After the handing over ceremony a month ago (18 March 2021), the Suez Canal Authority is ready to place its new cutter suction dredger (CSD) Mohab Mameesh (IMO9869356) in service within the canal.
The timing of the CSD’s arrival could not be more auspicious given the recent experience of having the canal fully blocked by the 400m long container ship, Ever Given.
Mohab Mameesh, named after a former SCA chief and costing 300 million euros ($360 million), completed commissioning tests on the Dutch coastline and Haringvliet and has since been transported by semi-submersible vessel to Egypt to commence service in the canal.
With a length of 147.4 metres, a cutting power of 4,800 kW and total power of 29,190 kW, the dredger has a cutting depth of 35 metres, rendering it capable of deepening the canal as well as widening as required. The canal’s depth is 24 metres.
Mohab Mameesh was built at the Dutch Royal IHC shipyard as yard number 1299 and completed in 2020. She is one of the most powerful hard rock dredgers in the world. The CSD has accommodation on board for more than 70 people.
A second dredger, sister CSD Hussein Tantawy is under construction and should be ready for sea trials within a couple of months.
SCA’s Chairman and Managing Director, Admiral Osama Rabie described the MOHAB MAMEESH as a truly impressive vessel. “Many people are enthusiastic to see it performing live operations as soon as possible. We expect to achieve incredible results with this state-of-the-art CSD for many years to come,” he said.
The intended duty of the Mohab Mameesh is to maintain and improve the artificial sea-level area connecting the Mediterranean and Red seas. However, Adm. Osama Rabie, the SCA chairman, said shortly after the EverGiven grounding that the SC was considering further widening the southern section of the canal. It was in the southern section that the container ship blocked the waterway, some six kilometres north of the southern entrance to the canal.
Rabie said that if there is a 250-metre wise section that needs expansion, then it will be expanded to 400 metres. He said this would be enough to allow for the passage of the world’s largest vessels even under extraordinary circumstances.
A spokesman for the SCA said later that plans exist to upgrade parts of the canal by 2023. “It includes an upgrade of the northern and southern entrances to the canal,” said George Safwat.
In 2014 the SCA carried out an upgrade involving the northern section with a parallel channel cut next to the original canal, making possible two-way traffic over this part for the first time since 1869. This helped reduce the transit time through the canal by seven hours.
The Suez Canal continues to be Egypt’s main source of revenue, contributing between US$ 5 and 6 billion a year.
The recent blockage demonstrated that the canal also has an enormous value for much of the developed world.