Shipping boss apologises for 'tremendous trouble' as new attempts made to free cargo ship blocking Suez Canal

  • Satellite image by Maxar Technologies

The boss of the shipping company that owns the giant vessel currently blocking the Suez Canal has apologised for causing "tremendous trouble," as new attempts are made to dislodge the ship.

The Ever Given, owned by Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, got wedged on Tuesday in a single-lane stretch of the canal, north of the southern entrance near the city of Suez.

Attempts are to be made to refloat the giant container ship with the help of the tide.

Maritime traffic has ground to a halt due to the blockage, with more than 200 vessels waiting outside the Suez Canal and many more forced to change course.

A digger trying to dig out the keel of the Ever Given Credit: Suez Canal Authority/AP

Authorities hope a combination of tidal movements, tugboats, and dredging of the banks and sea floor will help get the massive cargo ship afloat again as the high tide starts to go out.

"We apologise for blocking the traffic and causing the tremendous trouble and worry to many people, including the involved parties," President Yukito Higaki - who runs the Japanese company - told a news conference on Friday.

The company said it was considering removing its containers to get the weight off the vessel, but it is a very difficult operation.

A team from Boskalis, a Dutch firm specialising in salvaging, was working with the canal authority using tugboats and a specialized suction dredger at the port side of the cargo ship’s bow.

An initial investigation showed the vessel ran aground due to strong winds and ruled out mechanical or engine failure, the company said.