Understanding the Suez Canal crisis

Breaking down the event beyond the memes

The Ever Given.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the large boat that was stuck in the Suez Canal. It took the internet by storm, prompting the birth of many memes and piquing the interest of people around the world. Everyone wanted to know what was happening with the ship named Ever Given

The Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, became lodged diagonally in a southern part of the Suez Canal on March 23, completely blocking traffic through the waterway. Diggers and tugboats worked tirelessly to dig out and re-float the ship, successfully doing so almost a week later, on March 29, after a combination of high tides and 13 tugboats managed to free the 220,000 metric ton ship. Cheers and honks were heard from the salvage teams that helped free the ship. 
It’s obvious, given the intense public focus, that the six days Ever Given spent stuck in the Suez Canal was an important event—but why? 
The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway that connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. It’s one of the most important shipping lanes in the world since it allows ships to avoid sailing around the Horn of Africa to travel between Europe and Asia, reducing travel by thousands of kilometres. The canal opened in 1869 and took 20 years to build. It’s had immense impacts on maritime shipping routes—before the Suez Canal, boats would have to travel around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa through dangerous and turbulent waters. Because the canal cuts down on fuel use and travel time, the shortcut now sees over 10 per cent of global trade pass through it
Memes aside, this blockage was a monumental problem for the shipment of cargo. Over 360 ships were stuck in a traffic jam behind the Ever Given, and many others were rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope, a costly venture in time and money. In addition to costs for rerouting, the blockage held up $9.6 billion in goods for each day Ever Given was stuck. The cost of damages and losses from the blockage is an estimated $1 billion. 
The massive ship is now anchored in Great Bitter Lake—a lake along the Suez Canal—and there will be a thorough investigation into how it became stuck. Egyptian authorities and other experts will look into the canal pilots aboard the Ever Given and their possible role in the grounding, as well as potential mechanical failures and the impact of high winds, all to figure out why the Ever Given veered off course during bad weather to become lodged in the canal bank. 
In an attempt to clear the backlog of boats trapped behind the Ever Given, Egyptian officials are hoping to more than double the number of ships passing through the Suez Canal. The blockage was costly and disruptive, but incidents like this in the canal are exceedingly rare
Although the Ever Given provided the world with a news story that was quite light-hearted compared to most of our regular news these days, we should be glad the big boat is unstuck so that global trade can continue as normal.

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