Egypt, ship blocking the Suez Canal

Turkey offers its help to free the ship blocking Suez Canal

Turkey has one of the few ships in the world capable of carrying out this operation in the Suez Canal, which is blockaded since Tuesday.

Turkey has offered its help to free the gigantic cargo ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal since March 23 after being stranded in the pass, disrupting much of the world’s maritime traffic.

“Our ship, the Nene Hatun, is one of the few ships in the world capable of carrying out operations of such a magnitude,” Turkish Transport Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu explained this Friday in statements to the NTV channel. “We have offered our help, and if there is a positive response (from the Egyptian authorities) we will send it,” he said.

The Ever Given, a huge 400-meter long cargo ship with a Panama flag of convenience, ran aground on Tuesday morning while crossing the new Suez Canal; and it did it in such a way that it got traversed along the width of the channel, blocking the way to all maritime traffic and creating a funnel that so far holds about 200 freighters from all over the world waiting to be able to cross.

“Very serious” consequences for world trade

Efforts to get the huge ship off the sandbar where it appears to be stranded have so far been unsuccessful, and teams working on the ground are unable to determine whether the canal blockade will last days or weeks; experts warn that a week-long blockade will already have “very serious” consequences for global maritime traffic, affecting the supply of food, fuel and other products between Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

In fact, the Suez Canal – through which 12% of the world’s maritime traffic passes, crossing a cargo worth 9.5 billion dollars every day – is one of the most important transport routes in the world, mainly for the transport of oil and liquefied natural gas between the Middle East and Europe, so a weeks-long lockdown would affect crude supplies.

An alternative would be to skirt – as was done until the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869 – the Cape of Good Hope, in the extreme south of Africa: but that would take almost twice the time and distance to transport the goods, which would be significantly more expensive. Even if the canal blockade lasts only days, that in itself will cause a major congestion problem in European ports.

Whether or not Egypt requests help from Turkey to free the ship blocking the Suez Canal, there are already experts calling for lessons to be learned from this incident; the new generation of large-tonnage freighters such as the Ever Given, necessary in view of the increase in world freight traffic, has serious problems to cross Suez even despite the latest extensions carried out by the Egyptian government in the canal: so, this will probably not be the last accident of its kind.