Blocked Suez Canal Adding to Container Shortages, Supply Chain Snarls, Component Shortages for Manufacturers

Exactly at the worst possible time. Ripple effects to be felt for months.   

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Today is Thursday, and the Suez Canal is still blocked by one of the largest container carriers in the world. The last thing the tangled up and strained supply chains needed amid a historic surge in demand for durable goods, and component shortages that have led to numerous shutdowns of assembly plants, was a traffic jam at both ends of one of the world’s most important shipping choke points.  But that’s what manufacturers were served up when the Ever Given got stuck in a narrow part of the Suez Canal where about 30% of the world’s ocean container volume transits. Image by Airbus Space, this morning:

The Ever Given in all its beauty. Owned by Japan’s Shoei Kisen, operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Group, and registered in Panama, it has a capacity of 20,000 TEU or Twenty-foot Equivalent Units.

On Tuesday at around 7:45 a.m. local time (Monday night in the US), the Ever Given got stuck in high winds, sailing northbound through the Suez Canal on its way from China to Rotterdam. And it is still stuck, despite all-out efforts to refloat the ship, blocking traffic in both directions. The estimates as when it could be moved out of the way range all over the place, from days to weeks, and might have to include partially unloading the ship.

About 19,300 vessels passed through the Suez Canal in the fiscal year 2020, or roughly 52 per day, according to the Suez Canal Authority. And they’re now piling up at both ends of the canal, and are stuck in the Great Bitter Lake in the middle.

This image via Maritime Traffic, as of Thursday 10 a.m. EST, shows the location of the Ever Given, surrounded by tugs. A cargo vessel that was part of the same convoy is blocked south of it. In the Gulf of Suez, there are dozens of vessels balled up waiting to sail northbound through the canal (red dots = tankers; green dots = cargo vessels):

In the Great Bitter Lake, about a quarter of the way into the 120-mile-long Suez Canal from the Gulf of Suez, about three dozen ships are blocked and waiting to sail south (red dots = tankers; green dots = cargo ships; image via Maritime Traffic):

In the Port Said and the Mediterranean Sea, a bunch more ships are balled up waiting to sail south toward Asia (red dots = tankers; green dots = cargo ships):

In total, there are about 165 ships (according to Lloyd’s) or 185 ships (according to Bloomberg) blocked at the Suez Canal, including 35 container carriers, 32 general cargo carriers, 40 bulk carriers, 17 crude oil tankers, 34 chemical and other products tankers, 10 LPG tankers, and so on. In addition, over 100 ships have signaled the Suez Canal as their next destination.

The Ever Given is stuck in the part of the Suez Canal that has only one lane. Ships travel in convoys in one direction at a time. In the northern part of the canal, from the Great Bitter Lake toward the Mediterranean, a second lane has been built. But where the Ever Given got stuck, it is blocking traffic in both directions.

With more ships heading toward passage through the Suez Canal, and with the traffic jam continuing to build, it will take a while even after the Ever Given has been refloated and sent on its way before the traffic jam is cleared.

There is an alternative route to avoid the Suez Canal, around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, and this is now being considered, but sailings may take a week or two longer, which would further add to the delays and costs in the already tangled up and strained global supply chains.

This snarl-up of container ships comes amid a container shortage and a ship shortage as container ships are already waiting to enter backlogged ports, particularly US ports. These port backlogs tie up ships and containers, and the whole flow has been interrupted.

The concern is over containers and container ships and supply chains. The Suez Canal serves routes from Asia to Europe and doesn’t directly impact freight from Asia to the US. But supply chains are complex and global, and the ripple effects will drag out for months.

For example, if a German manufacturer cannot get the parts from China that are stuck on a container carrier in the Gulf of Suez to produce its automotive components for export to US assembly plants, then the US assembly plants cannot manufacture the vehicles. It just takes one component in short supply to shut down production at an entire assembly plant.

Auto assembly plants in the US, and globally, were already hard hit by the semiconductor shortage going into February, when the winter storm in the US temporarily shut down four semiconductor plants in Austin, TX, which then added to the semiconductor shortage. The winter storm also shut down and damaged the Texas petrochemical industry, which then triggered a plastics shortage and surging prices.

Numerous auto plants in the US have already halted production or eliminated entire shifts, citing shortages of components that contain semiconductors, and some have cited a shortage of plastics. These conditions have made a mess of the auto industry’s vaunted just-in-time inventory system.

Similar strains are affecting other manufacturers in the US and globally. And the Suez Canal blockage will add to these problems over the coming months.

In terms of crude oil, it’s less of a fiasco at the moment: 10 tankers carrying 13 million barrels of crude are affected by the blockage, according to Bloomberg. But the world is still trying to whittle down a global oil glut, and oil prices, after a knee-jerk bounce yesterday, are down sharply today, with WTI currently down 5.5%, at $57.80 a barrel.

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  182 comments for “Blocked Suez Canal Adding to Container Shortages, Supply Chain Snarls, Component Shortages for Manufacturers

  1. A says:

    With how massive and unwieldy ships are now, the only surprising thing is that more of these clumsy behemoths haven’t gotten stuck before this.

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      I am amazed that none of these ships ever sink.

      • You mean you’re surprised that they don’t report it when large ships sink? They don’t report it because it happens once or twice a week, so it’s not considered news, like with an airplane crash.

      • BuySome says:

        Qouth the raven, Pink Floyd “If it wasn’t for the Nips being so good at building ships, the yards would still be open on Clyde”. Double hull construction?

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      The other surprising thing is that given the known risk to a critical bottleneck in world trade, and the ability to charge for transiting the canal, no one got around to building the “second lane” already on that southern leg.

      • SpencerG says:

        Bottlenecks are what allows the port authorities of the world to charge higher prices.

        • cas127 says:

          Just ask the members of the Longshoremen’s union for the two LA ports…if you can through the security at their mansions…

      • raxadian says:

        You may have missed the fact the canal took way too long to be built and is a monopoly.

    • NBay says:

      I’d almost bet they have. Maybe this is just more radical than the usual.

      See that monster tug next to the first “E” in Evergreen? I saw a more recent photo of one that seems to be now pulling (or getting the angles correct) on the bow, along with smaller helper tugs. I imagine they station all these monster tugs at both ends, along with smaller helper tugs, and it took a while longer (for whatever reason), to get to the bow side. Have a hunch with all that tug power it will just be yanked/pushed free fairly soon. I’d even bet they have a way (like those Dubai Islands) of blasting/sucking sand away, figuring they have to clean the channel periodically. (but obviously I am just guessing at all this). This canal is too important to be shut down long, and that buys a LOT of serious machinery.

      Anyway, this “time” thing, for me, brings up a question for Wolf, who has been so open to those curious about parts of his media empire. What is the time noted on each comment? The local time at the server you use back east? Sorry if you answered this long ago, but I missed it, and maybe many others have also. Kinda makes a difference for repitition/response. Thanks.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        The time stamp of each comment is the time the server runs on, which is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) minus 5 hours.

        UTC -5 = EST now and Central Time in the winter. I could change it twice a year, but I’m too lazy :-]

        • NBay says:

          Thanks. For those that don’t know, UTC is a relatively more recent and scientifically accurate upgrade to the old GMT that ran through some famous observatory in England. It may still be referred to by pilots, military, ships, etc, as Zulu Time…… probably is.

          And yeah, like the folks in AZ, I see no purpose in this time change stuff, either. Why add to the confusion? People/companies/schools, etc, can adjust their own schedules if it matters to them.

