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Ground broken for Suez Canal


At Port Said, Egypt, ground is broken for the Suez Canal, an artificial waterway intended to stretch 101 miles across the isthmus of Suez and connect the Mediterranean and the Red seas. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat who organized the colossal undertaking, delivered the pickax blow that inaugurated construction.

Artificial canals have been built on the Suez region, which connects the continents of Asia and Africa, since ancient times. Under the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, a channel connected the Bitter Lakes to the Red Sea, and a canal reached northward from Lake Timsah as far as the Nile River. These canals fell into disrepair or were intentionally destroyed for military reasons. As early as the 15th century, Europeans speculated about building a canal across the Suez, which would allow traders to sail from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea, rather than having to sail the great distance around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.

READ MORE: 9 Fascinating Facts About the Suez Canal

The first serious survey of the isthmus occurred during the French occupation of Egypt at the end of the 18th century, and General Napoleon Bonaparte personally inspected the remains of an ancient canal. France made further studies for a canal, and in 1854 Ferdinand de Lesseps, the former French consul to Cairo, secured an agreement with the Ottoman governor of Egypt to build a canal. An international team of engineers drew up a construction plan, and in 1856 the Suez Canal Company was formed and granted the right to operate the canal for 99 years after completion of the work.

Construction began in April 1859, and at first digging was done by hand with picks and shovels wielded by forced laborers. Later, European workers with dredgers and steam shovels arrived. Labor disputes and a cholera epidemic slowed construction, and the Suez Canal was not completed until 1869—four years behind schedule. On November 17, 1869, the Suez Canal was officially inaugurated in an elaborate ceremony attended by French Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III. Ferdinand de Lesseps would later attempt, unsuccessfully, to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. He died in 1894.

When it opened, the Suez Canal was only 25 feet deep, 72 feet wide at the bottom, and 200 to 300 feet wide at the surface. Consequently, fewer than 500 ships navigated it in its first full year of operation. Major improvements began in 1876, however, and the canal soon grew into the one of the world’s most heavily traveled shipping lanes. In 1875, Great Britain became the largest shareholder in the Suez Canal Company when it bought up the stock of the new Ottoman governor of Egypt. Seven years later, in 1882, Britain invaded Egypt, beginning a long occupation of the country. The Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936 made Egypt virtually independent, but Britain reserved rights for the protection of the canal.

After World War II, Egypt pressed for evacuation of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone, and in July 1956 Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the canal, hoping to charge tolls that would pay for construction of a massive dam on the Nile River. In response, Israel invaded in late October, and British and French troops landed in early November, occupying the canal zone. Under pressure from the United Nations, Britain and France withdrew in December, and Israeli forces departed in March 1957. That month, Egypt took control of the canal and reopened it to commercial shipping.

Ten years later, Egypt shut down the canal again following the Six Day War and Israel’s occupation of the Sinai peninsula. For the next eight years, the Suez Canal, which separates the Sinai from the rest of Egypt, existed as the front line between the Egyptian and Israeli armies. In 1975, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat reopened the Suez Canal as a gesture of peace after talks with Israel. Today, dozens of ships navigate the canal daily, carrying more than 300 million tons of goods a year. In March 2021, the Suez Canal was blocked for six days after a massive container vessel got stuck.


Ground broken for Suez Canal - HISTORY

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Today in 1859, ground was broken for the Suez Canal. The Canal links the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea. When it was completed in 1869, the Canal made it possible for ships to travel from Europe to Asia without circumnavigating the continent of Africa, savings thousands of miles and weeks of travel time.

Canals were not new to Egypt. As early as the 13th century BC, a canal existed which linked the Nile River to the Red Sea. This canal fell into disrepair and was re-excavated several times over the next two thousand years before being put out of commission permanently in the eighth century AD. Ten centuries passed before another canal was attempted in the area.

Napoleon Bonaparte ordered a survey of the Sinai Peninsula in late 18th century as a pre-requisite to building a canal there. The French survey team returned to France and announced, mistakenly, that the Red Sea level was higher than that of the Med, meaning that a canal could not be built without the use of locks. Another 60 years would pass before another Frenchman, Ferdinand de Lesseps, obtained permission from the viceroy of Egypt to form a company charged with the construction of a canal. Lesseps believed, correctly, that the waters of the Mediterranean and Red Seas were of the same height.

