The container ship Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt, viewed from the International Space Station.
NASA JSC ISS
Notable events — including the COVID-19 pandemic — have revealed the weaknesses in global supply chains. Companies need to ensure the resiliency of the manufacturing and distribution systems.
The Suez Canal’s history has been forged over a century by multiple entities and people. Its past has been marked by colossal stumbling blocks.
A Target in Sheridan, Colorado, was very low on paper towels in November 2020.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Modern supply chains have become very efficient, but that means disruptions of any kind can lead to delays and shortages.
The procession of ships in the Suez canal for its opening. Illustration from the magazine “The Illustrated London News, volume LV, November 18, 1869.
DEA / BIBLIOTECA AMBROSIANA/Getty Images
Prior to the mid-19th century, the Isthmus of Suez – the 125km strip of land that lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea – was a quiet spot.
Beachgoers near Cairo watch a massive container ship sail to the Red Sea.
AP Photo/Amr Nabil
Before the container was standardized, loading and unloading goods was very labor-intensive, inefficient and costly.
The Ever Given was unwedged from the Suez Canal on March 29 after salvage crews battled for six days to free her.
Driven by the promise of efficiency, container ships have grown to monstrous proportions over the past 15 years.
Suez canal: a key trade route since the mid-19th century.
Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
Britain’s preoccupation with the canal was as much about controlling Egypt as it was about global trade.
The Suez Canal on a normal day.
Photo by Camille Delbos/Art In All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images
Direct implications for maritime security are unlikely. But there will be ripple effects in the shipping industry and in many commercial sectors.
Suez Canal Authority
Maritime salvage experts will use a variety of techniques to free the Ever Given from the Suez Canal.
Suez Canal Authority
A bottleneck in the global shipping network will accelerate the move to more local production and shorter supply chains.
The container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal on March 23, blocking the passage of other ships and causing a traffic jam for cargo vessels.
EPA-EFE/Media Suez Canal Head Office
The Suez Canal is the ideal target for causing maximum disruption to global trade.
Soviet troops advancing at Stalingrad.
Two big battles which turned the tide of World War II can tell us a great deal about some important present-day challenges.
British prime minister, Anthony Eden, and US president, Dwight Eisenhower, after a conference at the White House in 1956.
JR AP/Press Association Images
60 years ago, Britain and the US believed they were on the same page when it came to Suez. How wrong they were.
Suez Crisis: breaking point for Anthony Eden’s premiership.
PA Archive / PA Archive
Cameron has followed in Eden’s footsteps, but in the 1950s the leadership race was a different ballgame.
There’s an ever-increasing demand for more shipping routes and it’s taking its toll on the planet.
The jellyfish highway.
For a month or two every summer, beaches across the south-eastern Mediterranean might be packed but the inviting seas remain suspiciously empty. It’s jellyfish season, and the “nomads” are out in force…