          Besides, I always forget the truck digital clock menu, and have to look it up….my agenda calls for avoiding ALL menus where possible.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Thanks for this news Wolf,,, and here I thought you were running your empire on my local time all this time…LOL
          All seriousness aside, I have long been advocating that the entire concept of ”time zones” is an anachronism and needs to be replaced by a much more simple system.
          Now that we all — or almost all, and certainly all of us that can count — have our personal digital devices always connected to digital head and feet quarters, we only need two time zones:
          Global and Local!
          Global Time is, as nby says, UTC, AKA ZULU Time,,, and FKA Greenwich Mean Time by which ( at least the English speaking part of ) the world navigated for eva, at least since 1800 when Britannia Ruled the Waves and every day at sea started at noon, the only local time that could be ascertained with any certainty.
          Local Time is simply the sun time in each and every location, which can be told with a sun dial most of the time. Any of the cellular devices can be programmed, of course, to show both at the same time!
          ALL appointments not local can be made via UTC at least most of the time!

  2. Hernando says:

    It looks like it’s great news for stocks up up up up

    • timbers says:

      Here’s the actual really good news for stocks that makes them go up up up…..”We are not going to take this punch bowl away,” said Daly, the mostest wokedest gay Fed member who says her inflation is creating MILLIONS and MILLIONS of jobs.

  3. nick kelly says:

    The lead outfit says ship must be lightened. Pumping out fuel risks top heavy, so containers must be removed.

    Problem: Canal authority has no floating crane able to reach top containers. Assuming they exist, such a unit will move very slowly, typically around a harbor.

    Solution ( maybe!): jettison containers from stern end (less pointed than bow) and let them be salvaged. Heavy security will be needed to prevent stampede. Maybe issue permits and limits per salvor.

    Expensive? Sure, but a drop in the bucket compared to compensation from hundreds of ships, which will soon bust the owners, assuming there is a limit to their insurance.

    • Avraam Jack Dectis says:

      Heavy lift helicopters?

      • nick kelly says:

        Good one. Only have to fly a few hundred yards. One every 5 to 10 once rolling?
        Would need to fab quick release lift rig to attach to containers.

        • char says:

          A container can carry 40 ton

          The Mi26 can carry 20 and it is the largest helicopter

      • polecat says:

        Why can’t the Empire bring over some floating cranes? … you know, like ones attached to those big Carillion Class star cruisers? I’m sure an admiral can be found to the job.

        In all seriousness though, that vessel appears quite the cork, nestled as it is on a bottle sporting a veeeeery long neck. Damn!

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Right on the money AJD: Heavy lift copters been used for access to very valuable timber for many years, capable of apprx. 50K #s IIRC.
        Creating a lifting harness should be no more than a few hours ”rigging” time.
        ”Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling Just in Time,
        You are lost and gone for ever, oh my darling Just in Time.”
        Reminds me of one of my first bosses, at the largest remodeler in the SF East Bay.
        His absolute dictate: Not one lick of demo, etc., until every piece needed from ”out of town” was in our warehouse…
        He ‘guaranteed’ a complete remodel of bathroom in one week, and we did it consistently… Kitchen was two weeks, and ditto,,, and that extra week was for the K cabinets to be made in San Leandro…

      • briny says:

        Those do exist outside the military, getting them their would be the problem as they are geographically based. The question would be do they fit in a C-17 or An-26 and are militaries interested in helping?

    • The other Bob says:

      Cargo must be loaded/unloaded in a specific manner to maintain the ship’s stability. It will be interesting to see the solution to this problem.

      • polecat says:

        If only someone maintained a fleet of dirigibles … Big Ones!

      • briny says:

        That’s the other issue, even with the suggestion to use explosives to eliminate the suction holding it in place. Disturb the center of gravity enough and she might capsize.

    • stan6565 says:

      Well, it is the bow that’s beached. So you’d want to shift the containers from the bow toward the stern (but where this is, in the middle of nowhere, there are no shore based cranes, and there are no cranes on the ship either). Then stern would sink a bit more and bow would lift a little more.

      And then, if the stern was loaded more, and bow loaded less, and the ship could sustain such loading imbalance (hello naval designers), and the solitary digger could dig on the offshore side of the bow, and the bow thrusters could shift the bow away from the shore, then we could be approaching liftoff.

      But with this big baby now in firm contact with ground, the force required to overcome the friction that has glued the bow to the ground is horrendous and definitely not available on demand in this section of the canal.

      • polecat says:

        I wonder if a consortium of frantic shipping concerns could be assembled – quickly like – to put up a short-term contract construction-crew, to build a temporary detour around that big green cork, until said plug can be removed in a less ‘hurried manner?

        Would that be a viable option to remedying this global arterial circulatory dilemma? What say you.

        • Ross says:

          Hmmm, why not dam it close, both ends, pump in, float, reposition, and remove dams.

    • char says:

      Putting a crane on top of the containers would work. But it takes a few days if not more to make one of those

      • nick kelly says:

        I checked yr comment re: containers can weigh up to 40 tons, You are right and therefore wrong that a crane ‘on top of the containers would take ‘a few days’.

        There is no way the top of the containers could be stable enough or strong enough to support the 40 ton lift AND the crane’s own weight. A heavy lift crane requires a very stable platform, which is why the ground- based ones extend ‘side pads’ for stability. No one is going to authorize putting one on top of containers.

      • Javert Chip says:


        For those of us keeping score at home:

        o Giza plateau pyramid has (approximately) 2,300,000 limestone blocks, approximately 3ft x 3ft x3ft, giving one of the Egyptian pyramids a volume of about 63,000,000 cubic ft.

        o The Ever Clear (or whatever it’s named) has 20,000 containers measuring 8fy x 8.5ft x 20ft, giving it a volume of 27,000,000 cubic ft.

        BOTTOM LINE: the volume of the cargo on the Ever Clear is 43% of the volume of an Egyptian pyramid. Just saying…

    • Hernando says:

      I saw video of a beached whale removed with tnt…. blubber flew a distance and crushed a cars hood… blubber stuck on folks clothing. Could work on the boat.

      Exploding Whale 1970 youtube it….. could work.

  4. Willy2 says:

    – I have read that these containership have become too large in an ever chase for more efficiency. These ships can only dock at a few large ports around the world.
    – Perhaps MC01 can tell us more about the developments of the mega-ships ?

  5. Yort says:

    Instead of making “things” locally, we as a race have created a very complex, expensive, and energy demanding manufacturing and trade system in which one simple human nautical navigation error can cause months of disturbances for the entire globe.

    We are a silly people…

    And next up in complex and silly transportion ideas is the Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) fee that is most likely going to get passed soon in Ameria. The VMT is going to eliminate the $0.184 per gallon of fuel tax to fund the highway systems in America. The VMT will require a smartphone to track when you travel, where you travel, upload that data to Uncle Sam, and tax you accordingly. For commercial vehicles, there will be an expensive GPS device for every vehicle, instead of a smartphone. Complex, expensive, and a complete invasion of privacy…do you see the pattern? Now a more simple and logical idea would be to keep the fuel tax per gallon, add a similar electric tax per KW for all electric vehicle chargers in public, and add the same electric tax per KW for all the thousand dollar home chargers….but nope, we need to track every human on the Earth at all times, that makes more sense for a species who tries to control everthing in a universe that is anything but controllable…

    We are a silly people….

    Especially so when infinite fiat money printing creates an environment in which no idea is a bad idea as “money is no object” in our current world-wide delusional fantasy that (M)agic (M)oney (T)rees are real and consequential free…

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      It makes no sense to charge electric cars per KwH, that would be difficult and expensive. All cars have to be registered and the government is already allowed to know your car model (and base weight) and mileage. It makes far more sense to charge per mile. No GPS is required. You would simply when you renew your car every year, have to report your odometer (which is already illegal to tamper with and has anti tamper protections), and you could easily be taxed that way, people have said they against it though.

      Making more stuff locally and in the Americas, as opposed to Asia would be very positive though.

    • jm says:

      “… there will be an expensive GPS device…”
      What do you consider “expensive”?
      In the volumes required the cost will probably be less than $25 per vehicle.
      You can buy cellular + GPS modules in small quantities for about that.

    • Jdog says:

      Nothing “silly” about it. And there is no “we”.

