Specialist salvage teams join efforts to refloat Suez Canal ship -maritime expert
Specialist salvage teams join efforts to refloat Suez Canal ship -maritime expert
- Title: Specialist salvage teams join efforts to refloat Suez Canal ship -maritime expert
- Date: 25th March 2021
- Summary: BUIES CREEK, NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES (MARCH 25, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARITIME HISTORIAN AT CAMPBELL UNIVERSITY, SAL MERCOGLIANO, PhD, ABOUT THE SALVAGE EFFORTS OF THE LAST 24 HOURS, INCLUDING UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS LAST NIGHT AND AGAIN ON THURSDAY MORNING, SUEZ TIME, TO FREE THE SHIP BY PULLING ON THE VESSEL IN THE TIDE, SAYING: "One of the things that they did last night after they attempted (to free) her, they started taking the ships that were behind her in the canal out. So they have removed all three vessels that were in the canal that were following here, supposed to be heading northbound in the canal, out. That tells me they're expecting this to go on for a little longer period of time. They would not leave them there for a long period of time. A little too dangerous for them to be sitting there in the canal. They have brought in a salvage company, as I mentioned, Smit, out of the Netherlands. This is the premier salvage company in the world. They have been used for a high value vessel salvage throughout. You don't call them in -- they're the 'special forces' of salvage teams -- so you call them in when you have an issue." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARITIME HISTORIAN SAL MERCOGLIANO CONTINUING TO SAY ABOUT THE LATEST SALVAGE EFFORTS: "So they're going to try to do do several things. They'll start trying to offload water, ballast (material used to give stability to a vessel) oil, fuel. They'll bring some dredging equipment in. The canal has dredging equipment to maintain the canals depth, and they're doing the expansion of the canal, so they have dredging equipment there. But again, they have to be very careful about this. The vessel is hung up on the banks. The bow is basically in Asia, the stern's in Africa, and the middle is in the middle of the canal. And what you can't do is take a lot of weight off the ends and put a lot of what they call a 'sagging stress' on the vessel. You could conceivably crack the hull, cause an oil spill. But worse, catastrophically fracture the vessel in half, which would close the canal for months, if not years, to salvage a vessel of that type." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARITIME HISTORIAN SAL MERCOGLIANO SAYING WHAT KINDS OF IMPACTS CONSUMERS CAN EXPECT TO SEE SOON: "Short term in the Suez Canal, you'll see differences. You'll see probably escort tugs for very large vessels like this going through. They don't do that now, but that'll be an added cost to go through the canal. I think, again, they they will adapt. One of the things the maritime industry is resilient about is adapting. They are looking right now to start routing vessels around Africa. They're already thinking about that. And so they will they will make accommodations. What this is going to mean is a longer sail time and means that the flow of goods is not going to be as rapid as before until the canal is clear." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARITIME HISTORIAN SAL MERCOGLIANO SAYING: "So what you're going to see very quickly in Europe already will be escalating fuel costs. So you're seeing tankers piled up south of the canal right now, can't come through the canal. So you're talking roughly about 10 vessels right now full of oil, 30 million barrels of oil waiting to get through. So you're going to see escalating fuel costs. Commodities and goods. You know, again, e-commerce is going to slow down. You're not going to get, you know, Amazon's going to tell you that the next the next day delivery is not going to happen probably soon. But the bigger thing is manufacturing, production plans. So if you're a BMW plant in Germany and you have components coming from Asia, you have what's on the shelf right now but they may not be there (later). You may see the shutdown in manufacturing plants." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARITIME HISTORIAN SAL MERCOGLIANO SAYING: "And so you're going to see impacts on both sides. It's not just going to be in Europe, it's going to be Asia. And what you're going to see is a shrinking of the economy. It's going to cause delays. If shippers realize this is going to take more than a week, if this goes more than seven days, they're going have to start routing ships around Africa. That's 4000 miles. That is 12 to 14 days. And all of a sudden ports are empty. And then they're going to have this mass arrival of vessels that need to offload." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARITIME HISTORIAN SAL MERCOGLIANO CONTINUING TO SAY: "The potential for this is is to magnify. This goes on for a long period of time, worst case scenario this goes on for a month to clear the vessel, that's going to cause a massive disruption in the economy. We saw what happened with global recession almost that took place in early COVID when all of a sudden we were not able to move goods in a clear, efficient way." