Photo: Satellite image (c) 2021 Maxar Technologies
Authorities in Egypt have impounded the huge cargo ship that for six days last month blocked a chunk of global trade and captured the world’s attention.
The 400-metre-long MS Ever Given has spent the last few weeks anchored in the Great Bitter Lake, which acts as a natural passing point for ships travelling through the Suez Canal.
A financial dispute between the canal’s authorities and the Ever Given’s Japanese owner has now seen the ship impounded, following an order issued by a court in the city of Ismailia, Egypt’s government-owned newspaper Ahram reported.
Osama Rabie, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), told an Egyptian TV channel that authorities were seeking almost $1 billion in compensation from Shoei Kisen, which he said reflected the cost of the operation to free the Ever Given and the impact of disruption to trade and lost transit fees.
The Ever Given’s insurer has called the claim for $916 million (about £665 million) in damages “largely unsupported”.
“Despite the magnitude of the claim, which was largely unsupported, the owners and their insurers have been negotiating in good faith with the SCA,” UK P&I Club said in a statement. “On 12 April, a carefully considered and generous offer was made to the SCA to settle their claim. We are disappointed by the SCA’s subsequent decision to arrest the vessel today.”
The ship’s manager, Germany-based Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, confirmed the Ever Given had been impounded.
“The SCA’s decision to arrest the vessel is extremely disappointing. From the outset, BSM and the crew on board have cooperated fully with all authorities, including the SCA and their respective investigations into the grounding. This included granting access to the Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) and other materials and data requested by the SCA. BSM’s primary goal is a swift resolution to this matter that will allow the vessel and crew to depart the Suez Canal,” said Ian Beveridge, CEO of BSM.
Beveridge said that the 25 crew members on the Ever Given, all Indian nationals, were in good health, and praised their “hard work and tireless professionalism”.
There are also no reports of pollution or cargo damage, he added.
A spokesperson for Shoei Kisen confirmed to Japan’s Nikkei that it had been seized, and that negotiations were continuing.
The Ever Given became diagonally wedged in the canal, a key waterway for world trade that connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, on the 23rd of March, and remained there for six days. Immediately before the Ever Given became stuck in the canal, it had charted a distinctly dick-shaped course in the Red Sea.
An Egyptian investigation into what caused the ship to become stuck is expected to be published this week, but Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said initial investigations had ruled out mechanical or engine failure.