2 minute readUK navy chief concerned about Egypt’s Suez Canal

Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma with the British First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.

With Egypt plunging into political turmoil, the British Navy Chief and First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said on Monday that all sea-faring nations should worry about the fate of the Suez Canal through which a majority of the world’s trade passes.

“It (Suez Canal) is a really significant issue. We as military men and anybody worth their salt should be talking about it. It is a serious issue. I can see doomsday scenarios,” Admiral Stanhope, who is on a five-day visit to India, told a group of Indian journalists here.

The Suez Canal is the man-made sea-level waterway in Egypt that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in 1869, the 193.30 km long, 24 meter deep and 205 meter wide canal is the key maritime navigational link between Europe and Asia.

The canal is owned and maintained by Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority. An international treaty enables all vessels the use of the canal for shipping.

Stanhope, however, expressed hope that the political upheaval in the African nation would not force it to close down the canal. “It is like cutting the nose to spite the face if they close the canal. Where is the rationale (to do it). But I have no solution if they did,” he said.

Stanhope said the developments in Egypt were breaking events and that the situation there and the fate of Suez Canal would dominate the discussions in the meeting of Britain’s top military leaders.

He said the issue came up for discussion between him and Indian Navy Chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma and Vice Chief, Vice Admiral DK Dewan. He also met Defense Minister Arackaparambil Kurian Antony later on Monday evening.

“What I can tell you is London will be worried. We cannot just sit back and not be ready to deal with what could be a challenging outcome here,” he said.

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