An intense effort to free a cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal is struggling with high tides and strong winds, according to the Egyptian leader, who said he still hopes to free the vessel inside days.
The longer the Ever Given special scale remains in place, the more it will be possible to reduce its load by using cranes, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie said at a news conference Saturday. , a strategy that experts have said would likely extend the rescue effort by weeks.
The megaship, which is as long as the tall New York Empire State Building, has been abruptly swept across the canal since Tuesday, closing one of the world’s most important waterways in each side.
Rabie said more than 300 boats are now pumping water at each end of the waterway, which connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
Speaking to reporters in Suez, Rabie explained Egypt’s efforts with tugboats and excavators to free the megaship’s bow and movers to reopen the canal.
When asked when the vessel could launch again, he suggested that it was possible “today or tomorrow, depending on how responsive the ship is to the tides” .
Rabie noted that, at 10.30pm on Friday, the propellers had been able to spin, although not at full speed.
However, they were reinstated because of the changing tide, he said, saying rescuers would have to go to excavators again overnight to continue the dredging process.
“The type of soil we are dealing with is very difficult to manage, as are the tides, which will affect the vessel due to its size and loads,” he said.
Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the rescue company hired to take out the Ever Given, said the company hoped to pull the carrier free within days using a combination of heavy, dredged and high tide thatched boats.
He told the Dutch Nieuwsuur current affairs show on Friday night that the front of the ship was stuck in sandy clay, but that the rear was not “pushed completely into the clay and that is positive because you can see the rear end. used to drag it free. . “
Berdowski said two large thatched boats were en route to the canal and are expected to arrive over the weekend. He said the company aims to harness the power of the tubs, dredging and tidal, which he said is expected to be up to 50 cm (20 inches) higher on Saturday.
“The combination of the [tug] We will have boats there, more land scraped away and the high tide, we hope that will be enough to get the boat for free somewhere early next week, ”he said.
If that doesn’t work, the company will remove hundreds of vessels from the front of the ship to loosen it, and in doing so lift the vessel to make it easier to tow it for free, he said. Berdowski.
There was already a crane on its way that could lift the vessels off the ship, he said.
Compared to earlier claims, strong winds were to blame for the stretch, Rabie said Saturday that they were no longer the main critics.
“Strong winds and weather factors were not the main reasons why the ship sank, there may have been technical or human errors,” he said. “All of these factors will feature in the research.”
The ship’s base maintains $ 9.6bn worth of cargo per day between Asia and Europe, according to Lloyd’s List data.
Rabie estimated that Egypt is losing $ 12m- $ 14m in revenue from the waterway for each day it is closed.
The United States also said it was ready to provide support, including a team of U.S. Navy experts.
Rabie thanked the US for its support with China and the United Arab Emirates.
It was not clear how long the blockage would last. Even after reopening the canal connecting Asian factories to customers in Europe, the waiting vessels are likely to reach busy ports, forcing them to delay further before loading .
Apparently expecting a long delay, the owner of the stuck ship sent a sister ship, the Ever Greet, on a course around Africa instead, according to satellite data.
Others follow a suit. The natural gas carrier Pan Americas changed course in the Mid-Atlantic, and is now aiming south to orbit southern Africa, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com.