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Chinese Bulker Goes Aground in Suez Canal

Pole Star
Xin Hai Tong 23's trackline and the location of the grounding (Pole Star)

Published May 24, 2023 11:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, a Chinese bulker went aground in the Suez Canal, prompting an effort to carry out a refloat. 

The Xin Hai Tong 23 entered the canal from the south and ran aground in the narrow lower stretch at about 0100 hours GMT on Thursday, according to AIS data provided by Pole Star. A small number of other ships were delayed just behind it in the queue. 

According to agent Leth Agencies, the Suez Canal Authority provided assistance by dispatching two tugs, and the vessel was successfully refloated at about 0740, freeing up space for the northbound convoy to transit. The Xin Hai Tong 23 was turned around and brought out the southern entrance. 

Groundings occur periodically on the narrow waterway, and the soft sand of the banks is usually forgiving. In January, a bulker carrying 65,000 tonnes of Ukrainian grain went aground in the canal near Qantara due to a technical issue. In August, a tanker briefly grounded in the lower canal, stopping traffic for several hours.

 Xin Hai Tong 23 is a Hong Kong-flagged bulker built in 2010. She has a mixed port state control history; during her last inspection in Tianjin, officials found issues with fire prevention measures and with her watertight hatches. 

By far the most prominent grounding casualty on the canal in recent memory was the double-ended grounding of the ultra-large boxship Ever Given in 2021. When the pilots on board lost heading control in a windstorm, the Ever Given straddled the full width of the lower canal and dug both bow and stern into the sand. It took five days to free her, delaying dozens of ships and tens of billions of dollars worth of cargo.