After a week of being stuck in the Suez Canal, satellite footage from the MarineTraffic website showed that the Ever Given was finally refloated by authorities who worked with a total of 14 tugs to move the ship.
Due to a mass rock underneath the ship’s bow, freeing of the ship had become tedious. More than 950,000 cubic feet of sand was shifted and was dug down to nearly 60 feet. According to estimates, $9.6 billion of trade per day was being held up as a consequence of the canal being blocked by the ship that got stuck due to bad weather conditions.
The traffic finally resumed on March 29th when the canal was freed by dedicated and hardworking salvage crews. However, we do have one more natural factor to give due credits to, i.e. the Moon.
How did this happen?
It is true that the manual effort by the fleet of tugboats pulled the boat to safety, the operation was also impacted by a particularly strong tide caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. This high tide, that rose at noon assisted in pushing the back of the vessel, while boats pulled the ship from the front. Thus, the ship was eventually freed from the canal with the help of both natural and manual resources.
Speaking to the Dutch radio station NPO 1, Peter Berdowski, who is CEO of the firm Boskalis that helped in the salvage operation mentioned, “We were helped enormously by the strong falling tide we had this afternoon.”
“In effect, you have the forces of nature pushing hard with you and they pushed harder than the two sea tugs could pull”, he added.
Relationship between tides and the moon
Tides are a consequence of the Moon’s gravity pulling Earth towards it. While the earth rotates, it creates a bulge towards the moon leading to the rise and fall in the seas.
It is further crucial to understand that the moon on Sunday, i.e. March 28th was not an ordinary one, as it was a Supermoon. This phenomenon occurs when a full moon reaches its closest point to the earth in its orbit (which is not perfectly circular), it further appears marginally brighter in the sky. Along with the alignment of the sun, this type of a moon results in more extreme tides.
This closest point to the earth is termed as perigee, and the full moon on Sunday was reached its closest point to Earth on Tuesday, March 30. Thus, this natural effect boosted the freeing operations of Ever given and reopening of the Suez canal as the perigee is also responsible for making the tides caused by a full moon or no moon extremely prominent.
The New York Times stated that the Suez Canal may have experienced water levels about 18 inches (46 centimeters) higher than usual situations.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “The salvage team pinned their hopes on this week’s full moon, when, beginning Sunday, water levels were set to rise a foot-and-a-half higher than normal high tides.”