This astonishing satellite image reveals for the first time the vast bottleneck of ships waiting to get through Suez.
Carrying a vast amount of the world’s trade – some bound for the UK – the logjam caused by a grounded ship in the canal means billions of pounds worth of goods are delayed.
Here we have selected six of the ships which sailed from the Far East and are now backed up in the Red Sea. They are carrying everything from oil to furniture to beer and even live animals. A military dredging machine has now joined efforts to free the grounded 224,000-tonne Ever Given yesterday as frantic attempts to refloat the vessel have so far failed.
More than 200 vessels were caught in the logjam after the Ever Given ran aground on Tuesday amid strong winds
Analysts say an estimated £290million worth of trade is being held up every hour the ship remains wedged across the canal.
More than 200 vessels were caught in the logjam after the Ever Given – which is almost as long as the Empire State Building is high – ran aground on Tuesday amid strong winds and a dust storm sweeping off the Egyptian desert as it sailed from China to the Mediterranean.
As experts warned of ‘major real world consequences’ as a result of the crisis, rescuers admitted they may have to bring in 200ft cranes to unload some of the ship’s 20,000 containers to help refloat it.
The complex operation could cause weeks of disruption – forcing cargo ships at the canal to take a two-week detour around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.
The blockage has already disrupted global supply chains for everything from grains to baby clothes. Last night the White House said it is seeing the impact of the incident on energy markets and would respond to the situation if required.
And Downing Street has previously warned of the prospect of delays to goods entering the UK.
More than 20 per cent of Britain’s imports – worth more than £147billion – came from Asia in 2019, much of it on container ships using the Suez Canal to enter the Mediterranean.
Analysts say an estimated £290million worth of trade is being held up every hour the ship remains wedged across the canal
There are fears goods such as washing machines, car parts and toys which are commonly imported from China and other Asian trading partners could be in short supply as cargo ships destined for Europe remain stuck in the bottleneck
It is hoped the specialist suction dredger which arrived at the site yesterday could see the ship refloated within days
There are fears goods such as washing machines, car parts and toys which are commonly imported from China and other Asian trading partners could be in short supply as cargo ships destined for Europe remain stuck in the jam.
It is hoped the specialist suction dredger which arrived at the site yesterday could see the ship refloated within days.
The machine is capable of shifting 70,000 cubic feet of sand and mud every hour. Experts believe 706,000 cubic feet of sand needs to be removed for the ship to refloat.
Joe Reynolds, of the Maersk Ohio – a US-flagged container ship anchored in the Red Sea on the southern side of the bottleneck, said the gridlock was like ‘a traffic jam on the M5’.
‘Standing outside, as you look, everywhere around you is ships,’ he told Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘It’s going to affect shipping schedules around the world.’
The backlog of vessels is putting additional pressure on European ports and the international supply of containers, which is already strained by the pandemic. ‘Even if the situation is resolved within the next 48 hours, port congestion and further delays to an already constrained supply chain is inevitable,’ ratings agency Moody’s said.
The Ever Given’s technical mangers, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said two more tugs will join the rescue effort tomorrow.
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