Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, talks during a news conference in Ismailia, Egypt March 29, 2021. REUTERS
The Egyptian Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has stressed that the canal is absolutely safe for navigation, and that the waterway enjoys comprehensive security from land, sea and air by the country's armed forces and the canal's security troops.
A host of proactive measures has been taken to achieve the highest levels of navigational safety, the SCA said in a statement released on Monday to clarify some points in response to local and international media coverage of the recent stranding in the canal of the ship Ever Given.
The 400-metre-long Panamanian-flagged ship, which was on its way from China to the port city of Rotterdam in the Netherland, veered off course and ran aground on 23 March across the canal, causing a huge build-up of 422 vessels at the strategic waterway.
A fleet of tugboats and diggers, with the assistance of the tide, managed on 29 March to wrench the bow of the vessel from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged for six days. On Saturday, the SCA announced the clearance of the backlog caused by the six-day blockage.
The SCA said in Monday's statement that it dealt with the incident by depending on its own capabilities, using the authority’s Mashhour and Tenth of Ramadan dredgers and 15 tugs, with the participation of nearly 600 of the SCA's personnel.
"The authority introduced the use of dredging in marine rescue work," the statement added.
"It was an adventitious accident, and the SCA … succeeded in overcoming it within record time and without resorting to [other] options or solutions that may have taken a long time or resulted in damage to the vessel's hull or the cargo," the statement quoted the SCA chairman Osama Rabei as saying.
“Navigation along the canal has been back to normal,” he added.
The statement added that the authority has a strategy to develop the canal, which includes establishing a series of giant docks along the new canal, which was built in 2015, and deepening and maintaining the docks on the original canal, in addition to developing the canal's 16 navigation monitoring stations.
The authority is looking to improve its maritime salvage capabilities by providing a number of giant tugs with "great" towing power to match the global trend towards building giant ships.