Suez Canal, the ‘lifeline’ connecting East and West, North and South

The Suez Canal is the famous sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez. Constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869, it was officially opened on 17 November 1869. The canal offers ships a direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans via the Mediterranean and Red seas, thus reducing the journey distance considerably. Radio Holland’s offices in Egypt support vessels crossing the canal and ensure a safe passage with fully operational equipment.

“I would like to invite all shipping companies, owners and crews around the world to work with us when in Egypt. We take care of you and make sure your operations are flawless and always safe!”

Joachim de Jenlis, Regional Director Middle East & Africa.


Radio Holland in Egypt

In 1976, the company Suez Electronics was founded, a joint venture between Suez Canal Authority and the company ITT. After Radio Holland Group was founded, this was changed to Radio Holland Egypt. The company has some 43 years of history in the local maritime market, providing services and equipment to companies from all over the world visiting the Suez Canal area and Egypt ports, as well as the surrounding Middle East & African countries. Radio Holland Egypt is known for its NavCom sales, installation, service and survey activities, specifically to deepsea customers. Next to this, there is the company SEET. SEET (Suez Electronics Engineering & Trading) is a fully owned company of Radio Holland, specialized in the inland, leisure and fishing markets of Egypt. The headquarters of Radio Holland Egypt are based in Alexandria. Next to the HQ, Radio Holland Egypt has service depots in Suez, Port Said and Alexandria Depot, covering the southern part of the Suez Canal, the deepsea ports and the northern part of the Suez Canal. SEET is located in Cairo, close to the river Nile. We talk about the Egypt operations of Radio Holland with Ahmed Sobhy, General Manager of Radio Holland Egypt and Joachim de Jenlis, Regional Director MEA.

The Suez Canal extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez. Its length is 193.30 km (120.11 mi), including its northern and southern access channels. In 2018, 18,174 vessels traversed the canal (an average of 47 per day).


RH Alexandria staff with in the back Erik van der Noordaa (CEO, Radio Holland Group), Joachim de Jenlis (Regional Director MEA, Radio Holland Group) and Ahmed Sobhy (General Manager, Radio Holland Egypt).

Talking about the famous Suez Canal, it is a unique maritime location. Many vessels transit the Canal on their journey between North and South, or East and West. Can you explain the uniqueness of delivering service to vessels crossing the Suez Canal?

Ahmed Sobhy: “It is a unique location, nothing matches the Suez Canal, joining east and west, north and south. Very important and unique: we have two service locations at both ends of the Canal, at Port Said and Suez, to support each vessel from start to finish of crossing the canal. We are fully equipped with factory trained engineers, spares and equipment, ready to attend any vessel. The so called ‘Free Zone status’ of Radio Holland Egypt is unique, there is no other company with this status! We are capable of importing all equipment or spares needed for service, no customs or taxes paid. We help seagoing vessels at all times to safely transit without any problem or malfunction.”

What can our maritime customers expect when using services of Radio Holland Egypt?

“An average of 45 to 50 vessels cross the Suez Canal per day. Service can be done in the Suez Canal. From North to south there are two convoys; the first convoy starts crossing at 01.00 hours and the second at 06.00 hours. Vessels must arrive at a ‘waiting area’ prior transiting the Suez Canal. Firstly, we can board the vessel at the Port Said waiting area to perform service. And if necessary and needed, we can proceed during the canal transit and disembark at end of the canal. The transit takes on average 11 to 13 hours. All ships are required to follow instructions from the pilots about speed. We work on board in close coordination with the ships master and the pilots, guaranteeing that there is no interference of the operation of the vessel. Radio Holland Egypt has 15 factory-trained, experienced service engineers on call to perform service & maintenance and give technical support to vessels crossing the Canal. Many of the vessels crossing the Suez Canal we know well, but there are always new customers and vessels coming in and crossing the canal.”

Safety must be high on your agenda while conducting services in Suez?

