The Japanese owners of a giant container vessel blocking the Suez Canal said on Thursday they were facing “extreme difficulty” refloating it, prompting Egypt to suspend navigation through one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
It could take weeks to free the ship, said a salvage company, forcing businesses to consider diverting their cargos to the much longer route.
The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced that it was “temporarily suspending navigation” through one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
It said it was doing all it could to refloat the Panama-flagged MV Ever Given, a 400m-long vessel that veered off course.
Satellite pictures released by Planet Labs Inc show the 59m-wide container ship wedged diagonally across the entire Suez Canal.
It is now blocking transit in both directions through one of the world’s busiest shopping channels for goods, and other products linking Asia and Europe.
More than 200 large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain have backed up at either end of the Suez Canal.
This, according to tracking data, creating one of the worst shipping jams seen for years.
Japanese ship-leasing firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha said it owned the giant vessel and was facing “extreme difficulty” trying to refloat it.
“In co-operation with local authorities and Bernhard Schulte Ship management, a vessel management company, we are trying to refloat (the ship).
But we are facing extreme difficulty,” Shoei Kisen Kaisha said in a statement on its website.
“We sincerely apologize for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal.”
Tugboats have arrived Suez Canal to help refloat the ship
On Sunday, two additional tugboats sped to the Suez Canal to aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged.
The tugboats will nudge the 400m-long Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, said Bernhard Schulte Ship-management, which manages the Ever Given.
Source: Channel News Asia