The mammoth cargo ship blocking one of the world’s most vital maritime arteries was wrenched from the shoreline and finally set free on Monday, raising hopes that traffic could soon resume in the Suez Canal and limit the economic fallout of the disruption.
Salvage teams, working on land and water for six days and nights, were ultimately assisted by forces more powerful than any machine rushed to the scene: the moon and the tides.
The ship was ultimately set free at around 3 p.m., according to shipping officials. Horns blared in celebration as images emerged on social media of the once stuck ship on the move.
But just as the tides rose and fell, optimism waxed and waned throughout the day on Monday as each bit of encouraging news was met with words of caution.
Vessels packed with the world’s goods — including cars, oil, livestock and laptops — usually flow through the canal with ease, supplying much of the globe as they traverse the quickest path from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the East Coast of the United States.
With concerns that the salvage operation could take weeks, some ships decided not to wait, turning to take the long way around the southern tip of Africa, a voyage that can add weeks to the journey and more than $26,000 a day in fuel costs.
Each bit of progress in moving the ship over the weekend was celebrated by the workers on the canal — tugboat horns blaring and shouts of joy often echoing in the desert dark.
Late Saturday, tugboat drivers sounded off in celebration of what was up to that point the most visible sign of progress since the Ever Given ran aground late Tuesday.
The 1,300-foot ship moved. It did not go far — just two degrees, or about 100 feet, according to shipping officials. But that came on top of progress from Friday, when canal officials said dredgers had managed to dig out the rear of the ship, freeing its rudder.
celebrated the moment on Twitter, writing that “Egyptians have succeeded today in ending the crisis of the stuck ship in the Suez Canal despite the great complexities surrounding this situation in every aspect.”
Egyptian national television started broadcasting live coverage of the salvage operation, a signal of the government’s confidence that the situation would soon be resolved.
Teams of engineers and experts were still huddling on the banks of the canal, going over the intricate details of the sprawling salvage effort.