On 23 March 2021, the Suez Canal was blocked in both directions by the ultra-large Golden-class container ship Ever Given. The ship, operated by Evergreen Marine, was en route from Malaysia to the Netherlands when it ran aground after strong winds allegedly blew the ship off course. Upon running aground, Ever Given turned sideways, completely blocking the canal. Although part of the length of the canal is paralleled by an older narrower channel which can still be used to bypass obstructions, this particular incident happened in a section of the canal with only one channel.
At the dawn of the incident, many economists and trade experts have commented on the effects of the obstruction if not resolved quickly, citing how important the Suez is to global trade, and the incident is likely to drastically affect the global economy because of the trapped goods scheduled to go through the canal following the incident. Among the products, oil shipments are the most affected in the immediate aftermath, due to a significant amount of them remaining blocked with no way to reach their destination.Referring to the European and American market, a few maritime experts have disputed the prediction of a drastic effect on trade, saying this “really isn’t a substantial transit route for crude” according to Marshall Steeves, energy markets analyst at IHS Markit, and “there are existing stocks” according to Camille Egloff of Boston Consulting Group and alternative sources of supply, noting that traffic has only slowed down and that this might only impact sectors with existing shortages such as the semiconductor industry.International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) estimates that up to $3 billion worth of cargo passes through the Suez Canal every day.
It was said the blockage would have an impact on cargo schedules around the world. Shipping companies were also considering whether to divert their ships along the much longer route around the Cape of Good Hope. The first container ship to do so was Ever Given’s sister ship, Ever Greet.
On 29 March, the ship was re-floated, according to Inchcape, a maritime services provider.Within a few hours, cargo traffic resumed, slowly resolving the backlog of around 450 ships. The first ship to successfully pass through the canal after the Ever Given was successfully floated out of the canal was the YM Wish, a Hong Kong-based cargo ship.
Check out some of the satellite views recently captured of the blockage below.
A Planet SkySat captured video of the ongoing efforts to dislodge the Ever Given from the Suez Canal after it ran aground late Tuesday, blocking all traffic.
Video captured by SkySat on March 27, 2021. pic.twitter.com/vw9xPT1C6j
— Planet (@planetlabs) March 28, 2021