Backlog at Suez Canal has grown to around 400 ships, and it's not clear when channel can re-open

Business Insider US

Stranded ships waiting in the queue to cross the Suez Canal on March 27, 2021.
  • Around 400 ships were waiting to get through the Suez Canal as on Monday.
  • The massive ship blocking the path had been partially freed, but the canal was still closed.
  • It's not clear when the other ships will be able to pass.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Around 400 ships were still waiting to pass through the Suez Canal as of Monday, even after the Ever Given cargo ship was partially freed.

The Ever Given first got wedged in the canal on Tuesday March 23, meaning no ships could pass.

Typically, around $10 billion in trade passes through a day, and cargo companies were left considering a much longer journey going around Africa instead.

The ship has now been partially refloated - but its front end is still stuck in the bank of the canal, so the route is still blocked.

Lloyd's List, a London-based maritime intelligence publication, said that the number of ships that can carry above 10,000 tons that were waiting to pass through the canal had grown to 372 as of Monday.

Bloomberg gave a higher estimate, reporting that more than 450 ships total were waiting.

This satellite image shows what the blockage looked like on Saturday, when there were fewer ships waiting:

There's no timeline for when those ships can move again. The canal is only wide enough to take traffic in one direction at a time, so ships typically travel in convoys alternating the north and south routes.

When the route does reopen, there will still be a lot of ships to work through.

Mohab Mamish, the Egyptian president's advisor for the canal authority, told Bloomberg: "It could take around one week to get all ships out of the Suez canal corridor."

Despite the success in moving the ship so far, it's still not in a position where it can leave the canal.

After it was partially refloated, Peter Berdowski, the CEO of Boskalis, the salvage firm that was hired to free the ship, told Dutch NPO Radio 1: "Don't cheer too soon."

"The good news is that the stern is free but we saw that as the simplest part of the job," he added, the Associated Press reported.

And an official who works at the company that owns the ship said that the bottom of the ship still touches the bottom of the canal.

Maersk, the world's biggest shipping company, warned on Monday that the shipping delays caused by the Ever Given could take months to resolve.

It said: "Even when the canal gets reopened, the ripple effects on global capacity and equipment are significant and the blockage has already triggered a series of further disruptions and backlogs in global shipping that could take weeks, possibly months, to unravel."

Live animals and goods like toilet paper, coffee, and furniture are on the blocked ships.

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