you see in stores’

    Blame for this if this becomes an issue is with Bill Clinton and congress.

    Why?

    Because Bill Clinton was initially against PNTR (permanent normalized trade relations). He changed his mind late in his presidency almost certainly due to the illegal contributions the communist Chinese government gave to Clinton and the DNC.

    The result was many millions of manufacturing jobs offshore to China. According to the St Louis Fed’s MANEMP data, we lost almost half our manf jobs to China. Their data shows the largest ever drop in US manufacturing jobs in recorded history. And when ever a plant closed, there were trickle down job losses as well, one study I read said a plant closing of just over 2000 people resulted in 30,000 others losing their jobs and 100,000 total affected in some way.

    IMO, this is why our carbon dioxide emissions are going down, You can see it in CO2 graphs of countries by year, China’s emissions turn higher right after 2000 and the US lowers right after 2000. Perhaps this is why dems are pushing us on shit intermittent wind and solar power, the less we use, the less demand there is for it, and the less it costs. This helps China make more money.

    In summary, Clinton royally effed America as payback for those contributions (that he had to return after getting caught no less). Congress at the time was majority controlled by Republicans and they too share blame for PNTR. It was a bi-partisian clustereff that only a America hating person could love.

    1. Chinese goods coming to America either go straight across the Pacific to a west coast port or through the Panama Canal to an east or south coast port. Traffic going through the Suez Canal is heading to Europe. Europe never had Bill Clinton as a President therefore your non-sequitur is totally off base.

  3. I’m glad I haven’t ordered anything from overseas lately. I’m guessing this must be a relatively rare event. I wonder what will happen to the captain of that ship. I suppose some sort of negligence charges will be filed against him. It seems as though the ship would have had plenty of room to navigate that canal. Anyway, that must be causing one heck of a traffic jam like a jack-knifed semi-trailer. (Plenty of foghorns blaring to relay annoyance.) No ships will be backing up, so they’re all there for the duration. That is surely frustrating as those ships will likely have to pay some sort of late fees for the goods they’re carrying.

    1. Buying only from domestic sources doesn’t have the effect you imagine—the United States is not a planet. It’s very hard to manufacture anything without a component or element that does not come from another country. There is also a matter of scale. The reason Macs are made in China is that we don’t have enough civil engineers to design and build factors of the size that is needed. The reason that iPhones don’t have 120Hz screens is that Apple would need more than the current world supply.

      1. When Steve Jobs was moving manufacturing to China twenty years ago, he had no way of knowing that the People’s Republic was going to make a massive turn away from free market economics and tolerant politics. Nobody predicted it. By the time Tim Cook became CEO, there was already a Chinese plant building Apple products with 250,000 employees. The largest plant today hires 400,000 and there are others with over 100,000. By the time China’s turn from merely authoritarian to outright totalitarian became apparent, changing course for Apple was as difficult as turning a 220,000 ton container ship on a dime.

        1. “By the time China’s turn from merely authoritarian to outright totalitarian became apparent bla bla bla…”

          You stupid liberals know no history. Look up Mao Zedong.

          1. If you looked him up, you would see that he died in 1976. A lot of water flowed under the bridge between then and the accession of Xi Jinping as Supreme Leader in 2012.

            1. “When Steve Jobs was moving manufacturing to China twenty years ago bla bla bla…”

              Do you really believe that the chicoms were practicing ” free market economics and tolerant politics” twenty years ago? Commies never give up power willingly.

            2. I said they were authoritarian, but there are degrees of dictatorship. The Chinese have never had a Western-style democracy, but under Deng they were trending towards increased tolerance of entrepreneurship and free expression and were making conciliatory moves internationally. They wanted to attract foreign businesses and were willing to make compromises to achieve that.They were trying to at least create the illusion of being a cooperative member of the community of nations. They were sending their future elites to Western universities and welcoming Western students and scholars to China. That has all faded away over the last eight years since Xi decided to turn back the clock to the Maoist cult of personality and push for Chinese hegemony. As I said, what was authoritarian has become totalitarian.

  4. Well the guy driving the backhoe probably feels like he just won the lottery. One day he’s digging a ditch for the local town, for 1 dollar per hour, and now he’s making $100 an hour for an international conglomerate . . . soon he will be signed to a major book deal, “How I dug the world out of a recession” (with the above photo on the cover).

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