As with the pyramids thousands of years before, forced labor was initially used in the digging of the Canal. It is estimated that 125,000 Egyptians died during the 11-year project from malnutrition and disease. The forced labor policy was ended when the Egyptian viceroy gave into British anti-slavery forces. Today, this seems odd because, early in the American Civil War, the British were on the verge of recognizing the Confederacy, which was pro-slavery. This, while at the same time chiding the Egyptians for doing the same thing.

The Suez Canal opened on November 17, 1869. It is actually two canals, each terminating at the Great Bitter Lake and running to its respective sea. When completed, it began to have an immediate effect on world trade and African colonization. In 1875, the United Kingdom bought the Egyptian share of the Suez Canal Company for �,000 and in 1888, assumed the role of protector for the canal and all the ship traffic that used it.

After nearly 70 years of French and British control, Egyptian President Nasser nationalized the Canal in 1956, triggering the Suez War in which Great Britain, France and Israel all invaded Egypt. After the Canal was repaired and reopened in 1957, a United Nations force was created to maintain a neutral zone around the area. The Canal was closed again in 1967 during the Six Day War and did not reopen until June, 1975.

Today, a multinational observer force monitors the Sinai Peninsula and the Canal. This force is not under UN command, but is allowed per agreements among nations in the area and the United States, which supplies most of the force’s troops.


The Last Time the Suez Canal Was Blocked a Utopian Communist Micronation Was Formed at Sea

The last time ships got stuck in the Suez Canal, they were there for eight years. From 1967 to 1975, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, 14 ships were stranded in the Great Bitter Lake, a salt lake connected to the canal. Unable to leave, the crews, dubbed the "Yellow Fleet" because of the desert sand that eventually covered them, developed their own society at sea. This society developed its own postal service and stamps, and held a version of the Olympics in 1968.

The ramifications of stranded ships also led directly to the creation of the mega-container ships we see now, which may have helped lead to the Ever Given saga.

The trouble began in June 1967. Egypt and Israel went to war in what&rsquos now called the Six-Day War. Though that specific conflict only lasted six days, the fallout from it would stretch on for decades. Peter Flack was serving as the third mate on the British ship the MS Agapenor. &ldquoThe captain, communicating by pipe and whistle, called up to tell me he&rsquod just heard that war had broken out between Israel and the Arab states,&rdquo Flack told author Cath Senker for the book Stranded in the Six-Day War. &ldquoIf you see anything unusual, please let me know but don&rsquot tell the Egyptian pilot.&rdquo

As part of the conflict, Egypt blockaded the Suez Canal. It blocked both ends of the canal with scuttled ships, debris, and sea mines to prevent its use by Israeli forces. The Agepnor and other ships sailing from West Germany, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and the United States were stranded. The ships floated in the canal and watched the war unfold around them.

The world was less connected in 1967 than it is today. The ships had access to radios and were able to call home, but Egyptian authorities eventually asked them to stop. As the crisis wore on, the Canadian government negotiated the exchange of crews from the ships. Supplies came in from Egypt, some sailors went home and others stayed on, but Egypt would not allow the ships to leave the canal.

Over the next eight years, a weird system developed. The companies that owned the ships were allowed to cycle crews through the ships, maintaining skeleton crews to keep them afloat, but weren&rsquot allowed to sail the ships out of the canal. As time passed, the ships communicated with each other and grew into a community. They formed the Great Bitter Lake Association to administer to the needs of the crew.

According to a TIME article from 1969, the crew&rsquos biggest problem was boredom. &ldquoTo while away the time, they take part in lifeboat races and play soccer on the broad deck of the largest ship, the British bulk carrier Jnvercargill,&rdquo TIME said. &ldquoThey attend church services on the West German motorship Nordwind and watch movies on the Bulgarian freighter Vasil Levsky. The Polish freighter Djakarta even prints stamps for the marooned vessels. Egyptian postal authorities graciously allowed the stamps to be used as legal postage they have become collector's items. Immense amounts of beer are consumed in the heat. Says one crewman: &lsquoThere must be five feet worth of beer bottles on the bottom around each hull by now.&rsquo&rdquo


Today in History

Today is Sunday, April 25, the 115th day of 2021. There are 250 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On April 25, 1507, a world map produced by German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller contained the first recorded use of the term “America,” in honor of Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci (veh-SPOO’-chee).

