In case Egypt needed yet another strange event shrouded in mystery, one of the largest cargo ships ever built has been stranded on the Suez Canal for weeks after damage to the propellor caused a severe leakage.
The Emma Maersk, from Denmark, had to be towed to Port Said to be unloaded and repaired earlier this month. The damage was so bad that the marooned ship is likely to be out of action for several more months, said Palle Laursen, Head of Ship Management for Maersk Line. For now, a temporary replacement has been found and cargo is being transferred to the new ship.
At 397 meters long, 75 meters wide and the capacity to carry about 10 thousand containers, the Emma Maersk is one of the world’s largest container ships ever built.
Netherlands Ambassador to Cairo, Gerard Steeghs, tweeted a photo of the stranded vessel earlier today from Port Said:
A live ships map from Google shows the position of the ship on the Suez Canal:
Now for the mystery.
It is still unclear what caused the damage, but Mr Laursen ruled out any human error by the crew.
“The crew handled the situation very well and did exactly what they should at all stages,” he said.
That leads to one of only two reasons for the damage: the ship experienced technical difficulties with navigation, or someone sabotaged the ship.
The 192-km Suez Canal is the quickest sea route between Asia and Europe, saving an estimated 15 days of journey time on average, but recent unrest in Port Said and the surrounding cities has caused unease and growing concerns about the security of the canal itself.
Protesters have threatened to block the Suez Canal, which earns Egypt about $5 billion in foreign currency a year. Acknowledging that this is one the last remaining reliable sources of foreign currency to Egypt, government officials recently raise fees by between 2% and 5% starting on May 1.
Though the military is guarding the Canal, a state of emergency remains in force in three cities nearby, which are likely to be the scene of protests once again.
The story of the stranded ship, buried under the other ongoing confusion in Egypt, could signal a worrying escalation in Egypt’s political turmoil.