Is "Ever Given" Container Ship's Indian Crew At Fault For Blocking the Suez Canal?

Ever Given container ship that ran aground and blocked all shipping traffic through the Suez Canal, the busiest waterway in the world, has just been re-floated.  The mega cargo ship's captain and the entire crew are Indian, the owners and shipbuilders are Japanese, the operator is German, the insurance company is British, the charterer is Taiwanese and the cargo is Chinese, according to media reports. The ship was reported blown aground by strong winds. 

Ever Given Stuck in Suez Canal. Source: Bloomberg

The 200,000-ton, 1,312 ft-long, 175 ft-wide cargo ship got stuck in the Suez Canal last Tuesday. About 30% of global cargo ship traffic remained blocked with 50 ships added to the jam every day the vessel remained stuck, As of yesterday, there were $10 billion worth of goods with nowhere to go with more than 300 ships carrying products across multiple industries now stuck in the gridlock.

This is a major incident that will undoubtedly be investigated to prevent its recurrence. Early reports, however, indicate that there were significant errors made by the crew which might have contributed to the problem. Moments before the ship ran aground, the Ever Given was apparently traveling faster than the speed limit set by the Suez Canal Authority, Bloomberg reported. The ship's last recorded speed was 13.5 knots, logged 12 minutes before it grounded, according to Bloomberg, which cited its own data. The maximum allowed speed through the canal was between 7.6 knots and 8.6 knots, the report said. The Japan Times also reported the ship was traveling 13.5 knots, adding that two canal pilots were onboard when the ship hit land.  
A Wall Street Journal report said that this is not the first time Ever Given has had problems at sea. On Feb. 9, 2019, the container ship ran into the 75-foot Finkenwerder, a pleasure ferry that was moored alongside a pontoon along the Elbe River in a suburb of Hamburg, Germany. It couldn't be learned if the current Indian captain of the ship was its captain when it hit the ferry.   

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Comment by Riaz Haq on March 29, 2021 at 4:49pm

Ship Is Freed After a Costly Lesson in the Vulnerabilities of Sea Trade

Day and night, with international pressure bearing down, the dredgers dredged and the tugboats tugged.

But not until the seventh day, after the confluence of the full moon and the sun conjured an unusually high tide, did the ship wriggle free with one last heave shortly after 3 p.m., allowing the first of the roughly 400 ships waiting at either end of the canal to resume their journeys by Monday evening.

In the aftermath of one of the most consequential shipping accidents in history, the global supply chain industry will have a cascade of costly delays to contend with and much to assess: the size of container ships, the width of the Suez Canal, the wisdom of relying on just-in-time manufacturing to satisfy consumer demand around the world, and the role, if any, of human error.

But some things were out of anyone’s hands: If the wind and the tide might not be deemed acts of God by the insurance companies, they were a reminder that 21st-century commerce remains subject to random acts of nature.

“We’ve all seen the pictures and thought, ‘How on earth does that happen?’” said Emily Hannah Stausboll, a shipping analyst at BIMCO, a large international shipping association. “People in the industry are asking: Could it happen again? And if so, what do we do to avoid it happening for another week next time?”

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 30, 2021 at 7:52am

Ship crisis revives Russian, Israeli talk of alternatives to Suez Canal
The fact that the Ever Given blockage of the Suez Canal was resolved within a week does not mean an end to speculation about the sea routes.

The Israelis are promoting their projected Ben Gurion waterway as a rival to the Suez Canal.

They say that the distance between Eilat and the Mediterranean is not long, and is in fact similar to the distance of the Suez connection between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

Tel Aviv plans to turn this canal into a multi-faceted project, in addition to having it play a commercial role challenging the Suez Canal.

It aims to build small towns, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs around the waterway.

Analysts say that the Egypt’s downplaying of the importance of the Israeli project does not conceal the risk it poses to the Suez Canal’s $6 billion annual revenues.

It is also possible that the alternative canal could win regional backing from countries such as Jordan, which is facing social and economic difficulties.

Amman may find in this project a way out of its crises after having failed to garner sufficient Arab support to shore up its economic situation.

It is not unlikely that the Israeli canal project will also win the approval of countries such as Saudi Arabia whose mega-project on the Red Sea, aims to turn the city of Neom into a tourist attraction.

The Saudi project may be a short distance away from the proposed Israeli southern end of the Ben Gurion canal at Eilat.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi sought to calm Egyptian fears about the alternatives that the world shippers could be compelled to seek after the Suez Canal blockage and the subsequent disruption that lasted for days.

“The Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis of the ship that ran aground in the Suez Canal, and brought things back to their normal course. This reassures the whole world about the transportation of its goods and its needs through this pivotal shipping artery,” Sisi said.

Sisi seemed to be hinting at the Ben Gurion Canal project, especially since Israel used the Suez Canal crisis to announce the start of work on its project.

This has increased the pressure on Cairo and pushed it to issue reassuring statements.

The idea of an Israeli canal linking the Mediterranean and the Red Sea is not new.

The US newspaper Business Insider published Thursday the content of a classified memo stating that the United States had studied a proposal to build an Israeli waterway to rival the Suez Canal by detonating nuclear bombs in the Negev desert decades ago.

According to the US 1963 memorandum, which was declassified in 1996, the plan would have meant the use of 520 nuclear bombs to carve for “excavation of Dead Sea canal across the Negev desert.”

It said that an “interesting application of nuclear excavation would be a sea-level canal 160 miles long across Israel.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 30, 2021 at 8:15am

Did software developed by Indian engineers cause Boeing 737Max crashes?

