Canal Crisis: Impacts of the Suez Blockage
Built in the late 1800s, the Suez Canal became the most used shipping route because of its position above Egypt is the shortest waterway between Europe and Asia. By cutting travel time, the canal acts as a crucial part of international trade and shipping. The Suez Canal's importance has also been marked by international conflict over its ownership in the mid 1900s. Now, it is maintained by the Egyptian government and officially owned by the Suez Canal Authority.
On March 23, a blockage occurred when a 1,300 meter container ship named "Ever Given" was thrown off course by wind. The incident immediately halted travel through the southern part of the waterway, obstructing the path of what would soon be a line of 369 ships waiting for passage.
News of the crisis on social media was met with ridicule. Pictures surfaced of the blockage and many were surprised that common occurrences like wind could cause such a commotion. There were also questions circulating about the magnitude of the problem, which led to jokes about how easily individuals could dislodge the ship on their own.
Because of the immediate blockage caused by the grounded ship, economic repercussions surrounding trade occurred during the seven day period before the ship was dislodged. Shipping of goods to Europe was delayed, and an estimate of almost $10 billion of trade was prevented from occurring. Also, many Americans noticed raised gas prices during the week of the blockage that plummeted after the crisis had been resolved.
Seven days after Every Given's grounding, teams of tugboats from Egypt, Japan, and the Netherlands were able to dislodge the ship and free up the waterway. The process took two separate efforts to fully free the ship. On March 29, workers in the canal celebrated as Every Given was refloated. Traffic in the canal did not return to normal until April 3 as a result of the pile up of ships waiting for the blockage to be cleared.