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Home / World / Wind… or worse: Is the Suez blockade the culprit for pilot errors? | Ocean

Wind… or worse: Is the Suez blockade the culprit for pilot errors? | Ocean



THis troubles started at 5:17 am. Ever Give’s ultra-large container ship (ULCV) is filled with 20,000 containers and sails across the Suez Canal from the southern part of the Gulf of Suez just a quarter of an hour to the south.

This is how the canal works: the boat berths the night before and waits for the next morning – a convoy on the southbound port of Port Said starts at 3.30 am and the convoy on the northbound at 5:00 am. They met at the Big Bitter Lake, where the southbound convoy parked and let the other party pass. Consider a country road with a border crossing point, which is only suitable for ships of building height traveling at motorcycle speeds.

There is a frigate because the canal is narrow for most of its 1

20-mile length. Egypt spent huge sums of money to build a two-way system in 2015, shortening the transit time of the southbound convoy to 11 hours. But it can only run 22 miles. In the remaining passages, the ship must travel one-way along a very narrow route.

Ever Given is very big, she is very heavy. As with global transportation, her usual practice is to go east to pick up goods from Asia, and then ship back the full load. She is also very wide, with a “beam” (or width) of 194 feet, and her depth underwater is 51 feet. ULCV is a specification for aircraft with a capacity greater than 20,000 twenty-foot equivalent units. Suez regulations require special permits for Ever Ever-sized ships, but she is eligible to be Suezmax: the maximum allowable size for transportation through the canal.

Ships wait to pass the Suez Canal of Lake Big Bitter Lake.
Ships wait to pass the Suez Canal of Lake Big Bitter Lake. Photo: Xinhuanet/REX/Shutterstock

The weather is not calm. Port area-there is not only a 30 mph wind at the rear left, but also a sandstorm. Ever Given left her port and set off at a speed of 8 knots. When I crossed the border from Suez on a container ship in 2010, I remembered that it felt like a lot of nonsense. It’s also very boring: green water, sand, habitats everywhere. After a few hours, I understood why the crew derided it as a “ditch in the desert.” Even the simple co-pilot was moved to express his opinion: “Sand, sand, and sand.” At that time, I told the captain that when we were standing on the bridge while the pilot was sleeping on the stove, unfortunate things seemed impossible. “Wrong,” he said.

He recalled that once, when the pilot put the boat on the beach, he had to leave the container terminal and enter the canal. The captain intervened, overthrew the pilot, lowered the ship from the ship, and took a well-deserved rest. “When I came back, I said,’Where is the bloody pilot?'” Then I saw his head pop up suddenly. He prayed on the deck. “

Suez looks serene, but navigating large ships in shallow canals can be tricky. There was a “Suez pilot” and “Suez crew” on board, and they were required to master local knowledge. As we all know, these officers had to “lubricate” with Marlboro cartons and the candy in the bonded lockers (shipyards), which led to the nickname of another Suez crew member: the Marlboro Canal. A senior engineer once told me: “I think it’s impossible for the Egyptians to build pyramids.” “They can’t have it: they didn’t have Marlboro at that time.”

This is offensive to those Egyptians who think that the canal is a great national pride, but during the trip, I saw the Suez pilot ate his way through the entire lunch menu, and then on the sofa, the captain’s chair, on the sofa Go to sleep. The head of duty chair. The second class had to continue to wake him up to listen to instructions.

Satellite handout images show Ever Givenlodged across the Suez Canal.
Satellite handout images show Ever Givenlodged by the Suez Canal. Photo: Planet Labs/AFP/Getty Images

We don’t know what the pilot was doing on the morning of Ever Ever’s departure. The suitcases carried were almost three times the size of the boat I was on-but we knew that 5:17 in the morning was when the ship first sailed towards the port. The trajectory, however, has been corrected. In the next 25 minutes (according to the simulation results, based on satellite data), the ship accelerated by more than 13 knots. One explanation for this is to better deal with wind.

At about 5:42 in the morning, there was an obvious problem. The ship sailed to port, then to starboard, again to port, and again to starboard, until the bow swung sharply to starboard and crashed into Asia. Because the ship was longer than the width of the canal, she was wedged.

She stayed there for six days. In an industry that transports 90% of the global trade volume, she travels one route every day, transporting more than 10% of the world’s goods. The public suddenly discovered that, after all, ships are very important, and almost nothing can travel by plane.

Other ships got into trouble in Suez. OOCL Japan lost its direction and hit the bank in 2017; it destroyed a road and a passing car, and was released within hours. In 2004, the Russian tanker Tropic Brilliance closed the canal for three days by falling into a similar quagmire after a mechanical failure.

The bird's eye view on March 27 shows the ships waiting in line in the Gulf of Suez.
The bird’s eye view on March 27 shows the ships waiting in line in the Gulf of Suez. Photography: Mahmoud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images

First, Lt Gen Osama Rabie, director of the Suez Canal Authority, gave a popular theory about Ever Ever’s dilemma as “strong winds and sandstorms.” By Saturday, the rabbi’s views had changed. Now, weather may be involved, but “technical or human error” may also be involved.

