Try your hand at navigating the Suez canal


I was taking clients to the ferry at Portsmouth for the D-Day Beaches part of the tour when one of them [American] let out a groan and simulated climbing under his seat.

“Whatever is the matter?”

“My God! See that ship? Currently the largest ship in the world, the owners have gone bust and my company has a XX% stake in it. We stand to lose USD XXXmillions!”

And indeed it was stupendously big. It seemed to loom over the whole town. It was like a NYC block parked alongside Portsmouth.

I have been thru’ the Suez Canal. My father was returning to UK from his posting in Singapore. On our outward journey we had to go round the Cape, which added interest to the trip. We stopped at Cape Town and were whisked off by S.A. families to enjoy the delights of their homes.

On the way back we were the first ship thru’ [destination UK] after The Crisis. There was a brass band on the dockside and lots of flags and bunting.

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Well this has been a challenge, my expertise is crashing my way up the suez!?

That I think was Hanjin shipping of S. Korea in 2017. Huge bankruptcy with 60+ ships several of which were amongst the largest container vessels at the time, of 18,000TEU.

I think it is going to be difficult for the Suez Canal company to demand damages from any one when their Pilot was temporarily in charge.

Interesting. In marine law is the Pilot in command of the vessel or does the Master retain overall responsibility?

I believe the Master is in overall control, he can override the Pilot’s instructions but at his own peril if an accident results.

In this case, if I understand it correctly, the ship lost power in a sand storm and was unable to be steered, which would have nothing to do with the Pilot’s instructions.

It’s a sticky point Graham.The Master does if I recall remain in overall control.
Certain waterways like the Barrier Reef requires a Pilot ( picked up at Thursday Island) who will take the vessel down the Qld coast but, a Master who has sufficient sailing experience of the route can take control of the navigational duties without a Pilot coming on board.
Many waterways are like this but I don’t recall if Suez comes under those guidelines.

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In aviation, (I realise not specifically marine but broadly similar) there is a acknowledged protocol for determining who is Captain (PIC) carrying executive responsibility for the aircraft crew and passengers and everything associated with the flight (even with 2 or more pilots of the same rank/qualification/experience on the flight deck at the same time).
I’d be very surprised if that were not equally the case in marine terms.
Someone has to be in charge or chaos could surely ensue! (as perhaps it did on this occasion).

bit off “piste” but still SC related. Asked lady in our Lidl why all the center isles were empty…answer…a lot of the items gave been delayed by the closure of the Suez Canal!!

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perhaps the reason @John_Scully couldn’t get his man sized drill…

I agree entirely with that, as a YouTube Surfer I have seen many videos which concentrate on radio exchanges between pilots and Air Traffic Control and, when it comes to matters of safety in the air, it is the Captain who is in legal control. This is born out by frequent comments by people who certainly appear to be airline pilots, and also ATC Controllers.

To me these exchanges are fascinating, if only because I cannot believe how on earth pilots, especially the pilots without English as a 1st language, keep up with the rapid fire flow of instructions and numbers (call signs, heading, windspeed/direction, taxiways, runways etc). Only one reason why I am determined to keep my feet on the surface. :laughing:

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As a pilot, it is quite daunting when you first encounter this in the air (just as bad on the ground calling for taxi instructions for departure) but tbh, your ear tunes to what is to be expected and ATC usually fire off instructions in a structured way. When flying airways specifically, my airways log sheet was designed to accommodate the instructions in a shorthand form (since you have to “read back” specific instructions) which eased the pressure somewhat. such as “/ fl 100 m hdg OR Ldn 135.525” translated to mean "climb to flight level 100, maintain heading, on reaching FL 100 call London Control wun tree fife deycimel fife too fife " Simple!

Every pilot from wherever in the world I sailed with spoke English, it was the first requirement.

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Yes, precisely, Simple. :roll_eyes:

I have never been an air pilot, but many years ago I realised via Flight Simulator that I might have had an affinity for it. I cottoned on straight away and planned, and accomplished, long flights in daylight and at night, sometimes setting the auto pilot while I was away eating my dinner, and was overjoyed on my return to find myself exactly where I should be.

But that never involved any radio communications. :slightly_smiling_face:

As I said, feet firmly on the surface. :laughing:

I have a friend who was in Marine insurance before he retired.
I will ask him.

Yes, Peter, you are talking of sea pilots which are a different kettles of fish to air pilots of course.

But a sea pilot, who is really the equivalent of an ATC controller rather than an airline captain, has the advantage of being within a few feet of your elbow and much easier to ask for a repeat of an instruction, perhaps poorly understood because of accent etc., and with the added advantage of observed body language.

For example ‘I said PORT!!’, accompanied by a left arm shot out horizontally. :laughing:

That will be very informative, Jane, because although the legalities will be known and no doubt observed, the acid test of who pays for the damage will also be revealed. :slightly_smiling_face:

In the Suez case, I would expect that the Egyptian authorities will have made fairly sure that the blockage was not down to a pilot making a mistake, before launching a claim. Either, one, or perhaps several, insurance companies will feel the ultimate pain. And the ship owners will be thankful, or otherwise, that their ‘excess’ was, or was not, manageable. :wink: