A tanker transporting crude oil broke down in a single-lane part of Egypt’s Suez Canal on Sunday, briefly disrupting traffic in the global waterway, Egyptian authorities said.
The Malta-flagged Seavigour suffered a mechanical malfunction at the 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) mark of the canal, said George Safwat, a spokesperson for Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority. The tanker was transiting the canal from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.
In a phone interview with a local television station, Adm. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said the tanker broke down in a single-lane part of the waterway, disrupting the transit of eight other vessels behind it.
Hours later, Rabei said in a statement that navigation at the canal had returned to normal after three tugboats towed the tanker to a double-lane part at the 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) mark. He said that the Seavigour’s crew was working on repairing the malfunction but did not share further details.
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The Seavigour was built in 2016, and is 274 metres (899 feet) long and 48.63 metres (159 feet) wide, according to MarineTraffic, a vessel tracking service provider.
Sunday’s incident was the latest case of a vessel reported stuck in the vital waterway. A flurry of ships ran aground or broke down in the Suez Canal over the past few years.
On May 25, a Hong Kong-flagged ship briefly blocked the canal. On March 5, a Liberia-flagged ship ran aground in the two-lane part of the waterway. Both vessels were refloated hours later.
In March 2021, the Panama-flagged Ever Given, a colossal container ship, crashed into a bank on a single-lane stretch of the canal, blocking the waterway for six days and disrupting global trade.
The canal, which opened in 1869, provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo. About 10 per cent of world trade flows through the canal, a major source of foreign currency for the Egyptian government.
According to the Suez Canal Authority, last year, 23,851 vessels passed through the waterway, compared to 20,649 vessels in 2021. The revenue from the canal in 2022 reached USD 8 billion, the highest in its history.