I nodded at this, thinking of the sleepy pilot and making some assumptions. In the words of the retired senior captain, most marine accidents involve human error, that is, “before, during or after the disaster”.

No other ships turned, although they were affected by the same wind and steam flowing in the same canal. The ship in front, the COSCO galaxy, was as big as “Eternal Era”, but nothing happened to her. The other 19 ships in the convoy did not have any accidents, but collided roughly: it would take about a mile to come to a complete stop.

Sandstorms can cause poor visibility-but ships operate on radar at night: they don’t need to see clearly. When the wind blew, the huge container wall could have acted as a sail, blowing it away from the channel. Can the pilot compensate for the wind?

Perhaps the crew did not react quickly enough to the incident because they are almost certainly exhausted. Not only does the Suez fleet depart early, but also undergoes routine quarantine three times a day. The container ship’s life of quarantine and four-hour observation may be exhausted. During my transit, the second police officer had three hours of sleep each night for the first three nights, and did not sleep the night before the convoy. More importantly, in the pandemic, many of the world’s 1.5 million seafarers have been unable to go ashore for months. Fatigue is common.

People watched Ever Ever and passed after it was released.
People watched Ever Ever and passed after it was released. Photo: Mohamed Elshahed/Associated Press

Then there is water. The canals may seem calm, but their water can have a strange effect on large ships, leading to complex fluid dynamics, which creates suction that pulls the ship toward the bank or leans toward the bow. The “squat effect” occurs because, unlike the sea, the water in the canal must remain motionless: it gathers into a bunch under the ship, the flow velocity under the hull increases, the pressure decreases, and the hull is sucked into a vacuum.

Squatting occurs when the bow is raised and the back side sinks. If the ship is too close to the shore, the “bank effect” will be controlled, and fluid dynamics are equally dangerous: speed, pressure and suction will drag the ship off the channel and cause it to spin. Using the rudder to overcorrect will make the situation worse. The banking effect is so complicated that the entire Ph.D. has been completed. The larger the boat, the greater the suction power.

“It boils down to two things,” said Dr. Sal Mercogliano, a maritime historian at Campbell University in North Carolina. “Mechanical or human. Even if it’s wind and weather, it’s human, because we have the ability to detect wind again. If they knew there might be a strong wind that morning, why would they want to drive this ship into the canal?”

The Suez Canal Boat Released, Going to the Lake for Inspection – Video
The Suez Canal Boat Released, Going to the Lake for Inspection – Video

Two investigations are already underway. Ever Given belongs to a Japanese company and is operated by a Taiwanese company. It is carried by Indians, but it flies the Panamanian flag because this is how shipping works: ships can rent the flag from the flag registry, and Panama is the largest in the world of. According to the International Maritime Organization’s safety investigation rules, Panama will conduct a safety investigation even if the ship is trapped in Egyptian waters. The Panamanian investigation will not include guilt, but Egypt has already begun an investigation into the “ship’s seaworthiness and the conduct of the crew.”

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, said: “I suspect this is a series of complicated events.” A series of growing misfortunes. If the cause is found to be man-made or mechanical, rather than natural disasters or force majeure, the insurer will bear dizzying compensation. Mercogliano said: “There will be many accusations.” A preliminary report from Panama has attributed the mechanical failure to this. At the same time, the owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha has filed a claim against the operator Evergreen in the High Court of England.

We always need someone to blame, and imprisoning people is always easier than the wind. The criminalization of seafarers’ actions in connection with large ships has worries the International Chamber of Shipping and other maritime associations. In 2007, the Hebei Spirit carrying 250,000 tons of crude oil was hit by a barge of Samsung Heavy Industries, which was sitting on an anchorage near Dashan in South Korea, causing serious oil pollution. Captain Jasprit Chawla whistled five times and tried to call the barge-however, Chawla and his co-pilot were sentenced to 18 months in prison. Imagine another transportation situation: you sit in a parked car, get hit, and go to jail.

Big and heavy: Ever Give, a repackaged refrigerated container ship.
Big and heavy: Ever Give, a repackaged refrigerated container ship. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

In a sense, in addition to expensive icing and the steady development of global trade, the permanent grounding is the best case of disaster on the sea. No one was injured; there was no pollution. The speed of the boat’s liberation (six days) can make the Egyptians proud. They have clumsy tugs and tireless excavators, although it is wise to drive a boat that crashed into the river bank quickly and use their own The engine transports it to the canal, and most maritime safety experts will scratch it. It sparked a debate about what factors can make Suez safer. Although Egypt does not have enough convoys for the fleet, should it be escorted by tugboats? Should the size of the ship be reduced to a more manageable ratio?

Platten said in a statement: “This incident has demonstrated the importance of global shipping to daily life and the subtle nature of the global supply chain it supports.” Will we exist because of the unlimited demand for consumer goods? , This is the reason for the existence of these giant ships, we will question whether the price we get is worth the money? Mercogliano said: “We need 1,500 people, and Jack is dying on the Titanic to get more lifeboats on board.” “Maritime law is written in blood.”


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