In 1859, ground was broken for the Suez Canal.

In 1862, during the Civil War, a Union fleet commanded by Flag Officer David G. Farragut captured the city of New Orleans.

In 1898, the United States Congress declared war on Spain the 10-week conflict resulted in an American victory.

In 1915, during World War I, Allied soldiers invaded the Gallipoli (guh-LIH’-puh-lee) Peninsula in an unsuccessful attempt to take the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

In 1917, legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia.

In 1944, the United Negro College Fund was founded.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. and Soviet forces linked up on the Elbe (EL’-beh) River, a meeting that dramatized the collapse of Nazi Germany’s defenses. Delegates from some 50 countries gathered in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.

In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping.

In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed in orbit from the space shuttle Discovery. (It was later discovered that the telescope’s primary mirror was flawed, requiring the installation of corrective components to achieve optimal focus.)

In 1992, Islamic forces in Afghanistan took control of most of the capital of Kabul following the collapse of the Communist government.

In 2002, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of the Grammy-winning trio TLC died in an SUV crash in Honduras she was 30.

In 2019, former Vice President Joe Biden entered the Democratic presidential race, declaring the fight against Donald Trump to be a “battle for the soul of this nation.”

Ten years ago: President Bashar Assad of Syria sent the military into the southern city of Daraa, where an anti-government uprising had begun the previous month.

Five years ago: The city of Cleveland reached a $6 million settlement in a lawsuit over the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy shot by a white police officer while playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center. A panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled 2-to-1 that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had to serve a four-game “Deflategate” suspension imposed by the NFL, overturning a lower judge and siding with the league in a battle with the players union. (Brady ended up serving the suspension.)

One year ago: As the global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 200,000, countries took cautious steps toward easing lockdowns. The U.K. became the fifth country in the world to report 20,000 virus-related deaths.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Al Pacino is 81. Ballroom dance judge Len Goodman (TV: “Dancing with the Stars”) is 77. Rock musician Stu Cook (Creedence Clearwater Revival) is 76. Singer Bjorn Ulvaeus (BYORN ul-VAY’-us) (ABBA) is 76. Actor Talia Shire is 76. Actor Jeffrey DeMunn is 74. Rock musician Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) is 71. Country singer-songwriter Rob Crosby is 67. Actor Hank Azaria is 57. Rock singer Andy Bell (Erasure) is 57. Rock musician Eric Avery is 56. Country musician Rory Feek (Joey + Rory) is 56. TV personality Jane Clayson is 54. Actor Renee Zellweger is 52. Actor Gina Torres is 52. Actor Jason Lee is 51. Actor Jason Wiles is 51. Actor Emily Bergl is 46. Actor Jonathan Angel is 44. Actor Marguerite Moreau is 44. Singer Jacob Underwood is 41. Actor Melonie Diaz is 37. Actor Sara Paxton is 33. Actor/producer Allisyn Snyder is 25. Actor Jayden Rey is 12.


Here&rsquos the Minute-by-Minute Breakdown of the Ever Given&rsquos Crash

For 6 long days, the massive container ship stayed stuck in the Suez Canal, capturing the world's attention. Now, ship tracking data and maritime pilots reveal exactly how it got there.

Late last month, a colossal container ship called the Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal, ensnaring one of the world&rsquos busiest shipping lanes in a marine traffic jam for 6 agonizing (and expensive) days. Salvage crews finally wrenched the Ever Given free from its perch&mdashwith a key assist from the moon&mdashon March 29, but the ship remains anchored in Egypt&rsquos Great Bitter Lake for inspection as of press time, with further investigations pending. Here, using publicly available ship tracking data and insight from maritime pilots, Popular Mechanics pieces together precisely how the disaster dramatically unfolded in real time.

Drifting Slowly in a Patternless Pause

On Tuesday, March 23, at 12:12 a.m. Egyptian local time (EET), the Ever Given, a container ship belonging to the shipping company Evergreen Marine and sailing under the flag of Panama, arrived at Suez Port. Nobody cared.

