7 Best European Canal Boat Trips


Slow travel is the only way to really appreciate a destination. Because we rush around too much in our daily life, when we finally are “Out of Office,” “Gone Fishing,” or simply away, we should relax. Not only is slowly exploring a region much more sustainable, but it is also good for the soul.

As the old wisdom goes, we need to allow our souls to catch up with our bodies sometimes. In today’s world, our body can travel so much faster than our soul, so that often we have already returned home before our soul has a chance to catch up with us — let alone enjoy the break. Slow and soulful are the buzzwords when it comes to canal or riverboat trips.

Europe is crisscrossed with magical waterways and perfectly set up to hire a boat and travel through a canal, enjoying the sights along the way, hopping off occasionally to explore, or otherwise, sit back with a book and allow the world to slowly move by. Whether you take the helm yourself or opt for a small cruising boat where others play captain, really doesn’t matter, because a canal boat trip is guaranteed to allow you to exhale and breathe deeply.

I have selected a few of my personal favorites in France, the UK, Germany, and Italy. Each one has a special appeal to me, and no two are the same, so I hope you will find one or two that inspire you for your next Europe trip.

Sunset over Tousouse, France
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey

1. Canal Du Midi, France

The Canal du Midi is not only a scenic canal but also a historic engineering marvel. Commissioned in 1666 by the progressive King Louis XIV, the Sun King of France, an overall 225 miles of waterways connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Strictly speaking, the Canal du Midi is only the part between the Mediterranean and Toulouse but is often used for the entire stretch.

It is probably the most popular canal to self-navigate, despite its 328 structures, comprising bridges, locks, aqueducts, and tunnels, and is superbly set up for visitors either hiring a narrow boat themselves or choosing one with a captain. The difficult thing is to decide whether you are going to sail the entire stretch, which direction to take, and how much time to spend because in addition to Toulouse, there are countless beautiful rural villages and historic sites to explore along the canal.

Pro Tip: The true Canal du Midi is my personal favorite, boating between Toulouse, past cute Bram, imposing Carcassonne, and ending up in the stunning Camargue region, from where you can extend your vacation to Montpellier, Avignon, and Provence.

Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, France
Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfry

2. Canal Saint-Martin, Paris, France

Not all canal trips meander through quiet countryside, some even take place right in the center of a bustling city, in this case, Paris. This four-day, part-on, part off-board trip through the Canal St.-Martin, the Villette Basin, and Canal St.-Denis allows you to see Paris from a whole new perspective. You probably know that there are canals right in the center of Paris, formerly used to transport cargo, and today lined with trendy cafes, restaurants, and houseboats, but the chance of actually traveling along them, through the locks, under the bridges, and even through the tunnel linking the Seine with Bastille, is very rare, indeed. Backwater Cruises offer various cruises in France, but only this one-off special, rare opportunity of cruising through the canals of Paris, in September 2022.

Pro Tip: You will not only sail through Paris, but also have half-day excursions and sightseeing trips around the city, so this is a great opportunity for both, those knowing Paris well already but wanting something a little different, as well as newcomers.

Barge on the Thames in London
Photo Credit: Barge Lady Cruises

3. The River Thames, England

You start your Thames barge vacation with afternoon tea in London, stepping aboard a luxury canal boat complete with a crew of four looking after you, and then sail down the Thames. Stops along the way include visits to the palaces and castles of Hampton Court and Windsor, taking chauffeur-driven cars to historic sites such as Cliveden and Oxford, and ending up at Henley-on-Thames. These are four days spent in luxury, enjoying English history, beautiful waterways, gourmet dining on board, and being pampered all the way.

Pro Tip: The Magna Carta barge has four cabins, making it perfect for a barge vacation with friends, taking over the entire boat rather than sharing it with other parties. That said, the boat’s amenities are superb, the lounge large, and day trips take place in private cars, so it is more like a floating luxury hotel than a cramped narrow boat, even if you don’t know your fellow travelers.

Photo Credit: Nick Smith / The Great West Way

4. Kennet And Avon Canal, England

If you liked the Thames route, and the trip whetted your appetite for navigating along a canal yourself, then why not continue westward along the Kennet and Avon Canal? The canal connects the river Kennet, which in turn joins the Thames, with the River Avon and meanders through the gorgeous southwest English countryside following the rough route of the Great West Way between London and Bristol. Narrow boat hire is so popular here, that you can either go the entire 87 miles or choose your favorite shorter distance route for a day or two, such as between Devizes and Bath Spa.

Pro Tip: You can also walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal, along the towpath, so you could opt to take a boat trip one way and walk back the other. My favorite route is between Bath and Bradford on Avon, which takes around three hours of walking, but longer if you stop at the pubs along the way. Do plan those pubs into your itinerary, be it from the boat or while on foot because they are fabulous, especially the Cross Guns Avoncliff with its beer garden overlooking the weir.

Spree River and the Berliner Dom
Spree River in Berlin (F. Krawen / Shutterstock.com)

5. Canals In And Around Berlin, Germany

The region of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommen stretching between Germany’s capital city Berlin and the Baltic Sea in the north is not only beautiful but also honeycombed with lakes, rivers, and canals. It is simply crying out to be explored by boat. Hiring not a narrow canal boat, but instead, a rather sleek but not too overwhelming motor yacht, you can take your time exploring the lakes, the historic towns such as Potsdam and Furstenberg along the way, mooring alongside lake shores for a coffee, or simply sail in and out of canals and rivers, finding quiet spots to moor and read a book.

