The overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi by the Egyptian military has resulted in violent scenes, civil unrest and hundreds of deaths across Egypt. Many in the maritime world are watching closely to see what effect, if any, the events in Egypt will have on the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal is, of course, one of the world’s primary shipping routes with in excess of 20,000 ships passing through it each year.

On 31 August 2013, a COSCO container vessel was attacked in the Suez Canal; however, the attack was unsuccessful. In a statement by the Suez Canal Authority the incident resulted in “no damage, whatsoever, either to the ship or its cargo of containers.” To date, this has been the only reported incident in the Suez Canal during the recent period of unrest in Egypt. Nevertheless, the situation remains fragile and potentially volatile.

For a consideration of a number of key issues faced by shipowners in light of the current situation in Egypt, please see the recent Reed Smith Client Alert by Nick Shaw.