Suez Canal traffic resumes after tanker breaks down

Ahram Online , Sunday 4 Jun 2023

Traffic in the Suez Canal has returned to normal after tugboats managed to tow away the Malta-flagged SEAVIGOUR oil tanker that broke down in the canal on Sunday, disrupting traffic in one of the busiest maritime trade routes.

Suez Canal
The Suez Canal Authority towed the Malta-flagged SEAVIGOUR oil tanker that broke down in the canal on Sunday, allowing traffic at the canal to return to normal. SCA


Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said the canal’s tugboats towed the 274-metre-long, 48-metre-wide tanker that broke down at the 12 km mark of the canal to the 17 km mark, allowing ships in both directions to pass.

The ship, which has a gross tonnage of 82,000 tons, will resume its trip from Russia to China after its crew fixes the malfunction, the SCA added.

The tanker broke down in a single-lane part of the canal, disrupting the transit of eight other southbound vessels that were behind it in the convoy, the Associated Press cited Chairman of the SCA Osama Rabie as saying.

The SCA also said that northbound ships were temporarily halted at the Great Bitter Lake region until the tanker was towed away.

The authority possesses the necessary rescue expertise and navigational and technical capabilities to deal professionally with such emergency situations, Rabie stressed.

Over the past few years, the Suez Canal has managed to refloat ships that went aground or malfunctioned in the canal, typically in a short time after the incident.

On 25 May, the SCA towed Xin Hai Tong 23, a Hong-Kong general cargo vessel, after it suffered an engine failure. The authority also refloated the Liberia-flagged MSC-ISTANBUL cargo vessel on 5 March after it went aground at the 78 km point of the Suez Canal.

The canal authority started major development work in the waterway after the mammoth Panama-flagged Ever Given ran aground on a single-lane part of the canal in March 2021. The incident disrupted passage through the waterway, through which around 10 percent of world trade flows, for almost a week.

As part of the development work, Egypt has been working to widen and deepen parts of the international waterway, including the part that witnessed the Ever Given crisis. The work is set to conclude this July, Rabie said last year.

Also, the parliament approved in December the establishment of a Suez Canal fund that aims to help the SCA deal with emergencies, absorb external shocks and enhance its contribution to the national economy, according to Rabie.

Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues hit a record of $8 billion in 2022, up from $6.3 billion in 2021, according to data released by the SCA.

Today, 60 ships have crossed the canal on both directions despite the incident with a total net tonnage of 3.5 million tons, the SCA said.

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