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Suez Canal Unaffected by Tanker “Fender Bender” in Great Bitter Lake

Suez Canal vessel contact
Two tankers made contact in Great Bitter Lake (Suez Canal Authority file photo)

Published Apr 5, 2023 3:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

Two Greek-managed tankers had what amounts to a “fender bender” in the Suez Canal yesterday with the authorities reporting that it did not impact the movement of vessels but did cause broad media attention. The minor incident came as the Suez Canal is reporting an increase in vessel movements with its busiest day ever less than a month ago.

Lieutenant General Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, issued a statement in which he referred to the incident as a “minor friction” saying that there was no pollution. He said navigation was moving normally in the canal after the incident.

The Lyric Magnolia, a 109,999 dwt Aframax crude oil tanker managed by Orpheus Marine Transport of Greece was at anchor in Great Bitter Lake as part of a southbound convoy. The tanker registered in the Bahamas was built in 2016 and is 820 feet in length. The AIS signal shows she had departed Stigsnaes, Denmark on March 18 and was bound for Saudi Arabia.

The Aligote, a 74,000 dwt product tanker registered in the Marshall Islands was also in the lake and had begun to move from its anchorage in the waiting area when it made contact with the Lyric Magnolia. The Aligote is managed by Roxana Shipping of Greece and its AIS shows it had departed Tunisia. 

The Suez Canal Authority responded to the contact between the vessels and reported that there was no significant damage. They were retaining both vessels however for a more thorough investigation. Initial speculation centered on “an increase in the wind speed in the area.” Winds were also cited as a contributing factor in the grounding of the Ever Given in the Suez.

The authority expected that both vessels would be underway today, April 5. Their AIS signals confirm that they were permitted to proceed and cleared the southern terminus entering the Red Sea.

Last month, a record 107 vessels made the daily crossing in the Suez Canal, the highest number ever in a single day for the canal. On that day, 51 vessels were in the southbound convoy. The authority also reported a strong increase in the number of tankers making the transit. In January 2023, they reported a new monthly record for the number of tankers transiting the canal.