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Egypt: Cargo ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, but it didn’t slow traffic


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Despite a cargo ship coming to a stop in the Suez Canal on Sunday, no one was hurt, according to Egyptian authorities.

According to Adm. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, the MSC Istanbul, flying the flag of Liberia, became stranded in a two-lane section of the Suez Canal while traveling from Malaysia to Portugal. Tugboats were used, he added, to assist in refloating the ship.

Rabei stated that despite the predicament, convoys were moving through the waterway without any issues, but he did not go into further detail as to what had caused the ship to run aground. Two convoys of ships can travel through the Suez Canal each day in each direction. After a five-hour effort, the MSC Istanbul was refloated later on Sunday.

The MSC Istanbul was constructed in 2015 and is run by the Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Company. According to vessel tracking company Marine Traffic, the MSC Istanbul is 399 meters (1,309 feet) long and 54 meters (177 feet) wide.

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The Ever Given, a massive container ship that slammed into a bank on a single-lane section of the canal in March 2021 and completely blocked the waterway, was similar in length to the vessel. Six days later, a flotilla of tugboats made a significant effort to free the skyscraper-sized vessel with the aid of the tides, ending the crisis and opening the canal to hundreds of waiting ships.

The Ever Given was imprisoned in Egypt for more than three months following its release due to a financial disagreement with the government. Its release followed weeks of negotiations and a standoff in court, during which its owner and canal authorities reached an agreement regarding compensation. The terms of the settlement were not made public by the authorities, but the canal authorities had asked for more than $900 million in damages.

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Some ships had to take the time-consuming alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa because the canal was blocked at the time, which cost more in fuel and other expenses. Several hundred additional ships sat in position while the blockade persisted.

The incident on Sunday was the most recent instance of a vessel being reported stuck in a vital international waterway. In the canal last month, a tanker carrying liquefied natural gas broke down without affecting traffic. A cargo ship carrying corn grounded in January before being refloated; after some time, waterway traffic was resumed.

The canal, which was completed in 1869, serves as a vital conduit for cargo, natural gas, and oil. The canal, a significant source of foreign currency for Egypt, facilitates about 10% of global trade.

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The Suez Canal Authority reports that 23,851 vessels transited the waterway in 2018 as opposed to 20,649 vessels in 2021. The Suez Canal’s revenue in 2022, which was $8 billion, was the highest in its history.

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