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Suez Canal unblocked after overnight effort from workers

Staff worked through the night to avoid a repeat of last year's situation when the Ever Given blocked the vital global trade route for six days.

September 1, 2022 at 11:18 am

Tug boats refloated an oil tanker that was briefly stranded in Egypt’s Suez Canal late yesterday after a technical fault with its rudder, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said.

Reuters reported the 252 metre vessel, Affinity V, had drifted to obstruct the southern section of the canal while travelling in a southbound convoy of ships around 1700 GMT, shipping and canal sources said.

SCA sources said shortly after 2200GMT that traffic had returned to normal.

The incident occurred in the same single-lane stretch of the canal where a giant cargo ship, the Ever Given, ran aground in March 2021 and was stuck for six days, disrupting global trade.

According to ship monitoring service TankerTrackers, the Aframax tanker Affinity V seemed to have lost control while heading south.

“She temporarily clogged up traffic and is now facing south again, but moving slowly by tugboat assistance,” TankerTrackers said on Twitter shortly after news of the refloat.

The SCA released video showing its chairman, Osama Rabie, in a control room where staff were working to resolve the problem, and footage of the tanker being escorted in the canal by tugs.

By Thursday morning Refinitiv ship-tracking data and the Marine Traffic website showed that the Affinity V had passed through the canal and was in the Gulf of Suez.

The Singapore-flagged tanker was headed for the Red Sea port of Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, the tracking sites said.

After the Ever Given ran aground, the SCA had announced accelerated plans to expand the canal, including extending a second channel that allows shipping to pass in both directions along part of its course and deepening an existing channel.

Work on the expansion is due to be completed in 2023.

READ: Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues hit all-time high in April- Suez Canal revenues rise by 13.6%