Pillars and Expertise


The Ever Given case: how the blockage of the Suez Canal changed global trade

In March 23, 2021 at 7.40 am (Italian time), the 400 metre long Golden class container ship Ever Given got stranded in the Suez Canal in Egypt, blocking passage for other ships. The accident was caused by a sandstorm and strong winds that made the ship’s crew unable to control its driving, crashing and got stranded on one of the channel’s banks, obstructing it completely.




SRM (Studi Ricerche Mezzogiorno)

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Blocked ships


Days of naval blockade

The Suez Canal

The Suez Canal, built in 1869, is an important naval communication route between Europe and Asia, as it connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea and avoids the circumnavigation of Africa for many sea routes. It is 190 km long and 205 metres wide, with a maximum depth of 24 metres. The canal allows ships to pass through only in one direction at a time, with the exception of a 35 km lane opened in 2015 that allows traffic in both directions. Approximately 12% of global trade and 30% of containers cross this canal.

Photo Credits
South entrance of the Suez
© Copernicus Sentinel data (2021/03/29) processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO


Our monitoring activity

In those crazy days for the world’s markets, information on what was happening in and around the canal (the north access in Port Said, and to the south, near Suez) were crucial to understanding this unique situation. We produced a series of maps, based on radar images and in the visible spectrum  to quantify the number of ships affected by the blockade. This type of data were strategic to calculate time estimates of recovery actions for coming back to normal activity of the canal, which already normally operates at levels close to maximum possible capacity.

The consequences of the disruption

The blockade of such an important communication route is estimated to have caused a delay in the delivery of goods worth USD 10 billion per day to global trade, taking into account both the ships blocked in the canal and those waiting at the canal access. Some insurance companies estimated, based on their own analyses, that the economic loss was between $6 and $10 billion per week. The goods in the ships blocked in the canal alone were worth about $8.1 billion, according to LLoyd’s List.