Suez Canal ship Ever Given finally given freedom after agreement reached

5 July 2021, 06:04

The Ever Given will be freed on Wednesday after months of negotiations
The Ever Given will be freed on Wednesday after months of negotiations. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The Suez Canal Authority said it has reached an agreement to settle a financial dispute with the owners of a giant container ship that blocked the crucial waterway for nearly a week earlier this year.

The authority did not reveal details of the settlement deal with Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the Japanese owner of the Ever Given.

It said the deal will be signed in a ceremony in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia on Wednesday.

The vessel would be also freed Wednesday, it said.

The head of Egypt's Suez Canal Authority, Lt Gen Osama Rabie, said last month the parties had agreed on a compensation amount.

Read more: Suez Canal ship Ever Given 'grounded again', lawyers say

But he said it would not be made public as they had signed a non-disclosure agreement until the signing of the final contract.

The Ever Given was carrying around 700 million dollars (£500 million) in cargo between Asia and Europe when it ran aground in the Suez Canal on March 23.

The maritime crisis clogged one of the world's most vital waterways and the vessel was eventually freed by salvage teams six days later.

It took six days to free the massive ship
It took six days to free the massive ship. Picture: PA

Since it was freed, the Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned vessel - which carries cargo between Asia and Europe, has been ordered by authorities to remain in a holding lake mid-canal, along with most of its crew, as the two sides negotiated a settlement.

The disagreement had centred on the compensation amount the Suez Canal Authority is claiming for the salvage of the vessel.

The money would cover the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic, and lost transit fees for the week the Ever Given blocked the canal.

Read more: Vast container ship blocking Suez Canal is finally freed

At first, the Suez Canal Authority demanded 916 million US dollars in compensation, which was later lowered to 550 million dollars.

The two sides have traded blame for the vessel's grounding, with bad weather, poor decisions on the part of canal authorities, and human and technical error all being thrown out as possible factors.

The six-day blockage disrupted global shipping.

Hundreds of ships waited in place for the canal to be unblocked, while some ships were forced to take the much longer route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa's southern tip, requiring additional fuel and other costs.