Under The Sea–What’s There? A Sunken Sub Not The Little Mermaid

Things may be wonderful and happy “Under The Sea” for the Little Mermaid, but the scene is tragic and sad under the sea for the crew of an Indonesian sub. The world’s attention was riveted off the coast of Bali at the end of last week as a frantic rescue effort was undertaken to find the missing sub with 53 aboard. Dancing and singing crustaceans populate the floor of the sea in the Little Mermaid’s world, but in the real world the sea floor now holds a sunken sub and, presumably, the remains of its entire crew.

Ask someone to name an exotic destination, and Bali might be the answer given. That island paradise is part of Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s most populous country and an archipelago of over 17,200 islands. But there was trouble in paradise last week, and things didn’t end well. In fact, they ended with a catastrophic loss of life in the Bali Sea, the body of water just north of–you guessed it–Bali.

April 21, 2021 was a day like all days with the Indonesian Navy simply conducting training exercises. Taking part in these exercises was the KRI Nanggala II, one of five subs in the Indonesian Navy. It was a diesel electric sub with 53 aboard–49 crew members, 3 weapons specialists, and 1 commander. Named after the nanggala, a powerful divine short spear wielded by the Hindu god Prabu Baladewa, the 1,395 ton German-built sub seemed mighty and menacing. But the mighty are prone to fall or, in this case, sink.

Around 3:00 a.m. (whew, that’s early!), the sub requested permission to dive to fire a SUT torpedo. For those of us who aren’t familiar with such torpedoes (raising my hand), quick research indicates that it is a 21″ heavyweight wire-guided torpedo. Well, that cleared things right up for me (not!). After firing this live torpedo, the sub went missing. Contact with the vessel was lost an hour after it received clearance to dive. The sub was supposed to check in around 6:00 a.m. before resurfacing, but there was merely the sound of silence.

It wasn’t long before the Indonesian Navy sounded an alarm and sought international assistance in finding the KRI Nanggala II. Time was of the essence since the oxygen supply on board the sub would run out by Saturday morning at 3:00 a.m. Concern mounted when an oil slick and debris, such as a grease bottle for oiling the periscope and a broken piece of a coolant pipe, were found near the site where the sub had last dove. Even with no technical background, I can conclude that those findings spelled bad news.

Good news and bad news followed. The good news? Sonar detected a submarine-like object in the depths. The bad news? The location’s depth of 2,790 feet put the object below the KRI Nanggala II’s diving range. In layman’s terms, that means the object was below the point where water pressure was greater than the sub can withstand and will collapse. The collapse depth for the missing sub was 655′, less than a fourth of the object’s actual depth.

The worst news of all came from pictures taken by an underwater robot equipped with a camera deployed by a Singaporean vessel, the MV Swift Rescue. These visuals showed the sub lying deep on the ocean floor of the Bali Sea broken in at least three parts with the main part cracked. Faced with this evidence, the Indonesian Navy was forced to accept the grim reality that its sub had sunk and all lives aboard had been lost. Crabs and mermaids might be able to live on the ocean floor, but humans cannot.

This loss of life is the largest from a submarine accident since a Chinese sub malfunction in April 2003. While it’s always great to outdo the Chinese, this category is not a good one in which to come out ahead. To no one’s surprise, an investigation into the loss of the KRI Nanggala II is pending. A similar class sub belonging to the Indonesia Navy has been taken out of service in the interim.

Theories have been floated (no pun intended) that an electrical failure could have left the submarine unable to execute the emergency procedures necessary to resurface. No mention has been made of any black box being in the sub which might shed some light on what went awry.

Although I’m no military expert, I do have some pretty good analytical skills. I’m also available for hire at a relatively cheap rate if the Indonesian government wants to throw some money my way to pinpoint what went wrong. My first conclusion is that someone can’t count. The sub was designed to have 38 crew members but 53 sailors were on board at the time of the accident. (Were they trying to pack people in like sardines to enjoy the training exercise???) Being overcapacity may not have been the main culprit leading to the accident, but it certainly didn’t help things other than upping the number of lives lost.

The age of the sub also likely played a part. It was built in 1978 and had been in service since 1981. Thus, the vessel was over 40 years old. In fact, its age required that it be retrofitted in South Korea back in 2012. Some things, such as wine and cheese, may get better with age, but I sincerely doubt that statement applies to submarines.