In the darkness, the 1,300-foot long, 200,000-metric ton megaship joined a group of vessels already idling in the anchorage&mdashan enormous, yet unremarkable addition to a vast, aquatic waiting room at the foot of the Suez Canal&rsquos southern terminus. For the next 5 hours and 37 minutes, the Ever Given drifted slowly in a patternless pause, killing time before the start of its half-day-plus voyage through the canal to the Mediterranean Sea.

⚓️ You love badass ships. So do we. Let&rsquos nerd out over them together.

At 5:49 a.m., the Mosaheb 2, an Egyptian tugboat, sidled up to the skyscraper-sized ship, the official indication that the vessel&rsquos journey was about to begin.

One hour and 53 minutes later, the Ever Given&rsquos voyage was over. By then, it was the most famous ship in the world.

&lsquoThrilling Winds of Sand and Dust&rsquo

Days earlier, the Egyptian Meteorological Authority (EMA) had started to issue warnings. Infamous seasonal gusts of hot, dry, and sand-filled air, known as the Khamaseen winds, were sweeping intensely across the country, causing dramatic spikes in temperature and poor visibility. In a forecast for March 23, the EMA warned of &ldquothrilling winds of sand and dust&rdquo and a &ldquodisruption of maritime navigation.&rdquo Wave heights on the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea, the EMA estimated, would reach 10 to 13 feet.

This information was likely top of mind for the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) pilots aboard the Mosaheb 2 as it approached the Ever Given on Tuesday morning. Pilots, who are required aboard all vessels transiting the canal, use their local expertise to verbally direct the navigation of a ship as its captain maneuvers it through the man-made passage.

On a normal day, pilots are a formality, a helpful addition to the ship&rsquos bridge when chaos strikes, they can be the last line of defense between a close call and an incalculable disaster.

At 5:53 a.m., the Mosaheb 2 departed the Ever Given, leaving behind two SCA pilots that would stay in the ship&rsquos bridge until it reached Ismailia, a city near the canal&rsquos halfway point. There, they would exit the ship and be replaced by new pilots, who would ride with the vessel until its passage through the canal was complete.

Captain John DeCruz is an expert in what can unfold on the bridge of a ship like the Ever Given from this point forward. DeCruz is the New York President of the Sandy Hook Pilots, one of a handful of organizations responsible for guiding vessels into and out of New York Harbor. For nearly two decades, DeCruz was an active pilot himself, guiding ships of all sizes through the waters of New York and New Jersey. Before he was a pilot, DeCruz worked on a ship that brought him to the Suez Canal.

According to DeCruz, the arrival of the two SCA pilots at the bridge of the Ever Given would initiate a briefing with the captain.

&ldquoYou find out everything you need to know about the ship,&rdquo DeCruz tells Pop Mech. &ldquoIf there&rsquos any issues that they encountered on the way, you tell them if they&rsquore going to encounter any traffic coming in, how many ships we&rsquore going to meet. You give the captain of the ship a rundown of everything that we expect to see on that transit.&rdquo

The Suez Springs to Life

At 6:00 a.m., just 7 minutes after the pilots&rsquo arrival, Suez Port sprung to life, with a select convoy of the day&rsquos largest, top-priority vessels now officially cleared to sail northbound and enter the canal. First in line was the Al Nasriyah of the Marshall Islands, followed in order by the Cosco Galaxy of Hong Kong, the Ever Given, the Maersk Denver of the U.S., and so on. At 6:21 a.m., the Al Nasriyah turned to the north and started its transit to the canal&rsquos entrance. The convoy had begun.

At 6:51 a.m., the Al Nasriyah arrived at the southern terminus of the Suez Canal. Seven minutes later, while navigating the canal&rsquos approximately 4.3-mile gradual opening turn, it was joined at its stern by the Mosaed 2, a local tugboat employed to help direct its passage. Shortly thereafter, the Cosco Galaxy also picked up a tugboat, the Mosaed 3, which positioned itself behind the ship.

At 7:18 a.m., the Ever Given entered the Suez Canal, choosing, curiously, to proceed without a tugboat. Unlike pilots, tugboats aren&rsquot a mandatory feature of a ship&rsquos transit through the canal&mdashthe Maersk Denver, trailing the Ever Given, also proceeded without one. However, their usefulness as an extra precautionary measure, particularly during bouts of bad weather, is undeniable.

