Three Containerships Test Waterway as New Suez Canal Nears Opening
Three container-laden ships have transited a new portion of the New Suez Canal this past weekend, two weeks ahead of its formal August 6 opening.
“The first experimental operation of the passage of vessels at New Suez Canal started Saturday in the presence of head of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish and a host of senior officials at the authority,” according to a statement from Egypt’s State Information Service released by the Middle East News Agency.
The first ship transiting the $4 billion, 120-mile waterway is registered in Singapore and was bound from Jeddah to Port Said; the second is bound from Singapore to the U.S. East Coast. The third was outbound from Jeddah for Italian ports.
The “experimental operation” was conducted “to examine its depth and know guide zones along the waterway,” it said. The names of the three ships, which varied in tonnage, container capacity, and dimensions, were not released for security reasons.
Earlier this month, Egypt arrested 13 persons, reportedly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, charging that had planted explosives around the Suez Canal in an attempt to block the waterway and seriously disrupt commercial shipping on the primary ocean trade route linking Asia and Europe.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, quoted in the government statement said, Egypt “is capable of protecting the new waterway” that runs alongside the existing canal, stressing that “the international community has confidence in Egypt’s capabilities.”
The new Suez Canal, he said, “is of major importance not only to Egypt but to the entire world.”