As though logistics doesn’t have enough to cause disruption and delays, the Ever Given was caught in a sandstorm while traversing the Suez canal. The 20,000teu containership was blown perpendicular due to high winds and became lodged, blocking the canal at one of the narrowest points, the point in which ships must pass one at a time. Currently, canal pilots are trying to re-float the vessel by dredging the sand underneath it and waiting for high tides to see if it will dislodge. Barring a successful high tide, professional salvagers are assessing the removal of cargo, fuel and water to lighten the load.
Lightening the load on the Ever Given is a difficult task. The ship weighs 224,000 tons (approximately half a billion pounds) and is 400 meters long (roughly the size of the height of the Empire State Building) meaning tugs are all but rendered useless in the face of so much size and weight.
Each day around 50 ships pass through the canal and these ships are now floating in wait for the block to clear and the options are few and unpleasant. Either they can spend an indefinite amount of time waiting for the clearing of the Ever Given or they can leave the canal and traverse the long way around the Horn of Africa, which adds 13 days to their voyage (if they leave from the Suez) and an extra $300,000 in fuel costs. If the ships leave dir3ect from Asia and avoid the Suez entirely the trip to Europe takes an extra week, and the congestion expected from the delays and subsequent rush to cover the ships will compound issues in Europe and eventually make their way to the US shores, where we’re already seeing struggles.
If you have cargo moving around Europe and the Middle East and want to look at options for mitigating delays, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your Nelson representative for ideas and solutions.
This is a developing story and we’ll update as more information becomes available.