Dark Clouds of a Consumer Apocalypse Gather Over the Suez Canal Blockage



Boy out sure doesn't take much at Fox News to cause an apocalypse once there is a democrat in charge.

PS. Trucks and trains still exist.


how long til the Egyptians employ helicopters to off-load and sand pumps to re-float Capitalism?

gonna be the Domino effect
on steroids? stay Tuned
oh and buy cheap Crap
NOW before you can't
Afford it.


A year of global pandemic didn't manage to end Capitalism, but this is it folks! Big Boat is stuck! It's all over now. Close your bank accounts and get ready to Party.


"trucks and trains still exist"

I'm sure such snarky sentiment would welcomed as a clairvoyant epiphany by the Suez Canal Authority.


@4 That's exactly the prof's point: global shipping companies and the canal authority have ample experience prioritizing and rerouting cargo. Conservative talking heads and local bloggers, maybe not so much.


"They know a long blockage will re-route ships that planned to cross the cost-saving canal to trips whose longer duration will diminish or completely wipe out their factored-in profits."

Charles, I recognize that you are just regurgitating some half-assed cable news analysis here, but even you must recognize this is overly simplistic. With bunker fuel costs at current lows, it's actually less expensive to simply sail around the long way. The SCA reduced tolls last year in response to the resulting decline in vessels electing to transit the canal.

In sum, stick to what you know: gas station wine.


A stopped clock is right twice a day, which is two times more than a fixed ideologue.


@2 The containers are probably mostly too heavy for even heavy lift helicopters to pick up. The least exotic lift helicopters are Chinooks, with a lift capacity around 8 tons. Those containers are likely in the 10-30 ton range.

Also, price increases are less likely to affect us in the PNW since our shipborne cargo from Asia doesn't need to go through Suez. Europe will suffer, and possibly the US East Coast.


@8 -- what's that 'they' say? 'don't send a boy to do a Man's Job': The CH-53 Super Stallion is a development of CH-53 Sea Stallion heavy-lift cargo helicopter. It is currently the largest helicopter in service with the US armed forces.

Designed with a lifting capacity of more than 33t, the CH-53 can lift a155mm howitzer along with its crew and ammunition.

The Super Stallion helicopter is in service with the heavy lift helicopter squadrons of the US Marine Corps, forming a vital element of the composite squadrons supplying heavy cargo and supplies for amphibious assault missions.

a lifting capacity of more than 33 TONNES.

c'mon Mr President:
time to LEAD*
show that
silly ship

*send in The Stallions


@8 If we're talking about getting stuff off of Stuck Big Boat itself, they don't have to move fully loaded containers, they can keep the container on the chassis and unload or partially unload it down to where your chinook (or barge crane of unusual size, or a smaller crane flown in disassembled and bolted onto Big Boat) can wrangle the box. Slow, to be sure, but presumably they only need to offload some fraction of the load to unstick Big Boat.

Most of the cargo being held up isn't on Stuck Big Boat, of course. For that, or the stuff that can't wait at least, you turn the ships back and sail around the cape or find a port where you can unload for an overland reroute. Expensive, but the sector is hardly risk-free and at least some of the parties involved will be insured.


Finally, the last nail in the coffin of Capitalism.

Charles, does this end your promised year long essay/thesis on the end of Capitalism?


it's likely gonna beak in two when they free the ends and then sink to the bottom of the canal and make an even bigger mess -- I'd stake my career as a seaman Engineer* on that.

why not put our (their?) (not Mexico's) tax dollars to Work -- blow it out of the water. we're Good at that shit, right? make a Deal with the Insurers and git 'er done.

*trumpf U.


@9 I bow to your superior knowledge of heavy lift helicopters. My expertise is boats and ships, so let's go down a rabbit hole, with extra math. Let's say that the CH-53 could lift those 40-foot containers off the ship, and that each one weighs an average of 20 tonnes* each. How much do we need to reduce the draft? I dunno, but let's say 2-3 meters. The ship measures 400m x 59m. Making some reasonable assumptions about the ship's shape, you would need to take off 14,500 tonnes per meter of draft, so we need to remove 29,000-43,500 tonnes of cargo, or 1,450 to 2,175 containers.