      Everything that is done, is done for a reason, and benefits someone. Follow the money and it leads to the truth. Companies who make billions in profits, do so through exploitation.
      In our current NWO economy they are able to exploit both cheap labor and 1st world markets equally to profit themselves.
      The fact that making goods locally would be the best practice for the local populations is irrelevant because no one is acting in the best interests of common people.

      • Gerrard White says:


        The exercise of common sense is always more productive and accurate than any other form of comment

        I’d only add that what is on display is one system which is quite efficient at producing the opposite of the common good, and another which is slightly efficient at producing some common good

        Is there a choice?

  6. GK says:

    Scheduling question for you Wolf.

    If the Cape route adds a week to the trip why are ships still heading to Suez only to wait in line? Is it merely fuel, maintenance and insurance? Is the line not long enough yet?

    Or is there a structural problem with how these ships are owned, managed and dispatched?

    Much of the media is reporting on this like it’s a quaint public interest story. I see the potential for it to have a significant cascading effect as you do.

    • jm says:

      They’re not on the Cape Route.
      Container ships sail at 15 knots (cost proportional to speed cubed!).
      It will take them a week or two to get back on the Cape Route, then an extra two to get to their destinations.
      Cape route is about 5,000 nautical miles longer, 14 days at 15 knots.

      • nick kelly says:

        And in the case of the baby that’s stuck, a daily rate in the hundreds of thou per day.
        All these catastrophists chiming in on an event that is almost unique. Maybe we should halt aviation or cars because now and then they crash.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      It’s a week or two, plus lots of fuel. Ships at Port Said have to go back all the way through the Mediterranean, then out the Strait of Gibraltar and around Africa. Ships in the Gulf of Suez have to go back out the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and then around Africa. This adds a lot of distance.

      So if it takes a week or two to wait it out, it’s cheaper to wait it out. Since no one knows how long this will take, it’s a tough call to make for those ships near the Suez Canal.

      However, lots of ships that are now sailing from Asia to Europe – and vice versa – are heading straight to the Cape route around Africa instead of to the Suez Canal. The decision is easier for them. And the distance is shorter for them than for those ships stuck near the Suez Canal.

      It would be very helpful to have some certainty.

      • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

        The decision makers are earing their salary on the bets they have to make on the minute by minute disaster unfolding. This goes to show that just in time everything is a disaster waiting for the weakest link. I went through training at Toyota corporate and learned how they mastered this JIT strategy. But now that every nook and cranny of the world uses this approach it shows that one shake of the spiderweb has long reaches into every corner. This will cost the consumer more money as they re-engineer it like Contact. Why build one when you could build two for twice the cost…

      • briny says:

        You also have to pay attention to insurance costs while transiting that area and north eastern Africa with the risk of piracy despite standing naval units in the OpArea.

  7. 2banana says:

    Seems like the financial and supply chain systems are breaking down all over the place.

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      2-a result of the relentless drive to eliminate any failsafe redundancies or investing in more modern failsafe redesign in too many mission-critical world systems in quest of additional profit.

      To again paraphrase R.A. Heinlein: “…this is known as: ‘bad luck’…”.

      may we all find a better day.

    • Jdog says:

      The surest way to make ever more profit on something is to create a shortage of it….

    • dr_doomz says:

      “Seems like the financial and supply chain systems are breaking down all over the place.”

      All by design.

  8. Chris Coles says:

    For what it’s worth, having once been in the freight container repair business, it will be extremely difficult to remove any of the containers where the ship is presently located; there is very little chance of moving what will have to be a very heavy duty floating crane to sit alongside that ship. One only has to see the image of the digger located beside the ship on the canal bank, trying to dig out the bow to get a good idea of the size of the problem. Again, the more they try and fail, the greater damage to the canal itself.

    What concerns me is that it would appear that the ship lost power, while moving slowly in a totally calm environment; moreover, there has not been any full explanation as to why that has occurred. If I were a complete cynic, if anyone had in mind some way to damage the economies of nations; this would be, perhaps, the best possible action to achieve that. Food for thought?

    • VK says:

      Could be planned to prop up oil prices buy a neighbouring country who gives massive amounts of aid to Egypt in the face of the everything bubble turning south. Who knows, there’s more than meets the eye here.

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      It’s always possible that state actors could be involved in many things. But, humans screwing up is a far more likely cause and I always error that way, unless actual evidence arises.

      This if it does last weeks +, could have interesting effects on supply chains, as many Asian countries, mainly China, have shown themselves to be increasingly unreliable. Over time, automation only gets better and it will be easier and cheaper to just make a growing number of stuff back at home for developed countries. Making stuff at home, not only cuts out complicated supply chains, but allows companies to far more closely match factory output to demand and exactly what products to demand. China, when it banned most recyclables, also screwed up supply chains. Having a complete cycle of production, use, and recycling or refurbishment at home could eventually be cheaper. Considering most resources also have to shipped to Asia, if automation improves fast, it could really hit most of Asia hard.

      • California Bob says:

        “… humans screwing up is a far more likely cause and I always error that way, unless actual evidence arises …”

        aka “Hanlon’s Razor:”

        “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Substitute incompetency for stupidity if you like.

        • bungee says:

          remember to include gross negligence!
          i see that one all the time.

          OT, but check out the ‘bitter lake’ documentary from the bbc. interesting beginning part about king of saud and fdr.

    • Whatsthepoint says:

      I admit that thought crossed my mind…how better to cripple naval shipments vs. overland rail Beijing to Europe …but accidents do happen..

    • Ted says:

      Chris; I read a report that the ship lost steering.

    • Jdog says:

      Heavy lift helicopters should have little problem moving cargo containers…

      • MarMar says:

        Let’s say one helicopter can move one container in a half hour (optimistic, since it will probably require workers on the ship to attach hooks etc). Let’s say two can operate at the same time.

        That’s 4 containers moved each hour, let’s round it up to 100 a day.

        There are 10,000 or 20,000 containers on the ship. To make a dent, let’s say they need to move 1,000 containers total. You’re looking at ten days.

        So: possible, but probably not very fast.

        • Paulo says:

          They log here with S 64s, Vertols, and Chinooks. Their turns are 2-3 minutes, that is one complete lift…transport…drop…and return. More than 3 minutes they lose money. The logs are pre-choked by riggers who know the weight from tables.

          Heavy lifters cannot work with containers of unknown weight…they could try, but how long before they hit one the weighs too much. #1…#2?

          A Chinook can lift 16,000 pounds. Vertol 10,000 lbs. S-64 25,000 lbs.

          An empty 40′ shipping container weighs 8,000 lbs. So, they would have to be empty or filled with plastic Walmart toys.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Chris Coles,

      By all accounts, there was a lot of wind (sand storm), and keeping that huge of a ship in such a tight space as it gets moved by the wind apparently is tricky. There were two canal pilots on board, but still, something went wrong.

      The shipping company denied rumors that the ship had lost power, and confirmed the wind situation — as did the Egyptian side.

      • Mark says:

        I’d venture that operating a ship that size , in such a narrow channel during powerful wind storms, would be human error.

      • Chris Coles says:

        My understanding was that the first report was the captain said the ship lost power. As another has also commented, it is entirely possible that that loss might have been for a very short period involving generators. Regardless, whatever actually occurred can easily be the action of a single, unidentifiable individual; where even the captain may never know the who or why. Yes, agreed, we may never know exactly what caused the ship to embed in the banks of the canal. All I am suggesting is we should not take it for granted this was a simple accident; if it was not an accident, we all need to think through the full implications and take appropriate actions to cover the worst possible scenario. Why? Because as I see it, this “event” has the potential to severely damage the European economies. First a pandemic, now what has to be seen as . . . a worst case dead stop in passage of trade by sea. The worst case has to be fully thought through . . . just in case.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Correct Wolf, thanks for the usual high level reporting.
        Grandpa once told me that one could kick a boat, any boat, and only result was a hurt foot; or, lean steadily against a boat, any boat, and it would move. Tried it once on a destroyer at dock, and sure enough.
        This event included reports of a steady wind of 30 knots, certainly enough to move this huge sail of a ship sideways, not to mention GUSTS! ,,, and possibly in unpredictable ways,,, also considering it is most likely that the only propulsion was at the propellers at the stern, as these size ships are usually controlled largely by tug boats in close quarters.
        IOW, these huge vessels do NOT usually have ”bow thrusters” etc., as do many yachets these days, even down to 30-40 footers.

