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If you are dependent on global shipping, you can breathe a bit easier. On Monday, March 29, the giant container ship Ever Given was set free.
After nearly a week of being stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking shipping traffic in both directions, the 1,312-foot vessel finally was “successfully refloated.” Crews that had worked around the clock got help from a few extra inches of tidal flow to move the Ever Given back to the center of the canal.
The ship is now underway to Great Bitter Lake, a holding lake in the center of the canal, where it will undergo a technical inspection.
Around 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal. Lloyd’s List, which has covered the shipping industry since the early 1700s, estimates that more than $9 billion worth of goods traverses the 120-mile waterway each day, translating to around $400 million per hour.
The successful effort to free the ship means at least 369 vessels backed up waiting to transit the canal can now move. The Suez Canal Authority has warned that it may take up to three days to clear the backlog of ships stuck at both ends of the canal.
Some ships have already left the region, preferring to take an alternative, longer route around the southern tip of Africa. They will be joined by other vessels traveling from East Asia to Europe, whose operators have decided not to risk waiting for the canal to reopen.