Let's say you have a few helicopters, so your limiting factor is getting a helicopter in, attaching the container, and getting out. You're probably looking at 5-6 containers per hour. Best case is 240 hours, worst case is 435 hours to remove the containers. They're probably only going to work in daylight, since lives on the ground aren't at risk, and doing that operation in the dark really amplifies the risk. That gives you 20-36 days to lift containers off. You might be able to reduce that somewhat by working the bow and stern at the same time, so maybe shave 25-50% off of those estimates? But you'd also have to factor in time getting the helicopters to the area, building an airbase to support them, and building a place for them to set containers down. Also, you'd have a lot of trouble doing any other work in the area while helicopters are flying due to flying sand from the downdraft.

So best case, you'd need about the same amount of time as getting the ship out by digging, and worst case it's probably more. If you needed to remove 3m of draft it would take way longer. Also, who's going to pay the $20K/flight hour cost of running the CH-53s?

Metric tons, 2205 lbs each. I'm just using metric throughout to save myself a conversion error.


@13 For someone whose expertise is boats and ships, it seems a little weird that you don't mention fuel oil or ballast tanks in your napkin estimate of how long it might take to reduce Big Boat's draft.


Jesus. If one container ship was all it took to destroy trade to the EU and disrupt the world economy you’d think Iran or some other state sponsor of terrorism would’ve blown one up in the Suez before now.

After all it’s been there for 161 years.

It’s amazing how Fox News and the dipshit brigade could refuse to take a novel virus outbreak seriously then downplay the resulting fucking pandemic for a year, but THIS — THIS is a crisis?

Look. The Suez is one of the most guarded and planned-for strategic routes on earth. There probably half a dozen different navy fleets within a few hundred miles. Every contingency has been war gamed, scenarioed, and examined for a 160 years.

Will this be an effort to fix? Yes.

Will it interrupt trade causing price spikes in the EU, North Africa and Mediterranean basin? Yes.

More importantly— Will it be used an an excuse for speculator shenanigans to drive up prices? Yes. That’s what this panic is intended to do. So. Mission accomplished.

But will it cause serious harm to the global economy? No. No it will not. There will be war first.


@14 In my defense, the question on the table was whether you could remove containers by helicopter, not how I would salvage the ship. But since you asked...

The ship has a total capacity of around 14,500 tonnes of fuel, but it's likely that they're at 75% or lower total capacity since they're partway through a voyage. Maybe you could get 7,000-10,000 tonnes off that way. Given that they had 2-3 meters of bottom paint showing, I'd expect that they have minimal if any ballast on board. Ballast water treatment is required by regulation, is a pain in the ass, and the treatment systems don't work all that well. So I wouldn't give myself any credit for ballast removal. Another wrinkle is where the fuel tankage is. If most of it is in the stern (likely), removing it doesn't help get the bow free.

That leaves 20,0000-30,000 tonnes left to remove. My choice for getting cargo off would be to use cranes on barges alongside the ship. You could probably have 3-6 working simultaneously, and you could likely speed up cycle time by having the fancy top load machines that automatically latch into the containers. That's still going to be slow, though.

Wild cards are whether it would be worth trying to lift the ship with airbags (probably too slow, and finding and mobilizing the airbags might be difficult) or whether it would be worth bringing in a dredge (either suction or clamshell) to clear dirt faster than the shore-based excavators can do it. A lot of that depends on the shape of the bottom and how much you need to clear. Directed jets of water could clear sand from under the ship, but would also partially fill in the rest of the canal, making more work for later.

And I'm with the good professor on long-term impacts. It might cause temporary shortages, but nobody's going to get brought to their knees.


gosh boaty, you Worked on this!

but once again you're Thinking too small:
while onc chopper's packing a container off
another one's dropping off at the landing site
whilst another one is hurryng back to the ship
now multiply that times two or three or four areas
off-loaded simultaneously and well, you're better at
the Math than I am and No, I'm merely another armchair
'Expert' who happens to Google 'how BIG are helicopters.'

the few pix I've seen of 'extracting' the quarter-mile L o n g too-stuck
Megaship is one sole Lonely (teeny!) little trackhoe at the bow, scraping away dutifully -- Good Luck with that.

send in the Sandvacs sponsored
by SHOPVAC or whoeverthefuck:
Time's a'wastin'.