Bloomberg's Peter Robison reported on June 28 that Boeing and its suppliers outsourced some of its 737 Max software development and testing to temporary workers. These temp workers, some of whom were recent college graduates, were employees or contract workers for Indian tech firms HCL Technologies and Cyient Ltd.

Some of the testers and developers made as little as $9, the longtime engineers told Bloomberg. Former Boeing flight controls engineer Rick Ludtke said the move to outsource was centered on cost-cutting.

"Boeing was doing all kinds of things, everything you can imagine, to reduce cost, including moving work from Puget Sound, because we'd become very expensive here," Ludtke told Bloomberg. "All that's very understandable if you think of it from a business perspective. Slowly over time it appears that's eroded the ability for Puget Sound designers to design."

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 30, 2021 at 9:56am

The results of a test called "Supertest", developed by researchers from the US, China, Russia and India,, show that Indian engineering students perform very poorly relative to their peers in other countries. Supertest is the first study to track the progress of students in computer science and electrical engineering over the course of their studies with regard to their abilities in physics, mathematics and critical thinking and compare the results among four countries.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 2, 2021 at 7:01pm

The Freeing of the Ever Given
The stuck container ship became the butt of online jokes, but it was no minor crisis.

By Serge Schmemann

Not that this was a minor crisis. Shipping is still the primary means of moving things around the world, and the 150-year-old trench through Egypt is a critical shortcut between East and West. In 2019, almost 19,000 ships made the passage with about 1.25 billion tons of cargo, including some 15 percent of the world’s container shipping capacity. An estimated $9.6 billion worth of freight passes through the canal daily in normal times; other losses included $95 million in revenue for Egypt, plus disruption of supply chains and shipping schedules for months to come.

But that’s not what it was about for most folks; what generated the drama was the astounding scale of the vessel, the biblical echoes of its ordeal and the challenge of figuring out how to pry loose something the size of a prone Empire State Building that had become wedged between the banks of the canal. This ship is crazy big — the longest aircraft carriers in American service today, the Gerald R. Ford class, are 200 feet shorter than the 1,312 foot, 2-inch Ever Given.

The photo of what looked like a toylike excavator scratching at the sand under the beached, iron leviathan became the icon of the saga, prompting speculation on what something of these dimensions might look like elsewhere, say on the Ohio or the Mississippi Rivers. The longest lock on the Ohio is 1,200 feet, noted The Herald-Dispatch of West Virginia, but at least the Ever Given could do a U-turn in its wide channel. One online tool made it possible to see exactly how the Ever Given would fit in, say, the East River, or the stream behind your house.


This time around, there was no foul play. A burst of powerful wind swung the Ever Given around and wedged it between the banks of the canal. It might have remained there for weeks had it not been for a fortuitous full moon on Sunday, one that raised what’s known as a perigean spring tide — when the moon is at perigee, or closest to Earth, and the sun, Earth and the moon are aligned, causing the tide to “spring” higher than usual. According to CNN, the March full moon is called the worm moon by Native Americans because it’s also when earthworm trails are most visible, but that’s neither here nor there.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 3, 2021 at 4:10pm

Ever Given's #Indian crew may be arrested. The chairman of #Egypt's #SuezCanal Authority has estimated the total #economic damages from the casualty at about $1 billion. #SuezCrisis

The Indian crew of the giant boxship Ever Given are no longer stuck in the lower section of the Suez Canal, but they could get stuck in Egypt for a long time, according to the Times of India. It is possible that they may face house arrest or even criminal charges in connection with the vessel's grounding, which closed the canal for six days and disrupted billions of dollars in trade.

"There is a clear danger that the crew will be made scapegoats," an Indian shipping industry source told the outlet.

The 25-member crew is in good health but stressed by the experience of the grounding, according to the head of Indian seafarers' union NUSI, Abdulgani Serang. "They are not alone and we will support them whenever required in whatever manner required," Serang said.

The Egyptian government's lead investigator, Captain Sayed Sheasha, told Reuters on Wednesday that the Ever Given's master has fully cooperated with the inquiry.

The pressure on the investigation into the grounding is high. The chairman of the Suez Canal Authority has estimated the total economic damages from the casualty at about $1 billion, and affected shipping interests will be looking to recoup their losses via insurance claims and litigation. Ever Given's insurer, Lloyd's of London, is preparing for a "large loss" in the range of $100 million. The Suez Canal is already back up to full capacity and is running around the clock, but commercial disputes related to the shutdown are expected to last for years.

The Ever Given herself appears to have been largely spared. A dive inspection on Wednesday revealed a limited amount of damage to her bow, but no other obvious signs of harm, according to the AP.

Precedent for seafarer detention

In Egypt, officers aboard detained vessels have occasionally ended up under a status equivalent to house arrest, sometimes for years, according to the International Transport Workers' Federation.

Mohammad Aisha - the chief mate of the seized container feeder Aman - has been stuck on board his vessel at an anchorage off Suez since 2017. For four years, an Egyptian court has bound him to the ship as its designated "legal guard," and local authorities have confiscated his passport. He has been alone on board for the last 15 months, except for an occasional swim to shore for food and water, according to the ITF.

Aisha is not the only mariner trapped in Egypt by a local court order. The ITF is also attempting to win freedom for the captain of the freighter Kenan Mete. Like Aisha, the master has been designated as his vessel's "legal guard," and he has been forbidden to leave Egypt until the ship's case is resolved or another guardian is appointed.


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