SUEZ CANAL TROUBLE

Insatiable Shipping Companies Set the Table for the Suez Canal Ship Debacle

Justin Hirsch

Labor Notes | April 07, 2021

Huge ship loaded with containers, viewed from stern which says "Ever Given, Panama." In the background are port cranes.
Investigators are more likely to blame the ship’s crew than an industry that avoids regulation and aims to grow infinitely. Container ships are four times as big as they were 20 years ago—while the earth’s waterways have remained roughly the same size. Photo: kees torn (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A lot of ink has been spilled to explain exactly what happened in the Suez Canal, where a massive container ship got wedged across the narrow channel, idling ships or forcing lengthy detours around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.

Early speculation on social media laid blame on the captain and crew, mechanical failures, or mysterious forces of nature. Was it the fault of a drunken navigator, as was claimed in the 1989 grounding of the Exxon Valdez, which spilled oil across Prince William Sound? Was there a failure of the steering gear that controls the ship’s rudder, or a did a loss of propulsion make it impossible to control the steel behemoth?Read More »