@16 Given Big Boat's deck height, I'm dubious you'd be able to find 3 floating cranes big enough for the job within two week's sail. But assuming the Canal Authority decides it's worth burning some cash to open up again sooner, then hey, why not just shove containers over the side and have your bog-standard salvage crews hump them out? (Or pick them out of the sand I guess, gotta keep that load balanced).

@17 The earthmovers you see in those photos are the largest you'd be able to drive off of your local Rentier Bob's Heavy Construction Supply Lot. They're pretty large! But Big Boat is very, very big.


@17 That’s pretty much what I was assuming. For reference a Medevac helicopter takes about 10 minutes to land, jam a patient ready to go inside, and take off again. You’re not going to be able to do much better than that with a heavy lift helicopter by the time you stop, have the crew get the hanging wires, hook up, and clear the airspace.

@18 There are scads of Manitowoc cranes with 120’ to 150’ booms around ports. It isn’t too hard to roll the tracked ones on to a barge and go. That would get the containers near Big Boat’s centerline, but you could grab a lot off the sides. Mobilization time might be an issue though. Contracting alone can take days to weeks.


@19 Er, I suppose, but I sure as hell don't want to be the guy tasked with counterbalancing that port crane you've just bolted onto a barge.

It's one thing to roll them onto barges for transport, firing 'em up on the float is another matter entirely.


@16 -- I concur with halting the nitetime heli work
but light it up and let the guys do the rigging in
the downtime; or worst case -- Jettison* and
sell Salvage Rights to the highest bidders

much like bidding on those abandoned
storage units on the Boob Tube you
just might get some Good ones

or Tragic.

*thnx rbs


just spitballin' here how 'bout
a few Hotshot film crews
fuck that -- Netflix.

ya Listenin'?
pay per view
be like Golf perfect
for a Sunday Afternoon Nap.


Look kris we're here to solve a serious problem with clever internet comments, not to make the next Mad... the nex... oh my god this would be such a good Mad Max movie.


@23 -- then that can mean
only One kinda Ending
for the Ever Given:

send the containers into Orbit
& everyone gets a share
Manna from Heaven

well there's your Title too


Even the Whales!
wont they be


With Suez Canal Blocked, Shippers Begin End Run Around a Trade Artery

The most common option for ships trying to avoid the logjam is to reroute themselves around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.

As the world absorbed the reality that the Suez Canal will almost certainly remain blocked for at least several more days, hundreds of ships stuck at both ends of the channel on Friday began contemplating a far more expensive alternative: forsaking the channel and heading the long way around Africa.

A journey from the Suez Canal in Egypt to Rotterdam, in the Netherlands — Europe’s largest port — typically takes about 11 days. Venturing south around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope adds at least 26 more days, according to Refinitiv, the financial data company.

The additional fuel charges for the journey generally run more than $30,000 per day, depending on the vessel, or more than $800,000 total for the longer trip.

More than 200 ships are now stuck at either end of the Suez Canal, with no clarity on when they will be able to continue their journeys. Some 80 additional ships are scheduled to arrive over the next three days, Mr. Singh said.

By Peter S. Goodman and Stanley Reed
March 26, 2021

more at:

boy, 300 ships at $800K/per pop
pretty soon you're talkin'
REAL Money.


@23 LOL I wish that my salvage/repair projects had a Michael Bay destruction budget.

@20 It isn’t all that bad with the right software. I’ve run the calculations to do that 5-10 times. Mobile cranes usually have an allowance for the ground not being flat. You just need to apply those limits to the barge. It’s easier in this case because you have a maximum hook load-the max container weight.


