On Tuesday, March 23rd, the massive container ship Ever Given was traveling through the Suez Canal, traveling northbound towards the Mediterranean Sea.
The Ever Given is more than 1,300 feet long and nearly 200 feet wide, and she weighs over 200,000 tons when loaded down with cargo, as she was then. She was traveling the 120-mile-long, 900-feet-wide canal when high winds kicked up, carrying with them desert sand. Between the sudden wind and the poor visibility, the Ever Given’s course was nudged off of the straight and true, and her bow drove deep into the soft sand of the eastern bank. A moment of too much propulsion trying to get her off, and her stern swung hard into the other bank. In moments, the massive cargo ship had become a wall across the canal. All traffic moving in either direction was blocked, and the Suez Stand-Still began.
Despite the best efforts of tide, tug boats, her crew, and a very dedicated but laughably too small excavator, the Ever Given was still wedged in place the night of Thursday, March 25th. And the consequences of the mishap are piling up.
Between 50 and 75 large ships pass through the Suez Canal every day, carrying over one-tenth of the world’s physical commerce with them. The Ever Given, for example, was carrying hundreds of containers from the Chinese market to Rotterdam. Already, over 150 ships are stacked up at either end of the canal, waiting for the obstruction to be cleared. Twenty four of those ships are carrying fuel products, and gas prices are already rising in relation. If the blockage continues and ships have to go the long way – all the way around Africa – it could add as much as a month to their route. The delays are already estimated to be costing billions of dollars daily.
The memes, however, have been incredible.