The world was gripped by the dramatic recovery of the mega containership Ever Given that became lodged in the Suez Canal, the transit for about 15% of global shipping traffic.
The Ever Given was stuck in the Suez Canal for almost a week causing a huge buildup of vessels around the waterway. Let’s take a look at how the giant container was freed.
Refloating the Ever Given was a monumental challenge and it all came down to Physics, and most physical laws are not that difficult, but the trick is to make them work for you and not against you, and that’s what we did, says Peter Berdowski, CEO Boskalis. Boskalis owns the Dutch firm SMIT Salvage, which assisted in dislodging the giant ship.
The 400 meter (437 yard) long ship was jammed diagonally across the Southernmost stretch of the canal. At least 13 tug boats were used to push and pull it away from the banks with the help of the ship’s own winches. Two dredgers were deployed dredging sand surrounding the vessel only had a minor impact. Sources said ballast water which is used to help stabilize ships was offloaded too amid efforts to refloat the ship.
“We had a Plan B involving water injection under the vessel because with the digger , you can scrap a little bit of soil around the vessel but not under the vessel, the same holds for the cutter dredger they used, so again you dig some soil away beside the vessel but not under. So what we more or less did is we used the water power that was in the canal with the returning tides to push the vessel while we were pulling it and the combination of the two as we hoped did the trick,” Peter Berdowski told the Reuters.
SMIT salvage has been involved in high profile rescues before, it assisted with the Costa Concordia disaster in 2012, and raised the car carrier Baltic Ace in 2015 after it sank near the port of Rotterdam.
Location in this instance was a major factor. It took nearly a week to loosen the vessel. The delay was down to waiting for two tow vessels that were heavy enough, rare in the region to reach the site.
“The most important characteristics of the environment is that it’s in relative isolation, like if something like this happens at the port of Antwerp or Rotterdam, where we have done these jobs, you have vessels around the corner, you even have crane vessels around the corner. There are so many possibilities you can use, so you can optimize Plan A, B, C until plan Z. The difficulty (in this case) is that you are really in the middle of nowhere stuck with a vessel and no equipment nearby. So that (was) the big challenge,” Peter Berdowski told the Reuters.
Here is an interesting video explaining how the Ever Given was freed:
Here is a simulation video of how the Ever Given was freed from the Suez Canal: