Could a cargo ship get stuck in the Cape Cod Canal?

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. — As the skyscraper-sized Ever Given sat wedged across the Suez Canal, blocking the shipping lane for six days and costing the global economy billions of dollars, Mike Campbell wasn’t shocked.

“Not really a surprise. It was more a matter of time before something like that happened,” he said.

Campbell said that’s because the Suez Canal was made when ships were a lot smaller. Before he became captain of the T.S. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s training ship, Campbell spent 26 years as a commercial sailor. He helped navigate giant cargo ships through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through Egypt.

“I was on a car carrier for a while, and we were running between Japan and Europe. So, every three weeks we were running through the Suez,” he said.

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Campbell said high wind-gusts and sandstorms can make passing through the desert passage incredibly challenging. He said there’s not nearly as much of a challenge navigating the Cape Cod Canal and that it’s highly unlikely a cargo ship would ever get stuck in the canal like what happened in North Africa.

“A ship of that size wouldn’t be able to go through the Cape Cod Canal because of its sheer size, plus we have limitations with the bridges. You have the height restrictions, so the larger ships have a higher air draft and they wouldn’t be able to get through,” he said.

He also said the Cape Cod Canal has different weather challenges than the Suez Canal, particularly, the high currents running through the canal. The Army Corp of Engineers, which operates the canal, said they’ve never had a cargo ship get stuck.