The Ever Given Is Back in the Suez Canal as Cousin Ship Sits Beached in Chesapeake Bay
Global supply chains hold their breath in unison.
Almost one year ago to the day, the Evergreen-operated ship Ever Given pulled the wildest accidental maneuver in modern shipping history and perfectly blocked the entire Suez Canal for six straight days. Now, it's headed back through, and it does so as its sister ship Ever Forward currently sits run aground in the Chesapeake Bay.
We'll start with the ship that captured the attention of the entire world almost one year ago. The Ever Given is currently at the southern entrance to the Suez, waiting to pass through. It set out from Malaysia 11 days ago and should be passing through the canal, which handles roughly 12 percent of total global trade per year. That's a fairly common thing to do, after all, as the Suez Canal sees an average of 50 ships and anywhere from $3 billion to $9 billion worth of cargo per day. It's been a vital channel for world commerce since its opening in 1869.
The Ever Given itself is one of the largest container ships on the planet, measuring in at a staggering 1,312 feet long with a 199,626-ton deadweight tonnage—that is, how much maximum weight it can carry. This puts it in a seven-way tie (all with other Evergreen-operated vessels) for the 14th largest ship on the planet.
As a result of this incredible mass and the importance of the Suez, it was a unique problem when on March 23, 2021, it was blown off-course in the middle of the canal and performed an accidental parallel parking job that blocked one of the most vital trade routes mankind has ever constructed. Economists at Allianz estimated that $400 million in global GDP was lost per hour during the six days that the massive ship blocked the Suez, and the ship was held for months in legal limbo as it required lengthy repairs even after it was finally excavated from the canal.
Of course, the ship's grounding became an instant meme, because while the implications for global trade were terrifying, seeing a giant boat stuck in the middle of a canal like it was an Austin Powers bit was perfect internet comedy material.
Now, the ship is passing through again, and while it's done this a few times since the incident, yet another vessel operated by Evergreen has run aground in a critical location, this time the 1,095-foot long Ever Forward.
The Hong Kong-flagged Ever Forward is currently beached in the Chesapeake Bay, just outside of Washington D.C. Coast Guard authorities have not given an explanation yet beyond the mathematical fact that the ship operates at a depth of 50 feet and is currently stuck where the water is only 25 feet deep. While this doesn't block trade as devastatingly as the Ever Given incident a year ago did, as ship traffic is still possible, it has caused reduced traffic; the Craighill Channel, the section of the bay it ran aground in, is reduced to one-way traffic with lower speed limits.
While the Ever Forward is being refloated, hopefully, the Ever Given finds itself much luckier than it did a year ago. With the entire world's eyes on a single vessel, I can definitively say I do not envy the captain as they head into the Suez.
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