Ships started moving again through the Suez Canal on Monday after the giant container ship that lay stranded across the critical waterway for a week was finally tugged free.
Hundreds of vessels carrying everything from oil to livestock were forced to wait in line after the Ever Given got stuck in the canal. The accident was a stark reminder of the fragility of global trade infrastructure and threatened to further strain supply lines already stretched by the pandemic.
Horns sounded in celebration as the container ship — which is longer than the Eiffel Tower and weighs 220,000 tons — limped up the canal after a painstaking rescue operation that saw teams of tugs and dredgers working day and night.
Salvage teams used the tides and a full moon to pull the ship from deep inside the sandy bank it had smashed into last week amid high winds and poor visibility. As part of their efforts, they shoveled 30,000 cubic meters (1 million cubic feet) of sand and even removed part of the canal wall.
“We were enormously helped by the strong tide, the forces of nature that push hard, even harder than the two tugboats can pull,” he told Dutch radio.
“The men were euphoric of course. But there was a tense moment when this giant was floating freely. You need to bring it under control quickly with the tugboats before it gets stuck on the other side, we would have gone from bad to worse. Those were a tense 10 minutes.”