Serving in the military is, of course hazardous. But most of us think of wartime or hostile engagements causing death, not accidents occurring during routine training. However, when training is occurring in a vessel taking humans deep below the surface of the sea where they cannot breathe on their own should anything go wrong, risks exist. This risk exists not just for the Indonesian Navy, but for any navy utilizing submarines. That means U.S. military members serving on submarines are risking their very lives doing their duty. And with around 75 subs in commission for the U.S. Navy, that’s a lot of lives which could end up under the sea.

Just WONDER-ing:

Think you (or at least a younger version of you) would be up to serving on a submarine? Are accidents inevitable if aging military equipment is utilized? Is the loss of a military member’s life more tragic during peacetime?

Composting Human Remains–From Dust To Dust, From Cradle To Compost Heap

Recycling is a popular environmental-friendly activity. But the concept of recycling has progressed far beyond plastics and cans. After you kick the bucket, your body can now be recycled into soil. Your remains aren’t placed into the ground, they are turned into it via human composting.

Natural organic reduction (“NOR”) is a new alternative to traditional burial and cremation. The statement, “There oughta be a law,” applies here. You can’t do just whatever you want with a corpse, so laws are required to allow NOR to be a legal option. Right now, only one state, Washington, has a law permitting composting of human remains as an authorized method of body disposition. That law, effective May 1, 2020, may soon be joined by ones in Oregon (where a similar bill was recently introduced), Colorado (where pending legislation has passed one legislative chamber), and Delaware (where a measure allowing the disposition alternative was introduced this month).

Although the concept of NOR may not be widely known, farmers have practiced a form of the concept for decades. They utilize it to recycle livestock back to the earth. So, if you’re walking through a farmer’s field, cow patties may not be all you’re stepping on; Bessie’s remains in the form of soil could be underfoot.

The burial and cremation processes are generally understood, but what happens when NOR is selected for a deceased’s body? The method speeds up the natural decomposition process and turns a body into usable soil. The goal is to breakdown a corpse into stable organic material which is unrecognizable as human remains.

Lying in the open, a human body can take months to return to earth. That’s why a body found in the woods on your favorite TV crime show is still recognizable as a body even if it’s been there for awhile. Embalming fluids and caskets significantly delay decomposition, but NOR accelerates natural decomposition. And, of course, today’s society is all about speed–fast internet, fast food, etc. Why not get rid of our bodies fast when we’re gone?

The five steps of NOR are straightforward, but please don’t try process this at home or as a science project for your child. Step one is placing the (dead) body inside a container, usually made of wood or steel. Other organic materials and oxygen are added to the container in step two. For those scientifically challenged, organic material may include not only food scraps but bacteria and fungi as well. (For fungi, envision mushrooms.) These additions speed up the decomposition process. At Herland Forest, a non-profit research center in Washington State, bodies are placed in a NOR cradle with 200 gallons of wood chips to which bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and oxygen are added. I’m assuming this “recipe” calls for stirring at this point.

Step three involves heating things up. The container is kept at 130-160 degrees through rotation and the use of solar panels. Heat kills dangerous or harmful bacteria, ensuring the soil produced at the end of the process is non-toxic.

In step four the body decomposes into soil. This decomposition occurs while the body is kept in a greenhouse-like facility. Human compost results in around one month’s time with each body creating one cubic yard of soil, the equivalent of four wheelbarrows full.

The final step in the NOR process is to return the soil to the deceased’s family who may spread it and use it to grow a garden or a tree. Flowers and trees are nice, but what about growing food with NOR produced soil? Would your deceased grandmother be proud of her soil producing some prized tomatoes? This result isn’t an option in Colorado; the pending legislation to authorize NOR there would not allow the soil’s utilization for human food production.

Other than providing soil for growing, what are the benefits of NOR? The process is environmentally friendly since no harmful chemicals or energy costs are involved. In contrast, cremation, which is favored in most of the world, burns fossil fuels and emits large amounts of carbon dioxide and mercury into the atmosphere. Every cremation uses 28 gallons of gas. Talk about a gas guzzler…According to Recompose, a NOR business in Washington State, for every person who chooses NOR over cremation or conventional burial, one metric ton of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere.

Harmful chemicals are part and parcel of the embalming process undertaken for traditional burials. More than 800,000 gallons of toxic fluid annually are utilized for embalming. Who wants harsh chemicals injected into their (dead) body when you could rest in peace with mushrooms and eggshells with NOR?

