The Shipping News

The current blockage of the Suez Canal – not by act of war, but by act of bad navigation – raises a number of questions. Play amongst them as you like:

a. Who was steering the Evergreen ship at the time?

In Fremantle harbour, every ship of consequence that comes in and goes out does so under the guidance of a pilot. Sent out from the harbour authorities to meet the incoming vessels, he or she takes charge and responsibility for giving the orders that turn the ship into the correct channel and then into the correct position in the harbour. Wen a ship goes out the pilot does the same in reverse until it can be safely let free on the ocean.

This also in every responsible port on the globe.

Is there a similar arrangement for the Suez canal? Do the canal authorities impress responsibility for the vessels that approach either end of the passage upon trained pilots? Do these pilots accompany each vessel along the canal – or do the relinquish control once the ships are fairly in the waterway and pointed straight?

Is it possible that the vessel was under control by a crew member unsupervised?

b. How do they get it out?

It won’t back out under its own engines. If it had been able to do so, it would have done so by now. It’s wedged.

Tugs may try to drag it back enough to free it. The canal people are backhoeing around the bow right now. The canal sides are close enough that fixed lines may be run to the vessel from ground anchors – they got the USS OKLAHOMA upright that way.

It is likely to be a combination of all these methods.

c. Will it sink?

Probably not. There’s a dented bow but hopefully not too many sprung plates.

d. What will they do with it once it’s unstuck?

Probably tow it carefully to the end of the canal where it was aimed anyway and then assess whether it can continue a voyage or needs to be unloaded and towed off for repairs. The shipyards at either end of the canal are jockeying for the job right now.

e. Was it a deliberate act of sabotage by whoever you don’t like?

Of course, Karen. They tried to fool you but you saw through them, eh? Oh those nasty __________ ( fill in the blanks ).

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