Suez Canal Northbound Traffic Resumes After ONE Containership Hits Bridge

Suez Canal
Northbound vessels are backed up as the disabled ONE containership blocks one of the channels (SCA file photo)

Published Dec 6, 2023 2:29 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Suez Canal Authority is reporting that it was able to recover after an Ocean Network Express (ONE) containership hit a bridge disrupting today’s northbound convoy. At least six vessels had been caught despite the accident happening in a section of two-way traffic and the authority’s efforts to divert the ships to the western channel to complete the trip.

The ONE Orpheus (104,525 dwt) built in 2008 and managed by NYK for ONE began the transit early this morning as part of its voyage which began in Japan and Singapore and is bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The Suez Canal Authority reported the vessel experienced a “steering failure as a result of its rudder breaking down,” which led to the collision with a floating bridge near mile marker 74. The ship is 336 meters (1,102 feet) in length and has a capacity of 9,040 TEU.

Pictures of the incident appearing in the Egyptian media show the vessel askew in the channel with its bow having cut through the floating bridge. It appears the bow was on the bank of the canal with the vessel at an angle in the channel.




The accident was north of Great Bitter Lake and in an area where there are two channels. However, AIS signals show an MSC containership holding behind the disabled ONE vessel as well as tankers, LNG, and LPG carriers that were also in the convoy. The canal authority reported after being advised of the incident they ordered vessels in the northbound convoy to moor and drop anchor while four tugs have been dispatched to assist the disabled containership.

After a several-hour delay, the tugs were able to reposition the ONE Orpheus into the channel and after confirming its seaworthiness the trip resumed to the north with a tug escort. The six vessels directly behind the disabled vessel were also able to resume their voyage. The southbound convoy was able to proceed because the incident happened in an area where there are two channels. The plan had been to divert the northbound traffic after the southbound convoy had passed the area. 

After midnight local time, the ONE Orpheus cleared the northern terminus of the Suez Canal. The vessel was moved to the anchorage off Port Said. As of 2:30 a.m., AIS signals show the last of the northbound convoy was also approaching Port Said.


SCA tugs were able to reposition the ONE Orpheus so the vessel could resume the transit to the north tonight (SCA)


The incident comes at a time when the Suez Canal is experiencing record volumes and is under increased pressure as vessels have begun to divert from the Panama Canal while the attacks in the Red Sea are threatening traffic. In November, the Suez Canal Authority reported new records in the number of vessels and tonnage passing through the canal. 

Last month, ship traffic was up more than four percent in the Suez Canal versus November 2022, with a total of 2,264 ships making the transit compared to 2,171 ships a year earlier, or an increase of 93 vessels. Net tonnage was up more than eight percent to reach a total of 135.5 million tons, compared to 125.2 million tons in November 2022.