The Transit through the Suez Canal

The transit through the Canal from Suez to Port Said took 18-hours to complete.  The sixteen battleships all made the transit with only one incident.  The USS Georgia ran aground.  In some places the canal was only 120 feet wide allowing only a 20-foot clearance on either side of the ship, not much room for a heavy vessel that is slow to respond to the helm.  Georgia was able to free herself after a couple hours and proceeded to Port Said, however this became one of the incidents that would add up to Captain Qualtrough to be relieved of command later in the cruise.


suez canal

ship's shadow on the bank of the suez canal

These photos show just how close a passage ships had at some points of the Canal.  At other points ships were able to make starboard-to-starboard passes without difficulty.  For this reason the ships were sent through in groups so that if one ship ran aground, the other ships would not be trapped in a restricted channel with no way to turn around.

This group of cards is from the Brown & Shaffer collection taken from the USS Georgia which completed the transit through the Canal on January 6th and 7th.  The shadow on the side of the Canal was one of the clues used to determine which ship these photographers was on during the cruise!



The above card is from the Charles Stotz collection who was on the USS Illinois.  He writes, "Port Said January 7th, 09  Passed through Canal 6th and 7th arrived Port Said 3 pm 7th harbor rather crowded.  Next stop Malta and then Algiers and Negro Bay. Love Charlie"  Charles choose to send his card though the post office at Port Said so he could use local postage and postmarks on his card.



These two cards of the Egypt visit, one from Suez, and the other of the transit through the canal were both mailed out at the next port visit.  The postmark of January 14th, 1909 placed Minnesota in Villefranche and the second card, mailed to Miss Annie Bryant with a friend on the USS Louisiana was in Turkey (see others cards in Suez)


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