Here’s how experts are planning to move giant cargo ship out of the Suez Canal

By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard about the giant trapped ship in the tiny yet crucial Suez Canal – blocking one of the world’s business trade routes.

More than a dozen vessels have now been trapped for days, waiting for rescue boats to free the ship that is as long as the Empire State building is tall. It’s still not immediately clear what caused the ship to become wedged on the eastern wall – an event that experts say they had never heard of happening before in the canal's 150-year history.

The 400m Ever Given boxship was knocked off course by strong winds and blocked the global trade route which connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea on Tuesday morning. The immense blockage has sent oil prices climbing and sent the internet into a meme-frenzy.

But the question remains, how are they planning on getting the ship unstuck? Here are some of the ways experts are trying to deal with this logistical nightmare:


The current strategy of dredging and tugging remains the best way to get the canal going again, Sal Mercogliano, a former merchant mariner and associate professor of history at North Carolina’s Campbell University, said according to Wired. “When a ship goes ashore, it pushes the bottom out of the way. The bow gets on top of the dirt. You’d want to move that dirt out of the way and then pull her back off with tugboats.”

At the moment, ten tug boats have been helping with the operation. Digging around the sides also might help set the ship free.

Getting rid of some weight

Taking some, if not all, of the 20,000 containers currently aboard the giant and already extremely heavy ship is also a possibility. But as Mercogliano explained, it’s not that simple.

“It’s actually very difficult to take boxes off,” Mercogliano said in an interview. “There aren’t many ports you can go to where cranes can reach her and it’s almost impossible to find a floating crane to bring in to get enough containers off. So lightening her is very difficult.”

Changes routes

As things are moving quite slowly, some of the ships stuck behind the Ever Given will have to reroute, canal service provider Leth Agencies told the Associated Press.

One possible reroute is around the southern tip of Africa that would likely extend the journey by more than a week. Shipping experts said the firms may be forced to take this journey if the blockage isn't cleared within the next two days, which adds more logistical complications with essential shipments of food and oil. It will also likely be extremely costly to change routes.

Now we wait...

Like previously mentioned, it’s still unclear what caused the Ever Given to become fully wedged across the waterway. So, unfortunately, a main course of action may have to be… no action. Even though waiting for any amount of time will cause massive upset to global trading and shipping, high-tide is meant to come at the end of March – which could make moving the ship much easier.

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