Traffic through Egypt’s Suez Canal came to a brief halt Tuesday, just two weeks after a giant container ship ran aground and blocked the waterway vital to world trade.
The Rumford tanker had to be towed by tugboats after suffering engine problems, but was soon operational and the convoy in which it was traveling northbound resumed normal traffic, according to the Suez Canal Authority and Inchcape Shipping Services. (Note: Behind the Rumford was the Greek-flagged tanker Minerva Nike, which was also stopped briefly before getting back underway).
The SCA said navigation in the waterway was “unaffected” and that 84 ships had crossed on Tuesday as of about 14:00 local time.
The six ships held up after the tanker casualty were back underway at the same time, according to vessel tracking data monitored by Bloomberg.
On March 23, a 400-meter container ship, the Ever Given, became stuck in the southern part of the canal. It took nearly a week to free it. It is currently in Great Bitter Lake, about halfway down the waterway.
That incident caused a delay of hundreds of ships and Egypt said it could seek about $1 billion in compensation due to lost transit fares and damage to the canal from salvage work.
Tuesday’s disruption serves as another reminder that the waterway is vulnerable to vessels exceeding 300 meters in length, getting stuck or when they have engine problems. About 12% of world trade passes through the Suez Canal, which runs thousands of miles between Asia and Europe.
The canal authority said in a statement that it intends to improve its rescue capacity by adding some large tugboats. It is also planning to build new marine garages and deepen some existing ones.