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Suez Canal Blocked by Huge Containership

Crucial waterway closed in both directions after quarter-mile long ship goes sideways while transiting key trade passage.
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The Suez Canal has been blocked by a huge containership that turned sideways and grounded Tuesday while traveling northbound, according to published reports.

The ship, the Ever Given, has blocked both the northbound and southbound channels of the canal near its southern terminus. The ship is 400 meters long -- just over 1,300 feet or just under a quarter mile.

The Ever Given was built in 2018 and is currently sailing under the flag of Panama, according to the Vessel Finder web site. It is one of the largest containerships afloat, able to carry 20,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units).

Source: Vessel Finder

Source: Vessel Finder

The Ever Given is currently en route to Rotterdam, where it had been expected to arrive on March 31. It departed the port of Ningbo, near Shanghai, on March 4. 

More than 18,000 ships a year transit the 120 mile canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The bulk of seagoing traffic from Asia to Europe uses the canal, as does much of the oil headed to Europe from the Persian Gulf region.

The canal first opened in 1869 and has been deepened several times in its history. The Opera "Aida," by Giuseppe Verdi, was commissioned in celebration of the opening.

Egypt nationalized the Canal in 1956, prompting the Suez crisis with Great Britain and France. The canal was closed between 1967 and 1975 following the Six Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

Crude oil futures were trading down 25 cents at $57.51 a barrel in recent action. Oil has given up some of its recent gains amid renewed worries over a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe and the resulting economic closures being imposed.