        • Anthony A. says:

          What were the paid pilot(s) doing that were probably on the vessel when it was going into the canal?

          I have been on supertankers and no way would a captain be allowed to guide the vessel through the canal all alone. They usually pick up the pilot at the entrance and he takes command of the vessel through the canal.

    • dr_doomz says:

      “What concerns me is that it would appear that the ship lost power, while moving slowly in a totally calm environment”

      More than likely it was steered sideways on purpose. I give it 2-3 months until it’s moved. Now watch the price of shipping go up, up, up!

      • jm says:

        Wind force is proprtional to wind speed squared, and wind speed increases as you go higher above ground level. The large, high side area of the stacked containers results in a high wind generating enormous force pushing the ship leeward. To stay in the channel the helmsman would need to steer into the wind at some angle. It’s possible the sidways force became so great the angle needed to compensate for leeward drift became so great the bow contacted shallower bottom at the canal side, stopping the bow; the stern would then continue on and turn the ship even more. It’s also possible the wind suddenly died and the helmsman couldn’t straighten the ship out fast enough. And this was in a sand storm, so visibility would have been an added problem. The low speed limit in the canal (9 knots) would make this all even more difficult.
        Maneuvering a large boat in tight quarters at low speed with a strong side wind is no fun at all, and the speed-squared factor can make it impossible above a certain wind speed.

      • Tom S. says:

        What you’re talking about is an act of war that could trigger a WWIII type scenario so let’s just stick with the wind for now.

    • Stephen C. says:

      I’m thinking the next terrorist attach movie (hopefully not in real life) will feature some evil genius buying a giant container ship and doing this purposely, right at this very choke point.

    • NBay says:

      Thanks Chris. That murky water made me suspect that little barge looking thingy might be sucking/pumping sand.

      As far as this being part of someone’s bigger agenda, that is WAY WAY above the pay or net wealth grade of anyone here, and all I can hope is that such people are still too busy fighting amongst themselves to organize much.

      I still think that what often is thought to be a “worldwide plan” is just the random results of many extremely greedy people who punch way too far above their individual or group wealth weight.

      Class Warfare is probably the only agenda that they (and maybe even some here) collectively subscribe to, based simply on the excessive greed they all have due to their sick sociopathic natures.

      • NBay says:

        Although as a second thought, the barge looking thingy seems a bit far from the bow, and I think all those big ships have side thrusters for precision steering/docking, so maybe a thruster is just running full power. Seems like a logical move to me.

        And on that second part, our bodies generally DO know what they are trying to do (no matter how much we confuse them with crap food or pills or sedentary lifestyles) and there is 3 1/2 Billion years of trial and error behind that “knowledge”, most of which we don’t understand, simply because we can’t “see” ANY of it.

        Our “cultures” on the other hand, have largely been a total mess since the Neolithic Revolution (prior to which we just focused solely on staying alive to reproduce, like all other animals still do).

        BTW: Paulo has the absolute best analysis of the helicopter notion. Fits exactly what my ex-logger pals tell me.

        • briny says:

          The quickest way to strip the bow thrusters is to run them while embedded in sand. That’s a risk this former quartermaster and navigator wouldn’t take unless the Captain so ordered. Even so, I’d ask for that order in writing.

    • nick kelly says:

      Every report I’ve seen said it was very windy and a glance at this ship shows a huge weather vane. The container mountain acts like a huge rectangular sail.

      A hundred thousand ships made it, one didn’t.

      All these conspiracy theories get a little tiring. In the Middle Ages if there was a drought it was because God was unhappy, if a cow stopped giving milk it was because an old hag had given it the evil eye.

      Applying Occam’s Razor, the most likely explanation is that it was an accident, with a very narrow channel for the very beamy vessel contributing.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        Has anyone checked if Mercury was retrograde? A bad day for travel?

      • BuySome says:

        Conspiracy as in Abraham Lincoln proving intent by the steamboat operators to wreck a railroad bridge might be a bit too much. However, “accident” is often employed to cover up negligence at a series of minor levels which, on one unforunate day, line up to create a cascading chain of conditions that point toward the brick wall. After the crash, another row of mistakes might be part of a second chain which will result in overall apllication of the term “catastrophe”. The two might only be related at the pivot point of before and after. Fate, most definetly, is the hunter on that day. An explanation, yes, but not an excuse to avoid a full review of everything involved from natural dynamics to techno changes to cost avoidance to overwork to simple human errors.

    • fajensen says:

      I don’t understand the thinking behind the excavator. That poor little thing will do exactly nothing. To keep the desert out of the suez canal, they must have some sand sucker boats, somewhere. Those could move enough sand to float the ship.

      There *is* a trade war with China and the usual pattern of “regime-change talking points” about human rights for some people, that exactly nobody gave a crap about before the trade war was “green”.

      It could be a message that more things can break than just “chips”?

      Having said that, it is possible that a captain that use extra fuel to draw dick-pics on the location service is perhaps not exactly right in the head, and, people “in the know” say that large ships lose power all the time, their systems are not that redundant and … maybe it was bound to happen that someone lost power in the Suez?

  9. pygmycory says:

    Having supply chain issues? Here, have a giant container ship blocking the Suez canal. You’re welcome.

  10. Mike G says:

    There’s one guy in a backhoe digging around the bow. You’d think with the importance of this situation there’d be excavators swarming like ants on both banks of the canal.

    • Anthony A. says:

      I’m pretty sure that trying to dig it out is a huge waste of time. It’s beached and will just sink further down as soil is removed. The best option since the bunch of tugs can’t pull it out is to pull off liquids and cargo.

      • coalman says:

        Digging would appear to be a waste of time, the ship has a draught of 15.7 m., with a weight of 200,000 tonnes, no excavator could get down that deep.

  11. Micheal Engel says:

    The Suez canal have two lanes.

    • Anthony A. says:

      It’s blocked at the entrance before the two lane split.

    • Javert Chip says:

      Only part of the canal is two-lanes.

      Having made the transit on a passenger ship, it’s an amazing site to see another ship headed in the opposite direction about 1/2 mile away. Sand is dredged and piled into mounds along the side of the ditch(?), so you rarely see the water. The effect is the ship simply floats along on the other side of some dunes.

  12. Seneca's cliff says:

    A true Suez moment for globalism.

    • Thomas Roberts says:

      It really is, between all the floods that hit Asia, especially southeast Asia, regularly; China’s boycotting of Australian coal resulting in rolling blackouts which hit production; the CCP temporarily nationalizing foreign factories in China, during a pandemic they caused; and countless other issues. There is a now a giant ship, stuck in one of the world’s 2 major canals.

      Really makes you wonder if the west couldn’t move some stuff home (will be highly automated) and move a bunch more stuff to the Americas and maybe even west Africa. Right now, the CCP seems to think it has leverage over the west and can boss it around.

      There are smaller Asian countries like Thailand that also became partially developed and started to kick out western foreigners (pre-pandemic). When dealing with Asian governments, they are super friendly when you start to move production there, but later on if they (the Asian governments) seem to think they have any leverage, you’re going to have increasingly more problems. The west seems to think that if you deal with a government that is authoritarian, but friendly to you, they won’t later turn on you.

      We can have less important stuff like textiles, furniture, and other low tech stuff made outside the west, but important stuff should be made in West (and a few other trustable countries like Japan and Taiwan).

      • Brant Lee says:

        That would rock the boat (no pun) of the current retail and supply monopoly. The big secret is the huge profits being made with the current system. The U.S. could have better products with less cost and higher employment using automated domestic oversight factories.

