[Updated 2021-03-29 19:40:51 UTC] Ed. note: At the time of originally writing this story, the only information I could find on the ship's freeing was from directly watching it happen in real time. As originally reported here, that was on VesselFinder.com. There had been some reports last night of Ever Given having been freed, but those were later retracted. News reports were, therefore, suspect. The ship was still stuck. But then I was able to see it underway! I was also monitoring our news feeds and failed to find any reports concurrent with the apparent time of the ship's freeing. Again, the only certain information I had was watching it unfold online. In the interest of getting this breaking news to the community, accurately, and as quickly as possible, I could only refer the information I had at hand.
I'd read discussions elsewhere suggesting various approaches for freeing the ship, none of which held up to closer scrutiny. It's not just a matter of "pull harder!" The structural integrity of the ship was in question. A ship of that size undergoing an abrupt stop due to impact had the distinct possibility of breaking open and sinking. That would make the situation much, much worse. That it did no happen immediately was fortuitous. It was very much possible that a hasty attempt to free it could break it apart and sink it. That would make things much worse. Careful planning was required. Hence, the inclusion of a memorable example of Smit Salvage's successful raising of the Kursk. They knew what they were doing. Anything we could come up with was certainly already considered.
[Update 2] It's a few hours later and I'm finally seeing reports in the regular media that contains more detail. Take a look at Ship stuck in Suez Canal is freed: Everything you need to know. Sadly, even that lacks the details that I want to see. Just how did they get it free? How much and what kinds of equipment did they use? What process did they follow? What ideas did they consider and then reject, and why? If you come upon these kinds of details, please post them to the comments! --martyb
The original story appears below.
According to real-time updates, the container ship "Ever Given" has now been freed and is under way:
You can follow its progress at VesselFinder.com. (The web site seems to be struggling under the load.) At the moment of this writing, it is heading on a Course of 349.2° (nearly due north) at a speed of 2.3 knots.
It is headed to Great Bitter Lake. Once there and out of the path of other shipping, it will undergo technical inspections.
According to various reports, the Suez Canal carries anywhere from 10-15% of the world's shipping. The effort to dislodge the ship is led by Smit Salvage who is renowned in the ship salvage industry. They successfully took on the task of raising the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk. Powered by two nuclear reactors, it sank August 14, 2000 while a full complement of torpedoes and missiles.
How will the backlog of hundreds of ships be prioritized for passage? That backlog is clearly visible from space. The canal's capacity is on the order of 55 ships per day. Will they take each ship first-come first-served? What about perishable and time-sensitive cargo? Take advantage of supply and demand to set up a bidding war? With the whole world watching and second guessing every decision, what should they do?