The Suez Canal authority on Monday evening (Indian time) said that the 400-metre long cargo vessel Ever Given was afloat, AFP reported. Traffic was also resuming in the Suez Canal after being stuck for almost a week due to the vessel, the authorities said.
Transit service provider at the Suez Canal, Leth Agencies, tweeted that the Ever Given, which has an all-Indian crew, was on its way to the Great Bitter Lake.
According to ship-tracking service VesselFinder, Ever Given was sailing at a speed of 7.2 knots as of 7.55 pm (IST) on Friday and the ship’s status was set as “under way”. Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com confirmed that the ship was moving away from the shoreline toward the center of the artery.
Aided by the peak of high tide, a flotilla of tugboats managed to wrench the bow of the skyscraper-sized Ever Given from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged since last Tuesday, according to AP.
Earlier on Monday, engineers were able to “partially refloat” the ship. The Suez Canal authority had said that the vessel had been straightened in the canal and further tugging operations would resume once the tide rises later in the day.
At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers and oil tankers, Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie said, according to Reuters, adding that it can accelerate convoys through the canal once the Ever Given is freed.
“We will not waste one second,” Rabie told Egyptian state television. He also said that it could take two-and-a half to three days to clear the backlog.
The ship became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds early on March 18, halting shipping traffic. Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the company that manages the ship Ever Given, had said that two pilots from Egypt’s canal authority were aboard the vessel to guide it when the grounding incident happened.
Since then, authorities lodged a tedious excavation operation, with diggers working to remove parts of the canal’s bank and expand dredging close to the ship’s bow to a depth of 18 metres. It was a delicate mission as the crews were trying to move the ship without unbalancing it or breaking it apart.