Pro Tip: This company also hires out small, license-free boats all across Europe. Have a look at the brochure for further inspiration.

The Northern Italian canal cruise
Photo Credit: Barge Lady Cruises

6. River Po And The Bianco Canal, Italy

Please forgive me for including a canal boat trip that is more like a small cruise, but the route taken is so nice that I wanted to include it. Picture Italy at its finest: starting off in Venice, then being welcomed with Prosecco on board the Bella Vita, the Good Life, and staying overnight on board for a bit more Venice in the morning. Then you’ll be sailing off past small historic fishing villages, taking in the odd wine cellar, looking at Renaissance art in Ferrara, also famous for its marble. You’ll be sailing along the River Po and the scenic Bianco Canal, also known as the Tartaro-Canalbianco-Po di Levante, before being transferred back to Venice after five days. Bella Vita indeed!

Pro Tip: There are some options to get off the boat to delve into the surroundings by bicycle, maybe working off some of the calories provided by the scrumptious Italian gourmet food on board.

Canal de l'Aisne a la Marne in Reims
Canal de l’Aisne a la Marne in Reims (Sergey Novikov / Shutterstock.com)

7. Champagne Region, France

Yes, France again. But really, you can’t go wrong with France, right? Especially not with a luxury canal boat tour through the French Champagne region, quite literally from champagne house to champagne house. Setting off from Châlons-en-Champagne, for six days and five nights, you putter through the Marne Valley, visiting the two main centers of Champagne, and champagne, Reims and Epernay, while in between visiting vineyards, exploring the nicely flat countryside by bicycle if you so wish, and always returning to the luxury boat Hirondelle, the Swallow, for gourmet food, a glass — or two or three — of champagne on the shiny teak deck, while allowing the French countryside to slowly move past you. This is a luxury boat trip, curated by Belmond, with four cabins on board, available for private hire, or per cabin.

Pro Tip: This boat trip includes transfers from and back to Paris, so you could easily combine it with the Paris Canal St.-Martin tour.

River cruises are an excellent way to explore destinations:



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A Beginners Guide to Planning a Summer Boating Trip on Rideau Canal


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Credit: Rideau Canal NHS/Parks Canada

The Rideau Canal runs between Kingston and Ottawa, going along lakes, rivers and 19 kilometres of canals cut into the soil and rock between the natural bodies of water. It was built between 1812 and 1832 to create a supply route from Ottawa to the Great Lakes, away from the St. Lawrence River, based on the lessons learned from the War of 1812. Since then, it has seen many upgrades and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

The waterway runs for 202 kilometres via 45 locks at 23 lock stations from the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario at Kingston, plus two additional locks on the adjoining Tay Canal. In 2019, 61,145 boats travelled through the locks, with two-thirds of them coming from Ontario, one-quarter from Quebec and the rest coming north from the United States.

To explore Rideau Canal National Historic Site, you may drive along the route, go on a luxury cruise, guided boat tour, or navigate your own canoe or boat. If are thinking of going on a boating trip on the Historic Site, here is a beginner’s guide to planning a trip on the waterway. For in-depth and up-to-date information, see the Parks Canada website.

You may like: Guide to Planning a Summer Boating Trip on Trent-Severn Waterway

I. Guided Lake Cruises

 

If you want to be a passenger along the waterway, there are several companies who will take care of the driving for you:

1. Rideau Canal Cruises – Get a waterfront view of some of Ottawa’s most historic and culturally significant sites while aboard a quiet electric-powered boat. You’ll see the National Arts Centre, Lansdowne Park, Dow’s Lake Pavilion and so much more on the 90-minute tour. You can catch a ride at any of six points during any day from mid-May to mid-October. Get aboard right downtown at 2 Rideau Street. You can also combine this ride with a tour of the Ottawa River, the Bytown Museum or a chocolate lovers’ tour. The base ticket costs $30.

2. The Rideau King –The fifty-foot steel tour boat sails from its homeport of Merrickville on the historic Rideau Canal. You have a choice of cruising from Merrickville to Ottawa and Merrickville to Westport and vice versa. Transportation is available to get you back to starting location. Rideau King did not operate in 2020 due to COVID-19. 2021 – TBA.

3. Chaffey’s Lock Boat Cruise – If you prefer a more rural tour, jump aboard at Chaffey’s Lock (Lock 37) near Elgin, then rise and fall with the water levels as you enjoy seeing the landscape and small towns along the route. You can go through three locks for $75 (add a gourmet picnic lunch for $25) or three lakes for $50 per person. An evening sunset cruise is also available for $40. If you don’t want to dine on the water, opt for lunch or dinner at the Opinicon Hotel.

4. Cruise the Rideau – Tour the waterway between Kingston and Hartwell Locks in luxury with a comfortable room, meals and snacks, without lifting a finger for $2,400 over five days. Evening activities range from bocce ball, skits, readings, guest speakers or a quiet night with a book or your tablet.

You may like:Ottawa Sightseeing Cruises

II. If You Want to Be Your Own Captain & Do not Own a Boat:

If you want to travel the waterway and do not have a boat, you can rent a houseboat or a boat. Be aware of all safety information, visitor regulations, and weather warnings. Do not forget to carry a nautical chart and a first aid kit.

Due to the size of the locks, the canal system can only handle boats up to 27.4 metres long, 7.9 metres wide and 6.7 metres tall (so they can get under the lowest bridge).

