A photo showing Afinity oil tanker refloated in Egypt s Suez Canal (Photo: Suez Canal Authority Twitter account)
The Afinity ran aground due to a technical malfunction in the ship's rudder, which caused the vessel to lose the ability to steer and strand in the Suez Canal, Rabie said in a statement in the early hours of Thursday.
The 250-metre long vessel was bounding for Saudi Arabia’s Yanbu Commercial Port from Portugal when it ran aground at 19:15 Cairo time (GMT+2) on Wednesday and the floatation process took less than 5 hours, SCA’s Spokesman George Safwat said in a phone-in with Extra News satellite channel.
Five tugs and the rescue team were deployed immediately after the incident was reported to help free the oil tanker upon directives of a formed team headed by the authority chair to handle the situation, the SCA’s statement added.
In an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, Rabie said the 193-kilometre-long Suez Canal was undergoing a development plan that “includes widening and deepening the Suez Canal’s navigation from the canal’s 132-km mark south of the Salty Lakes to the canal’s 162-km mark at the Suez exit of the waterway.”
This came following a presidential approval issued in May 2021 for the plan to widen and deepen 40 kilometres of the waterway, including the part that witnessed the 400-metre-long Ever Given crisis in March when it blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week.
Around 13 percent of the global trade passes through the key international waterway – the fastest artery between Europe and Asia.
The Suez Canal is one of main sources for Egypt’s foreign currency that brought a record of $7 billion revenues in FY2021/22, up from $5.8 billion in the previous FY.
In July, the sea-level canal recorded its highest-ever monthly revenues of $704 million, in addition to the highest monthly transit and highest tonnage.