&ldquoIf something goes wrong, you have something to help you,&rdquo Captain Robert Flannery, an active pilot and the President of New York&rsquos Metro Pilots Association, tells Pop Mech. &ldquoThey help you maneuver, they help you slow down, they can help guide your bow and your stern, and God forbid you lose an engine or something happens, you got a fighting chance. If you don&rsquot have a tugboat, you&rsquore shit out of luck.&rdquo

&lsquoToo Much Speed for These Ships in a Tight Area&rsquo

At 7:22 a.m., as it took the opening turn of the canal, the Ever Given was alone. Up ahead, the Al Nasriyah was near the canal&rsquos 151-kilometer (km) marker&mdashits distance from the northern terminus at Port Said&mdashwith the Cosco Galaxy keeping pace. Behind the Ever Given, the Maersk Denver edged toward the canal&rsquos entrance.

At this moment, the Ever Given&rsquos speed, which had been gradually increasing and had already eclipsed the 8.6-knot limit set by the SCA, began to approach eyebrow-raising levels. By 7:29 a.m., as it pulled out of the opening turn, the Ever Given was traveling at 13.7 knots.

When DeCruz watched the Automatic Identification System (AIS) video replay of the Ever Given&rsquos entrance to the canal, the number 13 jumped off his screen. Simulated voyages and live experience navigating slightly smaller megaships had made clear to him the dangers associated with such speeds.

&ldquoWe determined that was too much speed for these ships in a tight area,&rdquo said DeCruz.

The pilots aboard the Ever Given, however, may have had no choice but to recommend an acceleration to the captain.

According to a statement issued by the Suez Canal Authority, as forecasted, powerful dusty winds bore down on the canal on Tuesday morning, lowering visibility and gusting at speeds as high as 46 miles per hour (mph). If a crosswind of that magnitude struck the Ever Given, the 18,300 shipping containers stacked high above it would have collectively acted as an enormous sail, and caused the ship to drift in the direction of the wind.

To effectively counter such a gust, a pilot would likely prescribe increased speed and an angled course against the wind.

&ldquoYou can&rsquot steer straight if it&rsquos blowing you sideways,&rdquo Flannery says. &ldquoYou&rsquoll be aground. Speed gets you through it quicker.&rdquo

The Bank Effect

At 7:37 a.m., the Ever Given, traveling at 13 knots, appeared to initiate an approximately 2-minute northwesterly push toward the west bank of the canal, a maneuver presumably made in response to winds that had gradually pushed the vessel towards the east bank.

At 7:39 a.m., the Ever Given straightened and was again parallel with the canal, but was now sailing close to the edge of the west bank.

Ships like the Ever Given don&rsquot mix well with banks. When a vessel of its size sails alongside one, the strip of water between the land and the ship is squeezed and displaced. As a result, the water&rsquos flow quickens, its pressure drops, and, as it shallows in the ship&rsquos wake, it sucks downward, like a flushing toilet, pulling in the stern of the vessel. This phenomenon, known as the bank effect, can wreak havoc on megaships, which displace large quantities of water and cannot correct course quickly if knocked off kilter.

&ldquoYou can&rsquot steer straight if the wind is blowing you sideways. You&rsquoll be aground.&rdquo

At 7:40 a.m., the stern of the Ever Given suddenly swung toward the west bank of the Suez Canal, evidence that the ship had started to bank. As the stern swung clockwise to the west, the bow, pushed by the ballooning cushion of water between it and the west bank, swung clockwise to the east. The Ever Given was out of control.

&ldquoAt that point, due to the displacement of that type of ship in that canal, the water was just taking it wherever the water wanted to go,&rdquo DeCruz says.

On the bridge of the Ever Given, the two SCA pilots and the captain now faced an emergency. Action was paramount.

&ldquoThere&rsquos no time for conversation,&rdquo Flannery says. &ldquoYou need to concentrate on what you&rsquore doing. We act now, talk later.&rdquo

&ldquoThere were two pilots up there,&rdquo says DeCruz. &ldquoI guarantee you they were trying everything they could to see what was going on.&rdquo

The Grounding of the Ever Given

At 7:41 a.m., with the Ever Given&rsquos bow careening toward the east bank, the only logical navigational option was to turn the ship westward. But, according to DeCruz, at that stage, the suctioned stretch of water between the west bank and the ship&rsquos stern was likely too shallow for the vessel to gain the traction needed to change course.

