Why can’t they just pull out M. V. Ever Given (Evergreen), blocking the Suez Canal?

We have all seen the news the M. V. Ever Given (Evergreen) is blocking the Suez Canal but why can’t they just pull it out? Why cant they just take it free?

You have probably heard by now the EVERGREEN container ship that got stuck in the Suez canal. This is a way bigger deal than you think and it could increase the price of Oil, Electronics and other goods by a large amount. The Suez canal is one of the most important canals in the world. 12% of the global trade volume and 30% of all container ships go through each day. This is 52 ships an average a day and currently, nobody can pass the canal. The canal is located between Africa and Asia and it is a huge shortcut between Asia and Europe. It’s roughly half the distance to go through the canal because otherwise, you have to go around Africa.

We will end this article by illustrating some of the challenges that they’re facing and explain why it’s such a big problem to get it free. First, we need to know that in the south of the Suez Canal there’s a single canal and in the north Dual canals. The evergreen is stuck in the south, not in the north.

evergreen ship accident in single canal in Suez canal
evergreen ship accident in single canal in Suez canal

We need to understand that the vessel is 400 meters long and goes as deep as 15 meters or 45 feet. Also the total weight of the vessel is 200000 tons, that is the same as 200000 cars. 

When floating. A tug vessel can easily move the vessel around, but the vessel is not floating anymore. it’s landed on the beach. In the picture, we see that the nose of the vessel has hit land. 

What is difficult to see is that the nose is just the tip of the iceberg since the vessel may go as deep as 15 meters. It is very likely that the vessel at this point is about 15 meters embedded into the seabed. 

Since the vessel is now on the sand it has become a fictional problem to move the vessel. This is the same as when we are dragging a box on the table. 

We have to understand that any object that gets stuck in the soil and covered with water has a force from both ends. So the object wont push back unless it is a floating object. Now the ship has lost her floating ability as she has embedded her front and rear sides in the soil.

Part of the vessel is now resting on the sand. If we assume that it’s around 1/3 of the vessel weight that is resting on the sand, then the frictional force required to move the vessel is around 50% of the weight resting on the sand.  That is 50 percent off one-third of 200000 tons.

50% of 1/3 of 200000 tons = 33,000 tons

So 33000 tons will be required to pull to move the vessel away from the sand. The vessel Far Samson is likely the vessel in the world with the highest pull capacity Bullet pool. It has a capacity to pool 420 tons.

Far Samson : Credits

That means that we would need 85 Samson’s to pool the M. V. ever given free. And there’s just not enough space in the channel to have 80 vessels putting at the same time. Also, the far Samson is the only one of its kind in the world. 

A second option is to dig underneath the vessel. So if the vessel is 15 meters below sea level then from land and excavator most likely need to stand 30 meters from the vessel reaching 15 meters deep. 

The reason that the reach is likely 30 meters is that it’s not possible to excavate vertical in sand underwater. Sand will simply flow out and can’t remain stable. We don’t think that there is an escalator that will have this reach. The reach is simply too long. 

So, the next option is to use an offshore dredge which will suck excavate soil underneath the vessel. These types of vessels, dredging vessels are mostly designed to excavate underneath the vessel and not horizontally in front of the vessel. Therefore these types of vessels are not built to face this challenge. 

There are offshore excavators ,but again they are not designed to dig so long in front. But maybe this could be a possible solution.

But we think that maybe the vessel needs to be unloaded. That means taking off all the containers where the vessel is located today. And the challenges that the vessel is designed to be offloaded while in ports.

So cranes may struggle to lift all these containers off either way lifting containers off. Lifting containers will be a very long process. We will see that this west canal is going to be closed for some time going forward.

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