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Thu Mar 25, 2021, 10:19 PM

I've sailed the Suez canal on a cargo ship - it's no wonder the Ever Given got stuck

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/mar/25/suez-canal-cargo-ship-ever-given-stuck

I've sailed the Suez canal on a cargo ship – it's no wonder the Ever Given got stuck
Rose George
Researching the global shipping industry, I saw how modern mega-vessels offer the efficiency consumers demand, at a price
Thu 25 Mar 2021 12.30 EDT

...

Transiting the canal saves ships more than a week and many fuel costs compared with the longer route via the Cape of Good Hope. The canal is a huge money-spinner for the Egyptian government, earning it several billion dollars a year. When I went through on Maersk Kendal in 2010, as research for a book I wrote about the shipping industry, the transit cost $300,000. That fee included 14 hours of sedate trundling down what is actually rather a dull canal, once you’ve had an hour or so of excitement at seeing sand and palm trees, and realise you’ve got 13 more hours of them to go. It also included an obligatory “Suez crew”, who joined for the transit and had their own cabin, and a pilot who took control of the ship. This is standard procedure in modern shipping: ships often take on pilots in harbour areas or tricky passages because they have better local knowledge. Technically the pilot took command of the bridge, though the pilot we had was too busy eating his way through the entire menu, and dozing, to be particularly commanding. The second officer had to keep waking him up for instructions.

Although the official reason given so far for the Ever Given’s plight is that it was blown sideways by wind, I do wonder. In the vast majority of maritime accidents, human error is at fault. And no wonder: seafarers, working in ever smaller crews on ever larger ships, are knackered. Most on my journey were old enough to remember when they could stop for lunch in port. Now, ships are rarely in port for more than several hours, and those are busy. As we entered the canal, transiting south with our mostly empty boxes to collect made-in-China consumables and essentials such as medicine, the second officer was operating on three nights of three hours’ sleep, and would have no sleep during the transit. There is, as the Ever Given demonstrates, much to look out for during the passage.

I think of those tired workers often, when I read about crew who have been stuck on their ships for the entire pandemic, forbidden from setting foot ashore, unable to go home. Even 10 years ago, the Filipino crew I sailed with called their job “dollar for homesickness”. So among the jokes and references to beached whales, I think of the crews on the 150 ships stuck behind and ahead of the Ever Given.

Over the years, ships have been getting bigger and bigger, the better to bring us 90% percent of world trade – even if most people probably think that their breakfast cereal and electronics and clothes and fish arrive by air. In fact, modern shipping is so efficient, it’s cheaper to send Scottish fish to be filleted in China and back again than it would be to do the filleting at home. But that efficiency comes at a price: of ships reliant on this one waterway to get to the bounties of Asia, and of crews who spend months away from home, missing the births and birthdays of their children, to bring us what we need, and what we think we need.



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Arrow 29 replies Author Time Post
Reply I've sailed the Suez canal on a cargo ship - it's no wonder the Ever Given got stuck (Original post)
dalton99a Mar 25 OP
roamer65 Mar 25 #1
electric_blue68 Mar 25 #2
burrowowl Mar 26 #3
littlemissmartypants Mar 26 #4
Hekate Mar 26 #5
muriel_volestrangler Mar 26 #12
Hekate Mar 26 #29
Strelnikov_ Mar 26 #15
USALiberal Mar 26 #19
muriel_volestrangler Mar 26 #25
USALiberal Mar 26 #27
moondust Mar 26 #6
muriel_volestrangler Mar 26 #11
moondust Mar 26 #20
SoCal Roomba Mar 26 #7
GReedDiamond Mar 26 #8
NJCher Mar 26 #9
GReedDiamond Mar 26 #10
NJCher Mar 26 #13
Chellee Mar 26 #23
Mysterian Mar 26 #14
eppur_se_muova Mar 26 #16
lindysalsagal Mar 26 #17
Nac Mac Feegle Mar 26 #18
USALiberal Mar 26 #21
dalton99a Mar 26 #22
USALiberal Mar 26 #24
Brother Buzz Mar 26 #26
USALiberal Mar 26 #28

Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 11:24 PM

1. Interesting article.

Apparently more ships even before this blockage were starting to make the journey around the cape.

https://theloadstar.com/lines-using-cheaper-cape-of-good-hope-route-will-cost-suez-canal-10m/

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 11:28 PM

2. Interesting experience!

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 12:38 AM

3. Good article

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 12:56 AM

4. I am totally obsessed with this story.

Thanks so much for sharing this, dalton99a.