&ldquoOnce that stern tucked in, there was no way of turning the ship left,&rdquo says DeCruz. &ldquoThere was nothing there but a limited amount of water. The propeller couldn&rsquot do anything and the rudder couldn&rsquot do anything.&rdquo

At 7:42 a.m., the Ever Given ran aground, driving its bulbous bow into the east bank of the canal at the 151-km marker. A minute later, its stern, drifting clockwise, connected with the west bank. The Suez Canal was officially blocked.

When a ship runs aground, crisis management begins instantly on the bridge. According to DeCruz, tugboats must be called and engineers must be dispatched to ensure that the boat is not taking on water or leaking fuel.

&ldquoYou ain&rsquot going nowhere,&rdquo said Flannery. &ldquoIt&rsquos time to make phone calls.&rdquo

One of the Ever Given&rsquos phone calls likely reached the northbound Mosaed 2&mdashthe aforementioned tugboat trailing the Al Nasriyah&mdashwhich, at 7:57am, turned on a dime near the canal&rsquos 146-km marker, and sped south toward the Ever Given.

By 8:17 a.m., the Mosaed 2, along with the Mosaed 3, had reached the grounded ship. Thirty-five minutes after it struck land, the Ever Given&rsquos rescue operation was underway.

Seven days, six hours, and 48 minutes later, that operation ended. On March 29 at 3:05 p.m., the Ever Given was refloated and, by 3:58 p.m., it had eased back into the canal, en route to nearby Great Bitter Lake for inspection.

As of press time, the Ever Given is still sitting in the Great Bitter Lake. Investigations, undoubtedly, are forthcoming, and blame will surely be passed around to all concerned parties. Eventually, the Ever Given will depart the lake, sail to and through its northern terminus at Port Said, enter the vast Mediterranean Sea, and press onward to its next destination. Out of sight, out of mind, but anonymous no more.


How many accidents have occurred in the Suez Canal?

The canal has been forced to close five times since it opened in 1869, according to the Suez Canal Authority. Three of the closings were due to shipping accidents, Insider reported.

A connecting route between Europe and Asia, the canal expedites about 12% of global trade. The recent shutdown could cost the global economy up to $10 billion per day, according to USA TODAY.

Tropic Brilliance, an oil tanker, became lodged in the canal for three days in 2004. It was refloated in much the same manner as the Ever Given: by digging sand from around and beneath the boat.

The cargo ship Okal King Dor veered off course in 2006, temporarily blocking the canal for 8 hours. And malfunctioning steering gear caused the OOCL Japan to drift perpendicular, shutting down the waterway for several hours in 2017, Insider reported.

None of these ships took as long as the Ever Given to dislodge, but they are evidence against the assertion that the recent grounding was the first of its kind.

USA TODAY reached out to the Suez Canal Authority for comment.


British Involvement in Egypt: The Suez Story

The Suez Canal is an artificial waterway that cuts through Egypt to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. It is crucial to global shipping. If it were not for the canal, vessels on the busy trade routes between Europe and Asia would have to travel thousands of miles to pass around the southern tip of Africa.

Although there were previous attempts to connect the two seas, the first modern project was led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, a French engineer who had been stationed in Egypt as a diplomat. He exploited existing relationships with high-level Egyptian officials to win a land commission, and ground was broken in 1859. Since construction began, the canal has been a major source of contention and conflict, both domestically and internationally.

The canal plays a central role in the story of British involvement in Egypt. Without it, British rule may never have reached Egypt, and the status of the canal can be seen as a barometer of the extent of British control over the country, from the initial financial pretext for the takeover, to the Suez Crisis, which was a watershed event in Britain’s power in Egypt.

The Suez Canal Company relied on forced Egyptian labor to dig the early stages of the canal. Tens of thousands of workers were conscripted, and worked by hand in grueling conditions for very low wages. Ongoing disputes resulted in a sharp reduction of forced laborers available for work on the canal, and combined with disease and a British-instigated revolt, eventually brought about a change in policy. Modern machines operated by European workers accelerated progress, and after ten years the canal was complete.

