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Ship-tracking website shows major problem in Suez Canal

One of the world’s largest container ships has become stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, preventing other vessels from passing.

Maritime enthusiasts and other interested parties are currently using ship-tracking sites like Vessel Finder to monitor the situation. The 400-meter-long, 59-meter-wide Ever Given became stuck in the major waterway on Tuesday.

Linking the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, the Suez Canal offers a short sea link between Europe and Asia. The narrow channel is one of the most heavily used shipping routes in the world and is hugely important for international trade. But at the moment it’s completely blocked.

Vessel Finder

A number of photos have started to appear online showing the ship in its rather awkward position …

Look at the size of the ship blocking the #SuezCanal if you zoom into the bow of the ship you can see a digger for size reference

— Brendan Cruise (@brendancruise) March 23, 2021

A look at Vessel Finder’s wider map (below) shows other ships backed up at various locations while several tug boats attempt to free the Ever Given, which is operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine. Another site, TankerTrackers, noted that besides container ships, “tankers carrying Saudi, Russian, Omani and U.S. oil” are waiting at both ends of the canal.

Vessel Finder

The Panama-registered container ship was on its way from China to Rotterdam in the Netherlands when it became stuck. It’s not currently clear what happened, but some reports suggest the ship ran aground while attempting to turn in the narrow channel.

Sites like Vessel Finder let you track ships as they traverse the world’s oceans and waterways. While there’s little drama most of the time, events like this generate a lot of interest in such online tools as people flock to the sites for updates.

For a more mesmerizing rendition of global shipping traffic, check out this wonderful animated map created a few years ago by data visualization firm Kiln and University College London’s Energy Institute. And no, there’s not a stuck ship in sight.

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Trevor Mogg
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