❤ pants

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 12:59 AM

5. Very interesting. Is the cargo of stuck ship being offloaded, to make it more maneuverable?

What a world.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #5)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 05:14 AM

12. They're talking of doing that, but you need a large crane

that you can get close enough to the ship to pick up a full-size container - when it's not on a nice hard quayside, but on bare earth and sand.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #12)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 01:55 PM

29. True. What a nightmare.

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Response to Hekate (Reply #5)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 08:21 AM

15. They will use a dredge


Offloading would be even more time consuming. The 'pick' required would need a massive crane. Like large dredges, those take a while to mobilize.

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Response to Strelnikov_ (Reply #15)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 11:23 AM

19. Link? Nt

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Response to USALiberal (Reply #19)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 12:10 PM

25. Here:

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said in a statement on Friday afternoon: “The focus is now on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow.

“A specialised suction dredger, which can shift 2,000 cubic metres of material every hour, arrived on site on 25 March.

“Arrangements are also being made for high-capacity pumps to reduce the water levels in the forward void space of the vessel and the bow thruster room.

“Another attempt to re-float the vessel earlier today, 26 March, was not successful.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/suez-canal-blocked-map-news-live-b1822750.html

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #25)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 12:54 PM

27. Thank you! Nt

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 01:44 AM

6. Are there no tugboats

strong enough to pull both ends out into the channel far enough to free it?

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Response to moondust (Reply #6)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 05:11 AM

11. The momentum of the ship has dug it a long way into the sand and earth

That's a problem with such a large ship.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #11)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 11:32 AM

20. I heard they tried using 8 tugboats.

But it wasn't enough.

An old shipping pro I saw interviewed last night said that all the ship probably needed to pass safely was a tugboat attached to its stern to help guide it in rough weather.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 01:48 AM

7. I went through the Suez on an Aircraft Carrier.

It’s a tight fit to say the least. I can’t figure out what the hell that ship was trying to accomplish, but it’s gonna be hard to get out of there now.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 02:03 AM

8. T***p solution: Use a "small" nukular weppon to vaporize it...

...then file for bankruptcy.

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 02:38 AM

9. Thanks

Now I’ve laughed so hard the cat jumped off the bed and I’ve been told Cher shut up.

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Response to NJCher (Reply #9)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 03:23 AM

10. Told by the cat, or somebody else? - nt

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #10)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 08:12 AM

13. By the snuggle bunny

Who happens to be a cranky person when his sleep is interrupted. 💤

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Response to GReedDiamond (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 11:47 AM

23. And a little child shall lead them...

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 08:17 AM

14. Might have to offload the cargo

which will be very time consuming.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 10:12 AM

16. "... what we need, or think we need" for a few cents less than it would take to make it locally ...

... or fresh-grown in any season of the year.

We need to unspoil ourselves.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #16)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 10:52 AM

17. Agreed. Shipping things and food around the world is just killing us all slowly.

Governments should re-implement anything that's reasonable at home.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 11:19 AM

18. An all to common tale

Fewer and fewer people doing more and more work. Someone leaves? Just pile more on the rest.

Sooner or later something gives, a mistake is made and things grind to a halt. This time, it's in one of the busiest and most critical shipping passages in the world. There are a LOT more 'incidents' that happen. This time the consequences of the maniacal drive for lower costs happened in front of the whole world, with world wide consequences.

Sooner or later the bill comes due.

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 11:39 AM

21. seal off one end and raise the water level? nt

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Response to USALiberal (Reply #21)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 11:45 AM

22. The Suez Canal has no locks

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Response to dalton99a (Reply #22)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 12:06 PM

24. Good point. nt

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Response to dalton99a (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 12:28 PM

26. I don't know shit, but give me a pair of Caterpillar D8's and a pair of mother of all truck wreckers

and my boys would have that sucker loose in no time. Oh, and I'd need modified fire boat to dredge a boatload of sand under the ship.

Where's the Red Adair who can think outside the box when you need one?

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Response to Brother Buzz (Reply #26)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 12:55 PM

28. Funny! Nt

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