Officials: Grounded Ship Refloated in Egypt’s Suez Canal

By Samy Magdy | January 10, 2023

CAIRO (AP) — A cargo ship carrying corn that went aground early on Monday in the Suez Canal was refloated and traffic through the crucial waterway was restored, Egyptian authorities said.

Adm. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said the Marshall Islands-flagged MV Glory suffered a sudden technical failure while transiting through the canal, and the authority deployed four tugboats to help refloat it.

The vessel, which is owned by Greek firm Primera Shipping Inc., was heading to China before it broke down at the 38 kilometer (24 mile) -mark of the canal, near the city of Qantara in the province of Ismailia, he said.

After being refloated, the vessel was towed to a nearby maritime park to fix the problem, Rabei said. The canal’s media office shared images showing the vessel being pulled by tugboats.

Rabei did not elaborate on the nature of the technical failure. Parts of Egypt, including its northern provinces, experienced bad weather Sunday.

Traffic in the canal resumed after the ship was refloated and 51 vessels were expected to pass through the waterway in both directions Monday, Rabei’s statement added.

“Traffic through the Canal was uninterrupted as 26 North-bound vessels are already in the waterway and (a) South-bound convoy will resume its journey right upon the SCA tugboats-assisted transit of MV GLORY,” Rabei said.

Marwa Maher, a media officer with the canal authority, told The Associated Press the vessel ran aground around 5 a.m. local time and was refloated five hours later.

Canal services firm Leth Agencies posted a map that suggested the ship was against the west bank of the canal, pointed south and not wedged across the channel. Satellite tracking data analyzed by the AP showed the Glory running aground in a single-lane stretch of the Suez Canal just south of Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea.

Traffic Marine, a vessel tracking firm, said the Glory, bound to China, was transiting the canal at 8.5 knots when an engine broke down.

The Glory wasn’t the first vessel to run aground in the crucial waterway. The Panama-flagged Ever Given, a colossal container ship, crashed into a bank on a single-lane stretch of the canal in March 2021, blocking the waterway for six days.

The Ever Given was freed in a giant salvage operation by a flotilla of tugboats. The blockage created a massive traffic jam that held up $9 billion a day in global trade and strained supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ever Given debacle prompted Egyptian authorities to begin widening and deepening the waterway’s southern part where the vessel hit ground.

In August, the Singaporean-flagged Affinity V oil tanker ran aground in a single-lane stretch of the canal, blocking the waterway for five hours before it was freed.

The Joint Coordination Center listed the Glory as carrying over 65,000 metric tons of corn from Ukraine bound for China. The vessel was inspected by the center _ which includes Russian, Turkish, Ukrainian and United Nations staffers _ off Istanbul on Jan. 3.

Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo. It also remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. In 2015, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi ‘s government completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest vessels.

Built in 2005, the Glory is 225 meters (738 feet) long and 32 meters (105 feet) wide.

–Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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