 

Rent a houseboatLe Boat in Ottawa has eight different styles of luxury houseboat to accommodate your friends or family for meals, sleeping and even showering aboard. You can book them for three to seven nights, with a week costing $1,719 to $36,89, depending on the model you choose. No boating licence or experience is needed to rent their boats.

If you are of age 25 and above, proficient at driving a boat with a driver’s license and a boater’s license and 25 years of age and above, you can rent houseboats from Big Rideau Lake House Boats.

Rent a boat – If you are launching further south, Len’s Cove Marina near Portland has a variety of boats to borrow, from pontoon boats to bowriders and speedboats. Pontoon boats rent for $364 for a day to $1,380 for a week while a bowrider will cost $856 for two day or $1,630 for a week. If you want to start midway, you can book a pontoon boat (starting at $225 to $245 per day), bowrider (starting at $225), or small fishing boat (starting at $105) in Perth and have it delivered wherever you want to launch (towing fee extra).

Locking Through:

Due to the changes in topography along the route, you will often find yourself in one of the locks, rising or lowering your boat before you can continue on your journey. This could mean staying in a canal while water levels are changed or riding into a lift lock chamber that works like an elevator. There are four steps each time:

  • Approach the lock slowly so you don’t create a wake. Respect other boaters that are coming and going. Blow your whistle three times for five seconds each to request to enter. Wait at the blue line until waved in.
  • Enter upon seeing a green light, following the staff’s instructions at all times. Loop your vessel lines around black drop cables so you will rise or fall with the water level. Keep your life jackets on and push away from the walls with a hook, not your hands.
  • Once inside the lock, turn off your boat and all appliances, but leave your bilge blower on. Stay alert to your lines and your boat’s position. Show your lockage permit or buy one here.
  • Depart slowly after getting a signal to start your boat and exit. Collect all vessel lines back into your board and go slowly.

III. How to Plan Your Trip:

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Credit: Rideau Canal NHS/Parks Canada

If you are planning a trip, it takes four to six days to make it from one end to the other, depending on how busy each lock is and how long you need to wait. You could cover it in three days, but that pace does not allow you to enjoy the experience at the same level.

Here are some suggestions:

For a three-day trip:

If you only have a long weekend or a few days to explore, start by deciding if you want a more urban or rural experience.

If you opt for the Ottawa stretch, you can see much of the city, stop in at Manotick and still meander your way to Merrickville. For a more open water feeling, launch in Smiths Falls and head south to enjoy Big Rideau Lake and all the delights on its shores.

You should also be aware of the lockstation opening and closing times. If you are planning to cross a lockstation before the end of day, you should plan accordingly and should arrive at least 30 minutes (per lock) before closing. For example, you should arrive at Hartwell Locks (2 locks), one hour before closing or 1 hr 30 minutes before closing at Merrickville lockatstion. At swing bridges like Brass Point Bridge, boaters must arrive 20 minutes before closing. Access to lockstations is prohibited between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. Hours of operation.

For a longer trip:

 

Where you want to end your trip for the day will also depend upon whether you are camping at the lockstation, staying in a houseboat or planning to stay in a hotel/resort.

Every trip’s length is determined by how many locks are on the stretch of waterway you are visiting and how much traffic is going through the lock at each location. It is best to add a buffer of time and enjoy the scenery while you wait. Even better, you can find yourself ahead of schedule so you can linger longer over lunch at a familiar haunt or a newly discovered diner.

You should also be aware of the lockstation opening and closing times. If you are planning to cross a lockstation before the end of day, you should plan accordingly and should arrive at least 30 minutes (per lock) before closing. At swing bridges like Brass Point Bridge, boaters must arrive 20 minutes before closing. For example, you should arrive at Hartwell Locks one hour before closing. Access to lockstations is prohibited between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am. Hours of operation.

For a relaxed week-long venture, you can cover the entire canal and still see many of its sights. However, if you want to stop and shop or spend a day or two on walking tours, then build in a buffer to truly embrace the experience. Each day you can go from Kingston to Jones falls (Day 1), Jones Falls to Upper Beveridges Lockstation (Day 2), to Smith Falls (Day 3), then to Merrickville (Day 4) to Long Island Locks (Day 5), to Ottawa (Day 6) or vice versa.

If you are planning to paddle the full route, the trip would take eight days with limited stops. Again, to really enjoy yourself, slow down and take it all in.

How much does it cost:

In addition to the cost of food, boat rental and fuel, you will need a Transit lockage permit which permits you to travel one-way through the entire Rideau Canal.
A day transit lockage permit costs $4.75/foot (of your watercraft). Alternatively, you can buy Seasonal lockage for $8.99/foot, which provides unlimited passage through locks at seven national historic canals across Canada.

A mooring permit is required if you want to stay at the lock. Day and overnight mooring cost $0.92/foot. A seasonal mooring and lockage permit allows overnight mooring and lockage at seven national historic canals, two national parks and one national marine conservation area and costs $19.01/ foot.

See detailed cost and fees on the Parks Canada website.

Where to stay:

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Credit: Parks Canada

If you need to stay overnight aboard your boat, you can do so as long as you purchase a mooring permit. Boaters may stay at one lockstation for up to 2 nights (48 hrs.)

CampingYou can camp at any of the lock stations, except Ottawa Locks, Hogs Back, Smiths Falls Combined, Smiths Falls Old Slys, and Brass Point Bridge. Public washrooms are located at all lock stations where camping is available. Some lock stations also have picnic tables, firepits and paddle docks. Camping fees apply.

