Ever Given blockage: Over 200 ships caught in traffic snarl

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on March 27, 2021

Whilst efforts to dislodge the grounded container vessel - Ever Given - from the Suez Canal continues, over 200 ships are caught up in the traffic snarl in both directions, says a customary advisory issued by AP Moller - Maersk, a leading shipping line of Denmark.

The canal passage continues to be blocked in both directions as the container ship operated by Evergreen ran aground and became lodged sideways across the waterway due to strong winds and sandstorms early on March 23.

For every day that passes, more vessels will reach the blockage, the advisory said.

Also read: Trade via cargo containers comes under impact of Suez Canal logjam

“While ETAs are jeopardised as salvage efforts continue, it is too early to indicate the delay, as we are doing our utmost to mitigate this. Where we can, we are already diverting vessels that have the capacity and enough fuel for a route change,” the shipping line said.

For every day the canal remains blocked, the tailwind of global impact on capacity and equipment continues to increase, it said.

Giving an update on the Suez Canal situation, the CMA CGM group of France said that re-floating attempts are being carried out by the owners of the vessel in coordination with Suez Canal Authorities. However, many vessels are currently waiting for passage through the Suez Canal.

Also read: Cargo ship stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal imperils shipping worldwide

“For your cargo in transit, we are working on our schedule recovery plans after transit passage to limit delay at destination. For cargo yet to be loaded, we are considering alternative maritime routes, rail services or airfreight solutions with CMA CGM AIR CARGO,” the shipping line said.

The Suez Canal is an important maritime link connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. This provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. Nearly 12 per cent of global trade passes through the Suez Canal.

The Panama-registered Ever Given was bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China and was passing northwards through the canal on its way to the Mediterranean.

Also read: Container ship runs aground within Suez Canal causing traffic jam

Sanjay Bhatia, Co-founder, Freightwalla, a digital freight forwarder said that Indian export trade is generally West bound. Whilst cargo deliveries will be delayed both ways, exporters operating on a payment against delivery model will be impacted as this cohort of exporters will have to combat working capital crunch at least in the short to medium term.

The Suez Canal itself operates at a fairly high degree of efficiency and it takes a certain amount of time for a vessel to cross it. In case of a backlog as large as this, even if they operate at a 100 per cent efficiency, the backlog will continue for an extended period, the domino effect of which is expected to sustain for the medium term.

Also read: ‘Perfect storm’ brewing with grounding of ship on Suez Canal

The vessels that are calling in India will not be affected as much at least in the short term. However, owing to the giant backlog, vessels carrying Indian export cargo that are east to west bound, heading from Asia to Europe will face delays. In case of importers, the majority of it comes from China and the Far-East, but a significant amount of high value cargo such as high-tech machinery comes from Germany, Italy, US and other western countries are also expected to be impacted with their deliveries getting delayed, he said.

Published on March 27, 2021

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