Suez Canal Authority Contemplates Changes After Ever Given Grounding

ever given
The 400-meter-long Ever Given easily spanned the width of the southern segment of the canal (Image courtesy Blacksky)

Published Apr 6, 2021 10:55 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Suez Canal Authority is contemplating the possibility of widening the southern section of the waterway, the agency's chairman told Reuters on Tuesday. 

The canal is a critical maritime chokepoint, and last month's boxship grounding showed a unique vulnerability: the 400-meter-long Ever Given straddled the canal's entire width, halting all traffic for six days and stalling the movement of tens of billions of dollars' worth of goods. In an interview, SCA chairman Osama Rabie suggested that the authority might widen the waterway to a dimension equal to the length of its largest permitted vessels (400 meters). 

“Our procedures are sound, we are just aiming to improve the service,” SCA chairman Osama Rabie told Reuters. "If there is a 250-meter part that needs expansion, maybe we will make it 400 meters." 

SCA may also consider buying new tugs with more pulling power, like the privately-operated anchor handlers that salvors called in to remove Ever Given. 

Groundings in the canal are a periodic occurence, but rarely result in a major disruption. On Tuesday, two vessels in a northbound convoy briefly went aground in the canal's southern section, according to shipping agency GAC. The cause was a loss of power aboard the tanker Rumford, the agency said, and the tanker behind Rumford grounded as well. The incident briefly delayed four additional vessels that were located behind Rumford in the convoy. 

Both tankers were quickly refloated with tug assistance and traffic carried on with minimal interference, GAC said. As of Wednesday morning, Rumford had exited the north end of the canal and was under way in the Mediterranean.