A tanker getting stuck used to be more the domain of niche business news, but that was before the Ever Given, so all eyes were soon on the Affinity V tanker’s plight in the Suez Canal.
On Wednesday, the 250-metre long Affinity V tanker was bound for Saudi Arabia when it ran aground close to the same spot in the narrow southern section of the canal in Egypt where the Ever Given container ship caused a week-long halt to traffic in March 2021, dominating global headlines and paralyzing supply chains.
The plight of the Singapore-flagged vessel raised alarm bells reminiscent of the kind of delays that forced the owners of the Ever Given to pay compensation of more than $200m to the Suez Canal Authority.
But this time tugboats were able to refloat the ship in the space for a few hours, the channel authority said, and navigation was returned to normal in the channel.
George Safwat, a spokesman for the Suez Canal Authority, told an Egyptian government-affiliated Extra News satellite television that the Affinity ran aground at around 7.15pm local time on Wednesday, and was refloated five hours later, he said.
Safwat said there was a problem in the vessel’s steering systems that caused it to run aground. He said the vessel sailed from Portugal and was en route to Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port of Yanbu.
About 12% of world trade runs through the channel, which is the fastest route between Asia and Europe.
According to the ship monitoring service TankerTrackers, the Aframax tanker Affinity V seemed to have lost control in the Suez Canal while heading southbound. “She temporarily clogged up traffic and is now facing south again, but moving slowly by tugboat assistance,” TankerTrackers tweeted.
The ship is 252 meters long and 45 meters wide, making it smaller than the 400-metre-long Ever Given, and has a registered tonnage of around 110,000. It was also thought to be only carrying around 40% of its total capacity – a factor that could have made it easier to refloat.