Rising tides from a full Moon provided the Ever Given the breathing room it needed to escape from its stuck position in the Suez Canal, according to reports.
Since Tuesday, March 23, the boat – owned by the Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine – had been wedged into the side of the Suez Canal, possibly due to high winds, blocking crucial maritime traffic between Asia and Europe.
It is estimated that $9.6 billion of trade per day was being held up as a result.
Yet thankfully, traffic resumed yesterday, Monday, March 29 when the 1,300-foot-long ship was finally freed by hard-working salvage crews. But there was another important player to thank, too:
While a fleet of tugboats had been crucial in pulling the boat to safety, a particularly strong tide – resulting from the gravitational effect of our giant natural satellite – was also vital.
The high tide rising at noon helped to push the back of the vessel, while boats pulled from the front, with the ship’s bow eventually breaking free of the river bank.
“We were helped enormously by the strong falling tide we had this afternoon,” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of the firm Boskalis that assisted in the salvage efforts, told Dutch radio station NPO 1.
“In effect, you have the forces of nature pushing hard with you and they pushed harder than the two sea tugs could pull.”
It wasn’t just any Moon that played a part, however, but a “supermoon” – when a full Moon occurs at its closest point to Earth, coupled with a full Moon, where the alignment of the Sun also leads to more extreme tides.
Tides are caused by the Moon’s gravity pulling Earth towards it; as Earth rotates, it “bulges” towards the Moon, causing the seas to rise and fall.
But the Moon’s orbit around Earth is not perfectly circular, fluctuating between about 360,000 and 410,000 kilometers.
While negligible, at its closest point the Moon exerts a slightly stronger gravitational pull on Earth – known as a supermoon – and also appears marginally brighter in the sky.
And it was this event, the first supermoon of 2021, that ultimately helped free the Ever Given. The Moon was full on Sunday, March 28, reaching its closest point (perigee) to Earth on Tuesday, March 30.
“The salvage team pinned their hopes on this week’s full moon, when, beginning Sunday, water levels were set to rise a foot-and-a-half higher than normal high tides,” reported The Wall Street Journal.
The effect lasted just a few days, but it was enough to free the boat and reopen the Suez Canal after it had remained blocked for a week.
As of Monday evening, traffic was flowing once again along the canal. And while there are countless humans to thank, a hunk of rock likely formed billions of years ago from our very planet itself may have had a pretty major part to play, too.
This article is auto-generated by Algorithm Source: www.forbes.com