The massive cargo ship Ever Given has been freed from the Suez Canal in Egypt, authorities and transit agents said Monday, after a nearly weeklong blockage had cut off access to one of the most vital passageways for international trade.
Nearby ships blared their horns in apparent celebration as the development cleared the way for traffic to resume in the canal, which handles more than a tenth of daily global trade and is the quickest route for ships between Europe and Asia.
A fleet of tugboats and dredgers had rushed around the clock in recent days to dislodge the 1,300-foot ship that became stuck sideways in the Suez Canal last Tuesday after high winds in a sandstorm.
High tide conditions in the artificial waterway early Monday helped to bolster the rescue operations that refloated and freed the Ever Given, operated by the Taiwan-based company Evergreen.
Egyptian authorities said the Ever Given was headed north for technical inspections at Great Bitter Lake, a wider stretch of water located in the middle of the 120-mile Suez Canal.
The six-day closure had led to a maritime traffic jam in the Suez Canal, preventing hundreds of vessels filled with shipments of everything from oil to instant coffee from passing on either side of the Ever Given. Some ships were forced to reroute and take the long way around the southern tip of Africa, an adjustment that would add substantially to travel time and fuel costs. The maritime intelligence company Lloyd’s List estimated the closure had disrupted $9.6 billion worth of goods each day, translating to roughly $400 million per hour. Nearly 400 ships were in line for passage through the Suez Canal on Monday, Lloyd’s List said, including 180 bulk carriers and 24 crude oil tankers.