Skyscraper-sized cargo ship wedged across the Suez Canal is blocking global shipping

Support us and go ad-free

A skyscraper-sized cargo ship wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal continues to block global shipping. At least 150 other vessels are sitting idle waiting for the obstruction to be cleared, authorities said.

The Ever Given is a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe. It ran aground on Tuesday 23 March in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula.

Evergreen Marine Corp, a Taiwan-based company that operates the ship, said in a statement that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the canal from the Red Sea. None of its containers had sunk.


Efforts to free the ship using dredgers, digging and the aid of high tides are yet to push the container vessel aside.

The ship’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, offered a written apology on Thursday 25 March, saying:

We are determined to keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible. We would like to apologise to all parties affected by this incident, including the ships travelling and planning to travel through Suez Canal.

Authorities began work again to free the vessel on Thursday morning after halting for the night, an Egyptian canal authority official said.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free


The stranding is the latest setback for mariners amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. It’s seen hundreds of thousands of people stuck aboard vessels due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, demands on shipping have increased, adding to the pressure on tired sailors.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the company that manages the Ever Given, said the ship’s 25-member crew was safe and accounted for. The ship had two pilots from Egypt’s canal authority aboard to guide it when the grounding happened at around 7.45am on Tuesday, the company said.


The Suez closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. These shipments rely on the canal to avoid sailing around Africa.

Shipping journal Lloyd’s List estimated that each day the canal is closed disrupts £6.6bn of goods that should be passing through the waterway. A quarter of Suez Canal traffic comes from container ships like the Ever Given, the journal said.

Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo. It also remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners.

In 2015, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi completed a major expansion of the canal. The expansion was to allow the canal to accommodate the world’s largest vessels. However, the Ever Given ran aground south of that new portion of the canal. With a length of nearly 400 metres, or a quarter of a mile, and a width of 193 feet, it’s among the largest cargo ships in the world.


Canal service provider Leth Agencies said at least 150 ships were waiting for blockage to clear. These include vessels near Port Said in the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez in the Red Sea and those already stuck in the canal system on Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake.

Cargo ships already behind the Ever Given in the canal will reverse south to Port Suez to free the channel, Leth Agencies said. Authorities hope to do the same to the Ever Given when they can free it.

Suez Canal blocked by container ship
(PA Graphics)


Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area on 23 March, with winds gusting as high as 30mph.

An initial report suggested the ship suffered a power blackout before the incident. But this is something Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement denied on 25 March. The company said:

Initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding

It was the second major crash involving the Ever Given in recent years. In 2019, the ship ran into a small ferry moored on the Elbe River in the German port of Hamburg. Authorities blamed strong wind for the collision, which severely damaged the ferry.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us