ShippingWatch

Six days in Suez: The inside story of the ship that broke global trade

How Ever Given and its billion-dollar cargo got stuck, got free, got impounded, and got taken to court.

Photo: Mohamed Elshahed/AP/Ritzau Scanpix

Captain Krishnan Kanthavel watched the sun rise over the Red Sea through a dusty haze. Winds of more than 40 mph, whipping off the Egyptian desert, had turned the sky an anemic yellow. From his viewpoint on the bridge, it was just possible to see the dark outlines of the 19 other vessels anchored in Suez Bay, waiting for their turn to enter the narrow channel snaking inland toward the Mediterranean.

Kanthavel’s container vessel was scheduled to be the 13th ship traveling north through the Suez Canal on March 23, 2021. His was one of the largest in the queue. It was also one of the newest and most valuable, only a few years out of the shipyard. Ever Given, the name painted in block letters on its stern, stood out in crisp white against the forest-green hull. Soon after daybreak, a small craft approached, carrying the local pilots who’d guide the ship during its 12-hour journey between the seas.

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