A large freighter has become stuck in the northern part of the Suez Canal. Tugboats are trying to get it afloat again, but it is still unclear how long that could take and what the impact will be on shipping traffic on this important shipping route between Europe and Asia.
It concerns the bulk carrier Glory, which, according to media reports, is on its way with Ukrainian grain to China. The ship ran aground while joining a southbound convoy near the Egyptian city of El-Qantarah. The Glory sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands.
In March 2021, the Japanese container ship Ever Given blocked the Suez Canal for six days. The blockade disrupted global shipping for a time. The specialized Dutch company Smit Salvage, part of dredging and maritime service provider Boskalis, was called in to refloat the ship. That worked after several attempts. The blockade forced 200 other freighters to wait or choose another route.
The Ever Given ran aground in the southern part of the Suez Canal on March 23 of that year. This happened just after the 400-meter-long and 59-meter-wide freighter had entered the major thoroughfare from the Red Sea and was on its way to the Mediterranean. According to the Taiwanese container shipping company Evergreen, which operates the freighter, the colossus went off course due to a power failure and/or poor visibility due to a dust storm with wind gusts of about 40 knots. That equates to wind force 9.
The 193-kilometer Suez Canal is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, accounting for about 12 percent of global trade. About a million barrels of oil and a large amount of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are also transported through the canal every day. When the Suez Canal is closed, ships between Asia and Europe must circumnavigate via the Cape of Good Hope, which can require weeks of extra sailing time. Oil tankers from the Middle East also make extensive use of the Suez Canal.
The Suez Canal was deepened and widened in 2015 by the Dutch dredgers Van Oord and Boskalis, because sea-going vessels are getting bigger and bigger.
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