Global waterway Suez Canal was briefly blocked on Wednesday after an oil vessel ran aground before it was floated back into the waters again, the authorities of the Egyptian canal said.
The Singaporean vessel Affinity V crammed and wedged in a single-lane stretch of the canal, the Suez Canal Authority’s head Osama Rabie said in a statement.
The vessel was confirmed to have run aground around 7.15pm local time but was reported to be floating again in the water some five hours laters, spokesperson for Suez Canal authority told the government-affiliated Extra News satellite television channel.
Mr Rabie added that the canal’s authority sent five boats to get the wedged vessel floating again in a coordinated operation.
The boat was stuck after a technical failure in the steering mechanism which caused the vessel to hit the bank of the canal, he added.
Affinity V was part of a convoy headed south to the Red Sea, Suez Canal authority spokesperson George Safwat said.
At least two convoys of vessels pass through the canal which serves as the trade route between Asia and Europe. Of these, one vessel is north-bound to the Mediterranean and the other south-bound to the Red Sea.
A critical trade route, Suez Canal divides continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula, and provides a crucial link for trading oil, natural gas and cargo.
Five hours later, the navigation for other ships passing through the waterways had returned to normal, the official said.
The vessel was built in 2016 with a length of 252 metres (827 feet) and a width of 45 metres (148 feet).
This is not the first time Suez Canal’s passage was blocked after a vessel ran aground.
In a famous trade mishap, the Panama-flagged Ever Given had crashed into a bank of a single-lane stretch in March last year.
The colossal Japanese-owned container — buffeted by a sandstorm — remained wedged into the waterways for six days, halting trade between the continents.
At least $9b per day was held in global trade due to the traffic jam of shipping containers, further straining the supply chains reeling under the havoc of Covid pandemic.
Authorities launched a massive rescue mission using a flotilla of tugboats.
In a smaller episode, another large shipping vessel ran aground but was freed within hours by authorities in September 2021.
However, the stalling of trade due to Ever Given vessel pushed the canal authorities to widen and deepen the waterway’ssouthern part.