Suez Canal Reopens to Very Large Ships

Friday, September 15, 2006
The Suez Canal has reopened to very large vessels including supertankers after the authorities introduced special procedures in the deeper eastern channel, which is partially blocked by a sunken dredger. The authority had earlier turned away 10 large vessels because they were too big to go through the western channel activated since the dredger sank, said a Suez Canal Authority official. The dredger has not been removed but the eastern channel of the canal, which can take ships with a draft up to 62 feet, has been reopened to large vessels, he added.

The vessels will have to sail slowly and carry senior pilots from the authority. The site of the sunken dredger has been marked by signs to warn approaching ships. The western channel will remain open too until the eastern one resumes full operations, the official said. A British container ship named by the Suez Canal Authority as the Nedlloyd Tasman ran aground, stalling traffic through the canal for nearly six hours until tugs refloated the vessel. Three men drowned and one is still missing after the sinking of the dredger. Forty-one crew members were rescued.

The canal was briefly blocked on Tuesday after a cargo ship ran aground. Source: Reuters

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