Capesize Bulker Aground in Suez Canal

Vessels moored at El Ballah (file image)

Published Feb 26, 2016 8:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, Egyptian media reported the grounding of the Panama-flagged bulker New Katerina in the Suez Canal, near Ismailia, with imagery showing her trimmed sharply forward. Unconfirmed reports suggest that she has a hull breach towards the bow and was intentionally grounded to avoid further losses.

As of Friday afternoon, the Katerina's AIS data shows her against the west bank of the channel, facing southbound, attended by the tugs Mosaed 2, Soheir, and Mosaed 5. She was reporting her status as “moored” and en route from Ukraine to Qingdao, China.

AIS data on Friday shows some amount of vessel movement on the canal. Suez Canal Authority representatives were not immediately available to comment on the grounding or its effects on traffic, but media reports suggest that the canal is currently restricted to one-way movement at her location.

The New Katerina (ex name Katerina Warrior) is a 170,000 dwt capesize built in 1997 by Daewoo. Her ClassNK registry, last updated in June of 2015, lists her owner as Olympus Ventures, Inc. and her management company as New Shipping Limited.

The Katerina suffered a fire in one of her holds in 2014 when a loader ignited; she had a load of coal at the time. Local firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze. 

To the north, on February 24, the first ultra large container vessel crossed the newly completed East Port Said Canal, a five nm channel serving APM's SCCT container port at East Port Said.

The waterway is intended to permit the largest class of container ships to call at SCCT's terminal without impeding traffic on the main Suez shipping channels; before, every single ship calling at Port Said had to coordinate with the canal convoys for a time slot, to ensure that there was no interference between the canal transits and the berthing vessels.

“Since Egypt wants to have as many ships as possible in the convoy because the Suez Canal is where it makes most money, this [did] not leave many hours free for sailing in and out of the East or West ports,” SCCT managing director Klaus Holm Laursen said.

The new section was dug by the Suez Canal Authority with partial financing from SCCT and work by contractors U.S. Great Lakes Company and Dredging International Company.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Canal Authority chairman Mohab Mamish and an assortment of international dignitaries attended an opening ceremony commemorating the inauguration of the channel.