Comfort Camping in oTENTiks These cozy base camps allow you to stay along the waterside and enjoy the view and nearby trails. For $102 a night you get a little cabin with a verandah nestled under the trees north of Kingston at Brewers Mills (Locks 43-44), Upper Beveridges (Lock 34) or Merrickville (Locks 21-23). The rate drops to $92 per night after Labour Day. They have no power or water so you have to get your basics at the nearby lock stations.

Marinas, Hotels & Resorts: There are plenty of lodges and B&B’s along the route. See the map below and search for a full-service marina, lodge/hotel near the lock you are planning to stay. Click “View in Google Maps” and use search nearby feature.

Groceries and other facilities:

Parks Canada website’s lift lock station page details facilities available at each lock station, including washrooms, whether a lock station is within walking distance to groceries, and fuel stations along the route.

When to go:

 

Rideau Canal is open for travellers from Victoria Day Weekend to Thanksgiving Monday (May 21 to October 11, 2021).

Summer is always a great time to travel, but if you are looking to enjoy the golden colours of fall, consider a trip in early October.

IV. Must-see places or towns to stop and explore:

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Credit: Rideau Canal NHS/Parks Canada

You can swim, fish and enjoy all normal fun water activities along the canal (Visitor guidelines). You need a permit for setting off fireworks. To truly make the best of your trip, explore nearby towns and attractions. You can moor your boat at locks or marinas along the way.

  • Kingston (Locks 46-49) – Before you set sail, spend a day in one of Canada’s oldest and most walkable cities. Rather than explore on your own, sign up for one of the walking tours, either free on your own or with a guide.
  • Jones Falls Cycling Loop (Locks 39-42) – To exercise your legs on land for a while, bring along your bicycle and take a 38-kilometre ride around the towns of Elgin, Morton and more. Tour by the Old Stone Mill Museum in Delta and cross the historic Lyndhurst Bridge on a quiet, level ride along paved roads. You can tack on a 10-kilometre detour to the Forfar Cheese Factory for fresh curds if you’d like!
  • Chaffeys (Lock 35) – Take a historic walking tour of Chaffey’s Lock and visit Lockmaster’s house museum, restored Chaffey’s Cemetery and part of the Cataraqui Trail. Opinicon Resort Hotel is located right at the lockstation.
  • Newboro (Lock 36)– This is just one of the fine fishing spots along the route, so drop your line then drop in for lunch. You can also see the Newboro Loon landmark. As you go through its lock, you’ll see one of only three sets of hydraulically-powered steel gates. It is also the site for one of four blockhouses built by Colonel John By to protect the canal.
  • Foley Mountain in Westport – From the beach on the Upper Rideau Lake to the viewfrom atop Spye over the lovely village of Westport, you’ll enjoy your visit to this landmark. Walk along nine kilometres of trails and enjoy a picnic lunch. Day passes cost $7 while a season cost will be $50. At the bottom of the mountain, you’ll find a town rich in unique shops and friendly faces.
  • Murphy’s Point Provincial Park – Dock at the park and learn about natural history or take a guided tour of the Silver Queen Mine. It has five hiking trails, ranging from 800 metres to 5.5 kilometres. If you’re staying in the area overnight, park staff present an evening nature show as well.
  • Perth – Divert along the Tay Canal to find an utterly charming little town with unique shops and fine dining on virtually every corner of the downtown. Admire the stone buildings, see the stie of Canada’s last duel then walk the Tay River Trail, a historic path and portage route tramped down in 1816. (https://www.perth.ca/en/explore-perth/what-to-do.aspx)
  • Lockmaster’s House (Lock 33)To immerse yourself in the waterfront lifestyle, book a stay at this restored home that can accommodate up to six guests for $279 per day. Stop over to get off the water or book it and take day trips from this home base. You can also rent out the Canalman’s Cottage at Newboro or the Davis Lockmaster’s House on Sand Lake.
  • Smiths FallsTake a picnic in the park as you watch the boats go by. The downtown location of the lock gives you a chance to have your lunch and eat it too, as you meet other boaters at Locks 29 to 31. Walk off the calories afterwards via the town’s heritage walking tour.
  • MerrickvilleGardeners will thrill at seeing the community that holds the title as Canada’s Most Beautiful Village, awarded by Communities in Bloom. This tiny town has a surprising number of original shops tucked inside heritage buildings. Watch for the copious and helpful black-and-white arrow signs to make sure you don’t miss a thing!
  • Burritts Rapids (Lock 17) – The four-kilometre Tip to Tip Trail will take you through the village of Burritt Rapids and the “rapids” while highlighting features along the trail that were either influenced by or important in the construction of the Rideau Canal through interpretive boards.
  • Baxter Conservation AreaThis waterfront natural area near Kars has a nice beach and group camping for an overnight stay. Hike its five kilometres of trails then stop in at the Patrick McManus Interpretive Centre to learn about the nut tree plantation on the site.
  • ManotickEven though you have technically entered the City of Ottawa, you’ll feel like you’re still in the countryside as you visit Watson’s Mill and shop at boutiques with a delightful number of unique wares. It boasts a gingerbread shop, scented candles and aromas from its wide range of bistros.
  • OttawaOnce you arrive in the nation’s capital, you will find an endless array of historic sites, vibrant museums and musical venues, scavenger hunts and bike tours. Many of them focus on the area along the canal so tie up and explore as many as you can.