The canal was financed by the sale of stock in the Suez Canal Company, but fundraising efforts were hampered by initial skepticism. Initially, Britain opposed the canal due to concerns about its potential effects on their sea power, and refused to invest. The money was eventually raised by French private investment and a large purchase by the Egyptian government. However, Isma’il Pasha’s aggressive modernization efforts had placed the country under a huge financial burden, and compounded by predatory interest rates set by European bankers, sent the country into a financial crisis. Having recognized the importance of the canal, the British government bought the Egyptian stake in the Suez Canal Company. This bought a degree of British control over the running of the passage, which was soon bolstered by the complete takeover of Egyptian finances and removal of Isma’il Pasha.

In 1881 Egyptian nationalists revolted against foreign influence in Egypt, which resulted in the long-term occupation of the country by British forces – a major objective of the forces was securing the canal, and this is where the campaign began. In 1888, the Treaty of Constantinople was signed by the contemporary European great powers and the Ottoman Empire. It guaranteed the right of passage through the canal for all international vessels, and was largely adhered to until the outbreak of World War I. As Britain’s administration over the canal began, it’s grip on Egypt tightened.

In 1914, Britain declared Egypt a protectorate and closed the canal to the Central Powers. After the war, British domination of Egypt continued, angering many Egyptians. There was widespread dissent, much of it organized by the Wafd party and their revolutionary leader, Saad Zagloul. When the British government exiled many protest movement leaders, anger spilled over into widespread revolution. Throughout the negotiations, in which Egypt was recognized as an independent constitutional monarchy, British claims to control of the canal region remained paramount. This is reflective of the continued British dominance of Egyptian affairs. Egypt’s new status as a protectorate was a sign of its increasing strategic importance as tensions rose in Europe and Africa, and much of the reason it was so highly valued was the link it provided to the colonial empire that was the source of British power.

In 1936 British and Egyptian rulers signed the Anglo-Egyptian treaty, which was an attempt to prevent an attack on Egypt by disassociating it with the British. At this point all British troops were removed from wider Egypt, but tellingly, the Canal Zone remained protected by British troops and defense agreements. These forces were soon tested by the outbreak of WWII, throughout which control over the canal was successfully maintained.

After World War II, a decline in British imperial power and the success of Gamal Abdul Nasser’s nationalist coup resulted in a reduction in the numbers of British forces in the Canal Zone. Against the backdrop of the Cold War, Nasser nationalized the canal in 1956, leading to an invasion of the region by British, French and Israeli forces. Despite successfully retaking control of the canal, pressure from the United States and USSR forced a complete withdrawal from the area, and the establishment of a UN force to ensure free passage to all nations. The ownership and operation of the canal was transferred from the shareholders in the Suez Canal Company to the Suez Canal Authority, which is controlled by the government of Egypt. This marked the end of both direct British involvement in the Suez Canal, and the final chapter of British involvement in Egypt – a relationship central to Egyptian nationalist and British imperial history.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the British Empire, H. W. Crocker, III


Today in History

Today is Sunday, April 25, the 115th day of 2021. There are 250 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlights in History:

On April 25, 1507, a world map produced by German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller contained the first recorded use of the term “America,” in honor of Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci (veh-SPOO’-chee).

In 1859, ground was broken for the Suez Canal.

In 1862, during the Civil War, a Union fleet commanded by Flag Officer David G. Farragut captured the city of New Orleans.

In 1898, the United States Congress declared war on Spain the 10-week conflict resulted in an American victory.

In 1915, during World War I, Allied soldiers invaded the Gallipoli (guh-LIH’-puh-lee) Peninsula in an unsuccessful attempt to take the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

In 1917, legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia.

In 1944, the United Negro College Fund was founded.

In 1945, during World War II, U.S. and Soviet forces linked up on the Elbe (EL’-beh) River, a meeting that dramatized the collapse of Nazi Germany’s defenses. Delegates from some 50 countries gathered in San Francisco to organize the United Nations.

In 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened to shipping.

In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed in orbit from the space shuttle Discovery. (It was later discovered that the telescope’s primary mirror was flawed, requiring the installation of corrective components to achieve optimal focus.)

In 1992, Islamic forces in Afghanistan took control of most of the capital of Kabul following the collapse of the Communist government.

