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Ever Given and the Suez Canal

Container lines divert services via Cape as Suez Canal remains blocked

Photo: MSC MSC Isabella.jpg
The MSC Isabella is deployed on the Asia - Europe trade
Container lines are diverting a growing number of vessels via the Cape of Good Hope, and in some cases simply turning services around, as the Suez Canal remains blocked by the grounded Ever Given.

With hundreds of vessels queued up due to the blockage of the key waterway major container lines are diverting via the Cape of Good Hope adding around 10 days to an Asia - Europe voyage, and substantial bunker fuel costs as a result. However, salvors have warned that it could take weeks to refloat the Ever Given, and even once the blockage is cleared the backlog of vessels waiting to transit the canal will result in further lengthy delays.

In a customer advisory on 26 March Meditteranean Shipping Co (MSC) listed 11 services, seven as part of the 2M alliance with Maersk Line and four others, that it is diverting via the Cape of Good Hope.

MSC has also started to turn around some services to the Med and the US from India. The MSC Stella on its India - Med service will discharge cargo at King Abdullah Port and return to India, while the Seamax Darien on the INDUSA will discharge cargo in Mediterranean ports and then await further orders.

“MSC also envisages some missed sailings as a result of this incident and, in some cases, we may therefore need to adapt the volumes of bookings we can accept according to the reduced capacity available on certain trades,” MSC said.

Maersk Line listed a total of 14 services, including those with MSC as part of the 2M alliance, that it had rerouted via the Cape. 

“Where we can, we are already diverting vessels that have the capacity and enough fuel for a route change,” Maersk said in a customer advisory dated 26 March.

“For every day the canal remains blocked, the tailwind of global impact on capacity and equipment continues to increase,” it warned.

Hapag-Lloyd listed six services in which it is a partner line as part of The Alliance that have been diverted by the Cape of Good Hope, involving vessels from HMM, Yang Ming Line and Ocean Network Express (ONE).

“Hapag-Lloyd constantly monitors the situation and closely follows the implications on its services. We are presently looking into possible vessel diversions around Cape of Good Hope,” the German line said.


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