Date: Thursday, April 1st, 2021
Source: Supply Chain Dive
When the Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal, it captured international attention as crews worked to dislodge the vessel and resume global trade flows.
Days after the vessel was freed, hundreds of container ships were still waiting to get through the canal as a result of the backlog created by the blockage. Here is what unfolded over the six days in which the container ship was stuck, and its lingering effects on the supply chain.
The ship is stuck
The Ever Given becomes stuck in the Suez Canal.
"The vessel grounded due to strong winds as the vessel, with two canal pilots onboard, was transiting northbound through the canal en route to Rotterdam, Netherlands," BSM, the operator of the Ever Given, says in a statement the next day.
The world watches
With the ship stuck, people around the world take notice. Internet meme-makers turn out jokes, while supply chain professionals begin turning out their analyses of what the impacts of such a situation could be.
"Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways," Julianne Cona, an engineer on the Maersk Denver, writes in an Instagram post (now private), showing her ship stuck behind the Ever Given, according to The Washington Post. "Looks like we might be here for a little bit."
Tugs tug with no luck
Seven tugs work over the course of the first day to free the Ever Given, but they are not able to do so on their own, according to Leth Agencies.
Days of dredging begin
Two dredgers and another, larger tugboat make their way to the Ever Given, according to Leth Agencies. Dredgers work to "clear sand and mud from around the vessel to free her," BSM said.
March 25 | Ships waiting: 156
A team from Smit Salvage arrives and begins helping to dislodge the ship, according to BSM.
Ships moved out of the canal
Ships that were passing through the canal when the Ever Given became stuck are escorted back to anchorage areas on either side of the canal, according to Leth Agencies.
Analysts ask about impact
H.B. Fuller CEO James Owens is asked on the company's earnings call if it will be impacted by the Suez blockage. Owens says H.B. Fuller is tracking shipments to assess what might be on the ships, but he says it has a team specifically designated to respond to this kind of disruption.
No movement allowed
The Suez Canal Authority announces "navigation through the Suez Canal is temporarily suspended" until the Ever Given is refloated.
March 26 | Ships waiting: 237
Carriers alert shippers
Ocean carriers begin to post alerts on their websites, advising shippers that their services are affected by the closure of the Suez.
"So far, 2 CMA CGM Group vessels are queuing in Suez Canal, waiting to enter the passage. 4 more Group vessels are expected today," CMA CGM says.
Propellers are freed
The ship's rudder and propellers are freed successfully, according to Leth Agencies.
Shippers confirm impact
Ikea confirms with Supply Chain Dive that it has containers held up by the Suez Canal blockage.
Some choose Cape of Good Hope
Multiple carriers decide to reroute vessels around the southern tip of Africa to avoid the Suez Canal.
March 27 | Ships waiting: 276
A growing tug operation
The number of tugs working to pull Ever Given free grows to 14, according to Leth Agencies.
Hope of tidal help fizzles
Experts had suggested that improved tidal conditions could help to raise the boat off of the ground. "Unfortunately, the tidal [conditions] didn't help re-floating #EverGiven tonight," Leth Agencies said.
March 28 | Ships waiting: 327
More help is on the way
BSM says that a specialty tug from the Netherlands is on the way to help, a dredger from Cyprus is sailing to assist and soil experts are there to advise on the process.
Tons of sand moved
At this point, a single dredger involved in the operation has already moved 27 thousand cubic meters of sand, according to Leth Agencies.
March 29 | Ships waiting: 367
Ever Given is successfully dislodged from the banks of the Suez Canal and sent to Great Bitter Lake to undergo an inspection.
Ships transit the canal
Thirty-seven ships are able to transit the canal the first night it reopens, according to Leth Agencies. But carriers say they expected it to take up to a week to clear the canal.
March 30 | Ships waiting: 352
Expectations for ripple effects
The hold-up at the canal means that port and carrier schedules are now off. Ports in Europe prepare for congestion, anticipating that ships will arrive at the same time. Experts expect an uptick in blank sailings, as carrier's ships begin to miss port calls.
Some companies confident they'll see little impact
"It's minimal for us, in terms of what's caught up in that," Academy Sports and Outdoors Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer Steve Lawrence said on the company's earnings call. "It's a rounding error. It doesn't impact us."
March 31 | Ships waiting: 292
Maersk temporarily suspends Spot
Maersk says the delays have resulted in a reduction in capacity, and it is unable to take Spot loadings for a temporary period of time.
"We are doing our utmost to mitigate the impact on lost capacity and because of this, we have decided to temporarily cease short term bookings placed via Spot, as well as short term contracts this week and in the immediate future on selected trades," the carrier said in a service alert.