Suez Canal disruption: Where are the ships that decided to try another route?

·2-min read

The week-long standstill on the Suez Canal meant a tough decision for shipping officials: take a much longer route, or sit it out.

Almost 400 ships were stuck at either end of the Suez Canal while the operation to free the Ever Given took place.

Real-time shipping data provided by MarineTraffic shows how routes have been affected by the disruption on one of the world’s most important waterways.

A 23,000ft container ship named HMM Rotterdam left the London Gateway port in the Thames Estuary just after 6pm on 22 March.

Bound for Singapore, it travelled south along the Portuguese coast before turning towards the Mediterranean Sea and the Suez Canal.

But early on Friday evening, the ship turned in the Strait of Gibraltar and headed south along the Moroccan coast, towards the Cape of Good Hope.

AIS data gathered by MarineTraffic showed the ship’s estimated time of arrival changed from 30 March to 12 April. It’s most recent update puts its arrival time at 19 April - nearly three weeks later than originally intended.

The world’s biggest shipping company Maersk said on Monday that it had rerouted 15 vessels around the Cape of Good Hope.

One ship, the Bremen, set off across the North Atlantic Ocean, destined for Singapore.

On Friday morning, it appeared to change course away from the Strait of Gibraltar and headed south to the west coast of Africa.

It has continued south towards Cape of Good Hope in the days since.

Its estimated arrival time is 19 April - nearly a month after it set off.

Mediterranean Shipping Company announced on Friday that one of its ships operating their Australian Express service had been rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope.

This is the route that ships cargo from Australia to Europe, stopping at ports in southeast Asia and the Middle East along the way.

This map from MSC’s website shows the usual routes taken by ships operating the service via the Suez Canal.

The MSC Sindy left a port in Malta on 25 March, two days after the Ever Given ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal.

MarineTraffic data shows it headed out of the Mediterranean via the Strait of Gibraltar on the evening of March 27th.

Destination information is not available for the ship, but the vessel continues to travel south along the west coast of Africa, towards the Cape of Good Hope.

"Essentially, companies took a gamble on when the situation in the Suez Canal would be resolved - not just when the Ever Given would no longer block it, but also when the considerable maritime traffic jam has been cleared," said Dr Sarah Schiffling, Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management at Liverpool John Moores University.

But with hundreds of vessels still waiting to pass, delays are expected to continue and experts fear the consequences of the six-day standstill will be felt for weeks yet.