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARITIME HISTORIAN SAL MERCOGLIANO EXPLAINING ONE WAY IN WHICH THE SHIPPING INDUSTRY MIGHT CHANGE BECAUSE OF THE EVERGREEN INCIDENT IN THE SUEZ, SAYING: "One of the reasons that China is so adamant about maintaining the South China Sea aspect is its supply line. If it's shut down, it's going to find a route around there. They'll route around Cape of Good Hope. They'll send vessels across the Pacific, around the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica. It's why you see China going into the Arctic, for example, for a specific reason like this. It's a shorter passage to Europe. From Shanghai to Rotterdam the fastest maritime passage is through the Northern Passage north of Russia. This is why they have such an interest in the Arctic. And this is just going to fuel their desire to make that a viable transportation route." WHITE FLASH (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARITIME HISTORIAN SAL MERCOGLIANO EXPLAINING SOME OF THE INSURANCE RAMIFICATIONS OF THE SUEZ INCIDENT: "So if goods are coming to my shop and they're stuck on the vessel, not that vessel (Evergreen), but a vessel south of the canal, I can sue Evergreen. And you may see the seventh largest container line in the world go under because of claims against it. We've seen this happen before. Hanjin Marine, in 2016, a Korean line, went under. But the world economy was able to suck that up because other ships were traveling. This may have more ramifications. Plus, its geopolitical with Taiwan. It's one of Taiwan's largest companies right now. And should she go under, that's going to impact the Taiwanese economy greatly."
- Embargoed: 8th April 2021 17:14
- Keywords: Campbell University Ever Given Sal Mercogliano Suez Canal container ships maritime accidents maritime historian salvage company
- Location: BUIES CREEK, NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES / SUEZ CANAL, EGYPT
- City: BUIES CREEK, NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES / SUEZ CANAL, EGYPT
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Sea Accidents,Middle East
- Reuters ID: LVA001E5L1AH3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The Salvage team from the Netherlands hired to help devise a plan to refloat a giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal is considered the 'special forces' of salvage companies, an American maritime historian told Reuters on Thursday (March 25).
Dutch firm Smit Salvage will likely try to take advantage of the maximum tide levels to pull the stranded vessel way from the bank of the canal but the highest tide is not until March 31, maritime historian Sal Mercogliano told Reuters.
Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp said Japan's Nippon Salvage had also been appointed by the ship's owner to help in the salvage operations and would work alongside its captain and the Suez Canal Authority on a plan to refloat it.
Among other things, the salvage teams will likely try to start trying to offload water, ballast, oil and fuel from the vessel, Mercogliano said, as well as bring additional dredging equipment.
"They have to be very careful about this," he cautioned. "You could conceivably crack the hull, cause an oil spill. But worse, catastrophically fracture the vessel in half, which would close the canal for months, if not years, to salvage a vessel of that type," Mercogliano said when envisioning what might be a worst case scenario.
The Ever Given container ship, owned by Japan's Shoei Kisen, was grounded amid high winds in a southern section of the canal on Tuesday (March 23), forcing a suspension of shipping as tugs try to refloat it.
The 400 m (430 yard) Ever Given, almost as long as the Empire State Building is high, is blocking transit in both directions through one of the world's busiest shipping channels for oil and grain and other trade linking Asia and Europe.
The blockage comes on top of the disruption to world trade already caused in the past year by COVID-19, with trade volumes hit by high rates of ship cancellations, shortages of containers and slower handling speeds at ports.
"The potential for this is to magnify," Mercogliano told Reuters. "Worst case scenario this goes on for a month to clear the vessel, that's going to cause a massive disruption in the economy," he said, adding that the parallel in this scenario would be the COVID-19 global slowdown after China had to shut down in the spring of 2020.
Mercogliano also said various stakeholders of the one of the world's largest container ships face claims totaling millions of dollars even if the ship is refloated quickly, echoing what industry sources had said on Wednesday (March 24).
The ship's owner, Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, and its insurers could face claims from the SCA for loss of revenue and from other ships whose passage has been disrupted, insurers and brokers said.
In addition, owners of the cargo on board the ship and on other ships stuck in the Canal will likely claim from the ship's liability insurer for losses to perishable goods or missed delivery deadlines, sources told Reuters, including a shipping lawyer who declined to be named.
"You may see the seventh largest container line operator in the world go under because of claims against it," Mercogliano said of Evergreen. "It's one of Taiwan's largest companies right now. And should she go under, that's going to impact the Taiwanese economy greatly, he said."
(Production: Mana Rabiee)
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