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    With the Suez Canal Blocked, Shippers Go Around Africa


    Already, seven giant carriers of liquefied natural gas appear to have decided to change course away from the canal, according to Kpler.

    One of these ships, chartered by Royal Dutch Shell, had picked up a cargo of gas at Sabine Pass in Texas and was heading toward the canal when it made a sharp turn in the Atlantic Ocean toward Africa. Another, operated by Qatargas, a state energy company, and loaded at Ras Laffan, the Qatar energy hub, was headed for Suez but then veered away toward the Cape of Good Hope before reaching the Red Sea.

    Container ships are also changing their plans. HMM, a South Korean shipping company, ordered one of its vessels that was headed to Asia from Britain via the canal to go around Africa instead, according to NOH Ji-hwan, a spokesman for the company.

    Mr. Booth said a ship that was already waiting at the canal would be unlikely to backtrack all the way around Africa. That would mean a nearly six-week journey to reach Amsterdam compared with just 13 days from the canal.

    If the call is made in the early part of a journey, though, it may make sense. For instance, Kpler estimates that a trip around the cape from the Saudi oil terminal Ras Tanura would require 39 days, versus 24 days by way of Suez.

    Ultimately, the decision hinges on an assessment of the time required for engineers to extract the Ever Given, allowing traffic to resume. The most optimistic outlook took a hit on Friday, with the failure of the latest effort to get the enormous ship floating.

    “People are saying that something will be done by Sunday,” said Mr. Singh of Refinitiv. “But I have my little doubts. The tide and nautical conditions are more favorable toward the middle of next week.”

    Vivian Yee and Su-Hyun Lee contributed reporting.



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    Huge Cargo Ship Ever Given Freed From Suez Canal After Weeklong Crisis


    Topline

    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.

    Key Facts

    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.

    Key Background

    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.



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    2 tugboats speed to Egypt’s Suez Canal as shippers avoid it – Abbotsford News


    Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021. Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed)Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021. Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed)
    Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021. Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed)Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway is seen Saturday, March 27, 2021. Tugboats and a specialized suction dredger worked to dislodge a giant container ship that has been stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for the past three days, blocking a crucial waterway for global shipping. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed)
    Illustration shows a cross section of the Suez Canal.Illustration shows a cross section of the Suez Canal.

    Two additional tugboats sped Sunday to Egypt’s Suez Canal to aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged for days across the crucial waterway, even as major shippers increasingly divert their boats out of fear the vessel may take even longer to free.

    The massive Ever Given, a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal. In the time since, authorities have been unable to remove the vessel and traffic through the canal — valued at over $9 billion a day — has been halted, further disrupting a global shipping network already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard and the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno, called in to help tugboats already there, reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed. The tugboats will nudge the 400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given.

    Workers planned to make two attempts Sunday to free the vessel coinciding with high tides helped by a full moon Sunday night, a top pilot with the canal authority said. The full moon offers a spring tide, or king tide, in which high tides are higher and the low tides are lower because of the effects of gravity during a straight-line alignment of the Earth, the moon and the sun.

    “Sunday is very critical,” the pilot said. “It will determine the next step, which highly likely involves at least the partial offloading of the vessel.”

    Taking containers off the ship likely would add even more days to the canal’s closure, something authorities have been desperately trying to avoid. It also would require a crane and other equipment that have yet to arrive.

    The pilot spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists.

    On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were “not the only cause” for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei said an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

    Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that their “initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.” However, at least one initial report suggested a “blackout” struck the hulking vessel carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.

    Rabei said he remained hopeful that dredging could free the ship without having to resort to removing its cargo, but added that “we are in a difficult situation, it’s a bad incident.”

    Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: “I can’t say because I do not know.”

    Speaking on Sunday to the pro-government Egyptian television channel Extra News, Rabei said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had ordered the canal authority to prepare for all options, including taking containers off of the vessel. He said officials had been in talks with the U.S. about that possibility, without elaborating.

    Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.

    The Ever Given is wedged about 6 kilometres (3.7 miles) north of the canal’s Red Sea entrance near the city of Suez.

    A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global shipment chain. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country amid concerns of delays of shipments arriving amid the blockage.

    As of early Sunday, over 320 ships waited to travel through the Suez, either to the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, according to canal services firm Leth Agencies. At least 10 of those vessels carried livestock, raising concerns about the animals. Rabei told the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya that authorities planned to offer provisions to help them.

    Dozens of others still listed their destination as the canal, though shippers increasingly appear to be avoiding the passage.

    The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, warned its customers that it would take anywhere from three to six days to clear the backlog of vessels at the canal. Already, the firm and its partners have 27 ships waiting to enter the canal, with three stuck in the waterway itself and two more coming Sunday.

    “We have until now redirected 15 vessels where we deemed the delay of sailing around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa equal to the current delay of sailing to Suez and queuing.” the shipper said.

    Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest shipper, said it already had rerouted at least 11 ships around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal. It turned back two other ships and said it expected “some missed sailings as a result of this incident.”

    “MSC expects this incident to have a very significant impact on the movement of containerized goods, disrupting supply chains beyond the existing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

    ___

    Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Isabel DeBre and Malak Harb in Dubai contributed to this report.

    Jon Gambrell And Samy Magdy, The Associated Press


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    2 tugboats deploy to Egypt’s Suez Canal as shippers avoid it


    SUEZ, Egypt (AP) — Two additional tugboats deployed Sunday to Egypt’s Suez Canal to aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged for days across the crucial waterway, even as major shippers increasingly divert their boats out of fear the vessel may take even longer to free.

