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Officials said the ship's unsticking "was the result of successful push and tow maneuvers which led to the restoration of 80% of the vessel's direction"

By Jen Juneau
March 29, 2021 11:01 AM
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Suez Canal freed
Ever Given container ship
| Credit: KHALED ELFIQI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Horns could be heard bellowing in celebration on Monday, as the Ever Given was finally freed after being trapped in the Suez Canal for six days.

After the massive container vessel became lodged in the waterway last Tuesday, salvage teams — who reportedly worked over the entire six days it was stuck — were able to free it on Monday around 3 p.m. local time, according to The New York Times.

Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman and Managing Director Admiral Osama Rabi confirmed the news on Monday in a statement posted to the SCA's website. "The Panamanian container ship has been successfully refloated. This was the result of successful push and tow maneuvers which led to the restoration of 80% of the vessel's direction; with the stern 102 m. away from the bank of the Canal now instead of 4 m. prior to the refloating."

"Maneuvers are set to be resumed once more during high tide at 11:30 a.m.; as it shall reach 2 m., allowing for the full restoration of the vessel's direction so it is positioned in the middle of the navigable waterway," according to the SCA.

While the SCA didn't specify when normal traffic would resume along the canal, it said that Admiral Rabie "would like to reassure the international navigation society [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."

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Suez Canal blocked by a large container ship
Ever Given container ship
| Credit: Media Suez Canal Head Office/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

"His Excellency has also commended the efforts of the SCA workers who achieved this heroic feat saying that they have done their patriotic duty impeccably and that in all certainty work will be complete very soon," the release concluded.

"We pulled it off!" Peter Berdowski, CEO of salvage firm Boskalis, which was hired to extract the ship, in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given … thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again."

The skyscraper-sized vessel's story has been in the news over the past week after it became wedged within Egypt's Suez Canal, one of the world's busiest waterways, on Tuesday.

The Ever Given caused a traffic jam of more than 100 vessels on either side of the waterway after it became stuck around 7:40 a.m. local time, according to the The New York Times and The Washington Post.

As the cargo ship was sailing along the canal, a dust storm hit the area, causing limited visibility and heavy winds. The storm caused "an inability to direct the ship," George Safwat, a spokesperson for the SCA, told the Times.

Suez Canal blocked by a large container ship
Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal
| Credit: Planet Labs/AP

Several tugboats tried to free the ship and crews on land brought equipment to try and dislodge the vessel. By Wednesday, shipping agent GAC reported that the vessel was "partially refloated" and "now alongside the Canal bank."

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given, told the Associated Press there had been "no reports of injuries or pollution" and all 20 crew members were safe following the incident.

According to the AP,  the Suez Canal accounts for roughly 10% of world trade flows.

Experts noted that this was the first time they'd ever heard of a ship getting lodged against both canal walls in the waterway's 150-year history.