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Another Challenge for Global Shipping

Thursday 25 March 2021

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With International shipping still in a fragile state, and with both costs and transit times increasing, the news this week that an ultra large container ship is now blocking the Suez Canal (the main shipping route from Asia) is yet another obstacle to the global recovery.

The Ever Given, a 220,000-ton container ship (measuring 400 metres long and almost 60 metres wide) has become grounded between the two sides of the canal.

Source: BBC News - Youtube

The ship, roughly the same length as the Empire State Building is high, is causing knock on issues for the ships behind. There are currently 4 diggers on the ground, as well as 9 tugboats, working around the clock to free the stricken ship, to clear the backlog of over 150 boats currently stuck in the queue to pass through the Canal. 

Re-floating the vessel is a very technical operation and approximately 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand (around the same size as 8 Olympic sized swimming pools) will need to be moved to allow the ship to re-float. It could still take days before the Suze Canal passing can return to it's normal busy self. 

We have been in touch with our shipping agents, and we can confirm that none of our products are on this ship, and at this moment in time, they can't see any delays to our shipments. However, the true scale of the backlog is yet to be understood so we will be sure to keep you updated if anything changes.

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Did you know?

This is not the first time that a stranded ship has been so publicly reported on, and it has previously happened a lot closer to home, in the River Thames; and again the financial costs and implications were staggering for the times.

Considered a pioneer of British engineering, the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel, alongside naval architect John Scott Russell, built the SS Great Eastern in 1854. Built at Millwall Iron Works on the River Thames, London, She was by far the largest ship ever built at the time. 

 

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Due to the size of the ship, Brunel faced a huge problem as no dock was big enough to launch the "Monster Seaship". Brunel’s solution was to launch the ship sideways using cables and chains. Nothing had been attempted on this scale before, but Brunel was confident that his calculations were correct to allow the launch to go ahead. To support this sideways launch, Brunel had ordered the construction of two slipways into the Thames which would support the Great Eastern into the water

Unfortunately, the launch did not go to plan, and Brunel discovered that the steam powered winches designed did not have the required power to pull the ship into the Thames. In fact, it took another three attempts and three months to finally get the ship into the water.

Although the design of the Great Eastern was brilliant, the story of the ship is a sad one, because no dock or harbour could cope with her enormity. She did manage to finally get on the water, but only on shorter voyages, and was eventually scrapped in 1888. The ship was that well engineered and that strongly built, that it took 200 men almost two years to dismantle! 

 

Interestingly, due to it's size, the SS Great Eastern would never have fit through the Suez Canal in 1854, and would have had to have been diverted around the Cape on any sea-route. 

 

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