An overview of the Suez Canal Obstruction

Aya, Editor-in-Chief

On March 23, Ever Given–one of the largest container ships in the world–got stuck in a narrow, single-laned part of the Suez Canal. With bow and stern fixed into the canal’s bank, it took six days to get the ship free and allow the accumulated line of other trade vessels to pass.

PC: Vessel Finder

This historical event had significant global implications that are far from over. Ever Given reminds us of the fragility of globalization.

On an average day, 50 ships pass through the Suez Canal. However, during the obstruction, major trade was stalled and an estimated $9 billion was lost each day. These ships held a variety of trade goods that included oil, cars, and electronic parts. Because of the immense size of the economic loss, an investigation has begun to pin-point the exact cause and determine who will have to pay the bill.

However, the financial losses of the delay is not the only bill on the table. Millions of dollars were spent by Egypt to free Ever Given. With 11 tugboats, several dredgers, and people working around the clock for six days, Egypt is looking for someone to help pay the cost. 

PC: Suez Canal Authority

As of now, immediate blame is placed on wind. Because of the Ever Given’s high stacks of containers–as most ships are organized today–wind had a stronger effect on the direction of the ship. That, with the combination of a narrow passage, Ever Given lost all power and steering, slamming into the banks of the canal on both sides.

The Ever Given was freed on March 29 because of the tugboats and dredgers, but also a timely full moon and high tides.


As seen because of Ever Given, an open Suez Canal is vital for globe trade. Since its beginnings in 1869, it has worked as a shortcut between Asia and Europe, cutting the usual 20,000 km route around Africa to 7,000 km through the canal with much less of the cost and danger.