Egypt seeks amicable settlement with owners of huge ship that blocked Suez Canal


ISMAILIA, Egypt – The head of the Suez Canal said on Tuesday that authorities are negotiating a financial settlement with the owners of a huge ship that has blocked the crucial waterway for nearly a week.

Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie told The The US Express News he hopes talks with Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the Japanese owner of the Ever Given skyscraper, will end without a lawsuit..

“We are discussing with them a peaceful resolution of the matter without going to justice,” he said. He argued that taking the case to court would be more detrimental to the company than settling with the management of the canal.

The canal chief said last week that the Suez Canal Authority expected more than $ 1 billion in compensation, warning that the ship would not be allowed to leave the canal if the issue of damage arose. turns into legal dispute. This amount takes into account the rescue operation, blocked traffic costs and lost transit fees for the week Ever Given blocked the channel. He did not specify then who would be responsible for paying the compensation.

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The huge freighter is currently in one of the canal’s holding lakes, where authorities and ship managers say an investigation is underway.

Rabie also said on Tuesday that investigators analyzed data from the voyage data recorder, also known as a ship’s black box, but no conclusions have yet been drawn as to what led Ever Given to run aground.

He declined to discuss possible causes, including the ship’s speed and the high winds that rocked it during a sandstorm, saying he could not comment on an ongoing investigation. Initial reports suggested that a “blackout” had hit the ship, which the ship’s technical director denied.

Last week, rescue teams freed Ever Given, ending a crisis that had blocked one of the world’s most vital waterways and disrupted billions of dollars a day in maritime trade.

“We carried out one of the largest rescue operations in the world under difficult and complicated circumstances… in just six days,” said Rabie.

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The Panamanian-flagged ship that carries goods between Asia and Europe ran aground on March 23 in the narrow man-made canal separating mainland Africa from the Asian Sinai peninsula.

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

“The case we had was complicated and non-traditional, so there should have been a non-traditional solution,” Rabie said.

He said they were relying on dredges to remove the sand from under the large ship. Then a flotilla of tugs, aided by the tides, tore the bulbous bow of Ever Given from the sandy shore of the canal, where it had been firmly housed.

Rabie said it was difficult to decide whether to use dredges because it was the first time authorities had used such machines in rescue operations in the canal. But it turned out to be successful, he said.

The unprecedented six-day shutdown, which raised fears of prolonged delays, shortages of goods and increased costs for consumers, added to the pressure on the transportation industry already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic .

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The canal authority said it cleared a maritime traffic jam that had grown to more than 420 ships waiting at both ends of the Suez Canal and in the Great Bitter Lake and the canal had returned to its normal average.

Photograph: In this file photo from March 30, 2021, the Ever Given, a Panamanian-flagged freighter, is seen in Great Bitter Lake in Egypt. The head of the Suez Canal said on Tuesday April 6, 2021 that authorities are negotiating a financial settlement with the owners of the huge ship that has blocked the crucial waterway for nearly a week. Photo credit: TUSEN Photo / Mohamed Elshahed.

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