Ever Given container ship blocking Suez Canal for a week 'partially refloated'

29 March 2021, 05:44 | Updated: 29 March 2021, 10:52

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The colossal container ship Ever Given that has been blocking the Suez Canal for a week has been "partially refloated" with tug boat captains blaring their horns to celebrate the ship finally being moved.

It is not yet clear when the vessel would be entirely set free but it was "successfully refloated" at around 4:30am local time (3:30am BST), a canal services firm has said.

Leth Agencies explained that the Ever Given ship - part of the Evergreen fleet - was modestly freed following intensive efforts to push and pull the vessel using 10 tugboats.

Rescue teams also vacuumed up sand and used several dredgers at high tide to help refloat the boat.

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However, the firm said it was awaiting confirmation of the refloating from the Suez Canal Authority.

The news has raised hopes that the Egyptian waterway, which is vital for global trade, could be reopened.

Richard Meade of Lloyd's List told LBC presenter Nick Ferrari that he had been informed the vessel will be moved to the side to allow other ships to pass.

He said: "The transiting will take several days to clear but the bigger issue is the fact that you're actually looking at several months'-worth of disruption simply because most of the major shipping companies decided over the weekend that it was taking too long and had already started rerouting vessels around the southern tip of Africa."

Read more: Trapped container ship 'could have impact on UK deliveries'

Read more: Suez Canal blocked as 200,000-ton container ship runs aground

The Ever Given container ship has been blocking the Suez Canal for a week
The Ever Given container ship has been blocking the Suez Canal for a week. Picture: PA

A spokesperson for Inchcape Shipping Services, a leading provider of marine services and supply logistics, wrote on Twitter: "The MV Ever Given was successfully re-floated at 04:30 lt 29/03/2021.

"She is being secured at the moment. More information about next steps will follow once they are known."

Videos posted on social media on Monday morning appeared to show the stern of the ship swung towards the canal bank, leaving some space open in the channel.

Osama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, said workers continued "pulling manoeuvres" to refloat the vessel early on Monday.

Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed the ship in the same position, surrounded by a squadron of tugboats with its bow stuck in the canal's eastern bank.

The 400m-long (1,300ft), 200,000-tonne Ever Green boat ran aground on Tuesday morning during high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility.

Specialist salvage companies were deployed in the Suez Canal to help refloat the vessel.