All You Need To Know About The Suez Canal

Source: USNI News

Suez Canal was completed in the year 1869 and since then it is considered as one of the most important and busiest water body. The Suez Canal carries over 12% of world trade by volume. About a tenth of global trade passes through the Suez Canal.

The History of Suez Canal

Ferdinand de Lesseps was a French diplomat and later developer of the Suez Canal. In 1854 secured an agreement with the Ottoman governor of Egypt to build a 100 miles canal across the Isthmus of Suez. In 1856 the Suez Canal Company was formed and was granted the permission to function the canal for 99 years after completion of the work. An international team of engineers drew the construction plan and in April 1859 the construction began. The first digging was done by hand with picks and shovels wielded by forced laborers, later European labors with dredgers and steam shovels arrived. Suez Canal was four years behind due to the cholera epidemic and labor dispute, but on 17th November 1869 the Suez Canal was opened.

Source: Times of Israel

At first the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom and 200-300 feet wide at the surface. Approximately, fewer than 500 ships navigated in the first year of operation. In 1876, major improvements began and this canal became one of the world’s heavily travelled ship lane. The Great Britain became the largest shareholder of the Suez Canal Company in the year 1875 when it brought up the stock of the new Ottoman Governor of Egypt and in 1882 Britain invaded Egypt and began a long occupation of the country. In 1936 the Anglo-Egyptian treaty made Egypt independent but the rights for protection of the canal was kept to the Britain. Later Israel invaded in October and Britain and French troops landed in November capturing the Canal Zone. A constant pressure from the United Nations led to the withdrawal of the Britain and France troops in December and Israeli forces departed in March 1957. In the month of March Egypt took control of the canal and reopened it to commercial shipping. Today, many ships navigate the canal on a daily basis carrying approximately more than 300 million tons of goods.

Importance of the Suez Canal

The Suez Canal is the only place that connects Europe with the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific countries. The Suez act as an important part of the shipment because without the Suez the shipment travel in those parts would have been difficult as they had to cross the entire African Continent, adding heavy cost and extending the journey time. For example if a ship is travelling from Italy to India would cover 4,400 nautical miles, if it passes from the Suez Canal at a speed of 20 Knots it would take nine days. Another way to complete this journey would be the Cape of Good Hope and around Africa with the same speed and it would take around three weeks of travel, which is 10,500 nautical miles long. There is no alternative to the Suez as it is the Red Sea stretching above the Horn of Africa and along Sudan and Egypt, there are no ample land narrow enough to support a non-natural waterway that links Europe and Asia-Pacific. According to the Lloyd’s List which is a shipping industry journal, the Canal nearly host 19,000 vessels each year.

The Traffic at the Suez Canal

Source: The Indian Express

The Suez Canal that connects the Mediterranean and Red Sea through Egypt has been blocked after a large cargo ship struck while passing through it on Tuesday 23rd March. A Panama registered container ship Ever Given was on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherland from China and it got stuck blocking the Suez due to the bad weather. The ship was 2018 built, 400m long and 59m wide. On the morning of 23rd March the ship was passing northwards through the Suez Canal to enter the Mediterranean Sea, the ship weighed 2 lakh tones, got stuck sideways across the canal blocking the path for other ships on both side. Evergreen Marine, a Taiwanese transport company said it was “suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground. None of the crew members was injured,” the company said.

On 29th March the ship was finally free and on its way opening the way for other ships to pass. Peter Berdowski CEO of Dutch salvage company Boskalis said that the Ever Given has been refloated at 15:05 (13:05 GMT) on Monday, “thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again”. A Dutch specialist team SMIT oversaw flotilla of 13 tugs, small but powerful ships that can shift large ships as they tried to dislodge the Ever Given. Ships were brought in and dug 30,000 cubic meters of mud and sand from underneath the ends of the ship. During this time it was feared that some of the containers would have to be removed in order to lighten the load, but the high tide helped the ships in their work and on Monday the rear of the ship was freed and the large ship swung across the canal. Hours later the bow to come loose and the Ever Given was able to move out.  The ship was towed to the Great Bitter Lake which sits between two sections of the canal to the north of the salvage site, where it will undergo safety checks. The ship has 25 Indian members and it is reported that everyone was safe and after the full inspection of the ship if it is found fit then it will travel with the same crew to Rotterdam without any further delay.

The shipping industry is very crucial for the existence for the global economy as most of the world’s food, fuel; raw material etc is transported through the sea. Due to the recent traffic, the transport was delayed which caused a lot of problem. But now as it is cleared and all other ships are freed the loss will gear up soon.


  • CNN

  • History,across%20the%20Isthmus%20of%20Suez.

  • The Indian Express

  • Times of India


  • Times of Israel

  • The Indian Express

  • USNI News

Trisha Guharoy

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  • The writing is full of rich information.

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