@27 The issue with a crane on a barge isn't that the ground isn't flat, but that it isn't fixed. You can mostly ignore this if your crane is small relative to your barge, and the weather is good, but unless you're rolling this (tall) crane onto a barge that already just happens to be specially outfitted as a (high torque) lift platform, you're going to have a hell of a time keeping that thing within operating spec of vertical while it's moving freight, even with no wind. The finest software in the world makes no difference if your servos can't keep up with it.


@26 My goodness, 300 times 800k... that's almost 18 hours of Bezos personal income! Or six, if he works eight-hour days I guess. Four if he gets weekends and a 2-week vacation. Four hours of Bezos income.

At any rate, surely the global economy will collapse any minute now!


No, this really is a horrible disaster.



@28 That would be true if we were using active stabilization like moving solid or liquid ballast. Most of the time you’re just using the natural stability of the barge itself so you’re not worried about reaction time. We do also consider the effects of wind to make sure that doesn’t move the barge out of the angle limits, as well as what happens if the hoist wire breaks and you have the barge trying to roll over the other direction.

In the end, the crane operator gets a set of instructions that say “Don’t lift more than X tons at Y radius over the end of the barge, or more than A tons at B radius over the side of the barge.” Of course, we fill in the gaps between the end and the side as well. If they really want it simple, we can give a load/radius numbers that are good no matter how they turn the crane.

Trust me, it does work. Of course, you want your A team crane operators on the job as well.


Also, you’d expect a barge to be maybe 300’-350’ long for that size crane. Once the barges are that big, they have an awful lot of stability.


With the ship too heavy for tugboats alone, the effort on the water was being aided by teams on land, where cranes that look like playthings in the shadow of the hulking cargo ship have been scooping mountains of earth from the area where the ship’s bow and stern are wedged tight.

As the dredgers worked, a team of eight Dutch salvage experts and naval architects overseeing the operation were surveying the ship and the seabed and creating a computer model to help it work around the vessel without damaging it, said Capt. Nick Sloane, a South African salvage master who led the operation to right the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that capsized in 2012 off the coast of Italy.

If the tugboats, dredgers and pumps cannot get the job done, they could be joined by a head-spinning array of specialized vessels and machines requiring perhaps hundreds of workers: small tankers to siphon off the ship’s fuel, the tallest cranes in the world to unload containers one by one and, if no cranes are tall enough or near enough, heavy-duty helicopters that can pick up containers of up to 20 tons — though no one has said where the cargo would go. (A full 40-foot container can weigh up to 40 tons.) — Vivian Yee

tonnes more at


oh and they freed the rudder!
they're hoping to get it out this weekend
which is probably already over being on the
Far Side of the Planet -- Full Moon on Monday
high Tides!

hey boaty how do you like the Odds of a fully-laden Cargo Ship trip around the Southern Tip of Africa this time of year? is the weather way down there pretty predictable?


ok, ya just gotta stay far enough off the African Coasts to keep outta Treacherous Waters at the southern tip of the continent. but it's still Winter comin' on... oh and the Climate's apparently mild...

a southern passage reminds me (a non-sailor) of the scene from the most excellent Master and Commander when Captain Aubrey's olde timey sailing Warship chases a faster Pirate ship around the southern tip of South America during a winter Storm -- it's Wild as Fuck.

where I'll gleefuly watch it
from Terra fawking Firma.

the chase scene is right after this one:


Looks like the Ever Given is free now, by a combo pack of tugs and dredging (honestly probably mostly dredging). No cargo removal required. It'll probably be a few days before ships headed for the Cape of Good Hope turn toward Suez. Ship operators will want to see that traffic is flowing well through the canal before they commit.

@34 A large ship will be fine around the Cape of Good Hope (35 deg S latitude). It's a good 20 degrees of latitude north of Cape Horn and the weather isn't nearly as bad. South of 40 S, you get into the Roaring Forties, which have that name for a reason. Even in really bad weather, it's not normally the ship that's in danger--the big risk is losing containers over the side. On the other hand, some bulk carriers (think the ships loading at the Seattle grain terminal) have gotten into trouble if their forward cargo hatch covers leak and let the hold fill with water. Container ships don't tend to have that problem, I believe because they have more freeboard (distance from the watertight deck to the water) than bulk carriers tend to.