Wednesday, March 24, 2021


When I was down in Georgia last November, I found myself wishing I had a lens longer than the 24-120mm on my camera to get better shots of the MV Golden Ray, lying on her side in St. Simons sound. She wasn't an enormous ship, as ships go, being some 660 feet long. Still, something the length of two football fields just lying there on its side tends to attract the eye.

The big yellow arch is actually the superstructure of a salvage catamaran, the not-very-romantically-named VB-10,000.

Golden Ray is only not very big by current ship standards because current ship standards have to take into account monsters like US Navy carriers, supertankers, and gigantic container ships like the Ever Given...

Ever Given is big. Really, really big. Like, so big that if you nailed an eight foot long two-by-four to the bow, you'd have just made the ship a full quarter mile long. So big that some people have noted that she might be larger than the size class known as "Suezmax". (The Suez Canal doesn't have locks, so overall length isn't as hard a limit as it would be on the Panama Canal... I mean, unless you turn your ship sideways or something.)

The effect on the global shipping trade will depend on how quickly this traffic jam can be cleared.

If the authorities in Egypt are able to free the Ever Given from the channel and move it to the side of the waterway within two to three days, the episode will be a minor inconvenience to the industry. Shipping companies generally build in extra days to their schedules to account for delays en route.

But if the ship’s extraction proves more complex, leaving the Suez blocked for longer, that could pose a substantial risk for an industry that is already overwhelmed. Global maritime trade has taken a hit over the last year because of the pandemic, pushing Egypt’s revenues from the canal down 3 percent to $5.61 billion in 2020.

“If that’s going to be a knock-on delay, then you’ll see piling up and bunching up of ships on their arrival in Europe as well,” said Akhil Nair, vice president of global carrier management at SEKO Logistics in Hong Kong. “It’s just one more factor that we didn’t need.”
The news reports are saying that control was lost during a bad sandstorm, causing the bow to run aground and the ship to slew sideways. "If a butterfly flaps its wings in China and causes a sandstorm in Egypt, how late will Hans's PS5 in Stuttgart be?"