On thursday, Portuguese-flagged 12,500 teu container vessel MSC Fabiola, ran aground and is currently blocking traffic at the southern end of the Suez Canal.
“Groundings happen fairly often, but for the ship to run aground at such an unfortunate place is rare,” says Jacob Guldager of Leth Agencies.
MSC Fabiola was the largest of all 47 vessels that passed through the Canal, reports from GAC stated. The rest of the convoy, consisting of 8 vessels, have been stopped. A ship blocking the Suez canal can prove expensive to trade, since charterers may get penalized for voyages overrun. Ships transiting the canal saves cost by saving time. A long delay to the convoy system can cause delays to the convoy schedule.
The Suez Canal is the gateway to Europe for much trade, oil from the Middle East, and containerized shipments from Asia mainly all go through the canal. If the canal is blocked for a long period, then the alternative route between Europe and Asia involves going around the Cape of Good Hope, adding over 4,000 miles to the voyage to most European ports. At 15 Knots, that takes an extra 11 days for the journey between the Arabian Gulf and Europe.
The vessel reportedly experienced some engine problems before running aground in the Suez. The nature and scope of salvage services have yet to be determined.
“Suez Canal tugs are trying to assist the ship, but more traffic delays are expected until the grounded vessel is floated,” GAC said in a statement.