Another ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking traffic for a few hours

It ended up nothing like Ever Given.
Ameya Paleja
suez canal
A ship passing through the Suez Canal.

luliia Bondar/iStock 

The Suez Canal was briefly blocked again after a tanker, Affinity V, ran aground very close to where Ever Given was stuck for nearly a week last year.

The blockage of the Suez Canal made global headlines in March of 2021 when one of the largest containers ever built, Ever Given, ran aground. It took authorities six days to get the giant ship afloat again, but the incident had stalled marine cargo traffic on the shortest route between Europe and Asia.

Following the incident, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) accelerated the construction of a second channel in the canal, allowing ships to pass in both directions. However, the works are expected to be completed only by 2023, so the news of another ship running aground did have the authorities on tenterhooks for a while.

What do we know about Affinity V?

Affinity V is an 820 feet (250 m) long and is 147 feet (45 m) wide oil tanker. The 64,000-ton oil tanker is owned by a Singaporean company. It had sailed from Portugal and was en route to the port of Yanbu in Saudi Arabia's the Red Sea.

While passing through the Suez Canal, the ship's rudder suffered a technical failure which affected its ability to steer itself, the Suez Canal Authority said in a press release. The ship ran aground near the 143 km mark in the canal at around 7:15 pm local time, which began blocking traffic at the canal.

The SCA's salvage units and tugboats then sprung into action and coordinated efforts with traffic control at port Tawfiq to get the tanker afloat again. Five tugboats were deployed for the rapid intervention, which saw the oil tanker afloat again five hours later.

How was the incident resolved so quickly this time?

With a length of 1,312 feet (400 m), Ever Given was a much larger ship than Affinity V, which likely contributed to the problems that were faced last year in keeping the ship afloat again.

Learnings from past experience may have also helped the team get things right quickly this time. An added advantage was the fact that Affinity V was partially laden, as confirmed by CitizenLab researcher John Scot-Railton in this tweet below.

So, the salvaging team at SCA has lesser work to go to get the tanker afloat again. However, Affinity V's problems are far from over. Having lost its ability to steer itself, the tanker is now relying on tugboats to reach a port, ship monitoring service, TankerTrackers tweeted. The tanker is now in the Gulf of Suez.

With traffic in the Suez Canal now having been restored to normalcy, we can only hope that the construction of the other channel is completed soon and the operation of the newly installed swing bridge also becomes the new normal at the canal.

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