The Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal in March, 2021 (Image: Maxar Technologies)

On March 29, after six days being stuck in the Suez Canal and blocking all other ships from sailing through the vital passage, the Ever Given was unmoored. Excavation crews had worked around the clock to dig the enormous container ship out, and thanks to their work it was able to sail on. On July 7, the Ever Given left Egyptian waters — seaworthy but damaged.

This Thursday, the ship is expected to leave a Chinese port where the damage it sustained in the Suez Canal has been repaired. And the mighty vessel’s fate has crucial lessons for everyone who depends on shipping. That’s every single one of us.

For six days earlier this year, the world’s eyes were on the Suez Canal when the Ever Given — a member of the class of so-called ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) — got stuck in the narrow waterway. For those six intense days, rescue crews dug, drilled, and pulled while the world watched the spectacle with intense fascination. And the Ever Given’s fate mattered far beyond cybergawkers’ sudden interest in massive container ships in distress: It mattered because every day the Ever Given blocked the canal, dozens of ships carrying billions of dollars’ worth of cargo had to wait to enter the waterway.