The complete preceptive on ever given container ship blockage that leads to the Suez canal crisis

                   *Image source : Suez canal authority

MV Ever Given is golden class container ship with gross tonnage of 220,940 and net tonnage of 99,155 and it is built in the year 2018, its length about 400meters long. 

Operated under the company called Ever Green Marine, Taiwan which is headquartered in Taoyuan city. Ever given registered in panama, and responsibility of the technical is managed by the German management company named Bernhard Schulte ship management (BSM).The ship is owned by shoei kisen kaisha a Japanese company.

Lets know about Suez canal

  • 12% of global trade happens through the Suez canal. Suez canal is man made canal in Egypt, it connects Europe with Asia. The length of the Suez canal 193 km and its completely man made.

  • It took more than 10 years to built and it was opened in 1869, more than 1.5 million workers worked on it and costs 100 million dollars at that time.
  • The importance of Suez canal is in its location. the ships from India, china, and south east Asia that go to Europe and those from Europe to Asia, for them using the Suez canal can save a lot of money and time. 

    *Image source : AFP

Ever Given Ship incident 

                                 * Image credits : Airbus space.

On 23rd of march 2021 ever given ran a ground while transiting Suez canal due its large size and wrong position, it apparently blocked both north and south bound traffic effectively putting the canals operation into problematic.

The Suez canal facilitates a transit about 50 ships carrying an estimated 3 billion dollars worth of cargo on a daily basis. Due to blockage the ships and cargos that were scheduled to transit the canal are now now stranded with more and more ships arriving each day and all of them wont be able to continue their voyages until the canals operation resumes. 

How much of a loss are we talking about for each day that ships are grounded and more importantly who is going to pay for all of it? 

Its difficult to put precise figure, as I mentioned that the canal facilitates the transit of an estimated 3 billion dollars worth of cargo each day but each ship carries different cargos with different values, some ships even pass through canal without any cargo, now cargo carried by the stranded ships are not destroyed or lost they are just delayed. 

As we can see these are the ships are currently stranded waiting in line for their transits that means they are the only ones so far who are incurring losses so part of the losses we are talking about are just from freight cost which could range somewhere around 0.6 to 2.3 percent of the value of goods on board a given ship even so its probably going to reach in the tenths of millions and since more and more ships will arrive at this west canal each day the cost rises exponentially till ever given freed and canal resumes operation.

Now the freight cost is just part of losses the other thing is the salvage operation that's going to involve lot of work and heavy equipment. due to the ship size the amount cargo its carrying the salvage value can easily go beyond seven digits.

who is going to pay for all of that ?

The ships that transit the Suez canal are required to take a pilot to control over navigation of the ship during transit now you may have doubt since there was a canal pilot on board when the ship ran aground isn't he or the Suez canal authority supposed to be liable for accident? 

The answer is 'no' even though the pilot is responsible for the navigation while inside the canal, the captain is still responsible for the overall safety of the ship and he has what we call "the masters overriding" which means if we thinks that the situation is unsafe and could lead to an incident he has the authority to take over from the pilot but its little bit tricky since the ship is inside the canal.

According to the Egyptian maritime code no.0 of 1990 (art279) - " The responsibility for pilotage operation in port and in Suez canal lies entirely with the master of the guided vessel even in case of the pilot error" and in Suez canal authority documents - " masters are held solely responsible for all damage or accidents of whatever kind resulting from the navigation or handling of their vessels directly or indirectly by day or night and pilots cannot know the defects or difficulties of maneuverability for every vessel". you might this how unfair it is but just the way it is and not just for Egypt and every foreign country that allows to trade within their borders.

we cannot say the exact details which leads to the incident was is weather ,pilot error, engine failure till the investigation is done by reviewing of "voyage data recorder".

The ships manager said that initial investigations ruled out any mechanical or engine failure so it appears that weather is partly to blame apparently the strong winds blowing on the huge ship which when fully stacked with containers is actually kind of like a wall of wind that can push against, caused the ship to deviate from its course and made steering very difficult which eventually led to the grounding.

Talking about the insurance, the ships will have hull and machinery insurance and protection and indemnity insurance. The salvage operation cost as well as repairs to the ship be borne by the hull and machinery insurance. according to the sources a container ship of this size is likely insured for hull and machinery damage of around 100 to 140 million dollars. and the other claims will presumably be borne by the protection and indemnity insurance if it is in the coverage, if not then ships owner will bare the cost.

On 29 march 2021, After a week blocking one of the worlds busiest shipping lanes the ever given is finally free, 10 tugs put it out the bank and into deeper water and its sailing on its own steam.  Although the ship was freed, the anchorage area of the north and south entrance of the Suez canal is got crowded with ships lining up for their transit. we can say it is a world biggest container ship disaster without a ship going bang. 

    *Infographic image credits : Visual capitalist

How the ship is freed from stuck?

A fleet of tugs using cables or placing themselves directly alongside the stricken ship, worked for six days and night to free it. the machine operators, engineers, boat operators, and other salvage teams were involved to set the afloat.

The group of tugs pulled and pushed the given at high tide to try to dislodge it and bring it into the center of the lane.

With the help of the dredgers workers removed 30000 cubic meters of sand. Two dredgers owned by the Suez canal authority played a key role in refloating the ship.

Super moon and high tide within the canal also aided the salvagers in dislodging the ship and easing the worlds heaviest traffic jam.

The vessel was towed to the great bitter lake which sits between two sections of the canal to the north of the salvage site.

Though the canal traffic resumed last evening it is yet to ascertain how long it will take to clear the backlog of over 300 ships. the blockage has created disruptions in the global shipping industry that could take weeks to clear.

Suez canal authority chairman Osam Rabie said that the disruption costs the canal as much as estimated amount of 12 to 15 million dollars per day.       

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