Early Friday morning on 9 August 2013, the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller made its first ever transit through the Suez Canal. A few days later, the first Triple-E vessel passed the straits of Gibraltar and is now in the North Atlantic, safely en route towards its final destination in Northern Europe.
Opened for traffic in 1869, the Suez Canal is the oldest man-made canal in the world, in an area which has been at the centre of global trade for millennia. The idea of linking the River Nile with the Red Sea goes back as far as the 19th century B.C.
The current Suez Canal is one of the busiest and most important locations for shipping with approximately 7.5% of world trade going through. Under international treaty, it may be used “in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag.” Maersk Line is a regular visitor, currently sending an average of 27 container ships through Suez every week.
The Suez Canal is too narrow for ships to pass each other, so all ships enter through convoys on fixed times. There is one northbound and two southbound sailings every day, with the southbound convoys anchoring in by-passes to let the northbound ships pass. It usually takes between 12 and 16 hours for a ship to go through the canal.
The northbound convoy begins at 06:00 am local time. The Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller was boarded by the pilot at 04:45, entered the canal in its reserved space. The Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and SCA officials also joined the vessel to celebrate the occasion.
“We received a cake from the Chairman which we had on the bridge after lunch,” wrote the captains on their blog at maersklinesocial.com. “A very good cake indeed.”
The Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller is scheduled to reach the port of Rotterdam on 16 August.
Maersk Line, August 15, 2013