Huge Cargo Ship Blocks Key World Shipping Route in More Supply Chain Pain

A large cargo vessel ran aground and blockaded global maritime traffic in the Suez Canal between Africa and Asia, one of the world’s most important shipping routes.

This caused more supply chain pain against the backdrop of an international supply chain crisis that has raged since 2021 amid the later stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

Further Threat to Global Trade’s Supply Chains

A bulk cargo vessel got stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal over the weekend, briefly blockading the vital waterway before it was refloated after a hard, costly operation on Monday, UAE-based website The National News reported.

The new Suez Canal incident immediately reminded the world of the supply chain crisis caused in March 2021. A gigantic container vessel, the Ever Given, which weighed almost 200,000 tonnes, got stuck in the canal and took six days to get refloated.

The vessel that ran aground in the critical international waterway over the weekend was the MV Glory, a bulk cargo ship taking Ukrainian grain to China.

Ukraine’s shipping was terminated by Russia’s naval blockage in the Black Sea after Putin’s Russia invaded the country 11 months ago, but was restored last summer in a deal sponsored by Turkey and the UN.

According to canal services firm Leth, the MV Glory got stuck when it was joining a convoy heading south towards the Red Sea.

A statement by Admiral Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said four of the authority’s most potent tug boats had to be employed in order to pull and refloat the Ukrainian grain ship.

Rabie declared the running aground of the ship had not been a “serious incident,” and the bulk cargo vessel was tugged further down its course in order to allow delayed vessels to pass faster.

The nearly 100-mile-long Suez Canal was widened after the Ever Given incident, allowing for easier and safer passage.

Rabie added the vessel, which sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands and carries over 65,000 tonnes of grain, would be escorted by several canal guides until it is safely out of the canal.

This Time, the Canal Was Cleared Quickly

According to satellite data cited by AP, the Ukrainian grain vessels ran aground in a single-lane stretch of the canal south of Port Said. It remained unclear what caused the ship to get stuck.

According to an Egyptian salvage officer, however, one of the tugboats that participated in the rescue of the MV Glory suffered a motor malfunction. This caused the ship to stop and it drifted aground.

The same officer, who remained anonymous, also revealed the vessel carrying the Ukrainian grain war No. 4 was in the line of ships heading south in the morning.

Thus, when it got stuck, that created a backlog of 19 other cargo vessels in the some-25-mile section before the place of the incident.

The report points out that the MV Glory underwent an inspection on January 3 by the Joint Coordination Center monitoring the grain shipping deal between Ukraine and Russia. This is enforced by the Turkish Navy and overseen by Turkey and the UN.

The Suez Canal handles about 10% of global maritime trade. In 2021, when it was blocked by the giant container vessel Ever Given, there was $9 billion worth of goods stuck in it for almost a whole week.

Over 25,000 ships went through the Suez Canal last year, a 25% increase compared with 2022.

This article appeared in The State Today and has been published here with permission.