        If the U.S. would cap mark-up at 50% (fair?) on foreign merchandise sold to citizens, prices at your favorite corporate retail joint would plunge.

        • nick kelly says:

          ‘The U.S. could have better products with less cost and higher employment using automated domestic oversight factories.’

          The second largest cat of Chinese imports (19%) to US is apparel incl footware. There are no automated factories for this. ( the reason you see lots of others than China making skirts etc. is that it’s WAY harder to make boots and shoes. But even with fabrics there are no auto shirt makers.)

          People wildly overestimate the current state of economic automation/robotics. The main use in the US is in packaging: bulk to retail. A guy who learned this is E Musk and now he says: “humans are underrated”

        • Javert Chip says:

          Brant Lee

          Yea! Yea, Brant. GOOD JOB!

          PRICE CONTROLS! That’s the answer. Why didn’t we think of this earlier?

          It worked GREAT for the old USSR, True story: they NEVER HAD INFLATION – the price of bread stayed just about the same FOR ALMOST 70 YEARS!

          Of course, there wasn’t really any bread for sale, but that’s a detail.

        • Thomas Roberts says:

          nick kelly,

          Production of clothing and shoes is moving from China to cheaper countries, pretty fast. I’m not too worried about clothing though. For things like clothing, because clothing factories are so cheap and easy to setup, no one really bothers finding ways to automate the process. A small but critically important story that was under reported back in 2019 was that, one of Disney’s producers in China was actually producing more than the agreed amount of purses and other items and then directly selling them through eBay and Amazon. Unlike normal counterfeits, these unofficial productions were identical and made side by side with official purses. Undercutting Disney and other companies like this, could hugely damage “luxury” brands. In China, the CCP owns everything and everything that happens there. There are countless untold stories like these and they are getting much more common. Wherever stuff does get made, foreign companies need to be actually able to own their factories there.

          As far as Musk though, the issue he faced was that the body was poorly designed, it was difficult to manufacture. Tesla gets better at manufacturing over time though. The product does have to have, how it will be manufactured, as a continuous part of the design process, in the beginning, Tesla apparently didn’t do this very well.

          When you consider that as Boeing moved to a more global production model, quality began to deteriorate, and that things that are very hard to make such as cars and planes are made predominately in America (the ones Americans buy); requiring something much simpler like a phone or laptop to made in America, is a small task. All the most advanced parts of a phone or laptop are already made in devoloped countries, the remaining task is to make easy parts and assemble them in America (American brands). Until the iPhone X, Apple always designed the base iPhone to have $220 worth of parts and charged $650. Apple claimed that making them in America would cost an additional $58, but really, I would expect it to be less than that. As more electronics would be made in America, that price would drop fast.

          Many other things that are made abroad like furniture and most appliances should over time be designed to be easy to have fixed. If you can have your fridge fixed easily, cheapily, and quickly; it won’t matter as much, where it was first made.

  13. timbers says:

    Can’t we just give the grounded vessel a vaccine? According to our leaders, vaccines are what is fueling our economy.

    • polecat says:

      Will hoard immunity work ?

    • Stephen C. says:

      This is good for inflation, hence employment. See the Powell Doctrine. Not that old Powell Doctrine, but the new one.

    • Anthony A. says:

      I’m surprised no one has blamed this on Trump yet.

      • BuySome says:

        Because lots of things go Trump in the was just a another common techno hack-cident due to the effects of over-indulgence in breathing the thin air of succesful engineering that begets unwarranted confidence.

        • Javert Chip says:

          Yea, well the Suez was “engineered (no locks & 99% shovel work) back in the US Civil War era.

          If something supporting 10-12% of global economy was even half-way well maintained, the entire length would be 2-way & each ditch would be 2000 ft wide

  14. A says:

    Will any of these supply issues make vehicle manufacturers consider redesigns that don’t use so many semiconductors?

    As my dad says, it’s hard to get a car without a ton of “bells and whistles” these days. But a lot of them really aren’t necessary or desired by all.

    Personally I like AC. I’m willing to compromise on a LOT else!

    • Anthony A. says:

      A, we had A/C in cars long before the transistor was invented. Find yourself a 1950 Buick Roadmaster with a “nailhead” V8, Dynaflow transmission, and A/C and you will be all set!

      • California Bob says:

        Good luck finding Freon R12 to charge that A/C.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Can be bought on eBay as “Artic Air for R-12 systems”. Whether it works or not, IDK.

        • California Bob says:

          The legality is a gray area (per hagertydotcom):

          “Anyone selling R12 is required to verify that the buyer has an EPA Section 609 certification to work with mobile vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) systems. eBay requires that anyone posting an auction for R12 check that the buyer has that certification, but eBay has no way to enforce it. Certainly no one selling cans of R12 on Craigslist is asking for your EPA 609 card. Also, the EPA 609 certification can be easily obtained by taking an online exam. Note that I am not advocating taking the exam and getting the EPA 609 certification simply so you can legally buy R12; I’m just stating what the law appears to be.”

        • Anthony A. says:

          Bob, common A/C replacement for a classic car is bought from Vintage Air or from Nostalgic AC. They make kits that use R-134. No one runs R-12 anymore and most have been converted.

          Even if one finds a 50 Buick with an old A/C compressor, it’s probably shot and not repairable. Finding a classic running original A/C components these days is like finding a hen with teeth.

        • NBay says:

          All A/C working fluids also contain lubricant for the compressor which better be exactly designed and exactly proportioned. I’d stick with dealer stuff, or concours level suppliers for the older iron, if it’s original equipment.

      • MiTurn says:

        My 12-year-old nephew took a ride with me in my old Ford pickup. He figure out how to roll the passenger-door window down. He had NEVER been in a vehicle with window cranks. He thought that it was very clever idea!

  15. Paulo says:

    I’ve always been surprised that terrorists have not sunk one of these super ships intentionally. Tourists get machine gunned, planes blown up, school kids kidnapped, and entire countries over run. When people have nothing, I’m not sure they care if they wreak trading havoc. Regardless, it’s a mess.

    I would still guess the price of gas will rise, regardless of the percentage of crude these days using the Canal. It’s time to shut down those refineries for summer blend, too. :-)

    It would be interesting to see how this problem is actually being tackled….beyond news clips. It would make an interesting documentary. What a hellish location to be stuck.

    • Mike G says:

      It’s pretty difficult to sink a mega container ship like this due to its sheer size, and a tanker would be a more spectacular target due to its flammability. A lot easier to hijack one, since they operate with bare-bones crews of about 20. But shipping lines and navies have been dealing with that for years, in a neighborhood not too far from Suez.

    • Sir Eduard R. Dingleberry III says:

      I am a terrorist and you have given me a great idea! Muahahabahahabab!!!!!!!

    • SnotFroth says:

      A ship that size could probably withstand most home-made bombs, and you can find videos on YouTube of cargo ship security crew armed with assault rifles mowing down would-be pirates as they approach. But if they did succeed, what a spectacular blockage it would create.

    • Javert Chip says:

      Remember which side Egypt is on…and they’re the ones making money from the transit fees.

      Hardly anybody wants to go back to building pyramids for a living.

      • NBay says:

        But it would be child’s play for even the smallest of those pyramid building corporations to get that ship unstuck.

  16. MonkeyBusiness says:

    It’s the US Navy nearby? Take off the containers and then torpedo the ship.

    So easy.

    • Stephen C. says:

      I’ve read the canal is rather shallow, so I don’t think sinking the ship would work.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        Vaporize the ship then. We’ve invested so much money in our military… heck we even have a Space Force.

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      I told you so…. US Navy headed to the Suez canal. Best case scenario: they get to target practice. Worse case scenario: their missile might go astray and hit a neighboring country.

  17. Jack says:

    Wow What a coincidence, just as oil was crashing, Softbank doesn’t have a stake in this ship do they??
    This was a deliberate act to keep prices from crashing.

    • Mike G says:

      If that was the goal it isn’t working, oil is down 4.45% today.

