Defense officials said the U.S. Navy will deploy an assessment team to the blocked Suez Canal as soon as Saturday, CNN reports.
The nearly quarter-mile-long MV Ever Given ran aground across nearly the entire width of the Suez Canal on Wednesday. The ship gathered international attention for the phallic shape it seemed to trace across the Red Sea before doing so, but its blockage of one of the most critical trade routes in the world soon eclipsed the viral story.
The Suez Canal Authority said a gale-force sand storm caused a loss of control that resulted in the giant vessel wedging itself diagonally across the man-made waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. The ship is currently leased by Taiwan-based shipping company Evergreen, who confirmed that “gusting winds of 30 knots caused the container ship to deviate from its course.”
Now, as the world’s largest traffic jam spikes oil prices and causes “catastrophic” delays in the delivery of food and other goods, the United States military is reportedly headed to help. The Egyptian government has agreed to accept the offer of help, relayed through Cairo’s U.S. Embassy.
“The Biden administration is tracking the situation closely. As part of our active dialogue with Egypt, we have offered US assistance to Egyptian authorities to help re-open the canal. We are consulting with our Egyptian partners about how we can best support their efforts,” an unidentified official told CNN.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the Biden administration was “tracking the situation very closely” after seeing “some potential impacts on energy markets.” She told reporters the government was “consulting with our Egyptian partners about how we can best support their efforts.” For now, the U.S. has committed to send an assessment team to lend their expertise to the site — a common practice during international disasters.
“In connection with the ongoing efforts to dislodge the container ship that ran aground during its passage through the Suez Canal, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) values the offer of the United States of America to contribute to these efforts,” The Suez Canal Authority said in a statement released Friday, “and looks forward to cooperating with the U.S. in this regard in appreciation of this good initiative which confirms the friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries.”