Cargo Ship Freed from Suez Canal, Disruption to Trade Far from Over

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The lodged cargo ship Ever Given that has blocked the Suez Canal for 5 days has finally been freed, but the disruption to global trade is far from over. There is no word so far on when traffic will resume, but it could take days.

Massive Cargo Ship Blocking Suez Canal Has Been Freed

The massive vessel the Ever Given, a 224,000-ton cargo ship that is as nearly long as the Empire State Building is tall at 1,300 feet (400m), has finally been dislodged after running aground five days ago and completely blocking all traffic through the Suez Canal.

The lodged vessel brought traffic to a standstill at one of the world’s busiest sea routes, which accounts for 12% of all global trade,

On Monday, the BBC reported that the container ship had finally been unstuck and is floating freely again. After the vessel was dislodged, tugboats towed the massive container ship to a location outside of the channel to undergo further inspection.

Impact on Global Trade Will Not Immediately Be Relieved

By early Monday, it was not immediately clear when full traffic through the canal could resume. According to Lloyd’s List, the re-floating of the Ever Given would not bring immediate relief from the disruption and impact on global trade, which is expected to continue for some time.

As of Monday, there were over 370 ships still waiting to pass through the canal. The vessels include tankers, container ships, and bulk carriers. According to experts on the matter, clearing the backlog of seagoing traffic is expected to take several days.

After the blockage occurred, numerous ships left the congested waterway and opted to take the alternative and longer route around the southern tip of Africa. As a result, traffic is expected to be heavy in those other shipping lanes around South Africa, as numerous other vessels, which are also traveling from East Asia to Europe, have decided not to risk the backup occurring at the Suez Canal and have taken the longer route.

How Big of a Deal Was This?

Everyone understands that a majority of the world’s goods now come from Asia. Because of this, seagoing traffic through the Suez Canal has become more important than ever.

With 12 percent of global trade going through the Suez Canal, the blockage held up $9.6 billion of goods each day at a cost of roughly $400 million per hour, according to data from Lloyd’s List.

What makes the Suez Canal so vital to maritime traffic is that it provides the shortest link for moving goods from Asia to Europe by sea.

Moving goods using the longer route of southern Africa, around the Cape of Good Hope, increases the shipping time by roughly 9 extra days of shipping time, based upon an average ship speed of 16.43 knots.

Ships traveling through the Suez Canal from Asia to Europe make a journey of approximately 10,000 nautical miles, taking about 25.5 days. However, the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope totals roughly 13,500 nautical miles and takes approximately 34 days.