US Navy ready to help free cargo ship blocking Suez Canal

US Navy ready to help free cargo ship blocking Suez Canal

The US Navy is prepared to do whatever it can to help float this boat.

The Navy could be called in to free the grounded container ship that has blocked the Suez Canal and interrupted global trade since Tuesday, while transportation companies are warning that disruptions in global commerce could be felt for months ahead.

“A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Navy was prepared to send a team of dredging experts to the canal, but was awaiting approval from local authorities,” Reuters reported Saturday.

The cargo ship Ever Given, registered in Panama and under German management, weighs about 224,000 tons and is 1,300 feet long, about the height of the Empire State Building. It is considered one of the world’s largest cargo vessels.

Transportation companies have begun to divert cargo around the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa while global shipping giant Maersk reported on Saturday that it has begun to reject bookings, according to maritime intelligence outlet Lloyd’s List.

A work crew using excavating equipment tries to dig out the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway.
A work crew using excavating equipment tries to dig out the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway.
Suez Canal Authority via AP

There were some signs of progress Saturday in the effort to free the ship, which was forced aground by strong winds

“The ship’s stern began to move toward Suez and that was a positive sign until 11 p.m. at night, but the tide fell significantly and we stopped,” Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie said, according to Reuters.

Eygptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s advisor, Mohab Mamish, a former chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told the on Thursday that he expects traffic in the canal to resume by Sunday.

Other experts disagree.

The Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, can be seen on March 26 after it ran aground in the Suez Canal.
The Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships, can be seen on March 26 after it ran aground in the Suez Canal.
SCA via Reuters

Maritime executive Peter Berdowski of Royal Boskalis Westminster, which is helping to free the vessel and which helped a recent expansion of the canal, told Dutch television that the operation could take weeks, according to various reports.

The ship is “a heavy whale on a beach,” he said.