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CEDA president highlights role of dredging in world trade

Suez Canal, Evergreen, dredging, salvage, trade, safety, waterways

29032021 Ever Given Boskalis - credit Boskalis // ever-given_suez_canal_refloat_credit_boskalis.jpg (82 K)
Caption: Ever Given was lodged in the Suez Canal for nearly a week and was successfully re-floated today (Photo Credit: Boskalis)

The saga of the 20,000 teu container ship stuck in the Suez Canal since Tuesday finally closed today when the vessel was successfully re-floated with the help of Dutch dredging company, Boskalis.

In a statement today, Boskalis CEO Peter Berdowski said that approximately 30,000m3 cubic meters of sand was dredged in order to free the 400 m-long and 60 m-wide Ever Given. Eleven harbour tugs and two seagoing tugs were involved in the operation.

Commenting on the successful outcome, CEDA’s president Polite Laboyrie said the incident has highlighted how important shipping, significant waterways, and by association dredging is to world trade.

“The successful re-floating of the 224,000-ton Ever Given was accomplished through applied dredging and salvage technical expertise. The unblocking of the canal is a testament to the skills of the dredging and salvage technicians who worked round the clock to ensure that the vessel was re-floated and trade through the Suez Canal could resume. This incident shows the world how important not only the maritime sector is to trade, but also the vital role that the dredging sector plays in safe navigation of vessels,” Laboyrie told CEDA Industry News.

According to financial services provider Allianz between 10-12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal each year. International maritime publication Lloyd’s List estimates that around USD10 billion of daily marine traffic could have been delayed by the blockage.

“The real question now is how it happened,” said Laboyrie. “Was it human or technical error? It is vital that the cause of the incident is investigated to avoid a repeat situation.”

High winds and a sandstorm have been quoted as the reason why the Taiwanese-operated Evergreen Marine Corporation vessel went off course and drifted into the more shallow section of the waterway. The vessel was at one point wedged diagonally across the canal, with its stern and rudder stuck in rocks and sand.

Berdowski said: “I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given on 29 March at 15:05 hrs local time, thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again. I’m extremely proud of the outstanding job done by the team on site as well as the many SMIT Salvage and Boskalis colleagues back home to complete this challenging operation under the watchful eye of the world. The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented and the result is a true display of our unique capabilities as a dredging and marine services provider.”