For almost a week, all eyes have been on one crucial link within global supply chains: the Suez Canal. The 400m long Ever Given container ship became wedged on 23rd March reportedly due to a combination of onboard power failure and high winds. Another blow to global trade, the disruption comes amongst an already challenging pandemic for the world of supply chain and logistics.
On Monday 29th March, the Japanese-owned vessel was finally dislodged from the banks of the canal at 3pm local time, allowing it to once again move freely, along with tens of billions of dollars’ worth of global trade, including 11 ships containing 130,000 livestock and tankers responsible for transporting 1.74m barrels of oil across the canal each day.
An astounding 12% of total global trade passes through the canal each year. Originally opened in 1869, the 193km long sea-level waterway has been gradually widened and improved to accommodate up to as many as 97 ships per day. In 2020, more than 18,500 vessels used the canal - approximately 50 per day.
The near week-long ordeal has created a backlog of more than 360 ships, currently stranded in the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Red Sea to the south, or in holding areas along the length of the canal. Each passage takes between 11 and 16 hours at a speed of 8 knots, as the convoys of ships travel at roughly 10-15 minute intervals.
So what happens next? We sit down with internationally recognized supply chain expert and founder of The Logical Group, Paul Gooch, to discuss this seismic event sending shockwaves throughout global supply chains.