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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Container vessel Cosco Asia attacked near Suez Canal

It has shrunk the distance in a big measure – the geographical position of the Suez Canal makes it the shortest route between East and West……  it  is not only the distance that shrinks but also saving in time, fuel consumption, ship operating cost and eventually cost of the commodity that is being transported – all that has made Suez Canal, popular and what it is today.

The Suez Canal (Qanat as-Suways ), is an artificial sea-level waterway running north to south across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt to connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The canal separates the African continent from Asia, and it provides the shortest maritime route between Europe and the lands lying around the Indian and western Pacific oceans. Opened in Nov 1869, it is one of the world's most heavily used shipping lanes. Toll fees paid by the vessels represent an important source of income for the Egyptian government. The northern terminus is Port Said and the southern terminus is Port Tawfiq at the city of Suez. After multiple enlargements, the canal is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) long, 24 m (79 ft) deep and 205 metres (673 ft) wide as of 2010. The canal is single lane with passing places in the "Ballah By-Pass" and the Great Bitter Lake.  It contains no locks; seawater flows freely through the canal. 

The canal is owned and maintained by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) of Egypt. If the Suez Canal were to close, oil tankers would be forced to sail around southern Africa -- adding some 6,000 miles to the journey, which reportedly could be 12 extra travelling days for a vessel from Saudi to Houston.  It is also a fact that  there are very big ships which still could not sail through. 

China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, known as COSCO, headquartered in Beijing,  is a Chinese shipping and logistics services supplier company. It is a government-owned company of the People's Republic of China.  It owns more than 130 vessels (with a capacity of 600,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU)) and calls on over a thousand ports worldwide.

Newsreports state that there was an unsuccessful terrorist attack on a container ship passing through the Suez Canal on the last day of Aug 13.  It was an attempt to disrupt the flow of ships through the waterway, the head of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Memish said. It is reported that Cosco Asia, a container ship was targeted and according to Suez authorities, the attempt failed completely and there was no damage to the ship or the containers it carried. The situation was dealt with strictly by the armed forces," he said, adding that the traffic of ships is moving normally. The statement did not specify what kind of attack it was but shipping sources reveal that  it was explosion and two of them were heard as the ship passed through the waterway.

Egyptian officials say they have foiled an attack on a container ship which was aimed at disrupting shipping in the busy Suez CanalEgypt has faced a string of militant attacks in the lawless North Sinai region after the army, prompted by mass protests, overthrew the country's first elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3. More than 1,000 people, including 100 security officers, have died in protests demanding the reinstatement of Mursi. The government launched a crackdown on violence and militancy, arresting many leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and Mursi supporters over accusations of inciting violence. It was not immediately clear whether the attempted attack was related to the ousting of Mursi. U.S. warship the San Antonio passed through the waterway on Thursday to join other ships in the Mediterranean that could be used in any strike against Syria after a suspected chemical weapons attack. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
3rd Sept. 2013.


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