The Blockage of the Suez Canal

Travis Cellucci

On March 23rd, 2021 the Ever Given container ship was accidentally grounded in the Suez Canal, blocking it off from any transportation. The 1,300 foot long vessel was wedged in the canal bank and turned due to strong winds to completely seal off the canal. The Ever Given would then sit there for 6 days until eventually being freed, opening the canal back up. While this seems harmless as first glance it had a worldwide economic impact.

The Suez Canal is one of the world’s most vital shipping lanes, and hundreds of ships pass through it every week carrying billions of dollars in cargo. The canal also plays an important role in the world’s trade system as it makes it easier to travel from Europe to Asia without having to go across Africa. After the Ever Given was stuck, multiple ships began lining up for a queue that would eventually reach 400 ships. According to an article by CNBC, the blockage of the Suez Canal was delaying an estimated $400 million dollars of goods per hour. Estimates also say that the Canal brings in a total of $5.1 billion dollars daily on westbound traffic and $4.2 billion dollars on eastbound. Not only is the canal being blockaded but the shipping and trade industries have also declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so with both of these problems combined thousands of dollars were being lost by the minute.

On March 29th, after six days, the Ever Given was freed and ships began to move through the canal once again. An article by USA Today stated that the ship was freed by on-the-clock hours of digging and pulling. Workers would remove 30,000 cubic meters of sand, which is enough to fill 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

Now two weeks after the Ever Given was freed, ships are now returning back to their normal schedule. NPR found that cargo ships have become a lot bigger in recent years due to high consumer demand for products thus meaning more cargo must be transported. This was a historic event that caused an economic fallout for about two weeks. I think we can all agree that we hope this never happens again.