Date: 24.03.2021

Suez Canal blocked by container ship

At 7:40 am on 23 March 2021, the 20k TEU container ship Evergreen Ever Given was navigating the Suez Canal when it ran aground, turning the ship sideways and blocking the canal, with the potential to impact oil and sea freight prices if she cannot be freed quickly by the tugs currently trying to assist.

Update @ 1153 24th March; Sky News report that the Ever Given has been partially refloated, giving hope that vessel backlogs will be cleared imminently

The 400m-long and 59m-wide ship was fifth in a northbound convoy, with fifteen vessels behind it when it ran aground. Traffic in both directions was blocked, quickly resulting in a traffic jam of vessels and the subsequent opening of the canal’s older channel to divert traffic and ease the queues.

The ship’s owner, Taiwanese owned Evergreen, said it had been blown off course by “a suspect gust of wind” just north of the port of Suez.

Every day, about 50 vessels sail through the 120-mile Suez Canal, which is a renowned chokepoint for global trade. 

If they can free the Evergreen Ever Given swiftly, any wider impact will be minimised, but if they cannot turn the vessel on a high tide, the canal authorities may need to remove large quantities of sand from the banks or begin unloading her cargo, which may take days.

Any prolonged blockage would have severe consequences, from affecting oil prices and shipping rates to forcing container vessels to take the much longer route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, potentially increasing transit times by a week.

Julianne Cona’s picture, an assistant engineer on the Maersk Denver, which was directly behind the Ever Given, posted this picture on Instagram showing the vessel blocking the entire canal, with a digger on the eastern bank attempting to dig the ship free. 

Julianne said in her post. “Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways. Looks like we might be here for a little bit . . . ”

We are monitoring the situation in the Suez closely and will share any updates on our social channels; Twitter, LinkedIn.

We do not anticipate prolonged delays, but should the situation deteriorate; we will be contacting customers directly to keep them personally abreast of developments.