A stranded cargo ship in the Suez Canal has triggered a flood of memes about the seemingly undersized attempts to push it loose, even as the world watches and waits for the global shipping route to clear up.
The days-long crisis in Egypt started when a massive cargo vessel called the Ever Given drifted sideways in the Suez Canal Tuesday, effectively blocking the route with a mountain of human-made steel. The ship stretches nearly 400 metres long and is about 59 metres wide, making it one of the largest container vessels in the world — and a tall task for a single excavator and a bulldozer to move.
Nevertheless, the two pieces of construction equipment were on the scene from Tuesday to Thursday, trying (and largely failing) to push the massive Ever Given back out onto the water.
Photos of the two pieces of construction equipment triggered mockery online, where many have been closely watching the David vs. Goliath struggle.
“The best part of the photo is that tiny excavator,” Twitter user Marcel Dirsus tweeted on Wednesday. “I’m rooting for you, buddy! You can do it!”
The relatively tiny excavator and bulldozer quickly became a new format for memes about trying to tackle an overwhelmingly huge task.
Others felt a certain kinship with the big, slow, hopelessly marooned cargo ship that is ruining so much for so many.
“I find the container ship that is stuck in the Suez Canal and causing problems for everyone else very relatable,” journalist Haley Byrd Wilt tweeted.
“In our own little way, we are all that ship,” comedian Chaz Hutton wrote.
Many marvelled at the cosmic coincidence of the Ever Given’s course before it became wedged, after it traced a phallus-shaped route on a digital tracker.
Several tugboats and dredgers eventually joined the effort to move the ship, and the lone excavator succeeded in freeing the front bow of the Ever Given on Thursday. Unfortunately, the ship did not move after it was partially freed.
Roughly 10 per cent of the world’s shipping traffic depends on the Suez Canal, meaning that the tiny excavator has a big job to finish. The route is a choke point connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, and the blockage has backed up more than 150 ships that need to pass through.
Egyptian officials and Evergreen Marine Corp., which operates the ship, have blamed the crisis on high winds that pushed the towering vessel off course.
Global shipping losses are mounting amid the crisis, and Egyptian officials are looking for new ways to free the vessel.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., which owns the ship, issued a written apology on Wednesday.
“We are determined to keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” it said. “We would like to apologize to all parties affected by this incident, including the ships travelling and planning to travel through Suez Canal.”
A Dutch salvage team has joined the effort, but they say it could be “days to weeks” before the crisis is resolved.
In other words, maybe it’s time to bring in another digger?
— With files from The Associated Press