File Photo: Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, speaks during an interview with Reuters in his office in the city of Ismailia, Egypt taken on April 6, 2021. REUTERS
Two members of the 25-member crew of the impounded Ever Given ship have been allowed to return home for emergency personal reasons, while negotiations over compensation with the owners of ship continue, the Egyptian Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said on Thursday.
The giant cargo ship that had blocked the canal for six days last month is impounded in the canal's Bitter Lakes since Monday per an Egyptian court order over disagreements with the shipowner regarding a $900 million compensation for the losses caused by the blockage.
The investigation into the cause of the incident has not concluded, and the probe is taking place in parallel with negotiations with the Japanese firm Shoei Kisen, the owner of the Ever Given.
"The authority spares no effort to guarantee the success of negotiations, and it is cooperating fully to meet the needs of the crew of the ship, which is currently impounded in the great lakes area in the canal pending investigations," the SCA said.
Osama Rabie, the chairman of the SCA, said the logistical needs of the ship’s crew have been provided by the insurance provider.
A fleet of tugboats and diggers, with the assistance of the tide, managed to refloat the vessel, whose bow had been firmly lodged into the canal’s sandy bank for nearly a week, causing a huge build-up of vessels at the strategic waterway.
The 400-metre-long ship, which had run aground across the canal on 23 March and refloated on 29 March, has since been idle in the canal’s Bitter Lakes, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south ends of the canal.
On Monday, the SCA chairman announced the impounding of the vessel per an order from the Ismailiya Economic Court pending payment of compensations.
He had earlier said that the cargo ship would not be allowed to sail until the dispute is settled.
Ever Given’s protection and indemnity (P&I) insurer, UK Club, confirmed that the SCA has asked for $916 million in compensation, including a $300 million for a “salvage bonus” and a $300 million claim for “loss of reputation.”
UK Club said it was “disappointed” by what it described as the arrest of the vessel despite a “carefully considered and generous offer” made to the SCA.
The Panama-flagged MV Ever Given, which is carrying cargo worth more than $3.5 billion, is operated by a Taiwanese Evergreen Marine Corp.