Tanker runs aground in the Suez Canal, refloated, but canal temporarily blocked

Aframax crude oil tanker Affinity V (IMO 9645401) ran aground in the Suez Canal on August 31st near Abu Sial and Al Shaloufa village, while transiting the canal in a southerly direction. The incident occurred at the 143km mark, halfway between Bitter Lakes and Suez. The tanker was in ballast at the time and apparently suffered a rudder failure.

Lieutenant-General Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said that the tanker had “a technical malfunction at the ship’s rudder, which caused the loss of the ability to steer and strand the ship.”

Canal Traffic Control tugs responded promptly and the vessel was refloated after half an hour. The tanker completed its transit and was anchored at Suez Anchorage at around 02:30 UTC on September 1st.

While some reports claimed that the vessel was refloated within half an hour, other reports claimed that the grounding occurred considerably earlier than claimed, and that the refloating took about five hours.

The tanker was en route from Portugal to Saudi Arabia.

The vessel blocked the southern section of the canal, two navigational sources told Reuters, but Suez Canal Authorities said shortly after midnight local time that traffic had returned to normal.

The incident would have caused a few stressful moments for stakeholders as it occurred in the same southern, single-lane stretch of the canal where VLCC Ever Given ran aground for six days in March 2021, significantly disrupting global trade.

Refinitiv ship-tracking data and the Marine Traffic website showed the Affinity V on early Thursday morning as facing southwards and travelling slowly in the canal, surrounded by tugs.

The Singapore-flagged tanker was headed for the Red Sea port of Yanbu in Saudi Arabia.

After the Ever Given incident the SCA accelerated plans to expand the canal, including extending a second channel that would allow shipping to pass in both directions along a part of its course and deepening an existing channel. Work on that expansion is due to be completed in 2023.

2016-built, Singapore-flagged, 62,826 gt Affinity V is owned by Minerva Bulk Pte Ltd care of manager Transpetrol Services Ltd of Brussels, Belgium. ISM manager is Transpetrol TM AS of Asker, Norway. It is entered with Gard on behalf of Transpetrol Ltd. As of September 1st it was at Suez South anchiorage, en rooute to Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, ETA September 2nd.