Basic science is now being applied to the little problem at the Suez Canal.
Efforts to free the Ever Given, a massive cargo ship stuck since Tuesday, now appear likely to include unloading containers to ensure the ship will sit higher in the water as dredging continued.
The company leading the charge expects to have the equipment in place to begin taking the roughly 18,300 steel boxes from the vessel this weekend.
“We are awaiting the arrival of a crane with which we can lift containers from the ship,” Peter Berdowski, chief executive officer of Boskalis Westminster, said on Dutch television on Friday. “We will start taking containers from the ship anyway this weekend.”
The Ever Given, a container ship larger than the Empire State Building with almost $1 billion of cargo on board, is costing global industry billions of dollars.
Europe’s supply chains are adversely affected, and dozens of ships already have decided to take the long way — passing the southern tip of Africa — costing Egypt vital revenue and adding a couple of weeks’ worth of travel.
Dredgers had removed tons of sand from around the ship’s bow by Friday.
Tugging attempts restarted on Saturday afternoon and further efforts were planned on Saturday night and Sunday morning, three sources with knowledge of canal operations said.
“We aim to get it done after the weekend, but everything will have to work out exactly right for that,” Berdowski old Dutch TV late Friday.
About 15% of world shipping traffic uses the canal, and hundreds of vessels are waiting for the blockage to be cleared.
On Saturday the vessel’s Japanese owner said the container ship could be refloated within hours.