      • Jack says:


        yes I am aware of that, they were up 6% yesterday, still up from the lows which would have been breached & gone all the way down in my opinion, regardless I believe this was deliberate, there is no way it could have been an accident, it’s a straight ride, there is zero reason for the ship to turn.

        This could be for something other than just oil, could be to hurt China, what’s the bet this ship remains stuck for weeks, even months.

        No need to make any turns just keep it straight & it looks like a major turn & right at the point where it will block everything, no one can convince me this was not intentional, it was planned this way.

        • SnotFroth says:

          Hanlon’s razor… maybe some dolt was asleep at the wheel because that straight is so very boring.

        • Chris says:


          This could happen very easily. This ship is a single prop with two steering gears (large hydraulic rams), powered by a large Slow Speed. There are 3-4 generators which power the electrical equipment on board the ship. If there is a power failure, the stand by generator may take up to 30 seconds before it is powered and online. During that time there is no steering, and the vessel will begin to torque steer based on the directional rotation of the prop. The bow thrusters draw of the electrical board, and if the bridge department panicked, they may have killed the bus again by drawing too many amps on start up of the bow thrusters. With 0 room to play and a 1300ft ship, in a narrow canal, this can happen. Engineers worst nightmare for this kind of timing.

      • Jack says:

        plus a ship that size can’t just turn quickly, the turn would have been initiated well in advance, maybe miles in advance to hit at that point, I mean how long does it take for a ship of that size to turn, it takes miles.

        This was planned in meticulous detail for it to hit at that point. A lot of strange things going on people, like the markets today, down 1% then up 0.52% to close, same with the Dax, happens so often, who decides to not only catch a falling knife but to then push up markets like it never happened, this has happened so many times.

        These games are gonna end in disaster, something very very bad is coming & they are trying to cover it up.

        • Javert Chip says:


          “…plus a ship that size can’t just turn quickly, the turn would have been initiated well in advance, maybe miles…”

          Speed limit thru the canal is about 9kts (marathon runners are faster than that).

          It may take miles and miles to turn a big ship around, but inside the narrow canal, a ship only needs to move a couple hundred feet side-to-side to end up in the sand.

          The width of the canal varies, but I’d guess (other than the lake at the center) it’s never more than 1000 ft wide. At the widest point, a 200 ft-wide ship would have a maximum of 350-400 ft of clearance on either side. That might sound like a lot…but it’s not.

      • dr_doomz says:

        “If that was the goal it isn’t working, oil is down 4.45% today.”

        That’s being simple minded. Could have been down double that or more.

  18. polecat says:

    Why yes. The entire site from orbit, just to be sure we make things worse … as is our want.

  19. Micheal Engel says:

    1) Put a Pontoom bridge around the ship and a crane.
    2) Build a platform on the earth work, which is sand, and put on top of the platform a crane.
    3) Flush the sand bank with high pressure hoses to clear the bank.

  20. David Hall says:

    In Florida they use derrick barge shovels to excavate sand offshore and pumped wet sand through pipes onto dry beach for beach renourishment projects.

  21. Bobber says:

    I wonder what poor people in the area think when they watch huge boatloads of furniture, luxury goods, and conveniences pass by on a nonstop basis.

    If only they had bought some Bitcoin or Tesla. sarc.

    • polecat says:

      Pointing Rifles would probably be more efficacious .. I mean, it’s the MIDDLE of NOWHERE, Right?

      I’m not condoning such, uh .. ‘intervention’, just one other logical action, considering the circumstances of said ‘hypothetical poor’….

      • Javert Chip says:


        I’m not exactly a bleeding heart, but in Egypt, people aren’t ‘hypothetical poor’, they are seriously dirt poor.

        When I went down the Nile in 1992, we saw many fields being plowed with ox-power and wooden plows. Younger children ran behind to collect ox-poo, mix with straw & shape into blocks about the size of a large bread-box.

        These were left to dry in the sun, after which 2-3 inch slices were cut of to use as fuel for fires (it’s not like Egypt is covered in forests…).

        • Jack says:


          You’re right,

          Egypt, unfortunately is a basket case. A standout corruption that is propped up by ( international aid)!

          It will blow up one day ( big time).

          The need for international trade to find alternative sea shopping routes is imperative more than ever.

          The alternative is to force huge upgrade to the 50’s design of the canal. Which can be only done with international aid and oversight!

          There are some asinine comments here that infer that this accident was planned to lift oil prices!

          Those who think that oil shipping is dependent on that canal only should study a bit more before opening their mouths with stupid remarks like that!

          China and India are amongst the biggest importers of oil from SA, Iraq, iran and the rest of the gulf states, none of this shipping will be disrupted by such a “ calamity “!!

          Unfortunately the bizarre comments will gain traction without full understanding of this situation!

          Furthermore there are stupid comments that offer verity of solutions to this problem without the appropriate background to the realities both on the ground and in relation to the design of the ships and logistics of loading and unloading them!

          It is good to have an opinion in matters you feel passionate about, however ,it isn’t “necessary “ that you have opinions about ( everything).

          Maybe listening and learning might be more valuable that opining , unless you’re on ZH diet.

  22. Micheal Engel says:

    China can divert their export to the Panama canal ==> Rotterdam.

    • MiTurn says:

      I’m curious if rates through the Panama canal have jumped. Supply and demand, and all that…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      There are also rail links between China and Europe, though they cannot yet handle that kind of traffic. And they have their own issues.

      • BuySome says:

        JAMTRAK. ?

      • Auldyin says:

        I mentioned this on previous Suez block item because I knew UK got first rail container a couple of years ago. Decided to investigate further because I thought it was only Trans-Sib but it turns out they’re all at it bidding against each other for alternative routes. On time, they’re about half but they can enter local networks direct without dock loading. Gross volume is currently a constraint for full competition but they see it as a growth business with China co-ordinating via belt&road deals. The Russians have a Do-Do diesel loco which is massive and can pull actual chunks out of China!

    • Javert Chip says:

      Some of these big new ships (like the one stuck in Suez) are also too large for the new Panama Canal locks

  23. Micheal Engel says:

    1) There is a suspicious white cloud on the east bank of the canal,
    between the ship and the bank.
    2) It is possible that the canal is not well maintain.
    3) If the front end was stuck in the sand, the engine pushed the rear to
    the west bank.
    4) Since the ship is longer than the canal width, the engine kept pushing the front end further to the soft eastern bank.

  24. stan6565 says:

    One has to wonder what was the skipper doing. The wedgie doesn’t look like being blown by a gust of wind, but rather someone trying a handbrake turn.

    Also, does anyone knows if the canal dredging department had been dissolved to enhance the profit profile of the enterprise.

    However, worryingly, the long shots show the stern being submerged almost to the her waterline, but the bow seems to be a couple or maybe a few meters higher. Which would suggest that beaching happened at some speed and also that a good length of hull is now firmly bedded into the sand.

    Which would suggest at least a couple weeks until this plug is removed, and that only with an immediate mobilisation of some major governmental hardware. Egyptian and Israeli.

    The tugs dotted about have no chance without a major combined operation of 1. Containers offloading and 2. Extensive underwater dredging.

    • Javert Chip says:

      A ship that size just doesn’t stop because you hit the brakes(?) or it bumps into some sand; the ship plows forward until all its kinetic energy has been absorbed.

      The canal has no locks and there may be slight currents. The ship looks as if the bow hit, allowing (or forcing) the stern to swing in the current to jam against the opposite side of the canal.

    • jm says:

      The helmsman had to have been steering into the wind to compensate for leeward drift due to wind pressure, which is proportional to wind speed squared, and so can quickly become enormous in strong winds. But steer ability of a ship depends on the same speed-squared force on the rudder, so the low speed limit of the canal (9 knots) exacerbates the situation.

      • stan6565 says:

        Well if you go asleep and then suddenly wake up realising your are are veering starboard, then you do a full starboard lock and full reverse throttle. The you also add the bow thrusters starboard side and you correct her.

