Shoei Kisen Kaisha has denied widespread reports on Monday that its containership Ever Given has been refloated in the Suez Canal.
The Japanese shipowner told TradeWinds that, while the bow of the 20,388-teu Ever Given (built 2018) was still aground, tugs had managed to move the ship’s hull and reposition it to a 20 degree angle across the canal.
That marks a major improvement from when the ship was wedged across the canal at a 30 degree angle.
Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie said in a statement that the reorientation of the ship was "80% in the right direction".
The developments that took place during the high tide early during Monday morning were a significant step for the refloating operation that is being carried out by Smit Salvage, Nippon Salvage and the Suez Canal Authority.
Another attempt to fully refloat the ship has been made since 1130 local time (0930 GMT), with 10 tug boats pulling the ship amid a second high tide.
The canal authority has promised the traffic would be "immediately" resumed once the ship is towed to the Great Bitter Lake.
Striking an optimistic tone, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared the crisis is "over" with the latest progress.
“Today, Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis of the ‘delinquent’ ship in the Suez Canal despite the massive technical complexity surrounding this process,” he said via his Facebook account.
“Returning things to normal course, in Egyptian hands, reassures the whole world of the path of its goods and needs passed by this axillary artery.“
A Singapore-based salvor watching the operation closely said that the ship’s new position gave tugs a better angle of attack and would also allow the ships own engines and rudder to be used.
Earlier salvage work over the weekend shifted the vessel 29 metres, clearing its stern from the western bank of the canal. The ship’s propulsion and steering systems were subsequently found to be undamaged.
Leth Agencies, an Oslo-based canal transit specialist, said on social media on Monday that Augustea Maritime's 10,880-bhp tug Carlo Magno (built 2006) had arrived alongside the Ever Given.
The Carlo Magno joined the 24,500-bhp tug ALP Guard (built 2009), already on the scene to boost the available firepower for salvors.
The Ever Given ran aground on 23 March while transiting northbound under pilotage en route to Rotterdam.
The grounding has blocked the shortest route between Asia, the Middle East and Europe for nearly a week, causing some ships to divert around the Cape of Good Hope.
Leth Agencies reported that 367 vessels were waiting to transit the canal on Monday.
Even if the traffic can resume on Monday, some market observers expect vessel schedules to be delayed by one to two weeks.
"A lot will depend on how long the backlog is going to be cleared," said one of them.
Once the Ever Given comes unstuck and the Suez Canal traffic starts up again, liner operators have warned that shipping could continue to face snarls.
- Monday set for closely watched refloat attempt for Ever Given
- Ever Given moves, but not enough to uncork the Suez Canal as queue soars to 327 ships
- Liner operators warn of lasting trade disruption as Suez blockage continues
- US offers help refloating Ever Given, while navy consulted
- Bulkers begin to divert from Suez Canal to avoid gridlock