The Ever Given, this huge freighter that ran aground in the Suez Canal, is still stranded.

The world laughed a little – the flow of memes has been constant – but blocking one of the world’s most important shipping channels for almost three days is causing some really big, costly problems.

Authorities did their best to dislodge the huge vessel, but so far have had no luck in refloating the vessel.

This is a problem for ship owners and people waiting for cargo on board, but it also causes significant flow effects with over 100 other vessels waiting idly to pass and deliver cargo around the world. .

Here’s what we know so far about the next steps to freeing Ever Given and clearing the chain.

Catch up with me, what’s going on in the Suez Canal?

  • A freighter called the Ever Given (no, it’s not called the Evergreen) ran aground in the Suez Canal on Tuesday and got stuck diagonally across it
  • The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea and is a crucial route between Europe and the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans
  • Ever Given cut off access to the middle of the waterway
  • Crews haven’t had a chance to dislodge him so far
  • About 150 ships are in limbo along or at each end of the canal, waiting to pass
Over 150 other ships (represented here by yellow and orange dots) are waiting for the Ever Given (in the red square) to get out of their way.(Ship traffic supplied / maritime)

What have they tried so far to displace Ever Given?

So far backhoes and tugs have attempted to dislodge the Ever Given from its chains of sand – to no avail.

Some pretty spectacular images have emerged of the scale of the task these machines face:

Backhoe tries to dig up giant stranded ship, the ship is about 5 times the size of the backhoe
This insulated backhoe is no match for the skyscraper-sized Ever Given freighter.(PA / Suez Canal Authority)
A boat sails in front of a huge freighter, named Ever Green,
Small vessels were able to maneuver around the stranded Ever Given at first, but traffic has since been suspended while the tugs do their job.(AP: Suez Canal Authority)
Ever Green, sits with his bow stuck in the wall of the Suez Canal.
A bit of a David and Goliath situation going on here.(AP: Suez Canal Authority)

Most attempts have been made at high tide to give the ship the best chance to refloat, but so far no luck.

How did Ever Given get stuck?

The authorities are still trying to fix this problem, as it is certainly not an everyday occurrence – in fact, a blockage of this kind and on this scale has never happened in the 150-year history of the canal.

The Ever Given entered the canal from the Red Sea on Tuesday morning local time and ran aground approximately 45 minutes later.

Officials initially said the ship was hit by strong winds, with subsequent reports also citing a dust storm that could have affected visibility.

Loading

An initial report suggested the vessel suffered a power failure prior to the incident, but the vessel’s technical director denied these claims and ruled out “any mechanical or engine failure as the cause of the grounding”.

Ocean freight lawyer Ian Woods said the grounding likely occurred due to a “combination of factors” but a full investigation into the incident is awaited.

How else can they try to free the ship from the canal?

The technical manager of Ever Given, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said in a statement that dredging to remove sand and mud is the top priority at the moment.

“In addition to the dredges already on site, a specialized suction hopper dredger is now with the vessel and will begin work shortly,” the statement released Thursday said.

After that, it looks like the next step will be to remove some of the cargo from the ship in an attempt to lighten it.

The ship weighs around 220,000 tonnes and as attempts to dislodge it continue to fail, the team say they may need to remove at least some of the containers from the ship and empty the ship of the water used as ballast. progress.

From there, more dredging will be needed before the tugs return and (hopefully) push the ship out of the hole it dug in the sand.

A graphic of a map showing a large ship that got stuck at the edge of a canal
Here is what will likely follow in the process of removing the Ever Given from the Suez Canal.(AP / Google Earth)

You can hear the faint calls of “why didn’t they do this in the first place”, right?

Well, an Egyptian official told media earlier in the week that workers are hoping to avoid this scenario because everything off the ship could take weeks.

A team of experts specializing in ship-related disaster response arrived from the Netherlands on Thursday to join the bailout efforts.

But Peter Berdowski, the CEO of the company leading the efforts to free the ship, Boskalis, says there’s a chance it could take weeks to move the ship.

Loading

Is the crew of Ever Given doing well?

As far as we know, they are.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement has confirmed that the 25 crew members on board, all of Indian nationality, were safe and counted.

The crew are still on board the ship and help get the ship afloat.

We have yet to hear much from the crews of the other boats affected by the incident about what it means to them.