Hopes of re-floating the stranded 20,388TEU Ever Given following this weekend increased when salvage teams using Suez Canal tugs reportedly succeeded in freeing the stern and rudder section of the vessel.

Suez Canal tugs are assisting in trying to complete the re-floatation, which will be further assisted by the high tides on Sunday and Monday, of the Ever Given. Two more tugs will also arrive on the scene on 28 March to assist with the operation.

However, the key to the operation, according to a Container News expert source is to “reverse the ship out the same way that she went in”, and this will still be a very difficult task.

“Salvors will look to pump out flooded spaces and lighten the ship as much as possible and then use the high tides with the more powerful tugs and the vessel’s engine to pull the ship free,” said the source.

He added “The key for the salvors will be the strength of the mooring bits, which are designed to take loads that are equal to the ship being towed in free water, these loads will be much higher and they may need to find other mooring points on the vessel.”

Asked whether the chances for re-floating the vessel were good, the source was more downbeat, suggesting the chances remain slim, though with the stern now released the prospects had increased, he agreed.

If salvors do manage to fully re-float the vessel it will be towed to the Port of Suez’ outer anchorage area, according to the latest information received by Container News.

Once the salvage operation is completed the plan is to allow 43 vessels currently at anchor at the Great Bitter Lake, the intermediary stop on the canal, to be the first ships to complete their journey through the waterway, followed by another 45 vessels at the northern end of the canal at Port Said. Another 45 vessels will then be allowed to transit the canal northwards from Suez towards the Mediterranean.

“The Suez Canal salvage team succeeded to float the vessel from stern and they released the rudder. Suez Canal tugs are doing towage manoeuvres for the ship after completion of dredging works in the area of the front using “Mashhour” dredger,” said a statement.

In its statement on 26 March Evergreen said that the Smit salvage team arrived on the scene on 25 March, carefully assessing the ship’s situation.

“The plan was to continue the ongoing efforts to clear sand and mud around the ship’s bow and try to free the vessel at high tide. It is estimated that the excavation will take at least two to three days to reach the required depth for the stranded ship to re-float. Then the salvage experts will try further to get the vessel out of the predicament at the highest tide of the Suez Canal.” This plan appears to be ongoing.

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