Wind … or worse: was pilot error to blame for the Suez blockage?

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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.

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