(CNN) — The U.S. Navy in the Middle East plans to send an assessment team of dredging experts to the Suez Canal as soon as Saturday to advise local authorities attempting to free the gigantic container ship which has been stuck there since Tuesday, according to two defense officials.
The Ever Given, a container ship almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, ran aground on Tuesday after being caught in 40-knot winds and a sandstorm that caused low visibility and poor navigation.
The Egyptian government agreed to accept an offer of help relayed through the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
“The Biden administration is tracking the situation closely. As part of our active dialogue with Egypt, we have offered U.S. assistance to Egyptian authorities to help re-open the canal. We are consulting with our Egyptian partners about how we can best support their efforts,” a US official told CNN.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday the U.S. has offered its assistance to Egyptian authorities.
Psaki said the conversations with Egyptian officials are “ongoing” and that the White House is “tracking the situation very closely.”
She said the White House sees “some potential impacts on energy markets” and is “consulting with our Egyptian partners about how we can best support their efforts.”
The U.S. military often sends assessment teams to disaster situations overseas to offer technical expertise when requested.
There is no indication yet of anything beyond the team going to Egypt.
“In connection with the ongoing efforts to dislodge the container ship that ran aground during its passage through the Suez Canal, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) values the offer of the United States of America to contribute to these efforts, and looks forward to cooperating with the U.S. in this regard in appreciation of this good initiative which confirms the friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries,” the SCA said in a statement Friday.
The SCA also “expressed sincere gratitude for all the offers it received for assistance in this regard; while also highlighting the ongoing efforts towards re-floating the container ship, and affirming its keenness on ensuring regular global maritime traffic in the Suez Canal as soon as possible,” it said in the same statement.
Up to 20,000 cubic meters (706,000 cubic feet) of sand in the Suez Canal need to be removed to free the ship, which has blocked one of the world’s busiest waterways, prompting frantic salvage efforts including the use of two dredgers, nine tug boats and four diggers on the canal bank.