    The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal. In the time since, authorities have been unable to unstick the vessel and traffic through the canal — valued at over $9 billion a day — has been halted, further disrupting a global shipping network already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard, a specialist tugboat, arrived at the location Sunday, according to the stuck ship’s technical management company, Bernard Schulte Shipmanagement. The Italian-flagged tugboat Carlo Magno was also close, having reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed.

    The tugboats, along with at least 10 others already there, will be used to nudge the 400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, Bernhard Schulte said.

    Excavators dug Sunday on the eastern wall of the Suez Canal, hoping to free the bulbous bow of the Ever Given that plowed into the embankment, satellite photos showed. Bernard Schulte said the team was also waiting for the arrival of additional equipment to dredge the canal’s seafloor. The THSD Causeway, a dredger registered in Cyprus, was expected to arrive by Tuesday.



    Authorities canceled Sunday’s planned freeing attempts “until sufficient tug power is in place,” said canal services firm Leth Agencies. They plan to conduct an effort to free the vessel Monday to coincide with high tides, it said.

    Officials have been desperately trying to avoid unloading the vessel, which likely would add even more days to the canal’s closure. Taking containers off the ship would require a crane and other equipment that have yet to arrive.

    On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were “not the only cause” for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei said an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

    Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that their “initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.” However, at least one initial report suggested a “blackout” struck the hulking vessel carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.

    Rabei said he remained hopeful that dredging could free the ship without having to resort to removing its cargo, but added that “we are in a difficult situation, it’s a bad incident.”

    Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: “I can’t say because I do not know.”

    Speaking on Sunday to the pro-government Egyptian television channel Extra News, Rabei said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had ordered the canal authority to prepare for all options, including taking containers off of the vessel. He said officials had been in talks with the U.S. about that possibility, without elaborating.

    Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.



    The Ever Given is wedged about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the canal’s Red Sea entrance near the city of Suez.

    A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global shipment chain. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country amid concerns of delays of shipments arriving amid the blockage.

    As of early Sunday, over 320 ships waited to travel through the Suez, either to the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, according to canal services firm Leth Agencies. At least 10 of those vessels carried livestock, raising concerns about the animals. Rabei told the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya that authorities planned to offer provisions to help them.

    Dozens of others still listed their destination as the canal, though shippers increasingly appear to be avoiding the passage.

    The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, warned its customers that it would take anywhere from three to six days to clear the backlog of vessels at the canal. Already, the firm and its partners have 27 ships waiting to enter the canal, with three stuck in the waterway itself and two more coming Sunday.

    “We have until now redirected 15 vessels where we deemed the delay of sailing around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa equal to the current delay of sailing to Suez and queuing.” the shipper said.

    Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest shipper, said it already had rerouted at least 11 ships around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal. It turned back two other ships and said it expected “some missed sailings as a result of this incident.”

    “MSC expects this incident to have a very significant impact on the movement of containerized goods, disrupting supply chains beyond the existing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.





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    2 tugboats speed to Egypt’s Suez Canal as shippers avoid it – Boston News, Weather, Sports


    SUEZ, Egypt (AP) — Two additional tugboats sped Sunday to Egypt’s Suez Canal to aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged for days across the crucial waterway, even as major shippers increasingly divert their boats out of fear the vessel may take even longer to free.

    The massive Ever Given, a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal. In the time since, authorities have been unable to remove the vessel and traffic through the canal — valued at over $9 billion a day — has been halted, further disrupting a global shipping network already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard and the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno, called in to help tugboats already there, reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed. The tugboats will nudge the 400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given.

    Workers planned to make two attempts Sunday to free the vessel coinciding with high tides helped by a full moon Sunday night, a top pilot with the canal authority said. The full moon offers a spring tide, or king tide, in which high tides are higher and the low tides are lower because of the effects of gravity during a straight-line alignment of the Earth, the moon and the sun.

    “Sunday is very critical,” the pilot said. “It will determine the next step, which highly likely involves at least the partial offloading of the vessel.”

    Taking containers off the ship likely would add even more days to the canal’s closure, something authorities have been desperately trying to avoid. It also would require a crane and other equipment that have yet to arrive.

    The pilot spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists.

    On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were “not the only cause” for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei said an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

    Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that their “initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.” However, at least one initial report suggested a “blackout” struck the hulking vessel carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.

    Rabei said he remained hopeful that dredging could free the ship without having to resort to removing its cargo, but added that “we are in a difficult situation, it’s a bad incident.”

    Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: “I can’t say because I do not know.”

    Speaking on Sunday to the pro-government Egyptian television channel Extra News, Rabei said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had ordered the canal authority to prepare for all options, including taking containers off of the vessel. He said officials had been in talks with the U.S. about that possibility, without elaborating.

    Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.

    The Ever Given is wedged about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the canal’s Red Sea entrance near the city of Suez.

    A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global shipment chain. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country amid concerns of delays of shipments arriving amid the blockage.

    As of early Sunday, over 320 ships waited to travel through the Suez, either to the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, according to canal services firm Leth Agencies. At least 10 of those vessels carried livestock, raising concerns about the animals. Rabei told the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya that authorities planned to offer provisions to help them.

    Dozens of others still listed their destination as the canal, though shippers increasingly appear to be avoiding the passage.

    The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, warned its customers that it would take anywhere from three to six days to clear the backlog of vessels at the canal. Already, the firm and its partners have 27 ships waiting to enter the canal, with three stuck in the waterway itself and two more coming Sunday.