In 2002, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of the Grammy-winning trio TLC died in an SUV crash in Honduras she was 30.

In 2019, former Vice President Joe Biden entered the Democratic presidential race, declaring the fight against Donald Trump to be a “battle for the soul of this nation.”

Ten years ago: President Bashar Assad of Syria sent the military into the southern city of Daraa, where an anti-government uprising had begun the previous month.

Five years ago: The city of Cleveland reached a $6 million settlement in a lawsuit over the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old Black boy shot by a white police officer while playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center. A panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled 2-to-1 that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had to serve a four-game “Deflategate” suspension imposed by the NFL, overturning a lower judge and siding with the league in a battle with the players union. (Brady ended up serving the suspension.)

One year ago: As the global death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 200,000, countries took cautious steps toward easing lockdowns. The U.K. became the fifth country in the world to report 20,000 virus-related deaths.

Today’s Birthdays: Actor Al Pacino is 81. Ballroom dance judge Len Goodman (TV: “Dancing with the Stars”) is 77. Rock musician Stu Cook (Creedence Clearwater Revival) is 76. Singer Bjorn Ulvaeus (BYORN ul-VAY’-us) (ABBA) is 76. Actor Talia Shire is 76. Actor Jeffrey DeMunn is 74. Rock musician Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) is 71. Country singer-songwriter Rob Crosby is 67. Actor Hank Azaria is 57. Rock singer Andy Bell (Erasure) is 57. Rock musician Eric Avery is 56. Country musician Rory Feek (Joey + Rory) is 56. TV personality Jane Clayson is 54. Actor Renee Zellweger is 52. Actor Gina Torres is 52. Actor Jason Lee is 51. Actor Jason Wiles is 51. Actor Emily Bergl is 46. Actor Jonathan Angel is 44. Actor Marguerite Moreau is 44. Singer Jacob Underwood is 41. Actor Melonie Diaz is 37. Actor Sara Paxton is 33. Actor/producer Allisyn Snyder is 25. Actor Jayden Rey is 12.

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Consequences Faced —

During the jam that lasted eight years, the World suffered great economic loss because of the same. As we already know, the Suez Canal was vitally crucial for enabling short maritime international trade routes and reducing the journey distance of the cargo ships traveling from Europe to Asia. The jams across the canal hindered the trade route between the countries, and the economy suffered a hit.

Until the canal remained blocked, the cargo ships had to circumnavigate across the entire African continent to reach the ports. This route not only increased the journey distance but also heightened the prices of goods in Asian regions. As such, the cost of goods around the world got sharply driven up.

While the outside world suffered from great logistics challenges, the fate of the fifteen cargo ships left behind in the canal also suffered. The fourteen cargo ships got trapped in the Great Bitter Lake. Over the years, the crew members of the ship organized festivals, games, prayers, and other extracurricular activities to survive through the odds despite the war bound troubled times.


Admiral Michael Gilday: Blocked Suez Canal caused problems for U.S. Navy

Maritime traffic at one of the world’s busiest waterways ground to a halt for nearly a week recently when the 1,312-foot-long container ship Ever Given ran aground while passing through the Suez Canal.

Hundreds of commercial ships were left stranded at the canal connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

Even the U.S. Navy had to scramble to carry out its combat mission against the Islamic State while still in the Mediterranean because of the traffic jam within the Suez Canal, a top U.S. commander said Monday.

It was critical to support U.S. Central Command in the fight against ISIS even if the USS Eisenhower strike group was still stuck in European waters, Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, told reporters with the Defense Writers Group.

“The key thing was to maintain a presence in the European [area of responsibility] and at the same time be in a position to provide critical support for CentCom if the forces on the ground needed it,” Admiral Gilday said. “We tried to make the best use of the situation we were faced with.”

The decision was eventually made to move the USS Eisenhower to the eastern sections of the Mediterranean and continue flying missions, Navy officials said.

“We did conduct some overland sorties in support of CentCom,” Admiral Gilday said.

About $10 billion per day in shipping costs was lost because of the bottleneck at the Suez Canal. Sailing around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa was the only other option for many commercial vessels.

“It certainly put a focus on the fragility of choke points and how important they are,” Admiral Gilday said.


Watch the video: Διώρυγα της Κορίνθου, Corinth Canal λήψη με DRONE (January 2022).