(AP) — The company that owns the giant container ship stuck sideways across the Suez Canal said an attempt will be made to refloat the vessel by taking advantage of tidal movements later Saturday.
The Ever Given, owned by Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, got wedged Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal, about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.
At a news conference Friday night at company headquarters in Imabari, western Japan, Shoei Kisen President Yukito Higaki said 10 tugboats were deployed and workers were dredging the banks and sea floor near the vessel’s bow to try to get it afloat again as the high tide starts to go out.
“We apologize for blocking the traffic and causing the tremendous trouble and worry to many people, including the involved parties,” he said.
Shoei Kisen said in a statement Saturday that the company has considered removing its containers to get the weight off the vessel, but it is a very difficult operation, physically speaking. The company said it may still consider that option if the ongoing refloating efforts fail.
A team from Boskalis, a Dutch firm specializing in salvaging, was working with the canal authority using tugboats and a specialized suction dredger at the port side of the cargo ship’s bow. Egyptian authorities have prohibited media access to the site.
“It’s a complex technical operation” that will require several attempts to free the vessel, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said in a statement.
Attempts earlier Friday to free it failed, said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the technical manager of the Ever Given.
The Suez Canal Authority has said it welcomed international assistance. The White House said it has offered to help Egypt reopen the canal. “We have equipment and capacity that most countries don’t have and we’re seeing what we can do and what help we can be,” U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters.
An initial investigation showed the vessel ran aground due to strong winds and ruled out mechanical or engine failure, the company said. GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, had previously said the ship had experienced a power blackout, but it did not elaborate.
Bernhard Schulte said two canal pilots had been aboard when the ship got stuck. Such an arrangement is customary, but the ship’s captain retains ultimate authority over the vessel, according to experts.
A maritime traffic jam grew to more than 200 vessels Friday outside the Suez Canal and some vessels began changing course. More than 100 ships were still en route to the waterway, according to the data firm Refinitiv.