Human composting is also far less resource intensive. Conventional burial takes up valuable land and pollutes the soil. Traditional burials contribute to climate change through resource intensive manufacture and transport of headstones, grave liners, and caskets too. Hmm. Maybe if humans just didn’t die, all these negatives stemming from the need to dispose of corpses would disappear. But then where would that leave the $20 billion U.S. funeral service industry?

Affordability is an attractive feature of NOR. A traditional burial costs about $9,000 while cremation ranges between $4,000 to $7,000. Good thing you can’t take it with you because a big chunk needs to be left behind to cover last expenses such as burial. Human composting is less expensive with a price tag between $3,000 and $5,000.

On the downside, NOR has not been warmly received in some religious circles. Admittedly, no graveside services are possible since there are no graves, just containers. The Catholic Church has denounced human composting as “undignified” and does not view it as an acceptable method for disposition of remains.

What to do with human remains is not a pleasant topic. But sometimes hard decisions must be made. Making a considered, thoughtful advance determination will save grieving loved ones from having to agonize over the right choice as to what to do with your body. None of the options are appealing–incineration into ashes, pumped full of toxic fluids and buried to rot slowly, or mixed with fungi and food scraps and heated to rapidly turn into soil. Just like how you will live your life, how your body will be disposed of is up to you. And the choice may simply be what is the lesser of three evils.

Just WONDER-ing:

How much thought, if any, have you given to what will happen to your body after your death? Had you heard about NOR before? Were you aware of the negative environmental consequences from traditional burial and cremation? Would you consider NOR for a disposition method?

Can You Dig It? Archaeologists Find Ancient Egyptian City Buried In The Sand

Digging in the sand is fun for adults and kids alike. If you’re at the beach, your shovel may uncover some shells. But if you’re an archaeologist digging in the Egyptian sand, you might turn up something epic. A team of archaeologists working in Luxor recently unearthed the most significant find since the discovery of King Tut’s tomb. What had the sands of time buried?

The average person (raising my hand) thinks of archaeological discoveries as being things such as broken pottery pieces. Well, to quote Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise!” A project led by Egypt’s best-known archaeologist, Zahi Hawass (we’ve all heard of him, right?), unearthed an entire ancient city. I can understand pottery shards being lost in the sands of time, but an entire city?? Yup!

Hawass’ team began excavations back in September 2020. (Apparently the Egyptian desert was not on lockdown due to the pandemic then.) After seven months of excavating and searching, the team unearthed a city which had been lost under the sands and untouched for thousands of years. And this wasn’t just any city. This city is the largest ancient city ever found in Egypt. Wow! Can you imagine the amount of sand which it would take to bury a whole city?

The unearthed location is described as “ancient,” but just how old is ancient? The answer is pretty old–like in 3,400 years old, dating back to the 14th century B.C. The place was a bustling metropolis under the reign of Amenhotep III (let’s just call him “Amen” for short), who ruled from 1391 to 1352 B.C. The lost city would also have been around during the reign of the boy king, King Tut.

Amen’s rule took place in a time of great splendor, style, and riches. Egypt reached its peak of wealth, artistic achievements, and international power then. Amen, also known as “Amenhotep the Magnificent,” served as the ninth pharaoh in the 18th Dynasty. Numerous statues were apparently commissioned to attest to his magnificence. More surviving statutes of Amen exist than of any other Egyptian pharaoh.

Given Amen’s magnificence and Egypt’s status in the ancient world during his rule, it should be no surprise that the unearthed city evokes wonder. The archaeologists who discovered it dubbed their find the “lost golden city.” The metropolis’ actual name, the Rise of Aten, suggests how “golden” the city was. According to Egyptian mythology, Aten was the creator of the world and deemed a sun god. (Clearly, he was a bright guy.) A seal found in the ruins referred to the city as “the domain of the dazzling Aten.”

Where were this scintillating city’s ruins found? Archaeological work was being conducted in The Valley of Kings some 300 miles south of Cairo at the time of the discovery. Specifically, the ruins were found on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor, known as Thebes in ancient times. The site was situated between Rameses III’s temple and Amen’s temple at Memnon. Teams had unsuccessfully searched for the ancient city before, but pay dirt (pay sand?) was struck by Zahi Hawass’ team.

