Echoes of Suez: Drifting cargo ship blocks English river

Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent
·2-min read

An English seaside town found itself in its own Suez Canal situation when a 263ft (80m) cargo ship got stuck in a river.

The large vessel became partially loose from her moorings in the middle of the night, causing her to swing out across the river, where she got wedged.

The incident involved the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged ship Elise, which arrived in Littlehampton, West Sussex, in the early hours of Tuesday.

The Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship Elise arrived in Littlehampton, West Sussex, in the early hours of Tuesday (Michael Drummond/PA)
The Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship Elise arrived in Littlehampton, West Sussex, in the early hours of Tuesday (Michael Drummond/PA)

However, instead of the week-long operation needed to release the Ever Given container ship in Egypt, workers were able to free the Elise the same afternoon.

The Elise had entered Littlehampton Harbour at about 1.15am after sailing from Antwerp in Belgium and moored up so that her cargo could be loaded.

But as the tide fell and she settled on to her “mud berth”, one of her mooring lines parted and the vessel’s stern drifted nearly 100ft (30m) into the River Arun, a harbour spokesman said.

As a result, the ship was left blocking most of the waterway and at the mercy of the tide.

Workers were able to free the Elise on Tuesday afternoon (Michael Drummond/PA)
Workers were able to free the Elise on Tuesday afternoon (Michael Drummond/PA)

Ships were still able to pass through a narrow gap by the west bank, the spokesman said, and no injuries or pollution were reported.

At around 1.15pm on Tuesday, the Elise was seen being moved by smaller craft until she came to rest against the bank of the Arun, leaving the river clear.

The ship is not believed to have suffered any damage in the incident.

The apparent mishap prompted tongue-in-cheek comparisons on social media with the recent blockage of the Suez Canal by the colossal container ship Ever Given.