On 24 March 2021 the Suez Canal was closed following the grounding of a fully laden Evergreen 20,388TEU containership, which blocked one of the world’s most important waterways causing a massive backlog of shipping.

The 2018-built Ever Given went aground 151km north in the Suez Canal, turning sideways and causing a backup of nearly 100 other ships.  Several attempts to release the vessel using tugs initially failed, with efforts ongoing over the course of subsequent days but none being successful.

It is not clear what caused the grounding. Initial reports suggested that Ever Given had experienced engine trouble. However, a spokesman for BSM, the vessel’s technical managers, confirmed that an initial investigation has ruled out any suggestion of mechanical or technical failure.

BSM was unable to confirm widespread reports that the vessel had been hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from waterway and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground.

The vessel was fully laden en route from Yantian, China to Rotterdam. All the crew were safe and accounted for and that there have been no reports of injuries or pollution.

Ever Given is owned by Japan’s Shoei Kisan Kaisha and chartered to Taiwanese line Evergreen. It is classed by ABS and insured by the UK Mutual Steam Ship Assurance Association.

The ship was fifth in the northbound convoy. None of the vessels before it were affected, but the 15 behind it were detained at anchorages waiting for the canal to be cleared. The southbound convoy was also blocked.

About 42 vessels either in the northbound convoy or arriving to transit the canal northbound were waiting for the grounded vessel to be refloated, according to a later report from Leth Agencies. A further 64 vessels travelling southbound were also affected.

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