Despite thousands of years underneath the sand, the lost golden city appears in a good condition of preservation. This find is especially significant because archaeologists don’t have much evidence about how Egyptians lived and worked in their cities. Evidence abounds at this site in the form of structures, tools, and jewelry. And, if anyone’s hungry, a vessel holding two gallons of dried meat survived the years of burial. If it wasn’t dry before, centuries upon centuries beneath the sand probably did the trick.

So far, Hawass’ team has unearthed most of the southern part of the city, but the northern region awaits their attention. The city’s ten foot high walls remain intact. These walls may have kept out thieves, but they were useless in the end against the desert sand which ultimately buried the Rise of Aten. Streets in the city are lined with houses, and several residential districts have been identified. In particular, a zigzag wall enclosed one administrative and residential district offering only one entrance, likely for security. Yes, even in the days of the pharaohs gated communities were necessary.

Housing structures with complete rooms and walls appear in residential districts. These rooms are filled with the tools of daily life. And residents have to eat as evidenced by a bakery discovered in the area with ovens and storage pottery. Perhaps the special of the day was mummy (as opposed to monkey) bread.

The city’s workshop area allowed for the production of mud bricks to build temples and annexes. Bricks found in the city bear Amen’s seal. The presence of large numbers of casting molds indicate amulets and decorative elements were also being produced. Tools on site include those for spinning, weaving, and metal and glass-making. Slag unearthed evidences the metal and glass-making process. So, when they weren’t singing their pharaoh’s praises, these Egyptians were quite industrious.

And where people live, they also die. The lost city’s environs include a large cemetery and tombs similar to those in the Valley of Kings. Stairs carved into the rock led to the tombs’ discovery. While uncovered, these tombs have not yet been explored. The archaeological team anticipates the untouched tombs will be filled with treasures. Such a find, of course, would make the lost golden city even more golden.

As golden as the Rise of Aten may have been in its time, it eventually succumbed to and was buried by nature. As magnificent at Amen may have been (or at least thought he was), he eventually became a footnote in history; in fact, many readers may not have even heard of him until now. As mighty as Egypt was in the ancient world, it eventually lost that position. We don’t have to be archaeologists to unearth the bottom line from all that history. All earthly beauty, power, and status will eventually end. What will future generations look back and see about us?

Just WONDER-ing:

Do you think the day to day life of an ancient Egyptian was strikingly different from yours? Does it amaze you that an entire city could have been lost under the sand for thousands of years only to emerge relatively intact? What aspect of the lost city intrigues you the most? What patience must an archaeologist have to dig through the sand for months before finding something?

“The Sky Isn’t Falling! The Sky Isn’t Falling!” NASA Reports

Chicken Little and the rest of Earth’s inhabitants can breathe a sigh of relief now NASA has assured us the sky isn’t falling. To be more precise, our planet is not the bullseye of the path of a menacing asteroid named Apophis. Crack NASA scientists determined Earth is safe for the next century from Apophis slamming into it. Whew! One less thing to worry about in my lifetime, but my descendants better stay on the alert.

Interestingly, this possible impending doom has not received top billing, or even top ten billing, in the national news. Apparently Americans are more concerned about being felled by a tiny coronavirus than they are about being splattered by a 1,200 foot wide space rock falling on them from the sky. Regardless, aren’t we tired of hearing about coronavirus? Let’s get up to speed about a different disaster looming over us–literally.

After surviving 2020, we all know what a virus is. But do we know what an asteroid is? Fans of sci-fi movies and TV shows surely comprehend this space object which is basically a small rocky object that orbits the sun. Small is, of course, a relative term. Asteroids are much smaller than planets, but Apophis is still about the size of 3 1/2 football fields. How’d you like that to fall on you/your house/your community? I’m envisioning the fate of the wicked witch in “The Wizard of Oz” here. It didn’t end well for her. Splat!

Asteroids are left over from the formation of our solar system. (Translation: They are REALLY old, perhaps older than dirt.) These solar objects have jagged and irregular shapes and are made of different kinds of rocks. Most of the asteroids in our solar system are found in the main asteroid belt–a region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. When small bits of an asteroid break off and enter Earth’s atmosphere, they are known as meteorites. Personally, I don’t care if it is an asteroid or a meteorite, I don’t want either one crashing down upon me.

Apophis, the asteroid causing all the declarations of doom, was first detected back in 2004 at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson. Scientists classified it as an S-type, or stony (I’d suggest “S” for “scary” as well), asteroid made up of rocky materials and a mixture of nickel and iron. Despite this intimidating description, Apophis is believed to be shaped like a peanut. So, life as we know it on Earth was deemed at risk by a giant goober in the heavens.

