CAIRO, EGYPT — A stranded container ship lodged across a single-lane stretch of the Suez Canal has put a halt to shipping traffic, including vessels carrying grain.
The Panama-flagged Ever Given ran aground diagonally across the single-lane stretch of the southern canal on March 23 after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said.
It is now blocking transit in both directions through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels for goods, oil, grain and other products linking Asia and Europe, affecting billions of dollars worth of cargo.
More than 200 vessels, including other large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain are waiting backed up at either end of the canal, creating one of the worst shipping jams in years.
Efforts to dislodge the vessel thus far have been unsuccessful and the salvage company working to free the ship said it may take several weeks to get the canal reopened.
Around 55 million tonnes of grain are shipped through the Suez Canal each year, according to the SCA.
The blocked canal may delay nearly 7% of seaborne US major grain shipments, according to USDA and vessel data analyzed by Bloomberg.
It is estimated that roughly 12% of total global trade of all goods moves through the canal, an Egyptian waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez and dividing Africa and Asia.