General Question

crazyguy's avatar

Do you think the Ever Given was blown by wind, or hacked?

Asked by crazyguy (2608points) 1 week ago

As most of you probably know, the Ever Given, a 200,000 ton container ship carrying 20,000 containers, has been blocking the narrow portion of the Suez Canal for about a week now. Normally, about 9–10 billion dollars worth of goods go through the Suez every single day. Not using the Suez Canal adds about a week to the transport.

There have been reports that the ship was allowed to enter the narrow passage in spite of a severe wind storm. See
https://www.freightwaves.com/news/sandstorm-winds-blamed-for-container-ship-fiasco-in-suez-canal

While the storm was severe by Middle East standards, it packed winds of under 50 mph, which means it was barely strong enough to qualify as a tropical storm. However the passage way is narrow, no wider than the length of the stranded ship. Even narrower, if you consider water depth at the sides.

My rough calculation using a total weight of 200,000 tons, length of 1,300 feet and width of 200 feet shows that the ship needs to displace about 25 feet of water. So figure the minimum depth required is 30 ft. Since the canal is shallower at the sides than in the middle, I estimate the canal is about 700 feet wide with adequate depth center for the ship. Allowing such a large ship into the canal during a storm represents either incompetence or bribery to my mind.

The next question is if somebody was desperate to block the canal, would they rely on fickle winds, or would they perhaps take more proactive measures. What I am thinking is possible hacking of the computerized navigation system of the ship.

So my question is: Do you think the ship was hacked or was it just the wind?

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22 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

From what I read, it isn’t all or nothing..

Hacking doesn’t play a role. Apparently it was winds that started the problem, and bad seamanship (captain/pilot) reacting poorly to the initial problem with the wind.

Add that to the size of the ship – one of the world’s largest, and you have a mess.

Do you have evidence of hacking, or was that incendiary bullshit?

kritiper's avatar

Blown by the wind.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

It was a poor decision, it was in a sandstorm and 40 knot winds. Low visibility and the equivalent driving and eighteen wheeler in gusts of the some speed.

Tractor trailer is on its side and Ever Given is jammed in the canal

Tropical_Willie's avatar

The ship is over 190 feet high with containers and that is just a great big sail in the wind.

canidmajor's avatar

I think it was a combination of factors, some of them human. Lack of appropriate regulations by the Suez Canal Authority, probable inexperience by some of the crew due to pandemic attrition, maybe a little pilot error because dealing with ships of this design is not the norm, etc.

I doubt she was hacked. This article in the Atlantic covers the topic of Bridge Resource Management pretty well.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/03/ever-given-and-suez-why-ships-keep-crashing/618436/?utm_term=2021-03-27T10%3A30%3A56&utm_content=edit-promo&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=the-atlantic&utm_medium=social&fbclid=IwAR3awxdYNfGDh72FQM_2bDY22KO8626wdyawsKsvlg7o6xmyUmAo0owp2Og

Darth_Algar's avatar

Weight doesn’t matter, especially not on water. The ship, loaded as it was, has a gigantic profile. Winds love that shit. Ever notice on the highway how the wind, no matter the speed, will push around the big trailer trucks before they push around the light, small profile cars.

gorillapaws's avatar

Occam’s Razor would suggest its most likely the wind and bad decision making/incompetence.

canidmajor's avatar

Both the owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, and Evergreen Marine are pushing the “windstorm as exclusive reason” story as hard as they can, hoping to avoid the inevitable tsunami of suits and damages. I imagine the SCA is, also, for the same reasons. Gotta wonder how much liability the Egyptian government is in line for.

rebbel's avatar

This just in: “Trump offers idea to use a small nuclear device, just off the banks of the canal.”

jca2's avatar

From the link, overly enthusiastic: Mohab Mamish, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s adviser on seaports and the former chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told the AFP news agency Thursday that navigation through the canal “will resume again within 48–72 hours, maximum.” If accomplished, this could have ships moving again over the weekend.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Who would depend on a freak windstorm blowing in the appropriate direction and a ship stacked just so with containers to be driven the proper direction? If you want to reliably disrupt the canal, you load a ship with explosives and perhaps radioactive materials and detonate the vessel in the middle of the canal. Not only would you clog the channel with irradiated debris, you might achieve the bonus of destroying at least one set of locks and rendering the wreckage of the locks radioactive as well. This would disrupt the traffic for years as opposed to the week of the present boondoggle.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@stanleybmanly

Actually don’t need radioactive material, the ship is now top heavy because they emptied the ballast tanks of water to lighten it. Now if the get a big wind to blow and it might capsize or they pull too hard the wrong way it may cause the keel to break then it may take months to a year to clear the Suez Canal.

rebbel's avatar

The Dutch have sent a tug boat.
Job’s done day after tomorrow.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If they don’t tip it over before the Dutch get there.

crazyguy's avatar

All, thanks for your answers.

I do not think that the normal rules for scheduling ships through the canal would allow a ship of this size and configuration (containers stacked high) to enter the narrows in a wind storm. Hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of who gave it the go-ahead.

The hacking was purely my idea building on top of possible bribes to get the permission to enter the narrows. As to why somebody may prefer this method instead of you load a ship with explosives and perhaps radioactive materials and detonate the vessel in the middle of the canal. is plausible deniability.

rebbel's avatar

The Dutch have sent a tug boat.
Job’s done day after tomorrow.

Well, I don’t want to say I called it, but….

elbanditoroso's avatar

@rebbel how long does it take for a tugboat to travel from Rotterdam to The suez canal? More than one day. What’s the top speed on a tug?

rebbel's avatar

@elbanditoroso I have no idea, but if I had to take a wild guess I would say 80 hours??
Since the company that took the job does many such jobs all around the world, I think it is safe to assume that there is always a tug boat of this kind somewhere in all seven seas.
It arrived yesterday, by the way, in the (European) evening.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I can imagine the manager at the tow company saying “hey guys, who wants to go to Egypt for a couple days?”

stanleybmanly's avatar

I wonder why a Dutch tug? There are unquestionably ocean going and harbor tugs in every port in the region of the canal. Perhaps its in the skills the Hollanders have acquired in dealing with dykes, channels and locks.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@stanleybmanly

Probably because the Ever Given was headed for the Port of Rotterdam.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I was starting to think of it as the “Never Going”

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