Ever Given finally leaves Egyptian waters, 3.5 months after jamming Suez Canal

Vessel resumes voyage after settlement reached over compensation for salvage operation, cost of stalled canal traffic and lost transit fees while ship blocked key waterway

The Panama-flagged MV 'Ever Given' container ship sails near a felucca along Egypt's Suez Canal near the canal's central city of Ismailia, July 7, 2021. (Mahmoud KHALED / AFP)
The Panama-flagged MV 'Ever Given' container ship sails near a felucca along Egypt's Suez Canal near the canal's central city of Ismailia, July 7, 2021. (Mahmoud KHALED / AFP)

The Ever Given shipping vessel, which blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week earlier this year, finally left Egyptian waters on Tuesday following a financial dispute that lasted more than three months.

The Reuters news agency said the boat underwent inspections at Port Said before it was allowed to set sail and resume its much-delayed voyage.

Last week, Egyptian authorities announced the release of the shipping vessel from the canal’s Great Bitter Lake, where it had been held for over three months amid a financial dispute. The development came after its Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., reached a settlement with canal authorities over a compensation amount following weeks of negotiations and a court standoff.

The settlement deal was signed in a ceremony Wednesday in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, after which the vessel was seen sailing to the Mediterranean Sea. An Associated Press video journalist on board a tugboat saw the vessel moving northward to the Mediterranean as officials representing the Suez Canal the vessel’s owner and insurers penned the deal in Ismailia.

“A deal that achieved justice and prioritized both parties’ interests has been reached,” Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal, said. “It ended a crisis that lasted for more than three months.”

The release came after an Egyptian court lifted the judicial seizure of the vessel following the Suez Canal Authority’s notification that it reached a settlement with the vessel’s owners and insurers.

FILE – In this March 28, 2021, satellite file image from Planet Labs Inc, the cargo ship MV Ever Given sits stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt. (Planet Labs Inc. via AP)

Officials did not reveal details on the terms of the settlement. At first, the Suez Canal Authority had demanded $916 million in compensation, which was later lowered to $550 million. In addition to the money, local reports said the canal would also receive a tugboat.

The money, according to canal authorities, would cover the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic, and lost transit fees for the six days the Ever Given had blocked the crucial waterway.

The Panama-flagged vessel was on its way to the Dutch port of Rotterdam on March 23 when it slammed into the bank of a single-lane stretch of the canal about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.

Its bow had touched the eastern wall of the canal, while its stern looked lodged against the western wall — an extraordinary event that experts said they had never heard of happening in the canal’s 150-year history.

A massive salvage effort by a flotilla of tugboats helped by the tides freed the skyscraper-sized vessel six days later, ending the crisis, and allowing hundreds of waiting ships to pass through the canal.

This photo released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 25, 2021, shows a backhoe trying to dig out the keel of the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, that is wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway. (Suez Canal Authority via AP)

The blockage of the Suez Canal forced some ships at the time to take the long alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip, requiring additional fuel and other costs. Hundreds of other ships waited in place for the blockage to end.

The shutdown, which raised worries of supply shortages and rising costs for consumers, added strain on the shipping industry, already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.

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