For the third time this year, a ship found itself stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt. We all remember the Ever Given, which disrupted the shipping industry by wedging itself in the canal for six days. It seems the now-famous ship has imitators.
On Thursday, the Panamanian-flagged MV Coral Crystal bulk carrier — a ship designed to carry cargo like grain or coal in bulk — ran aground in the southern section of the Suez Canal on its way to Port Sudan, reports Metro, a British news outlet. The ship got stuck 34 miles in, and held up four ships while while tug boats worked their magic. It’s the second ship to get stuck in the canal since the Ever Given was refloated.
The shipping industry continues to struggle to keep up with demand in the wake of disruptions. Consumers and businesses are dealing with supply chain problems from suppliers and shippers alike, causing delays. And everything can be made so much worse by a ship getting stuck in a major passage.
The MV Coral Crystal’s grounding lasted only 15 minutes, and according to Bloomberg, the incident didn’t cause any major disruption to convoys.
Back in May, while the Ever Given was still impounded by the Suez Canal Authority, a second large ship found itself stuck in the canal. The Maersk Emerald is a 1,158-foot container ship with a 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) capacity. According to Freight Right, TEU is a way to measure a container ship’s capacity using standardized container sizes. Maersk Emerald reportedly encountered engine trouble. Thankfully, it got stuck in an area where there are two lanes of traffic, and other ships were able to sail through while crews worked for hours to free the ship.
These Suez Canal groundings highlight the need for improvements to the canal system. The Suez Canal Authority is responding to the Ever Given incident by starting dredging work to deepen and widen the existing single lane in the southern section. It is also extending the existing second lane by about six miles.
Update Sept. 9, 2021 2:17 P.M.: I want to clarify that while reports are saying that the ship was refloated after only 15 minutes, its total time blocking up the canal is unclear.