Suez Canal: Visualizing The Critical Waterway Now At A Halt

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Suez canal map

The Briefing

  • The Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important waterways, connecting Asia and Europe
  • On March 23, 2021, the Ever Given container ship ran aground, blocking transit in both directions

The Suez Canal: A Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

On March 23, 2021, a massive ship named Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal, completely blocking traffic in both directions. According to the Suez Canal Authority, the 1,312 foot long (400 m) container ship ran aground during a sandstorm that caused low visibility, impacting the ship’s navigation. The vessel is owned by the Taiwanese shipping firm, Evergreen Marine.

With over 200 vessels halted on either side of the canal, authorities are scrambling to dislodge the container ship and resume normal operations. This has proven to be a difficult task so far, and experts are warning that the process could take weeks.

What is the Suez Canal?

Constructed in 1869, the Suez Canal is an Egyptian sea-level waterway that provides a vital shipping route between Europe and Asia. Without this route, ships would need to sail around Africa, adding an entire week to their trips.

The connecting link between two important regional economies, the canal facilitates a significant amount of trade. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) reported that 19,000 vessels—averaging to 52 a day—had sailed through its waters in 2020.

Year Number of Vessels Amount of Cargo (Tons)
2011 17,800 692M
2012 17,224 740M
2013 16,596 754M
2014 17,148 822M
2015 17,483 823M
2016 16,833 819M
2017 17,550 909M
2018 18,174 983M
2019 18,880 1,031M
2020 18,829 1,170M

The total volume of cargo being transported through the canal has increased steadily in recent years. This includes consumer goods, dry-bulk cargo such as grain and minerals, and oil products.

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William K. 2 weeks ago Member's comment

And what we can see here is that Bigger is not always better. Especially when it comes to failing. Did somebody once say,"The bigger they are, the harder they fall"?

William K. 2 weeks ago Member's comment

Interesting and with conclusions as well. Is there any consideration that this may be a deliberate action by either an institution or an individual to intentionally disrupt commerce? And with the revelation that the ship is already starting to sag in the middle that nasty suspicion grows stronger. Some problems ARE attributable to malice rather than stupidity. Has the political agenda of those responsible for steering the ship been examined? Perhaps they should be examined.