A cargo vessel ran aground in Suez Canal, firm says

Three canal tugboats have now successfully freed the vessel.
Ameya Paleja
Stock image of a cargo vessel stuck in Chesapeake Bay
Stock image of a cargo vessel stuck in Chesapeake Bay

Win McNamee/Getty Images 

MV Glory, a China-bound cargo vessel that had aground in Egypt's Suez Canal earlier today has now been freed, AP News reported. The brief disruption of traffic in the Canal brought back memories of the Ever Given incident of 2021.

Back then, the 1,312 feet (400 m) long Ever Given container ship had run aground the Canal that is roughly 984 feet (300 m) wide. The ship got stuck across the waterway, backing up maritime traffic in both directions and affecting the global shipping industry.

Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal in Egypt provides a maritime link between Europe and Asia, enabling faster transport of oil, natural gas, and cargo. Then built with the help of a million laborers, the Suze Canal is one of Egypt's top revenue streams and underwent a major expansion in 2015 to accommodate the world's largest vessels.

The vessel runs aground in Suez Canal

According to the website of the vessel's Greek operator, MV Glory, which ran aground earlier today, measures 738 feet (225 m). This is rather a small-sized vessel that was carrying 65,000 metric tons of corn from Ukraine to China. MV Glory is a bulk carrier meaning that it carries unpackaged cargo such as grains.

When near the city of Qantara in the Suez Canal province of Ismailia, the vessel experienced a sudden technical failure, Bloomberg reported. A mechanical problem with one of its engine cylinders saw the vessel grounded for four hours after it entered the northern end of the canal earlier today.

Canal services firm Leth Agencies had reported that MW Glory was against the west bank of the canal, pointed south, and not wedged across the channel. Three tugboats, Port Said, Svitzer Suez 1, and Ali Shalabi, were pressed into action and managed to refloat the vessel by 10 am Egypt time.

Roughly 20 ships were stopped from traveling south after the incident and were okayed to resume their voyages an hour later.

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Lessons from Ever Given

Apart from making global news, the Ever Given incident resulted in a blockage that is estimated to have cost $9 billion a day to global trade and strained supply chains. Resolved to not let similar incidents happen again, the Suez Canal Authority briskly began work to extend and deepen the passage where the vessel was stuck.

Nevertheless, an oil tanker, Affinity V, roughly the same size as MV Glory, ran aground in the areas close to where Ever Given was stuck for a week. The Canal authorities pressed tugboats into service and refloated the tanker in a matter of hours.

Like MV Glory, Affinity V too suffered a mechanical failure while sailing through the Canal and had to seek tugboat help reach the closest port. Canal authorities surely seemed to have mastered the role of tugboats in getting these vessels floating again.

As the Suez Canal is expected to add another channel in the near future, incidents such as these are unlikely to have the same impact as the grounding of Ever Given did.