        This correction can be implemented faster than any “very powerful “ gust of wind. Ten seconds of action.

        Wind acts on the vessel profile, but rudders, thrusters and propellers are working in water which is ten times as dense, meaning ten times (factor of magnitude), more significant.

        • Javert Chip says:


          It’s interesting that nobody who really knows what might have happened has even attempted to give an explanation.

          Transit of the canal takes about 14-15 hours, but the Ship’s captain remains in command the entire time; the canal authority puts (from what I’ve read) a couple canal pilots on-board to assist with the transit.In addition, you’d (hopefully) have the normal bridge staff, as well as the daytime watch staff.

          That’s a fair number of people looking over each other’s shoulders

      • stan6565 says:

        The guys who beached Concordia thought he can do a quick hand brake turn to celebrate his birthday. 100s of millions of damage.

        Now in Suez, I have an inkling that someone important went to the loo to have a No2, leaving her in hands of second maintenance officer, who then went checking his Facebook account. 100s of millions and then some more hundreds of millions of damage.

        Isn’t it just amazing how a breakdown of a tiny weeny tiny cog in a big system can bring the whole big system to a dead stop.

        And if the people at receiving end of this whose vaccines and medicines fail to arrive to them, choose to stop paying their bills, then the guy with unpaid bills sends his baryaktar drones to distribute some justice, hey presto, we have a proper mess on our hand, liquid blood and all.

    • doug says:

      There is a ‘bank effect’ on ships. as they get too close, the pressure drops, sucking the ship. There are interesting PHd dissertations on it, which are found via your favorite search engine. They predict exactly what happened, I think.

  25. Ron of Ohio says:

    I remember from my CAT days back in the 1980’s there was such a thing as an underwater bulldozer (made by Komatsu?). The dozer can operate entirely under water except for a large snorkel for the exhaust and air intake. That excavator on the shore can only do so much, but underwater dozers may be of some use clearing a path. Unconventional problems require unconventional methods.

    • fajensen says:

      Back where I grew up, we had suction dredgers.

      These ships would come in and connect up to huge hoses and pipework, the sand and water would come blasting out of the 100 cm (3 feet?) pipework located on the shores, where they dumped the sand.

      These ships can move hundreds of cubic meters of sand per hour!

      Especially if they don’t have to first store the sand and later drop it off somewhere else and they can eject it directly onto the shore.

      Maybe the don’t have any available in Egypt because China bought up the stock to build new islands with?

      • doug says:

        Those dredges are expensive and move slow. and mostly old now. Check out the USofA’s McFarland dredge for example. Quite the machine, but built in 67 I think…
        But if one could get there, it could do the trick, I suspect.

      • stan6565 says:

        The suction dredgers would definitely be a very important factor in resolving this. Providing it is only sand they would have to dig into. I have a feeling that there is a great deal of underwater bedrock still in place, bedrock that was left in situ at the time of original construction when the ship sizes and necessary clearances were 10th of what they are now.

        I do not know how often the Suez Canal authority dredge or do they dredge at all, the canal to a true square underwater profile suitable for modern ship profiles, so to provide the waterway they advertise.

  26. Cobalt Programmer says:

    1. If you ever had a bad day, just remember the guy digging with his excavator on the banks.
    2. Every time the narrow stretch of Suez canal was expanded, the shipping companies made bigger ships. I read somewhere, the width of the suez canal is what prevented companies from building bigger ships
    3. Pahsa and the french engineer will be rolling in their graves. They ordered digging of canal with simple man made tools no heavy equipments
    4. Ever Given should never be given another pass in this canal.
    5. Dry goods in the ships standing are fine. Perishables are already gone.
    6. If this is a plan by oil companies to prop up the prices, then its a very stupid plan because this is low IQ than starting a new war.

    • SpencerG says:

      It is the width of the PANAMA Canal that limited ship sizes in order for ships to fit into the locks (not the Suez Canal which is basically a giant ditch and doesn’t have locks). It was known as the PANAMAX standard. Now that Panama has built a bigger canal/lock the size is limited by the “PANAMAX 2″ standard (or NeoPanamax” or “New Panamax”) … which is why you see these giant container ships being built and relatively new smaller ships being scrapped.

      Accommodating those New Panamax ships is also what is driving dredging projects of major ports in the U.S. and elsewhere… by tonnage they are 2.5 times as big as the original PANAMAX standard ships.. and by container count almost 3 times as big. A harbor depth of 40 feet is no longer sufficient… harbors (and channels) have to be dredged to 50 feet deep now.

      • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

        SG-reminds me of the old saw: “…don’t raise the bridge, lower the river…”.

        may we all find a better day.

  27. BuySome says:

    Betting is open…what’s the odds that somewhere in one of those containers is a plastic model kit of the R.M.S. Titanic?

  28. SpencerG says:

    The Suez Canal is an interesting engineering marvel of the modern age… both in how it was constructed and how it is run on a daily basis.

    I went through it a couple of times in the early-90s. The thing that surprised me was that there were still shipwrecks in it from the Arab-Israeli wars of 1973 and 1967. The desert air doesn’t degrade them quickly at all… and they were not a priority for the Egyptian government to spend its limited cash on.

    Where this ship is stuck is out in the middle of nowhere… “EBF” Egypt if you will. This situation will not get resolved quickly.

    • Hernando says:

      Correct … dig around it…. there are no locks.

      And this is great for bitcoin, weework, and tesla…. for some reason or another… probably gamestop too.

      • SpencerG says:

        When a ship runs aground… it tends to run HARD aground. And even if the Egyptians can get the equipment there to offload it and “refloat” it… you have to hope that there isn’t sufficient damage to the hull for it to leak… and thus settle if not sink. Commercial ships aren’t like Navy ships… they don’t have as many frames and watertight compartments.

        In short, this is going to be a real mess. I have little doubt some smart naval architects will figure it out… but these things usually take time and then there is a breakthrough and it is over with quickly. Sort of like the BP oil spill.

  29. sxs says:

    what about installing rocket thrusters or stationary turbine testbenches to the side wall and just push with a lot of force.
    And what about the use of additional inflateable floaters beneath the surface. like giant air matraces. Engineers dream to solve this.

  30. Juanfo says:

    If it was my boat sitting in line at the canal I would already be turning around and sailing to South Africa. As anyone knows that has been stuck in mud. sand or snow. The longer the vehicle is stuck, the harder it is to get it out. The implications of this event could be devastating similar in magnitude to the ongoing health crisis. Can’t wait to learn what MC01 can teach about this incident that will go down in history as a pivot in global trade.

  31. SnotFroth says:

    That’s a big ship. Maybe inflation in all things isn’t good after all. A 400 million pound beached whale blocks 10% of world trade. Send in the Chinese artificial island dredging team to perform a double bypass on that canal, stat.

  32. Stephen C. says:

    How long would it take to dig a path for this ship to curve around. Sort of like a turnout on a road? That could jump start the second lane that they will be eventually digging anyway, seems to me.

    Is digging that hard or expensive now? Let’s say Biden throws a trillion at it and demands it be done in 20 days. US throws its weight around to show up those uppity Chinese. I mean, come on man!

    We all need a good laugh once in awhile.

  33. Randy Oldman says:

    Major “kunst schtick”?

  34. Auldyin says:

    I think it was last year or the year before that we in the UK received our first overland container train from China via trans-siberian and channel tunnel. Now that’s what you call contingency planning. China and Russia again, these are very smart guys. It’s all down to competition on price and time now. Anybody want to buy a slightly damaged mega-ship cheap? Buyer to collect.

