Ship stuck in Suez likely to be freed on Saturday

The Japanese owner of a container ship grounded in Egypt's Suez Canal says the vessel will likely be freed on Saturday.

The Ever Given has been blocking the canal since it got stuck there on Tuesday on its way to the Mediterranean. The 400-meter long container ship is operated by a company in Taiwan. It is owned by Shoei Kisen. The firm is based in Imabari, which is located in the western Japanese prefecture of Ehime.

Shoei Kisen's president Higaki Yukito held a news conference on Friday. He apologized for the traffic disruptions that the Ever Given has been causing in the Suez Canal.

The company said that 10 tugboats are trying to pull the vessel, and that workers are endeavoring to remove mud from areas near the bow. But it said difficulties have been stymying both efforts.

Shoei Kisen said the workers have therefore started using machinery that can remove pulverized rocks, so the ship can be freed on Saturday, when the canal will be at high tide.

The firm also said it has received no reports that the ship's engine or nautical instruments malfunctioned. The company indicated that the vessel may have been affected by a sandstorm or a wind gust, while it was navigating in the canal.

The president said the company is working hard to resolve the blockade at the canal. He said after that has been accomplished, the firm will investigate the cause of the ship's grounding. He added that Shoei Kisen will work with a salvage company to get the vessel afloat.