Suez Canal: Ever Given Ship Freed After Blocking Waterway for 6 Days

The massive container ship stuck in the Suez Canal has been freed. Authorities confirmed Monday that the Ever Given was fully dislodged Monday afternoon after having blocked the waterway, one of the world's most vital maritime arteries, since last Tuesday. The ship, which is about as long as the Empire State Building is tall, "responded to the pulling and towing maneuvers," the Suez Canal Authority said Monday, adding that the Ever Given had corrected its course by 80%.

According to the Associated Press, the freeing of the vessel was aided by the peak of high tide, as well as a large presence of tugboats, which were able to dislodge the ship from the canal’s sandy bank. When asked by CNN if the bow was free, Martijn Schuttevaer, the spokesperson for salvage company Boskalis, exclaimed "Yes!" The Ever Given is now being pulled toward the Great Bitter Lake, where it will “undergo technical inspection.”

Stretching more than 1,300 feet and weighing 220,000 tons, the Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, had been heading from China to the Netherlands when it ran aground last Tuesday due to heavy winds, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the technical manager of the ship, said, according to CNBC. With all traffic through the Suez Canal blocked, efforts were immediately made to free the vessel. Expert salvage crews were called in to help with the re-float operation, with nearly a dozen tugboats brought in alongside specialized dredging equipment. More than 20,000 tons of sand and mud were reportedly removed during the dredging operation, and the Ever Given was partially re-floated by Monday morning before being fully freed. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi confirmed the vessel was freed in a tweet, writing, "Today, the Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis of the delinquent ship in the Suez Canal despite the tremendous technical complexity that surrounded this process from every side."

In the days since the Ever Given ran aground, at least 367 vessels piled up on either end of the canal, with the blockage holding up $9 billion in global trade each day. Traffic on the 120-mile waterway has reportedly resumed, though it could take more than 10 days to clear the backlog of ships, according to an estimate from data firm Refinitiv.