The Suez Canal is an artificial water-way which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean and runs through Egypt. Construction began in 1859 and lasted for 10 years, with its purpose being to create a more efficient route for boats to pass through, as previously the goods would have to be transported by land or sail around the peak of South Africa. The construction of the canal helped save time and money. It cost 200 million francs to construct (the equivalent to 153.9 million British pounds) and sold shares to the public, in which the British Empire bought 44% of it in shares, despite previously being against the construction of the canal.

On the 23rd of March 2021, the Suez Canal was blocked by a large cargo ship which got lodged between two embankments presumably due to high winds which momentarily turned the ship, upon route from China. The incident was nicknamed the ‘second Suez Crisis’ and prevented hundreds of ships from passing through the canal each passing day.

Hundreds of ships were waiting in line for the large ship to be pushed back into position so that it could sail again. This ‘incident’ is estimated to have costed £6.5 billion per day that the ships were held up. This had a huge impact on international trade as many orders could not be filled which impacted suppliers, businesses and customers.

Crude oil prices shot up due to the demand as there wasn’t enough to supply to customers. Many were forced to take alternate routes, for example by using the Cape of Good Hope route. This new route cost businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds more to complete, due to more fuel being needed, as well as the wages for the workers on the ships and possible compensation for the delayed waiting times to give to the customers.

After a week, the issue was finally resolved as the ship was finally able to be wrenched free, allowing the canal to flow with ships again. However, this was not necessarily good news for all, as the crew and captain of the ship, which blocked the canal, have been put under house arrest and are expected to be arrested by Egyptian Maritime Officials and face long jail sentences.

Many are also concerned about who will have to pay for the blockage, as the ‘crisis’ had a huge financial impact around the world. It is assumed that the ship will be completely held accountable for the damage and may be made the centre of many law suits.


Did you know?

The Statue of Liberty was originally intended to be built on the Suez Canal.

According to Inside History, The Statue of Liberty was originally supposed to be built on the Suez Canal. The French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi wanted to build a statue on the canal, its purpose being to act like a lighthouse to guide ships. It would have been called ‘Egypt Carrying the Light to Asia’ but planning was not accepted due to the cost of building the monument.