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Backlog of ships sail through Suez Canal after Ever Given refloated

A man waving the Egyptian flag after Panama-flagged MV 'Ever Given' container ship was fully dislodged from the banks of the Suez.   -  
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AFP PHOTO / HO / SUEZ CANAL AUTHORITY -

Egypt

Relief as shipping is on the move again in Egypt’s Suez Canal after a giant container ship that blocked the waterway was refloated on Monday.

For almost a week the 400-metre-long Ever Given vessel blocked hundreds of boats and was holding up over 9 billion dollars worth of cargo each day with consequences to trade felt all over the world.

Easing tailbacks to the north and south, 113 ships will navigate the narrow passage by 0600 GMT on Tuesday, Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie told reporters in the evening.

He praised the duration of the salvage operation on the MV Ever Given as "record-breaking", claiming it would have taken three months anywhere else in the world.

"Opening the (Suez) canal and making it available to traffic again will certainly facilitate greater movement, not just for military assets, but civilian merchant traffic," said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.

"I mean, it's a key chokepoint. We call it a chokepoint for a reason. And we've seen exactly how that bears out here over the last few days."

As ships began making their way through the canal on Monday, authorities hope to clear the traffic jam of some 400 vessels waiting to use it within three-and-a-half days.

The chaos created is a big lesson for the future of shipping- which may see some changes.

"So at the end of this year, there'll be the 24,000 TEU (container unit) container ship, which is even bigger," said Captain Nicolas Sloane, Vice President of the International Salvage Union,

"So it hasn't, it's not going to stop. So I think what's going to happen is when you go through the Suez or other fine choke points that they have to say, ok, when this class of vessel goes through it has to have a sort of escort tug, or we have to have more tugs on standby."

The freed vessel will undergo "an inspection of its seaworthiness", said Taiwanese company Evergreen, the ship's operator.

"The outcome of that inspection will determine whether the ship can resume its scheduled service."

Relief was also felt by Egypt, which was losing up to 14 million dollars in revenue each day. On Tuesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited the Suez Canal Authority Maritime Training & Simulation Cente

The stern was dislodged early Monday, sparking immediate praise from Sisi, even as Boskalis initially warned that the bow would prove more difficult to unwedge.

"Today, Egyptians have been successful in putting to an end the crisis of the stranded ship in the Suez Canal, despite the enormous complexity surrounding the process," Sisi said.

Sisi also promised that his country would buy equipment to avoid any repetition of the past week's closure of the Suez Canal.

"We will acquire all the necessary equipment for the canal," to avoid similar incidents, Sisi declared during his visit to Ismailia, home to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).

The canal authority has been quick to rule out widening the canal. SCA chief Osama Rabie told reporters the cost would be "very significant" and prohibitive.

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