  35. caseybob says:

    What an amazing array of uninformed useless comment! I worked with Holland’s Smit Salvage on one occasion, who have a number of experts on the scene….indications are this is going to be a very difficult and lengthy job to free this gigantic 224,000 ton vessel and restore traffic.
    You can’t use the normal lightening practice of pumping out fuel & water ballast since the Evergreen Given could well capsize. It requires a huge floating crane to reach and remove thousands of containers, which is almost impossible to do from just one side…it can’t get around to do other side, so 2 giant cranes are required; one coming from the North & the other from the South.
    Smit Salvage is not sure if that is a solution, since huge cranes with required reach are not easily available, requiring weeks/months to reach the site. A different solution will likely be required.

  36. Stephen C. says:

    This article may be of interest. It’s behind a paywall at the FT, so Google the title: “the bank effect and the-big boat blocking the suez”

  37. WES says:

    Ex-Mining Guy:

    The bow of that ship is sitting on surface sand sitting on top of solid rock. Moving the sand is the easy part. The back hoe has already done that! Probably only took the operator an hour to move the sand.

    The problem the shovel operator faces is solid rock! The best he can do right now is to try and pick away at the canal rock face and hope he can break some pieces of rock free. He can’t be too aggressive or he will damage his back hoe because it is not designed to dig solid rock, only broken rock.

    To do deeper digging needs the rocks to be drilled, filled with explosives, and the rock blasted to fracture it. As you can imagine with the ship’s bow sitting on the rock, the series of blasts would need to be kept small by delayed timing to avoid puncturing the bow’s steel plates.

    The other alternate is to use hydraulic chisels/hammers like you see on highway construction. However breaking up rocks this way is painfully slow! Faster than a backhoe but not by much! Maybe OK right next to the bow.

    What the canal people need to do is borrow some local rock quarry or mine equipment designed to deal with solid rock. This takes time to do. Disassemble, transport, reassemble, etc.

    Rotary rock drills are needed. A large crawler dragline would be helpful to provide the reach required to clear rocks on both sides of the ship especially areas where the back hoe can’t reach. Most draglines are capable of digging down the required 50 feet or so if necessary.

    I know where such equipment is! In Southern Jordan! I helped build them in a previous life when I were a young lad! But sadly they are way too large to be moved quickly! The dragline is about 1/10th the size of the ship with a bucket the size of a two car garage! The blast hole drills are too big too. They a drill a 12 inch diameter hole at a rate of a meter a minute or a 50 foot deep hole in 16 minutes.

    Enough explosives could be packed into the holes to blow the bow off the ship! I sure do miss the excitement of those huge half mile long mine blasts!

    Sadly, today I would probably be classified as a domestic terrorist.

    • WES says:

      Actually if the job was left up to me, I would probably seal off an area inside the bow and then take a torch and cut off the offending piece of the bow!

    • Javert Chip says:


      I know the internet isn’t perfect, but I can find no reference to solid rock close enough to sea level to require blasting anywhere along the existing route of the Suez Canal, especially in the north, where the ship is stuck. The south has some rock in the general area, but I can find no reference to the Suez being blasted out of rock from Napoleonic to current time.

      Further, the depth of the canal where the ship is stuck is about 60 feet; there is no indication that there is solid rock in the area, let alone close enough to the surface for, as you say “…The bow of that ship is sitting on surface sand sitting on top of solid rock….”.

      Please explain your comment.

  38. Yort says:

    Really seems to have been an accident, and with the top salvage crews in the world working on the situation by removing fuel, ballast, digging, shifting containters from front to back, etc…I’d bet they get the ship moved by high tide this coming Sunday/Monday at best, and one week from now at worse. At $9.6 billion in estimated traffic loss per day, this will get solved quicker than most expect…

    Per Bloomberg:

    The incident began on Tuesday when strong winds kicked up sands along the banks of the 120-mile canal. The waterway is narrow — less than 675 feet wide (205 meters) in some places — and can be difficult to navigate when there’s poor visibility.

    But the Ever Given stayed its course through the canal, on its way to Rotterdam from China. As gusts that reached as high as 46 miles an hour swept up dust around it, the crew lost control of ship and it careened sideways into a sandy embankment, blocking nearly the entirety of the channel.

  39. Island Teal says:

    Elon Musk, Elon Musk…Paging Elon Musk.

    He must have something in his bag of inventions that would solve this problem.


    • polecat says:

      You know IT, you may be on to something there. Get Elon to point his entire fleet of AI conveyances towards that ship (fitted with ATV tires), give them a ‘running start’ .. and have at it. All of them simultaneously slamming and exploding in unison just might dislodge that sucker!

  40. Kenny Logouts says:

    Someone is trying to create a “natural” black swan.

    Anything, for all this bubble trouble popping to be impossible to blame on bankers and politicians.

    Sell the broadening top?

  41. YuShan says:

    I think they did it because stocks are not going up fast enough and Covid is already on the way out, so they need an argument for the next $3T stimulus.

    Of course it’s just an accident. Stuff happens.

  42. hendrik1730 says:

    The “advantages” of outsourcing, delocalisation and “just in time” illustrated.

  43. Bosshog says:

    Finally I can think of a Suez Crisis and not think of British Prime Minister Anthony Eden

  44. Lis_Hooker says:

    Require J Powell to inject sufficient US $ under the bow and float it off. He has an infinite supply.

  45. Augusto says:

    Can’t we just print money, do QE, expand Credit facilities, find an Ap, adopt MMT, do more Stock buybacks, talk about it on Zoom, invest in Solar panels, or undertake yield curve control to fix this Suez problem-after its just a boat that’s stuck…… But oh yeah those other “things” aren’t real and this Suez thing is. Does anyone out there now know how to really fix something, like make a boat float…… Is that the sound of crickets I hear…….Now, we are in trouble.

  46. caseybob says:

    It is quite possible these gargantuan new vessels have gone beyond the limits of steerability with the low speed limits (about 9 knots) in major trading canals, principal ports, and rivers. As jm’s comment pointed out, the high wind pressure increase squared on these huge slab-sided ships is not met by the no increase water pressure squared on the rudder.
    And there were reports of a brief power failure aboard which would make the low speed rudder-ram and bow-thrusters inoperative in the midst of difficult weather conditions.
    To top it off, the ‘Ever Given’ had a serious 2019 lack of control crash in Hamburg harbour during high winds, seriously damaging a ferry boat.
    The possibility that these these new giants have grown too big, defying the laws of physics is arguable. It is quite clear that the single lane of the southern Suez Canal needs to be immediately twinned.

  47. exiter says:

    Watch your choke-points!

    Hello?Does everyone understand what a “choke-point” is?
    It is a an easily controlled maneuver that can exert overwhelming force against any opposition force.

    500 years ago, when global trade was first recognized as reliant on the trade routes, great effort was made to locate choke-points in order to gain advantage.

    Now re Suez Canal, that single-lane passageway is not a mistake…it is a man=made choke-point that can be utilized at any future time for creating a giant, global effect!

    It is a singularity and someone turned it on!

    What happened is obviously being hidden. The entire crew is sequestered. Vital data is being sequestered.

    Example: Since bow-thrusters are mostly, if not all, driven be electric auxilliary power, any interruption totally disables steerage, which is singularly critical at that choke=point location ..utterly predictable. That applies to all other steering-critical operations and personnel.

    Who? Why? How? can be debated, but someone did it easily in an unprovable manner.

    Very few persons could arrange it, at very low cost, planning and time. a software hack.

    Watch your choke-points!

  48. exiter says:

    Or runaway thrusters [s/w hack? Stuck contactor?] for just 5 seconds could send the bow with momentum enough to scrape edge-sand on the very narrow channel.

    On internet are hydroygraphic charts that suggest as much as 1/3 of hull may be contacting the lesser-dredged side of the channel. I.e., that the deepest-draft vessels are restricted to only perhaps 2/3 of the full width . That applies to Ever Given.

  49. historicus says:

    a word that will linger in the 21st Century
    Supply chain fragility

  50. Willy2 says:

    – The container ship is no longer stuck. It is now sailing northwards. All the dire predictions of the Suez canal being blocked for weeks and months didn’t pan out. But it will take weeks before all is back to normal.
    – Perhaps the crew was “not (too) experienced” ??

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