My students yesterday requested reading and discussion on the Ever Given, the Suez Crisis, and the history of the canal.
It was really fascinating to read how huge these ships are, and how reliant we are on global shipping. Ninety percent of global trade occurs via sea freight. So now with ships backed up in both directions because of the Ever Given blocking passage, it will have a huge knock-on effect on global trade and shipping.
The Ever Given (leased and run by Evergreen Marine) can carry 20 000 containers, each weighing up to 40 000lbs. The ship itself weighs 200,000 tonnes without cargo, and is is a quarter of a mile long (the length of four football pitches), one of the largest container ships in the world. The engines in these vessels weigh 2,300 tonnes each and the ships themselves are like giant bathtubs full of containers (they do not have decks).
If they free both ends of the ship, it will put a lot of strain in the midsection. It is already starting to sag because the ship was not built to hold that position for long periods of time under that weight. If they try to take many containers off the ship and place them beside the canal, it could cause the canal wall to collapse. That would also involve bringing in cranes that would need to stretch more than 60m (200ft).
Many shipping companies who have vessels stuck in the canal are unable to lease new ships to take their next cargo around the Cape of Good Hope. There are not enough ‘spare’ ships to lease and the prices are skyrocketing. There are not enough ports with cranes able to load and unload container ships to unload the huge backlog of ships when they finally get Ever Given out. Disruptions in supply chains are expected, with shortages of cars, shipping containers, medicines and electronics. The oil price has already increased due to oil tankers being stranded in both directions. The route around the Cape of Good Hope is much longer and will cost time and money. There are pirates in the waters many ships will have to traverse.
The Ever Given is holding up an estimated $9.6bn of goods each day – or $400m an hour – according to data from Lloyd’s List. And the blockage could last for weeks. Can you imagine the sky-high insurance claims?
Interestingly, this is the second time the Ever Given has been blown into something by wind. It previously happened in Germany in 2019.
Massive events like the COVID pandemic and now this, show how reliant we are on components being able to move around the globe.
On the funny side, I had a giggle at these. Imagine having such a bad day at work that your mishap can literally be seen from space?