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Sunday, July 26, 2015

3 container ships cross new Suez Canal in test run !

The Cape of Good Hope, is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa.  Although commonly believed to be the southern tip of Africa, the southern-most tip is stated to be Cape Agulhas.  When following the western side of the African coastline from the equator, however, the Cape of Good Hope marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than southward. Thus, the first modern rounding of the cape in 1488 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias was a milestone in the attempts by the Portuguese to establish direct trade relations with the Far East.

The Suez Canal, 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. It is one of the world's most heavily used shipping lanes. Considered to be the most important waterway, this canal is extensively used by modern ships , as it is the fastest crossing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean . Tolls paid by the vessels represent an important source of income for the Egyptian government.

The  artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, was opened in Nov 1869, and allows ships to travel between Europe and eastern Asia without navigating around Africa thereby reducing the sea voyage distance between Europe and India by about 7,000 kilometres.   The Canal runs between Port Said harbor and the Gulf of Suez , through soils which vary according to the region. The navigable channel is bordered by light and reflecting buoys as navigational aids to night traffic. Most of the canal is limited to a single lane of traffic, but the canal has 4 doubled zone with 6 bypasses ( total length 80.5 Km ) located along the Canal, allowing  transit of ships in both directions at these places.

BBC reports that the first cargo ships have passed through Egypt's second Suez Canal, amid tight security, ahead of the new waterway's official opening next month. Construction on the new lane, which runs alongside part of the existing canal, started less than a year ago. The 72km (44 mile) route allows two-way traffic and can accommodate larger vessels. Reports suggest that several container ships from around the world successfully navigated it on Saturday as part of a trial run. Helicopters and naval vessels escorted the ships as part of the security operation.

The Sinai Peninsula, which borders the canal, is a base for Islamic militants, who have killed hundreds of people since the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.  The New Suez Canal is the name of a waterway project in Egypt, expanding the existing Suez Canal between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It was launched simultaneously with plans to build six new tunnels under the canal and to transform a 76,000 km2 area on both banks of the canal into an international logistics, commercial and industrial hub that would "create one million jobs".

The enlarged canal will allow ships to sail in both directions at the same time over much of the canal's length. This is expected to decrease waiting hours from 11 to 3 hours for most ships and to double the capacity of the Suez Canal from 49 to 97 ships a day.  Works across the news 72 km canal involves dry digging, expansion and deep digging.  Six new tunnels for cars and trains are also planned to end the isolation of the Sinai peninsula, connecting it better to the Egyptian heartland.  The construction of the new canal itself was initially scheduled to take five years. It was then first reduced to three years and finally ordered by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to be completed in one year only.

Now according to media reports, the container ships  passed through Egypt's New Suez Canal on Saturday in a test-run before it opens next month, state media reported, 11 months after the army began constructing the $8 billion canal alongside the existing 145-year-old Suez Canal. The new waterway, which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hopes will help expand trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia, will be formally inaugurated on Aug. 6. Sisi wants the canal to become a symbol of national pride and to help combat Egypt's double-digit unemployment. The old Suez Canal is already a vital source of hard currency for Egypt, which has seen tourism and foreign investment drain away in the years of turmoil since a 2011 uprising.

Three container ships crossed the new waterway, state news agency MENA reported. One was an American ship heading to Egypt's Port Said from Saudi Arabia, another was a Danish ship sailing to the United States from Singapore, and a Bahraini ship going to Italy from Saudi Arabia.  Egypt deserves all praise for their innovative thinking and execution in such a short period.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th July 2015-07-26

Photo credit : BBC

1 comment:

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