Wind … or worse: was pilot error to blame for the Suez blockage?
Most marine accidents involve human error, but the real story of how Ever Given came to block global shipping is not so easily explained away
The trouble started at 5:17am. Ever Given, an Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV) loaded with 20,000 containers, had set off up the Suez canal a quarter of an hour earlier from the south, in the bay of Suez.
This is how the canal works: ships anchor the night before and wait to set off early the following morning – one convoy southbound from Port Said starting at 3.30am, the northbound one at 5:00am. They meet each other at Great Bitter Lake, where the southbound convoy anchors to let the other pass. Consider a country lane with passing spots, only for ships the height of buildings, travelling at the speed of a scooter.