The Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, faced another disruption as a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship ran aground, causing traffic to come to a halt. The vessel, named Xin Hai Tong 23, ran aground near the southern entrance of the canal but was eventually refloated.
Leth Agencies, responsible for overseeing canal traffic, confirmed the incident and reported that the ship was successfully refloated after more than two hours. Tracking data revealed that no other vessels were moving in that particular area of the canal during the incident.
In a tweet, Leth Agencies provided further details, stating, “M/V XIN HAI TONG 23 has grounded in the Suez Canal at KM 159/0400 hrs.” It also mentioned that four vessels from the early convoy had to be left behind, in addition to the regular group scheduled to enter the canal at around 0600 hrs.
Authorities of the canal were informed that an engine malfunction had caused the grounding. However, the refloating process faced a brief delay due to a winch failure on the ship.
Once the cargo vessel was refloated, the canal authority assured that shipping activity in both directions would return to normal once the towing process was completed, as a precautionary measure.
The Xin Hai Tong 23 had departed from Dhuba port in Saudi Arabia. It is owned by Xiang B12 HK International Ship Lease and managed by Tosco Keymax International Ship Management. The ship has approximate dimensions of 190 meters (625 feet) by 32 meters (105 feet) and is primarily used for carrying cargo.
Earlier shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon indicated that the ship was “not under command” near the southern end of the canal. Initially, it was positioned at an angle with its stern against the eastern side of the canal. However, by 9 am local time, the vessel seemed to have been repositioned towards the center of the canal, facing south. Tracking data also revealed the presence of three Egyptian tugboats surrounding the ship.
It is worth noting that the Xin Hai Tong 23 is smaller than the Ever Given, the colossal container ship that caused a major incident in March 2021 when it collided with a bank, blocking the canal for six days. The situation was eventually resolved through extensive efforts involving a flotilla of tugboats, leading to the successful freeing of the skyscraper-sized vessel and allowing the passage of hundreds of waiting ships.