“Of course, Radio Holland works according to a worldwide and externally certified QHSE Management System and we adhere to QHSE procedures and high safety standards, to ensure the wellbeing of our staff and the quality of work. Safety is our top priority. We are lucky to have strong safety policies emanating from the Radio Holland Group. We also adhere to the Group’s values when it comes to reliability and integrity. Our employees are responsible, trained experts working according to our company’s standards. This makes Radio Holland a reputable company, known for its quality service worldwide.”

“There is also the image that working and being in Egypt would not be safe. Actually, the Suez Canal area is a very safe area, closely guarded and highly supervised, as well as closely monitored by the local authorities. Radio Holland adds to that safety by working with fully instructed, reliable, English speaking and trained engineers, who have preapproval from the authorities to come aboard. All necessary security measures are always taken. Safety First. A Suez Canal inspector visits every vessel in the waiting area and inspects safety requirements of the vessel. Flawlessly working radar, gyrocompass, autopilot and radio communications equipment are necessary for a vessel to be allowed access to the Suez Canal. Even tugboats can be assigned for safety and rescue support of vessels if deemed necessary. All this comes at a high cost. Radio Holland makes sure every vessel is allowed transit of the Suez Canal with reliable maintenance service. I would say that our attendance on board many vessels saves a lot of money for the customer. Avoiding fines, avoiding prevention of access to the canal.”

So arranging services in Suez Canal is an everyday challenge, how do you do it?

“Responsiveness is key. Our coordinators in Alexandria have a technical background to understand all needs before an engineer will board a vessel. They use their experience to anticipate client’s needs and they have knowledge of the SC environment to cope with local administrative requirements, to make the process and the job as smooth as possible for the customer. We make it happen.

What I always find very special, we act as a family. The entire company is engaged in meeting with the customer’s expectations. We work in shifts in Suez and Port Said, which means we are available around the clock and we’re never ‘closed’. As soon as there’s a call, we are available and respond as soon as possible. Our engineers have all the permits needed for attendance on board. We use motorboats and drop anchor in the waiting area, to visit ships on their way to the canal. And importantly, we never obstruct ship operations or safety and never affect the canal transit schedule. These are the ‘golden rules’ of Radio Holland Egypt, working the Suez Canal.”

What other products and services can we offer to our customers in Egypt?

“Radio Holland offers an extensive, in Egypt incomparable range of quality NavCom equipment from all major manufacturers around the world. A wide variety, for example Furuno, Cobham, Sperry, TK, Jotron, Zenitel, JRC, Transas and Wartsila SAM Electronics. For radio surveys, Radio Holland Egypt works with all major class societies as well as individual classes such as BV and is approved by all IACS classes.”

I understand we opened a new office in Suez?

“We are proud of our new office! Now able to offer modern working conditions and better facilities for our employees, suppliers and customers and high standards of services for our customers with this new office. A free zone store, tripled in space, including a brand-new barcoding system and state of the art firefighting measures, as well as optimal climate conditions for the storage of spare parts. It is a big milestone, a next step to demonstrate our status locally and internationally. It is a next step in our aim to offer sophisticated high-quality operations and services to our customers in this strategic part of the maritime world, around the Suez Canal.”

Opening Suez office

Congratulations on your new office opening! Any last observations?

“The team of Radio Holland Egypt is unique. Many of our employees have been dedicated to the company for many years already, spending most of their lives with us. Myself, I am number 6 in terms of longest service. I am with Radio Holland for the 26th year! We are a proud team, proud of Radio Holland Egypt, number One in Egypt by far! Working in a developing country, we perform 1st class service and cater to the needs of our customers. A ‘one stop shop’ so to speak. Providing technical support, advice, sales, supply, installation and after sales support. And we stay with the customer until he wants to renew his equipment. I’ve worked for a long time in the company and thus know many customers, from mates to captains to purchasers to management. We have become friends. In a way, our customers are also part of our family. That makes me very proud.”

Joachim de Jenlis, Regional Director MEA: “The Egyptian team has a very high level of technical expertise. The people are dedicated and committed to our customers. They have a very high level of professionalism and do it all with a big smile! I would like to invite all shipping companies, owners and crews around the world to come and work with us when in Egypt. We take care of you and make sure your operations are flawless and always safe!”

Always there. Everywhere.