Initial inspections by divers show that the water ingress was caused by damage to one of the stern thrusters, the company said. Several propeller blades have broken off and there is severe damage to the propeller mounting, resulting in a crack in the forward stern thruster tunnel that allowed the water to enter. The water flooded the engine room, and the vessel had to be towed to the quay at Suez Canal Container Terminal, where containers were unloaded. The cause of the damage is at present unknown.
“The E-class has been sailing well since 2006, and the thrusters are used at every port call,” said Palle Laursen, Head of Ship Management for Maersk Line, in a written statement, stressing that the container carrier is treating the event as an isolated incident. “Until we know the exact reason, however, we have as a precautionary measure instructed the other vessels in the E-class fleet not to use their stern thrusters.”
Repairing the vessle will be a complicated process, and Laursen conceded it could be months before the ship can return to service.