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World

No 'piece of cake' to free Suez ship: salvage firm

  • Berdowski said the ship was still a "huge whale lying there on the beach that you really have to slide off".
29 Mar, 2021

THE HAGUE: Refloating the giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal will be no "piece of cake" despite some success in moving it, the head of a Dutch firm helping shift the vessel warned Monday.

The bow of the Ever Given is still stuck in sand, meaning the hardest part of the operation could be yet to come, said Peter Berdowski, chief executive of Boskalis, the parent company of salvage firm Smit Salvage.

"The good news is that the stern is free but in our view that was the easier part. The challenge is still ahead, because you really have to slide the ship, with the weight it is carrying," Peter Berdowski told NPO Dutch public radio.

"The bow is still completely stuck in that bit of sandy clay at the moment. The real challenge, of course, is to actually slide the ship away," said Berdowski.

"Our first concern was whether the stern would come loose, because it was pretty stuck too. So that's definitely the good news. But I wouldn't say it was a piece of cake to free it now."

The Dutchman said he did not want to "cheer too soon" after the head of the Suez Canal authority said the 200,000-tonne container ship was now pointing 80 percent in the right direction.

Berdowski said the ship was still a "huge whale lying there on the beach that you really have to slide off".

A new tug was to arrive on Monday morning to put more "pulling power" on the front of the ship. If that fails rescuers will spray the sand with high pressure water, but if that also fails they may have to remove some containers.

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