Cargo ship refloated after being stranded in Suez Canal for hours

The ship became grounded on Thursday morning  (Suez Canal Authority)
The ship became grounded on Thursday morning (Suez Canal Authority)

A Hong Kong cargo ship that was stranded for almost four hours in the Suez Canal has been refloated with the help of tugboats.

The vessel, named Xin Hai Tong 23, became grounded in one of the world’s busiest waterways at 4am on Thursday after arriving from Saudi Arabia, according to Leth Agencies.

It disrupted four other vessels from a convoy which planned to enter the canal around 6am.

Suez Canal tug boats worked for hours to re-float the cargo ship and the ship was towed by three rescue boats, the Suez Canal Authority said.

Refinitiv Eikon shipping data had showed the ship as “not under command” near the southern end of the canal. It was initially positioned at an angle with its stern abutting the canal’s eastern side but the ship appeared to have been moved towards the center and pointed south.

The ship was successfully refloated at 7.40am. Xin Hai Tong 23 is heading for Egypt, the Suez Canal Authority said.

The vessel, which flies the Hong Kong flag, is 190 metres long, 32 metres wide.

It is owned by Xiang B12 HK International Ship Lease and managed by Tosco Keymax International Ship Management.

The Suez Canal Authority said that marine rescue teams and three tug boats were immediately sent to tow the ship after the authority’s main navigation control centre received a notification of the ship’s failure.

“The failure of the ship’s winch and the inability to raise the hook hindered the completion of the connection procedures with the tugboats,” the authority said.

‏Lieutenant General Osama Rabie said that regular navigation in the canal from both directions could return as soon as the ship’s tow is completed, as a “precautionary measure”.

Around 12 per cent of the world’s trade moves through the Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

During strong winds in 2021, a huge container ship, the Ever Given, became jammed across Suez Canal, halting traffic in both directions for six days and disrupting global trade.

Last year, tug boats refloated an oil tanker that was briefly stranded in the canal after to a technical fault with its rudder, while the breakdown of a container ship in the canal caused minor delays in March.