A six-day long perch of one of the massive container ships, named 'Ever Given' bagged the international limelight when it got anchored in the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the ends of north and south of the busiest trade route of Suez Canal. This colossal ship is originally owned by Shoei Kisen Kaisha, and is chartered and operated by the “Evergreen Marine”, which is situated in Taiwan. Whereas the Suez Canal is located in Ismailia, Egypt. From 23rd March to 29th March 2021, the Ship blocked the route of the Suez Canal which in result gave them a humungous loss of billion dollars as its blockage to trade route affected many global supply chains which carry 10% of global trade and 7% of world's oil. As the Canal is a major source of “national pride and crucial revenue for Egypt”.
On 23rd March, the Panama-flagged ship carrying nearly 3.5 billion US dollars in cargo between Asia and Europe ran aground in the narrow, man-made canal. Finally, on 29th March, salvage teams rescued the stuck Ever-Given ship, ending the global crisis which clogged one of the world's most vital waterways and halted billions of dollars a day in maritime commerce. The extraordinary six-days shutdown that raised fears of “prolonging delays, shortages of goods and inflating costs for the consumers”, increased the existing strain on the shipping industry who was already under the pressure occurring from coronavirus pandemic. At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle backed up to wait to traverse the canal. While others traveled around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa that cost them fuel and enormous money.
Lt. General Osama Rabie, Chairman of Suez Canal authority stated that Egyptian authorities have already confiscated the giant cargo ship amid a financial dispute with its owner. He said that the Ship will not be allowed to move until the Vessel’s owner becomes ready to pay the compensation amount of at least 916 million US dollars for their loss. The officials stated that the Court in Ismailia, Suez Canal ordered to impound the vessel and the vessel's crew was also informed about the same. The Lt. General also said the Ismailian prosecutors opened a separate inquiry to find out why the Ever Given was being struck by a canal. Together with the experts the signs of possible damage were sought and the reason for the vessel being grounded was to be determined.
Timeline of the events which happened when “the Ship” was grounded in the Suez Canal:
The container ship sailed in Suez Port at midnight on the 23rd of March under the Panama Flag. The Ever Given slowly drifted to the Mediterranean Sea for the next 5 hours and 37 minutes, more than six weeks ago. On March 23, a forecast of “thrilling winds of sand and dust” winds and a “maritime navigation disruption” was done by the EMA. EMA also predicted wave levels of between 10 to 13 feet on the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea.
Now officially cleared to navigation in the north and enter the canal with a select convoy from one of the largest vessels of the day. The Marshall Islands were first followed by the Al Nasriyah, followed by the Cosco Galaxy, the Ever Given, and the Maersk, etc. The Al Nasriyah went north and began its journey to the entrance to the canal and then moved to the South terminus of the Suez Canal. Seven minutes afterward, the Mosaed 2, a local tugboat was used to help direct its way through, as the channel sailed around a 4.3-mile gradual opening turn. The Mosaed 3, which was positioned behind the ship, took the Cosco Galaxy shortly afterward also on a tugboat.
The Ever Given came into the Suez Canal at 7:18 a.m. and chose oddly to go without a tug boat. Although, it's not compulsory their usefulness counts as an additional precautionary measure, especially in bad weather conditions. At 7:22 a.m., the Ever Given was alone in the opening turn of the canal and the speed of the Ever Given was also increasing gradually and then eclipsed the limit of 8.6 knots set by the SCA, started approaching the levels of eyebrow-raising and reached 13.7 Knots. When DeCruz saw a video replay from the Ever-Given entrance to the canal of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) it jumped off its screen. He understood the dangers associated with these speeds. But the pilots on board the Ever Given might have had no choice but to advise the captain to accelerate.
According to a declaration from the Authority for Suez Canal, strong, dusty winds boomed down on the canal at a rate of up to 46 miles per hour. A pilot could prescribe an increase in speed and an angled course against the wind, in order to effectively combat such a gust. At 7:39 a.m. the Ever Given was stretched and parallel to the canal again, but it was now sailing on the western bank.
Ships such as the Ever Given don't mix with banks well. When a small vessel sails next to one, it squeezes and displaces the water strip between land and the ship. The flow of the water thus accelerates, the pressure falls, and when it flows shallowly into the wake of the ship, like a toilet flushing, it sucks downward into the stern of the ship. This phenomenon, called the bank effect, can ravage mega-ships that displace large amounts of water but that, if they knock the kilter off, cannot quickly reverse course.
Around 7:40 a.m., the stern of the Ever Given swung suddenly to the western banks of the Suez Canal. As the stern went west in the clockwise direction, the bow swung east in the clockwise direction pushed by a gallon of water from the west bank of the bow. The Ever Given has been out of hand. The two SCA pilots and the captain faced emergencies on the bridge of the Ever Given. It was of utmost importance to take action. At 7:41 a.m. the Ever Given's bow facing east bank turned the ship west, the only reasonable navigational option. But the suction stretch of water between the West Shore and the star of the ship was probably too shallow, according to DeCruz, to allow the ship to track down the course.
The Ever Given hit the east bank of the channel at 7:42 a.m. and drove a bulbous bow at the marker of 151 km. A minute later, the stern was drifted westbound from a clockwise point of view. The Suez Canal becomes officially blocked. Once a ship agonizes, crisis management starts on the bridge instantly. The Mosaed 2 reached the grounded ship at 8:17 am, as did the Mosaed 3.
The Ever- Given rescue operation started 35 minutes after it struck land. This operation ended seven days, six hours, and 48 minutes later. The Ever Given was floated at 3:05 p.m. and then returned into the channel for inspection.
What Does Article 39 of UNCLOS Convey?
Article 39 of UNCLOS: (Duties of ships and aircraft during transit passage)
1. When the Ships and aircraft plan to exercise their right of conveyance passage, they should keep certain guidelines in mind which are as follows:
a) To proceed through the ship over the strait without making any delays;
b) Ship shall refrain from making the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of the bordering States, any threat or use of force. Furthermore, there should be no violation of any kind as set out in the principles of international law as laid down in the UN Charter;
c) Ship shall refrain from performing any activity other than that necessary for the ordinary modes of continuous and rapid transit unless force majeure or distress arises;
d) Shall adapt to with other relevant provisions of this Part (1).
2. Ships in transit passage shall:
a) Compliance with normally accepted international regulations, procedures, and practices, including International regulations on the prevention of maritime collisions;
b) Comply with international regulations, procedures, and practices commonly accepted for the prevention, reduction, and management of ship pollution.
Did “the Ship” infringe upon Article 39 of UNCLOS?
The cargo ship, Ever Given had infringed on Article 39 of the UNCLOS because it did not comply with the guidelines mentioned in the article. Like, when the ship started its voyage, violated the approved speed, and jumped to 13 Knot after getting warned by EMA which ultimately resulted in failure of programming. The ship got stuck, made six days delay, gave huge losses to global trade of Suez Canal and to many other vessels as many were forced to take another long route and suffered from heavy losses and their resources. In the end, authorities of Ship paid a compensation of 550 million dollars. This money would help to cover the salvage, stalled channel traffic costs, and transit charges for the week in which Ever Given blocked the Canal.
July 24, 2021