Norwegian Fjord FSTR caught in traffic jam in the Suez Canal on its way home from the Philippines

ROPE BOATS: At least eight tugboats are trying to free the container ship “MV Ever Given”. HANDOUT / Reuters

A total of 16 Norwegian owned ships are caught in a huge queue, at each end as well as in the middle of the Suez Canal, including Fjord Line’s newly build Fjord FSTR that was on its way from the Austal Pty shipyard in the Philippines to Hirtshals in Denmark, E24 reports.

Traffic in the Suez Canal has since Tuesday morning been blocked by a 200,000-tonne, 400-meter-long, and 59-meter-wide ship, owned by the Taiwan-based shipping company Evergreen. The container ship ran aground and according to the ship’s owner, now lay across the canal due to strong winds. The Suez Canal simplifies shipping traffic between Europe and Asia and about 12 percent of world trade passes through the Suez Canal. The canal has been one of the most important shipping routes in the world since the end of the 19th century.

There are now at least 140 ships in line to move on but low tides make it difficult to free the large container ship. Harald Solberg CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association says to E24 that they are following the situation closely. The ships that are already stuck in the canal have no choice but to stay, he says. “It’s like getting stuck in a traffic jam. Those who are waiting outside the canal can in theory turn around, but it will be a very long detour,” he says.

Fjord Line is one of the largest ferry companies in the Nordic region and sails to Denmark and Sweden from Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand, and Langesund. According to the company, they have around 1.5 million travelers a year. The newly built ferry will sail between the Danish city of Hirtshals and the Norwegian city of Kristiansand but due to the corona crisis and the canceled ferry service between Denmark and Norway, Fjord Line does not fear major financial consequences of the delay. “We had hoped to be in Hirtshals around 1 April. The ferry will probably be delayed for a few days, but we still have not received the green light from the authorities in Denmark to sail to Norway, so it does not have much significance, Fjord Line’s communications consultant says to E24.

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