The 400-meter long, 220,000-ton MV [motor vessel] Ever Given, classed as a so-called “megaship,” veered off course during a gale-force duststorm.
The 59-meter-wide Taiwan-run, Panama-flagged vessel became stuck near the southern end of the Suez Canal, diagonally blocking the man-made waterway that connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea.
Opened 150 years ago, Egypt’s Suez Canal has been regularly expanded and modernized, and it is today capable of accommodating some of the world’s largest supertankers, handling roughly 10 percent of international maritime trade. In 2019 around 50 ships used the canal daily, compared with three in 1869.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons 照片：維基共享資源
The majority of oil transported by sea passes through the Suez Canal, which is the fastest crossing from the North Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, but demands hefty passage tolls. The journey between ports in the Persian Gulf and London, for example, is roughly halved by going through the Suez Canal compared to the alternate route via the southern tip of Africa.
Most of the cargo traveling from the Persian Gulf to Western Europe is oil. In the opposite direction, it is mostly manufactured goods and grain from Europe and North America headed to the Far East and Asia.
The latest blockage highlights the risks faced by the shipping industry as more and more vessels transit maritime choke points including the Suez and Panama canals, the Strait of Hormuz and Southeast Asia’s Malacca Strait. Those routes are also having to accommodate increasingly larger ships that are more complex to rescue, while the container-carrying capacity of vessels has doubled in the past decade.
Photo: AFP 照片：法新社
(AFP and Bloomberg)
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