Suez ship freed
A traffic jam is beginning to clear after a giant container ship blocked Egypt's Suez Canal for almost a week.
The 400-metre long ship named ‘Ever Given’ got stuck in one of the world's busiest trade routes, after winds pushed it too close to shore, where hydrodynamics wreaked havoc.
The jam has been linked to Bernoulli’s principle, which says that as displaced water travels under the hull of the ship from front to rear, it is squeezed into a smaller area, causing the water to speed up and the pressure to drop.
This means that the hull of the ship is pulled downwards towards the canal floor at the stern.
It also may have fallen victim to the “bank effect”, wherein displaced water squeezing between the ship and the bank speeds up as it rushes by, moving significantly faster at the stern compared to the bow of the ship.
Faster water again means lower pressure, often pulling the stern of the ship towards the bank while the bow is pushed out and away. As the stern of the ship gets closer to the edge of the canal, the water is squeezed through a smaller gap, pulling more forcefully on that part of the ship. The bigger the ship, the stronger the effect.
GPS data shows the Ever Given began drifting towards the west bank of the canal (into the wind) before swiftly rotating clockwise. The bow of the giant ship ended up ploughing a full five meters into the east bank of the canal.
It stayed there for a number of days, but now, helped by the peak of high tide and a flotilla of tugboats, the bow of the Ever Given was pulled from the canal's sandy bank.
Dredgers vacuumed up sand and mud from the vessel's bow while 10 tugboats pushed and pulled the vessel for five days, managing to partially refloat it.
The fully laden vessel has been pulled towards the Great Bitter Lake; a wide stretch of water in the middle of the canal.
The ship will stay in the lake for technical inspection, canal authorities said.
“Admiral Osama Rabie, the Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), announces the resumption of maritime traffic in the Suez Canal after the Authority successfully rescues and floats the giant Panamanian container ship EVER GIVEN,” a statement from the SCA said.
But the problem is not over, with authorities now having to come up with measures to clear a giant traffic jam of hundreds of ships that backed up while the canal was blocked.
The traffic jam has held up $12 billion in global trade each day. Analysts estimate it will take up to 10 days to clear the backlog of ships.