Clash of tankers: Collision in Egypt’s Suez Canal

Both vessels had previously made their latest port calls at Port Said
Clash of tankers: Collision in Egypt’s Suez Canal
Suez Canal (Photo Credit: Reuters)

According to ship tracking company Marine Traffic, there was a brief collision in the Egyptian Suez Canal involving an LNG tanker, BW Lesmes, and an oil products tanker, Burri.

At 2:55 a.m. local time (2355 GMT), the cargo tracking company observed that the Singapore-flagged tanker BW Lesmes was stationary with its bow facing north. In contrast, the Cayman Islands-flagged tanker Burri was anchored with its bow pointing south, situated approximately 19 kilometers from the southern end of the canal.

Furthermore, shipping sources, as cited by Reuters, confirmed that the tanker involved in the incident was BW Lesmes. The tanker was in the process of maneuvering towards the landing area in Sueze.

Moreover, a time-lapse video from Marine Traffic depicted the Burri manoeuvring sideways, resulting in a collision with the already sideways BW Lesmes at 2040 GMT. Subsequently, the Burri reversed and reoriented to its initial heading.

Both vessels had previously made their latest port calls at Port Said, situated to the north of the canal.

Nearly 12 percent of global trade passes through the Suez Canal. In 2021, strong winds caused a significant disruption in the Suez Canal. This disruption was caused by the grounding of the container ship Ever Given. The incident occurred due to the powerful winds. The stranding of the vessel resulted in a six-day cessation of traffic through the canal. It caused a halt in two-way traffic for six days. Additionally, the incident disrupted trade in the region.

The canal has had a tumultuous year in terms of accident frequency. There has been a considerably higher number of groundings compared to previous years.

Read more: Is the Suez Canal Fund aimed at selling state assets or investing in them?

Tugboat collision

According to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), a collision occurred on August 5 in the Suez Canal. The collision involved a tugboat and a Hong Kong-flagged LPG tanker. Tragically, the tugboat sank as a result of the collision. Additionally, one crew member was reported missing in the incident. Fortunately, the incident had minimal impact on shipping traffic in the strategically significant waterway.

According to the statement, convoys of ships heading north through the canal remained unaffected, and the passage of southbound ships returned to normal by approximately midnight on that day. This indicates that the incident had limited impact on the flow of ship traffic through the canal.

After the incident, six crew members from the sunken tugboat were successfully rescued and transported to a hospital for medical attention. SCA mentioned that ongoing efforts were being made to retrieve the submerged tugboat. 

Furthermore, the LPG tanker involved in the collision was en route from Singapore to the United States, traveling in a southbound direction. The tanker measures approximately 230 meters (755 feet) in length and 36 meters (118 feet) in width. It is carrying a cargo of 52,000 metric tons of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Being the shortest shipping route connecting Europe and Asia, the Suez Canal holds great importance. 

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