Traffic jam again: a new state of emergency in Suez Canal

The tanker ran aground in the Suez Canal, almost completely blocking it.

“Indeed, the ship ran a little aground, but the incident is over and the ship is already on the move,” the source said in response to a question about whether there are problems with the Minerva Nike tanker flying the Greek flag.

The incident occurred in the south of the canal near the entrance to the wide part of the canal-the Big Bitter Lake. At the time of the incident, there were two Suez Canal tugs near the tanker.

All the ships that were in the “traffic jam” passed the Suez Canal

On April 3, all 422 vessels caught in a “traffic jam” due to the stranded container ship Ever Given passed through the Suez Canal, the head of the canal administration, Osama Rabia, said on Saturday.

“All 422 vessels with a total cargo capacity of 22 million tons, waiting in line after the Ever Given incident, passed through the Suez Canal,” Rabia said in a statement.

He noted that the operation was completed in record time and is an achievement of the channel’s employees.

The canal was open around the clock for the passage of ships, in contrast to the usual mode of operation.

Damage from an emergency

The amount of damage from the blocking of the Suez Canal by a container ship can reach $1 billion, the head of the waterway administration, Osama Rabia, noted on April 1.

“Estimates, God willing, will reach $1 billion,” he said on the Sada Elbalad TV channel.
The head of the Suez Canal Administration added that this amount includes both the damage caused by the blockage and the costs associated with lifting the ship from the shoal.

He noted that calculations will be carried out taking into account all the funds used from the first day of the incident: spending on the work of tugs, dredging vessels that worked around the clock.

On March 23, the 400-meter-long container ship Ever Given, en route from China to Rotterdam, ran aground on the 151st kilometer of the channel, blocking it for six days and blocking traffic. On Monday, the ship was taken off the shoal after several attempts, more than 15 tugboats participated in the operation, and navigation resumed.

Too big a ship?

Evangelos Bulugouris, Professor of Naval Architecture, Oceanology and Marine Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, commented on the incident on the Suez Canal with the ship Ever Given. He noted that an investigation is currently underway into the cause of the accident of the Ever Given vessel, which should say to what extent the size of the vessel is to blame. Judging by previous incidents, strong winds, faulty machinery, and even the human factor are equally to blame.

If the size of the ship Ever Given was to blame for the accident, one would expect other mega-ships that have been passing through the Suez Canal for years to experience similar difficulties. But superficial accident statistics show that only two or three such incidents involving megacorps occur in the channel per year out of 19,000 annual crossings.

In most cases, these are minor accidents that cause minor disruptions, and they occur at such a low frequency that an Ever Given ship accident should not be interpreted as evidence that the container ships have become too large.

But given that the impact of the Ever Given container ship accident was so severe, new maritime safety measures will be put in place to avoid similar incidents in the future, such as redesigning the vessel, improving pilot training, using tugs as channel escorts, autonomous guidance systems, and widening waterways.

Regardless of the new safety measures, the accident of the ship Ever Given may well be considered as an unpredictable isolated incident, and not a sign of future deplorable events. As a result, there is currently little evidence that container ships have become too large or that the shortcomings of such mega-ships should lead to accidents and breakdowns.

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