EGYPT, March 29 (CNA) - The massive Ever Given container ship that has blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week has been turned in the "right direction", Egyptian authorities said on Monday (Mar 29), raising hopes the busy waterway will soon be reopened.
"The position of the ship has been re-orientated 80 per cent in the right direction," Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie said in a statement.
"The stern ... moved to 102m from the shore", compared to its position 4m from the shore previously, he said.
A spokesman for the vessel's owner told AFP that the ship is not yet afloat, however.
The official from Shoei Kisen said the Ever Given was "stuck at an angle of 30 degrees towards the canal but that has eased", adding that the ship "has turned" but it "is not afloat".
"A total of 11 tug boats have been pulling Ever Given since this morning," he added.
The spokesman, who declined to give his name, said there has been damage sustained by the ship on its bow when it got stuck "but no new damage has been reported".
The Suez Canal Authority said further tugging operations would resume once the tide rises later on Monday.
Marine traffic through the canal will resume once the ship is directed to the Great Lakes area, a wider section of the canal, it added.
Earlier on Monday, a canal services firm said that salvage teams had “partially refloated” the colossal container ship.
Leth Agencies said that the modest breakthrough came after intensive efforts to push and pull the ship with 10 tugboats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at spring tide.
Inchcape Shipping Services said in a post on Twitter that the ship was refloated on Monday and was being secured. Ship-tracking service VesselFinder changed the ship's status to under way on its website.
REFLOATING OPERATION NOT "A PIECE OF CAKE"
News about the partial refloating of the giant container ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal is good, but completing the operation would not be a "piece of cake", Boskalis CEO Peter Berdowski told Dutch public radio on Monday.
Boskalis is the parent company of Smit Salvage, which has assisted in efforts to dislodge the ship.
A new tug would arrive and water would be injected under the ship's bow to help free it, but if those efforts did not work containers might have to be removed, Berdowski said.
The 400m-long Ever Given became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds last Tuesday, halting shipping traffic on the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels, Suez Canal Authority's Rabie told Egypt's Extra News on Sunday.
More than two dozen vessels have opted for the alternative route between Asia and Europe around the Cape of Good Hope, adding some two weeks to journeys and threatening delivery delays.
Crude oil prices fell after news the ship had been refloated, with Brent crude down by US$1 per barrel to US$63.67.