Although its shape may not evoke fear, the asteroid’s name does. Apophis was the demon serpent who personified evil and chaos in ancient Egyptian mythology. This serpent dwelled in eternal darkness and was an enemy of the sun god, Ra. The Egyptians believed the sun was Ra’s great barge that descended into the underworld at night; as it navigated along in the dark, the barge would be attacked by Apophis in an attempt to kill Ra and to prevent sunrise. To think I used to be concerned about monsters under the bed; whoa, know we have to work about a massive demon serpent under the earth. Yikes!

Upon its discovery, Apophis was considered one of the most hazardous asteroids with the potential to impact Earth. Thus, it was placed on the asteroid risk list maintained by the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (“CNEOS”) managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, CA. Apophis set a record for the highest rating on the 0 to 10 Torino impact hazard scale in 2004 when it was assessed a Level 4. Danger, Will Robinson!

So how does one respond to the threat of annihilation by an asteroid? Several proposals have been floated including the use of a nuclear bomb. Desperate times do call for desperate measures, but employing a nuclear bomb seems to raise other dangers.

Thankfully, relying on the nuclear bomb option to avoid impact by Apophis is not going to be necessary. Scientists were able to make observations in March when the asteroid passed within 10.6 million miles of Earth (Whew! That was close!). The resulting calculations showed no impact risk for at least 100 years, allowing Apophis to be removed from the “risk list.” After a hundred years, it will be someone else’s problem and not that of anyone reading this post.

To make the determination no impact risk exists, scientists used both radar and telescopes. In particular, they utilized the Deep Space Networks Goldstone radio antennae near Barstow, California. The dish in Barstow is 1 of 3 around the world for communicating across deep space with spacecraft. “Hello, is anybody out there?” The March investigation allowed the scientists to acquire, as the Jet Propulsion Lab describes it, “incredibly precise information” to an accuracy of 490 feet. The observational power available to them was equivalent to using a pair of binoculars in Los Angeles to read the dinner menu of a New York restaurant.

While Apophis hitting Earth has been ruled out for the next century, close encounters are still ahead. Mark your calendars now for April 13, 2029. On that date Apophis will pass a mere 19,800 miles from the Earth and come between Earth and the moon; in fact, the asteroid will be ten times nearer to our planet than the moon. With merely the naked eye, people in the Eastern Hemisphere can view the asteroid on that flyby. Further close encounters with Apophis are slated in 2036 and 2068. It’s never too soon to start planning your watch parties.

Now that we’ve learned about the danger of NEO’s (Near Earth Objects), viewing the night sky has gained a new perspective. While we are oohing and aahing about the starry, starry night, we must be on the lookout for space objects aiming to annihilate us. Spotting the first star of the night could be a lifesaver if our wish made upon that star is to avoid being squished by an asteroid, Apophis or any others whizzing around in the heavens. I don’t want to have to utter the famous Chicken Little line, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Just WONDER-ing:

Is an asteroid crashing into the Earth a danger that has ever crossed your mind? How confident are you in the scientists’ conclusion there is no impact risk from Apophis for the next century? Were you aware that there are scientists whose jobs are literally to determine if the sky will be falling?

You Clogged My Canal!–Ship Stops Up The Suez

The classic board game Battleship involves naval combat vessels being fired upon and sometimes sunk. The famous line for this strategy game is uttered by a losing player who wails, “You sunk my battleship!” The Suez Canal Authority wasn’t concerned about battleships over the last week or so; one, and only one ship, a container ship, occupied its attention. The behemoth vessel was wedged sideways in the canal blocking all maritime traffic through the waterway. A fly on the wall of the Authority’s offices probably heard someone mutter, “You clogged my canal!”

So a ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. What’s the big deal? This problem is catastrophic for commerce. The Suez Canal provides the shortest link from Asia to Europe by connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. Opened in 1869 and expanded in 2015, it is a crucial link for shipping oil, natural gas, and cargo. Around 13% of the world’s trade flows through the Suez Canal, including 7% of the world’s oil. About 50 ships per day pass through the 120-mile canal, including almost 19,000 in 2020. Clog up the commercial pipeline, and the global shipping system is disrupted to the tune of at an estimated loss of up to $10 billion/day or $400 million/hour. I’m no economist, but that indicates lots of red ink in the Red Sea area bleeding all over the world.

