Egypt’s Suez Canal, one of the busiest waterways in the world, is experiencing traffic mayhem after a series of ships grounded or collided in its waters in the space of two days.
The canal is currently struggling to bring operations back to normal, with local media reporting that five vessels were involved in the accident, which eventually led to a standstill on Sunday.
Aeneas, a 63,059dwt containership, has been identified as the vessel that first caused an interruption of operations after it grounded during its transit due to engine failure, according to initial reports.
The three bulkers following the Aeneas failed to react in time and collided with the stricken vessel. CAG Egypt says the fleet was towed to Suez’s outer anchorage by Suez Canal tugs on Monday morning and the canal was cleared.
CAG reported: “Some of southbound ships that had been behind the grounded vessel cleared the canal. Only four were detained and resumed their transit at 0300 hours today (17 July)”.
However, the southbound ships had not been fully removed before another incident took place: the Panamax Alexander, a 39,929dwt bulk carrier, grounded, which forced two other bulkers, Sakizaya Kalon and Osios David, to anchor in the same area. According to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), the grounded bulker was then re-floated and has since reached the Great Bitter Lake.
Although the canal should be ready to restart operations today, the authority says that dozens of ships have already been delayed, and new transit arrangements are yet to be revealed.
As of today, the 18 ships that were affected by the chaos on Monday have now resumed their voyages southbound and will exit the canal later today. However, six vessels that entered the canal northbound are currently waiting at the Great Bitter Lake, with a further 12 ships still anchored in Suez.
GAC reported that 25 vessels scheduled to start their northbound journeys today remain at Suez anchorages awaiting the SCA’s approval.