    “We have until now redirected 15 vessels where we deemed the delay of sailing around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa equal to the current delay of sailing to Suez and queuing.” the shipper said.

    Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest shipper, said it already had rerouted at least 11 ships around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal. It turned back two other ships and said it expected “some missed sailings as a result of this incident.”

    “MSC expects this incident to have a very significant impact on the movement of containerized goods, disrupting supply chains beyond the existing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

    (Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)



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    Container ships steer toward longer route around Cape of Good Hope to avoid Suez Canal


    Dive Brief:

    • Multiple container ships are rerouting to the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the logjam created by the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal, according to carriers and the ship tracking service Marine Traffic.
    • HMM Rotterdam, Ever Greet, Pan Americas and the Hyundai Prestige have all begun the journey toward the southern part of Africa, a spokesperson for Marine Traffic told Supply Chain Dive.

    • A service alert from Hapag-Lloyd said HMM Dublin, HMM Stockholm, ONE Munchen, ONE Marvel and YM Wellhead have rerouted via Cape of Good Hope. An HMM spokesperson confirmed the diversion of Hyundai Prestige, HMM Rotterdam, HMM Dublin and HMM Stockholm.

    Dive Insight:

    As the blockage of the Suez Canal stretches into its third day, carriers are having to think hard about their options: Sit and wait for the canal to open for traffic, or reroute ships around the southern tip of Africa.

    The Suez Canal is one of the most important trade arteries in the world, connecting Asia to Europe and the U.S. East Coast. In 2019, 18,800 ships crossed through the canal, according to the Suez Canal Authority.

    As of Friday afternoon Central European Time, vessels with capacity totaling 727,764 TEU were affected by the blockage, according to data from project44.

    “Another attempt to re-float the vessel earlier today, 26 March 2021, was not successful,” BSM, the technical manager for Ever Given, said in a notice.

    Marine Traffic

     

    “She may have been grounded on much more than the immediate banks of the canal,” Chief Shipping Analyst at BIMCO Peter Sand said in an email Friday, referring to the Ever Given. “The more shallow water she is stuck on the longer it will take. Weeks is an option.”

    Sand said LNG carriers and bulkers carrying grains out of the U.S. have also rerouted around Africa on their way to Asia.

    Carriers that have yet to divert any vessels said they are considering the possibility.

    “Hapag-Lloyd constantly monitors the situation and closely follows the implications on its services,” the carrier said in a service alert Friday. “We are presently looking into possible vessel diversions around Cape of Good Hope.”

    Cape of Good Hope route increases trip distance

    Distance in miles

    Making the decision to reroute vessels isn’t easy for carriers, as the trip takes longer, resulting in extended transit times under normal circumstances for shippers and forwarders.

    The trip from the Persian Gulf to Port of Rotterdam takes nearly 18 days via the Suez and more than 31 days via the Cape of Good Hope for a ship traveling at 15 knots, according to a 2019 paper in the Journal of Marine Engineering & Technology. But modern container ships commonly travel at faster speeds of up to 22.5 knots, according to another paper published last year.

    While the trip is longer, it can actually be cheaper for carriers depending on the price of fuel because of the fees associated with traversing the Suez Canal. Last year, some carriers were already making the switch to the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the cost of crossing the canal, which can be $700,000 for a fully loaded 20,000 TEU ship, according to The Loadstar.

    In the short term, experts have suggested that the blockage of the Suez could allow ports to work through their existing backlog. But when the canal opens, a large number of ships could show up within a short period of time, creating congestion issues at European ports, experts told Supply Chain Dive.

    Some shippers that have not yet loaded their cargo are already looking at rail as a potential alternative, Florian Braun, Flexport’s head of ocean for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said earlier this week.

    The logjam could also result in an uptick in blank sailings. Lars Jensen, CEO of SeaIntelligence Consulting, said in a LinkedIn post that the blockage means shippers should prepare for an “increase of de-facto blank sailings.”

    “I think it can be comparable to what happened last year when the COVID outbreak happened and carriers blanked a lot of sailings” because factories in Asia closed, Braun said Thursday. “And you can compare that now to 100% capacity reduction because the Suez Canal is blocked.”



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    2 tugboats deploy to Egypt’s Suez Canal as shippers avoid it


    SUEZ, Egypt — Two additional tugboats deployed Sunday to Egypt’s Suez Canal to aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged for days across the crucial waterway, even as major shippers increasingly divert their boats out of fear the vessel may take even longer to free.

    The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal. In the time since, authorities have been unable to unstick the vessel and traffic through the canal — valued at over $9 billion a day — has been halted, further disrupting a global shipping network already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard, a specialist tugboat, arrived at the location Sunday, according to the stuck ship’s technical management company, Bernard Schulte Shipmanagement. The Italian-flagged tugboat Carlo Magno was also close, having reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed.

    The tugboats, along with at least 10 others already there, will be used to nudge the 400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, Bernhard Schulte said.

    Excavators dug Sunday on the eastern wall of the Suez Canal, hoping to free the bulbous bow of the Ever Given that plowed into the embankment, satellite photos showed. Bernard Schulte said the team was also waiting for the arrival of additional equipment to dredge the canal’s seafloor. The THSD Causeway, a dredger registered in Cyprus, was expected to arrive by Tuesday.

    Authorities canceled Sunday’s planned freeing attempts “until sufficient tug power is in place,” said canal services firm Leth Agencies. They plan to conduct an effort to free the vessel Monday to coincide with high tides, it said.

