Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Confusion Suspends Transits in the Suez Canal as Vessels Collide and Others Grounded

Seemingly the Silly Season for the Southbound Shipping
Shipping News Feature
SUEZ CANAL – Several reports coming in regarding problems this week as vessels transited the Canal. Tugs had to be deployed to clear the channel when on July 15 a 63,000 tonne container ship, the Aeneas grounded when it was near the end of a 27 strong convoy heading south. Four vessels behind the ship were delayed as she was towed to the Suez outer anchorage with her engines out of operation and apparently the cause of a calamitous series of problems.

Of the four vessels delayed three had managed to run into each other after the lead vessel almost struck the Aeneas, a Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) operated 5,089 TEU craft, when they failed to respond in time to the slowing of the box ship. All the stricken ships were bulk carriers, the Sakizaya Kalon a 81,691tonne Panamax run by the Wisdom Marine Group, Osios David a Supramax of 56,831 tonnes from the A.M. Nomikos fleet and the Panamax Alexander operated by Cyprus Sea Lines.

Whilst the first two named were delayed and anchored up before they could continue their voyages, the Panamax Alexander, a 40,000 tonne deadweight bulker with a draft just over 12 metres grounded after the collision. These incidents caused the 19 ship convoy due to embark on the northbound transit to be held up whilst the bulk carrier was towed to the safety of Great Bitter Lake, a common passing place.

The series of calamities led to over 30 ships being prevented from continuing their respective transits with delays in both directions. This is of course not the first time such an incident has caused problems on the waterway. In potentially one of the most serious, seven years ago a Russian operated oil tanker of some 155,000 tonnes, the Tropic Brilliance grounded leading to fears of pollution and delaying around 50 vessels. The incident ended happily with no loss of cargo.

Photo: The Aeneas.