Box Ship Stuck in the Suez Canal

Mike’s Blog Roundup with Infidel 753 today featuring a Sunday post from “Butterflies and Wheels,” Ophelia Benson used commenter Freelander’s words about the Container ship stuck in the Suez Canal.. Whew, that was a long chain of tributes.

If you do not know, the Suez is a short-cut saving days and tons of fuel used when going around the Horn of Africa. It is estimated to be an ~$360,000 savings.

Container Ship “Ever Given,” Evergreen Line, The New York Times, Satellite image by CNES, via Airbus By Scott Reinhard

Evergreen Line Update, March 28th:

Having removed more than 20,000 tons of sand and mud, the dredging operation underway has succeeded in loosening the EVER GIVEN’s bow within the bank of the Suez Canal and the ship’s stern has been cleared from the sand bank. The rudder and propeller of the vessel are fully functional and expected to provide additional support to tugboats assigned to move the container ship from the accident site so that normal transit may again resume within the canal.

The rescue team is continuing the dredging efforts and will resume attempts to refloat the vessel at 14:00 local time in Egypt (20:00 Taipei time).

Former Box Ship Deck Officer Freelander’s Commentary on the Evergreen Line.

“I (Freelander) served as a Deck Officer on containerships (usually known as ‘boxboats’) for several years.

Evergreen, as a shipping line, was, and still is, regarded as a menace on the high seas. I saw an Evergreen ship run aground just outside Port Suez about twenty years ago, amongst other mishaps. The Evergreen ships were blatant in their recklessness: cutting across shipping lanes, ignoring the ‘Rules of the Road’ and even cutting through prohibited areas to save time.

Sometimes, we wondered if there was anyone on watch on the bridge. Several times, we altered course to avoid collisions, even when we had right of way or arrived at the pilot station on our allotted time. They would literally barge their way in.

The Suez Canal is very narrow in parts of it. Sometimes it didn’t help that the pilots would speed up or slow down depending how much they were bribed (US Dollars, whiskey or Marlboros) by the Master of the vessel. They would openly demand this just for turning up on the bridge. Refusal to give them anything would delay passage or bring in other serious problems.

I joke not, the pilots frequently left the bridge for twenty minutes and prayed, often during maneuvers into the lakes, anchorages or passing points. The box-boats are very high sided even when not fully loaded (‘windage’) which can make them difficult to keep on a course at low speed (steerage was lost at about 5-6 knots).

However, in this case I think the blame lies solely with the canal pilot. If moving too slowly, in strong winds, (which I have experienced there) the ship would have started swinging off course. Speeding up would have brought it back on track. Having been through it over twenty times, its nickname of Sewage Canal is rightly earned. As for the corruption of the other authorities…we all nicknamed Misr (Egypt) as Misery.

As for alternative power supply, Pliny is right. Nukes need many specialists and armed guards (cargo ships go to virtually every nation with a seaport) including PROC, Iran and the other unfriendly. Commercial ships are normally built cheap for a 25 year life and then are scrapped. There were funnel emission scrubbers on my company’s ships. These big ships can run for about a month without refueling, at 24knots or more. Cargo ships are usually in a rush, operating at full tilt between ports. We could get through 3000+ tonnes of fuel a month. We normally had a crew of about 20. So in terms of efficiency, very, very cost-effective.”