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Suez Canal Blocked by Grounded Container Ship


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2 hours ago, Shipping Forecast said:

First, thank you. (Re-editing comment was for a half written post and fat fingers near the enter key.)

The Suez Canal has a variable ship profile as the canal itself is more an inverted trapezium shape than a rectangular box and approximately only the centre third is a at the maximum depth. As an indication

50m (164') beam has a maximum draught of 21.12m (66')
60m (197' 1") beam has a maximum draught of 16.8m (54' 11")
65m (213' 3") beam has a maximum draught of 15m (49' 2")
and so on. The variation in draught go in one inch increments to calculate the maximum beam allowed.

These are determined by the maximum hull wetted area cross section which relates to the amount of water being displaced. This is important not only to prevent what happened here, but also in relation to water movement through the canal system, how this affects the other ships following in the convoy (similar to how wake vortices affect following aircraft) etc.

If the Ever Given was sailing close to one of the sloping sides due to it's shallower draught, but still within the tolerances for the canal, it would experience an uneven pressure gradient across the hull of the ship causing the ship to turn. We know the ship was heading into wind so the bow, stern or both, could have been in this situation, so the uneven pressure gradient is highly probable.

The whole situation looks like a edge case Swiss Cheese slices hole probability situation, as is so often the case with these incidents. It will be interesting to see what changes / rules come out of this.

Please use, don't dumb down, level up!

Thanks SF, do you know if she was passing or approaching an oncoming vessel at the time?

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2 hours ago, Shipping Forecast said:

If the Ever Given was sailing close to one of the sloping sides

There was an AIS animation visible on the Daily Mail website this morning showing more or less that. She started close to the western bank. Here is the link.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9409003/amp/Moment-Given-crashed-Suez-Canal-caught-video.html&ved=2ahUKEwiThvvzhtHvAhUnxYUKHdorBFYQFjADegQIAxAC&usg=AOvVaw0oeGG-vH1wnhQvi5o46lLF&ampcf=1

Ed

Edited by Cabin-boy
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Interestingly just read that ships over 64m / 210 ft beam have a 10 knot wind limit. The Ever Given is with 10% of that limit, yet was sailing through with winds exceeding 25 knots according to weather reports.

Also from the cross sectional navigation data, around 2.3 km south of the grounding point, the width of the canal at point of grounding narrows from 247 to 217m effective width (between navigation aides), the larger width needed on curves to allow for turning. By rough calculation using the AIS plots, this is also about where the canal straightens after the initial curve in the canal from the southern entrance by Suez.

The cross sections area also shows the 11m draught line also narrows from 235 to 205m at this point, and by interpolation of the 1 in 3 bank slope at this position from the canal bank to the bottom, this means the Ever Given's draught channel edges are now approx 182m wide and approx 44m from each bank. This is obviously less than half the length of the ship.

To note, the canal appears wider at the surface level due to shallow unnavigable sections on each side and the on the east side a shallow shelf just under the water surface a few metres wide. Also to be clear the bank slope varies along the canal length from 1 in 3 to in a steep 1 in 25 in places where the canal splits for passing.

However, given that the maximum draught is just under 4m from the bottom and we use that 4m to calculate an effective channel, the channel width becomes 160m, leaving little room to manoeuvre especially travelling 7/8 knots. Even without looking at the plots it is easy to see that the Ever Given would not have to stray far for pressure effects to start to affect the ship. 

Looking at the plots with channel data, you could postulate that there could well have been some bodywork amendments on port side accompanied by a healthy dose of colourful language on the bridge, before performing her impression of arriving at the Turkish beaches.

An interesting question - how many close call incidents like this have there been in the past that have gone unreported or unrealised?

It would seem that the Canal Authority knew about all the factors that affected the Ever Given, so did they not put it all together to improve the situation, or was it brushed under the carpet in the name of getting as much revenue many ships as possible through and took a gamble "it will be ok" / crossed their fingers / calculated the probability of the cheese holes lining up was very low so not worth the extra regulations?

Or was it just pressure from shipping companies on an obliging Canal Authority to get their ships through as quick as they can?

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Some of the ships held up have livestock on them which is a worry, bad enough live animals having to be transported anyway, let alone being stranded at sea while this palaver goes on.  Poor things.  This should open up discussions about live animal transportation, I’d rather it be banned altogether, always sad to see lorries at Cherbourg with bleating snd mooing cargo, livestock that should be either out in fields or as already processed carcasses

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I do find the caricatures amusing, and I can see the comedy value in all this, but it is hard to overstate how catastrophic this situation is for the world economy.  Significant delays in deliveries are obviously inevitable, as is the increase in prices that is bound to follow.  I understand significant numbers of ships are now taking the long route round Cape Horn in preference to the uncertainty of waiting out an unknown delay.

With no tide to be able to rely on to provide a raised water level, and no easy way to unload the containers from this ship, it is not going be an easy job to clear this blockage.

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

I do find the caricatures amusing, and I can see the comedy value in all this, but it is hard to overstate how catastrophic this situation is for the world economy.  Significant delays in deliveries are obviously inevitable, as is the increase in prices that is bound to follow.  I understand significant numbers of ships are now taking the long route round Cape Horn in preference to the uncertainty of waiting out an unknown delay.

