A Review: The Suez Canal Crisis

Jackson Kang

On March 23, 2021, a giant 1,312-foot-long Ever Given cargo ship got stuck in the Suez Canal due to a dust storm. The blockage caused nearly ten percent of the world’s trade to halt, delaying the entry of more than 300 ships and costing the canal as much as $15 billion per day. The ship was eventually freed on March 29, but not without help from a dredger (a waterborne vessel that removes materials in a seabed), a fleet of tugboats, and disruption to 10% of the world’s trading industry.

One must ask: how could this fiasco have been avoided, and why is 10% of global shipping relying on this canal? 

The Suez Canal Crisis started with a dust storm that pushed the ship sideways, which wedged it into both banks of the canal; however, the BBC reported that Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority believes the dust storm was not the reason why the ship got stuck, but that “there may have been technical or human reasons.”  The majority of the reports, though, still think that the ship was wedged due to shallow water and a high amount of sand. 

The Ever Given’s blockage to the Suez Canal highlights the fragile pillars that our world economy is built on. It is concerning that a single dust storm could halt 10% of the global shipping economy and cause $9.6 billion worth of delays every day that the canal was blocked. One canal that is single handedly responsible for much of the world’s trade not only puts all of the trading “eggs” in one basket but also creates volatility in the trading industry. If anything like the Ever Given incident were to happen to the Suez Canal again, the disruption would be the same, if not more, than what previously happened because of more cargo and inflation. In other words, another blockage of the Suez Canal would cause even more damage and steps need to be taken to prevent such an event.