Suez Canal traffic held up after container ship hits bridge

Northbound movement suspended while officials arrange for One Orpheus to be towed to safety, Suez Canal Authority says

Tugs tow the Xin Hai Tong 23 after it ran aground on the Suez Canal in May. In the latest incident, a ship hit a bridge on the waterway on Wednesday. AP
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Traffic on a northbound lane of Egypt's Suez Canal was halted briefly on Wednesday after control of a container ship was lost and the vessel hit a floating bridge, officials said.

The Suez Canal Authority sent four tug boats to an eastern portion of the waterway to tow the ship, which ran into the bridge after its steering mechanism malfunctioned, a representative told The National.

The Netherlands-bound One Orpheus, which is 336 metres in length and 46m wide, was reportedly carrying 101,000 tonnes of cargo, the authority said.

Traffic through the canal was suspended after the incident but would return to normal once the ship was towed to safety, the authority’s chairman Admiral Osama Rabie said.

Adm Rabie said only northbound maritime traffic through the canal was affected as the incident occurred in a double-laned stretch, leaving a path clear for southbound vessels.

The ship was travelling along a part of canal near the city of Ismailia when it hit the Ahmed Mansy floating bridge.

The bridge was completed in 2017 to connect the canal’s eastern and western banks.

Maritime accidents are relatively uncommon on the Suez Canal, which receives about 12 per cent of the world’s maritime traffic each year.

In March 2021, a giant container ship called the Ever Given blocked the waterway for six days, causing billions of dollars of losses to shipping companies worldwide.

Updated: December 06, 2023, 4:15 PM