Suez Canal resumes normal traffic after collision

CAIRO (Reuters) -Traffic through the Suez Canal has resumed normally, the canal authority said on Wednesday, hours after a collision of two vessels temporarily caused delays.

"Slight contact" was made after liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier BW Lesmes made a sudden stop due to a technical failure that coincided with a strong current that drove oil tanker Burri towards it, authority chairman Osama Rabie said in an earlier statement on Wednesday.

The canal authority responded by sending tugboats to move both ships, he said.

Singapore-flagged BW Lesmes was successfully towed outside of the waterway, Rabie said, while Cayman Islands-flagged Burri was at the Suez anchorage, according to ship tracker MarineTraffic.

BW LNG AS, operators of BW Lesmes, reported the vessel ran aground transiting southbound through the Suez Canal at approximately 21:35 (1835 GMT) on Tuesday, BW Group said in a statement.

The low speed collision did not affect the vessel's operational capabilities and the vessel "remains structurally sound," it added.

BW Lesmes was successfully re-floated at 03:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday and would undergo further inspections at Suez anchorage.

The Suez Canal chairman said there did not appear to be any significant damage or pollution but that Burri had a steering failure that would require repair.

TMS Tankers, which manages Burri, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Suez Canal is one of the world's busiest waterways and the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

About 12% of the world's trade moves through the canal. During strong winds in 2021, a huge container ship, the Ever Given, became jammed across it, halting traffic in both directions for six days and disrupting global trade.

(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed, Muhammad Al Gebaly, Nafisa Eltahir, Enas Alashray, Florence Tan and Muyu Xu; writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Michael Perry and Christina Fincher)