    Officials have been desperately trying to avoid unloading the vessel, which likely would add even more days to the canal’s closure. Taking containers off the ship would require a crane and other equipment that have yet to arrive.

    On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were “not the only cause” for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei said an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

    Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that their “initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.” However, at least one initial report suggested a “blackout” struck the hulking vessel carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.

    Rabei said he remained hopeful that dredging could free the ship without having to resort to removing its cargo, but added that “we are in a difficult situation, it’s a bad incident.”

    Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: “I can’t say because I do not know.”

    Speaking on Sunday to the pro-government Egyptian television channel Extra News, Rabei said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had ordered the canal authority to prepare for all options, including taking containers off of the vessel. He said officials had been in talks with the U.S. about that possibility, without elaborating.

    Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.

    The Ever Given is wedged about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the canal’s Red Sea entrance near the city of Suez.

    A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global shipment chain. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country amid concerns of delays of shipments arriving amid the blockage.

    As of early Sunday, over 320 ships waited to travel through the Suez, either to the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, according to canal services firm Leth Agencies. At least 10 of those vessels carried livestock, raising concerns about the animals. Rabei told the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya that authorities planned to offer provisions to help them.

    Dozens of others still listed their destination as the canal, though shippers increasingly appear to be avoiding the passage.

    The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, warned its customers that it would take anywhere from three to six days to clear the backlog of vessels at the canal. Already, the firm and its partners have 27 ships waiting to enter the canal, with three stuck in the waterway itself and two more coming Sunday.

    “We have until now redirected 15 vessels where we deemed the delay of sailing around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa equal to the current delay of sailing to Suez and queuing.” the shipper said.

    Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest shipper, said it already had rerouted at least 11 ships around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal. It turned back two other ships and said it expected “some missed sailings as a result of this incident.”

    “MSC expects this incident to have a very significant impact on the movement of containerized goods, disrupting supply chains beyond the existing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.


    Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell reported this story from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and AP writer Samy Magdy reported in Suez. AP writers Isabel DeBre and Malak Harb in Dubai contributed to this report.



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    2 tugboats deploy to Egypt’s Suez Canal as shippers avoid it – Boston News, Weather, Sports


    SUEZ, Egypt (AP) — Two additional tugboats deployed Sunday to Egypt’s Suez Canal to aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged for days across the crucial waterway, even as major shippers increasingly divert their boats out of fear the vessel may take even longer to free.

    The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal. In the time since, authorities have been unable to unstick the vessel and traffic through the canal — valued at over $9 billion a day — has been halted, further disrupting a global shipping network already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

    The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard, a specialist tugboat, arrived at the location Sunday, according to the stuck ship’s technical management company, Bernard Schulte Shipmanagement. The Italian-flagged tugboat Carlo Magno was also close, having reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed.

    The tugboats, along with at least 10 others already there, will be used to nudge the 400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side, Bernhard Schulte said.

    Excavators dug Sunday on the eastern wall of the Suez Canal, hoping to free the bulbous bow of the Ever Given that plowed into the embankment, satellite photos showed. Bernard Schulte said the team was also waiting for the arrival of additional equipment to dredge the canal’s seafloor. The THSD Causeway, a dredger registered in Cyprus, was expected to arrive by Tuesday.

    Authorities canceled Sunday’s planned freeing attempts “until sufficient tug power is in place,” said canal services firm Leth Agencies. They plan to conduct an effort to free the vessel Monday to coincide with high tides, it said.

    Officials have been desperately trying to avoid unloading the vessel, which likely would add even more days to the canal’s closure. Taking containers off the ship would require a crane and other equipment that have yet to arrive.

    On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were “not the only cause” for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei said an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

    Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that their “initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding.” However, at least one initial report suggested a “blackout” struck the hulking vessel carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.

    Rabei said he remained hopeful that dredging could free the ship without having to resort to removing its cargo, but added that “we are in a difficult situation, it’s a bad incident.”

    Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: “I can’t say because I do not know.”

    Speaking on Sunday to the pro-government Egyptian television channel Extra News, Rabei said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi had ordered the canal authority to prepare for all options, including taking containers off of the vessel. He said officials had been in talks with the U.S. about that possibility, without elaborating.

    Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.

    The Ever Given is wedged about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the canal’s Red Sea entrance near the city of Suez.

    A prolonged closure of the crucial waterway would cause delays in the global shipment chain. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country amid concerns of delays of shipments arriving amid the blockage.

    As of early Sunday, over 320 ships waited to travel through the Suez, either to the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, according to canal services firm Leth Agencies. At least 10 of those vessels carried livestock, raising concerns about the animals. Rabei told the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya that authorities planned to offer provisions to help them.

    Dozens of others still listed their destination as the canal, though shippers increasingly appear to be avoiding the passage.

    The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, warned its customers that it would take anywhere from three to six days to clear the backlog of vessels at the canal. Already, the firm and its partners have 27 ships waiting to enter the canal, with three stuck in the waterway itself and two more coming Sunday.

    “We have until now redirected 15 vessels where we deemed the delay of sailing around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa equal to the current delay of sailing to Suez and queuing.” the shipper said.

    Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest shipper, said it already had rerouted at least 11 ships around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the canal. It turned back two other ships and said it expected “some missed sailings as a result of this incident.”

    “MSC expects this incident to have a very significant impact on the movement of containerized goods, disrupting supply chains beyond the existing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.

    (Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)



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