Mar 30, 2021 - World

Rising tides and supermoon helped free massive ship from Suez Canal

The Ever Given ship.
The "Ever Given" ship. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Rescuers who dislodged the massive "Ever Given" ship from the Suez Canal on Monday got the aid of a supermoon, which raised water levels about 19 inches above normal tides and made it easier to pull the vessel, The Wall Street Journal reports.

How it works: Tides are usually higher during a full or new moon. But that effect was boosted by the year's first supermoon — which occurs when a full moon orbits closest to the Earth.

  • "When it became clear that tugboats alone wouldn’t be able to dislodge the Ever Given, the rescue effort began looking to the supermoon’s pull on the tides and how it might help free the stranded vessel," The Journal writes.
  • With the supermoon beginning Sunday, engineers had to work fast knowing that the higher-than-normal tides would only last a few days.

The backdrop: The lodged ship created a traffic jam in one of the world's most important passageways, wreaking havoc on global trade and resulting in one of the largest ship salvage operations in modern history.

  • The crew working to free the ship had used a dozen tugboats by Saturday night and had dug 60 feet deep around the ship at that point.
  • The team then got the help of a Dutch tugboat with the power to pull 285 metric tons, significantly more than the others working to pull the ship.
  • “We were working four days with our tugs,” Captain Wessam Hafez, a chief pilot on the canal, told WSJ. “When this big tug came, immediately the stern of the ship was released from the bank.”
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