Friday, September 10, 2021

Shipping World Sighs with Relief as Vessel Blocking Suez Floats Off

Canal Traffic Stopped by Grounding - Again
Shipping News Feature

EGYPT – Whilst large ships running aground is a problem as old as the vessels themselves the incident involving the container ship Ever Given, which saw week long delays in March, caused ramifications unseen in advance by the majority of the maritime community.

That grounding resulted in General Average being declared and over half a billion dollars in costs, that before individual insurance claims, legal fees etc. are taken into account, plus of course the alleged €42 billion loss in trade analysts refer to. The incident certainly caused ships to reroute causing importers and exporters delays and extra charges and sent ripples of panic along the links of the supply chain as orders arrived late.

Like the pandemic the incident was blamed, fairly or not, for a raft of problems so one can only imagine the panic when news of another vessel suffering the same fate came over the wire. On Thursday (September 9) a Panamanian flagged bulk carrier the Coral Crystal, at 41,000 gross tonnes less than a fifth of the size of her flag sister box ship, ‘briefly’ grounded whilst in a two way stretch of the waterway.

Groundings like this are in fact fairly common and, like the majority, this one was over almost as soon as it happened. However given just how serious the last incident was one can understand the reaction. The Coral Crystal, at 225 metres just over half the length of the Ever Given, was stuck in the Ballah bypass, 33 miles into the Canal and whilst being freed the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) arranged for a contra flow to be established with waiting vessels transferring to the opposite lane to pass.

The reason for the grounding is under investigation and the ship was pulled off by SCA chartered tugs to continue en route to Port Sudan. Despite the brief delay, supposedly to only four ships, news of the problem caused a spike in the price of oil on the markets.