How did this shipping catastrophe occur? The bottom line to me, a non-nautical observer, is that a ginormous ship, one the length of the Empire State Building, was being steered down a narrow canal. Besides the colossal size of the container ship, throw into the mix a severe sand storm. Poor visibility and high winds turned the ship sideways resulting in its being lodged diagonally across a southern section of the canal and blocking all traffic in it. Can you say traffic jam? Or would that be ship jam in this case?

The offending ship, the Ever Given (perhaps soon to be renamed the Ever Stuck), had been wending its way along in the Suez Canal on Tuesday, March 23rd at 15 mph when about 45 minutes into this journey disaster struck. The ship’s bow (or front for non-sailors) touched the canal’s eastern wall while its stern (or back) jammed against the western wall. Not only did the skyscraper sized container vessel become stuck, but it also trapped other ships traveling in the canal. Their crews may have experienced canal rage as they impatiently waited for maritime traffic to start flowing again. But it didn’t. For several days.

While efforts were undertaken to free the massive vessel, all traffic through the canal was halted. Ships began lining up in the Mediterranean and Red Seas to enter the waterway. Days later when the ship was successfully refloated, more than 400 ships were waiting to pass through the canal. Experts estimate it could take more than ten days to clear this ship backlog.

The saga of the MV Ever Given is a great opportunity for a geography lesson. The Panama-flagged ship owned by a Japanese company and operated by a shipping firm based in Taiwan was traveling from China to The Netherlands with its crew of 25 Indian nationals. To deliver its cargo to the intended destination, the gargantuan (1/4 mile long) ship was passing through the Suez Canal, a narrow man-made canal dividing the Sinai Peninsula from continental Africa, with the help of a pilot from the Egyptian canal authority. Can you point to all these locations on a globe? (You do have a globe, right?)

To say that the Suez Canal faced a BIG problem with the MV Ever Given is both literally and figuratively correct. Figuratively, the big problem was that a crucial route for shipping, particularly of oil, was unavailable. Literally, a big problem was the sheer size of the ship disrupting use of the waterway. The Ever Given, built in 2018, is counted as one of the biggest cargo ships in the world, able to carry around 20,000 containers at a time. At 224,000 tons, the ship presented a weighty challenge when it became stuck approximately 3.7 miles north of the canal’s southern mouth, a location with only one lane. Moving this behemoth was no small task.

Just how does one unclog a canal? Salvagebusters were summoned who utilized twelve tugboats to push and pull the container ship towering over them. Heave ho! Dredgers also arrived to vacuum sand from around the bottom of the stuck portion of the ship; 30,000 cubic meters of sand, enough to fill a dozen Olympic size swimming pools, were removed. A mega industrial sized vacuum cleaner must have been used. If they had to rely on mine, the ship would be there until the cows came home. And speaking of cows, some were on ships stranded in the canal hoping things would MOO-ve along soon.

While efforts were underway to free the stuck container ship, crews on ships waiting to enter the Suez Canal were forced to re-evaluate their travel plans. They could wait an unspecified period of time for the canal to be unclogged or they could choose to take an alternate route to their destination. Dozens of ships opted for the later option deciding to travel around the Cape of Good Hope, a 3,100 detour, adding two weeks to their journey and extra fuel costs.

Success was achieved on Monday when the Ever Given was released from its stuck state. The dredging, pushing by the tugboats, and a rising spring tide accompanying the full moon combined to allow the ship to be refloated. The tugboat horns tooted in jubilation as the freed ship was escorted toward Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal, where the vessel could be inspected. Just a guess on my part, but they probably found sand and mud stuck to the ship which was splattered on the Ever Given during dredging–an artificial sandstorm.

Now that the cargo container is free at last, what’s next? The inability to move oil during the week the Ever Given clogged the Suez Canal, I’m betting, will be a reason (excuse?) for the gas prices to be raised. Consumers will ultimately be stuck paying for the navigational errors of a gargantuan ship owned by a greedy shipping company who thought a skyscraper sized vessel in a narrow canal was just the ticket to lining its pockets. Perhaps a rousing game of Battleship will distract me from this galling consequence. At least if I sink a battleship, shipping won’t be impeded and gas prices won’t rise.

Just WONDER-ing:

Were you aware the Suez Canal was so vital to the shipping industry? Is bigger (as in cargo ships) always better? How ironic is it that a massive ship had to be saved by tiny (in comparison) tugboats?