The Suez Canal Was Just Blocked Again
In a déjà vu, authorities saw another container ship run aground in the Suez Canal, The National News reported. The resultant blockage lasted for a short time as the ship was refloated quickly on this occasion. Earlier in March, a container ship ran aground and blocked the traffic for almost a week, before it could be floated again.
Like the Evergreen, this ship called Coral Crystal was also registered in Panama and was traveling from the coastal city of Port Said on the Mediterranean toward Suez on the northern tip of the Red Sea during its Sudan-bound journey.
In operation since 1869, the 120 miles (193 km) canal is a vital maritime shortcut that reduces the journey time between the Indian Ocean and North Atlantic by up to 10 days. The canal serves an average of 50 ships every day; when the Evergreen ran aground earlier this year, it was reportedly blocking $9.6 billion worth of daily cargo movement.
The recent incident occurred 20 km north of the City of Ismailia and is reported to have affected four ships traveling from Port Said. It surely must have brought back haunting memories of the Evergreen and the aftermath of the blockage.
The authorities had to suspend the traffic in the canal and tug boats were rushed in to get the container ship afloat again. National News reported that the tug boats reached the site within 15 minutes of the incident, and the "issue was resolved in less than an hour."
The Evergreen incident disrupted global trade and prompted the debate about developing alternate routes for maritime trade. As a major source of revenue for Egypt, the country responded with a plan to widen the canal further and even make it deeper. The multi-billion-dollar proposal includes a 6-mile (10 km) bypass stretch and double-laning the canal to allow more ships to pass at the same time.