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  • Writer's pictureStephen Fodor

It’s free! Ever Given refloated in Suez Canal

March 30, 2021

(American Shipper) The Ever Given has been successfully refloated in the Suez Canal.

Canal service provider Leth Agencies confirmed the news on its Twitter account at approximately 9:15 a.m. EDT on Monday.

Peter Berdowski, CEO of the salvage company Boskalis that was hired to free the Ever Given, shared the news in a statement with the headline: “We pulled it off!”

“Shortly following the grounding of the Ever Given we were requested through SMIT Salvage to provide assistance with the salvage operation. I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given on 29 March at 15:05 hrs local time, thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again,” Berdowski wrote.

“I’m extremely proud of the outstanding job done by the team on site as well as the many SMIT Salvage and Boskalis colleagues back home to complete this challenging operation under the watchful eye of the world. The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented and the result is a true display of our unique capabilities as a dredging and marine services provider.”

Evergreen Marine Corp. leases the Ever Given through a time charter. Evergreen has issued few statements during the ordeal but did confirm the refloating in a press release Monday.

“The chartered vessel will be repositioned to the Great Bitter Lake in the canal for an inspection of its seaworthiness,” Evergreen said. “The outcome of that inspection will determine whether the ship can resume its scheduled service. Once the inspection is finalized, decisions will be made regarding arrangements for cargo currently on board.

“We are most grateful to the Suez Canal Authority and all the concerned parties for their assistance and support through this difficult and unfortunate situation. We would also like to express our deepest appreciation to the crew who remain steadfast in their posts as well as the salvage experts and dredging team for their professionalism and relentless efforts over the past six days toward securing this outcome,” Evergreen said.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has provided updates and photographs throughout the blockage of the waterway. Earlier Monday it issued a statement that the Ever Given had been partially refloated from “the result of successful push-and-tow maneuvers, which led to the restoration of 80% of the vessel’s direction.”

The SCA said the stern, which had been stuck 13 feet from the bank of the Suez Canal, had been moved 334 feet from the edge, where it had been wedged since last Tuesday morning.

The refloating operation resumed later Monday during high tide, “allowing for the full restoration of the vessel’s direction so it is positioned in the middle of the navigable waterway,” the SCA said, adding that “navigation shall be resumed immediately upon the complete restoration of the vessel’s direction and directing it to the Bitter Lakes waiting area for technical inspection.”

According to media accounts, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi announced via Twitter, “Today, Egyptians have been successful in putting to an end the crisis of the stranded ship in the Suez Canal, despite the enormous complexity surrounding the process.”

Earlier, Berdowski said on Dutch radio after the partial refloating: “Don’t cheer too soon. … The good news is that the stern is free but we saw that as the simplest part of the job.”

Reuters reported at 8:36 a.m. EDT that the Ever Given “swung back across the channel amid high winds on Monday ahead of the next attempt to fully dislodge it, a Reuters witness and a canal source said.” But the Reuters source noted that “the ship’s bow was afloat in the water despite its change of position and that the vessel had not become regrounded.”

The Ever Given, an Evergreen Marine container ship with the capacity to carry 20,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), was en route through the canal to the Port of Rotterdam last Tuesday morning when it reportedly was hit by strong winds and ran aground.

More than 320 ships reportedly are at anchor waiting to transit the Suez Canal.

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