With no tide to be able to rely on to provide a raised water level, and no easy way to unload the containers from this ship, it is not going be an easy job to clear this blockage.

I was surprised to read on today's BBC NEWS feed that it wasn't until yesterday that they removed 9.000 tonnes of ballast water from her. I'm in no way an expert, but that wouldn't that be an easy and first thing to do?

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45 minutes ago, colinschandler said:

I was surprised to read on today's BBC NEWS feed that it wasn't until yesterday that they removed 9.000 tonnes of ballast water from her. I'm in no way an expert, but that wouldn't that be an easy and first thing to do?

There are strict rules governing when and where ballast water can be discharged due to possible contamination not to mention what it could do to the vessels stability.

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It seems that they've successfully managed to dislodge the ship from both sides of the canal and are moving her north to the lake for an inspection.

Waterway to go! (Sorry, I've been saving that one up for 6 days!)

Ed

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Apparently the recent incident in the Suez canal has led to renewed calls for a second link to be built from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Med. It would most likely follow the Israeli-Egyptian border but be controlled by the former country. 

Here is an article about the idea.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/01/suez-2-ever-given-grounding-prompts-plan-for-canal-along-egypt-israel-border&ved=2ahUKEwj_kNzZtOfvAhX6BGMBHdyMCnYQFjAEegQIDRAC&usg=AOvVaw1pduCUVtg_MwZuuAHIYWjN&ampcf=1

It certainly sounds more feasible than the plan to use nuclear bombs in the 1960s to achieve a similar aim. 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.businessinsider.com/us-planned-suez-canal-alternative-israel-blast-with-nuclear-bombs-1960s-2021-3%3Famp&ved=2ahUKEwj_kNzZtOfvAhX6BGMBHdyMCnYQFjACegQIExAC&usg=AOvVaw0TZKH31Y_KmTxTAFp_gMcH&ampcf=1

Ed

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One interesting development is that the ship owners have declared "General Average", which means that everyone with containers on board will contribute to insurance claims. A very old and traditional insurance practice. If you did not properly insure your cargo, you are in a toxic swamp financially....

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4 minutes ago, colin said:

One interesting development is that the ship owners have declared "General Average", which means that everyone with containers on board will contribute to insurance claims. A very old and traditional insurance practice. If you did not properly insure your cargo, you are in a toxic swamp financially....

Yes, it is going to get very messy with some owners just abandoning their cargo & a number of law suits in a number of directions. This together with the Suez Canal company saying that the ship is not moving until the compensation is agreed may well mean that the ship is stuck for a long time.

 

 

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New canals are in the news with Erdogan's Istanbul Canal project. He is slinging anyone who asks difficult questions about it in chokey ....

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Suez Canal 2 through Israel has been on the back burner for ages, even after the US's grand 'nuke the Negev' plans. 

Erdogan's Istanbul Canal project is part of China's Maritime Silk Road initiative to gain easier access to the Danube for their ships. The Maritime Silk Road initiative also has another two, shall we say ambitious, canal plans to improve access even further to central Europe. The first runs from Thessaloniki in the Aegean Sea to the Danube at Belgrade using two existing rivers as the basis of the canal. This is only 600km / 372 miles long with an estimated £15 billion price tag.

The second slightly more ambitious plan is for a canal to start from a point near Venice, that then runs through Northern Italy and the Alps to the Danube at Passau in Germany, giving a canal of similar length to the first proposal. The plan involves a short and simple 80km / 50 mile section of ship tunnel under some of Europes highest peaks, but you do get much better access for freight to central Europe.

As they say nothing is new, and China picks up on the ideas from US last century and rulers in Europe before that, and either canal would save a good 500 miles from the Bosporus / Black Sea route, plus the strategic importance of the Bosporus and Erdogan to the Chinese, diminishes.

However in the meantime, realising that either canal may have a long lead time and planning in Europe is a little bit more involved than at home, China have already invested in Southern European ports - Piraeus, Trieste, Genoa, Marseille, Valencia - as part of the plan to reduce shipping times to continental Europe by offloading in the South than having the ships travel all the way around to Northern Europe.

These two canal plans make cutting a 250km / 155 mile passage through the Negev seem straightforward, nukes or no nukes.

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I believe that has come to a dead end as the plan was to use Lake Nicaragua, which also provides the majority of Nicaragua‘s fresh water, would be ruined by the plan as it sliced a huge deep shipping trench through the lake. There are a few Nicaraguans who believe it can still go ahead, but China has shifted focus to Panama and the Panama Canal in their continuing play for power.

In a wider view it will be interesting to see what happens to global shipping with the increasing return of highly automated manufacturing to countries that moved manufacturing in the cheap labour Asian countries. Which tangentially brings us back to Tangier Poole ferry as Morocco could be a major destination for this manufacturing relocation, with other factors that will become more dominant like cheap solar power. China has bought (and is still buying) up stakes in Tangier and Casablanca ports.

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