ISMAILIA, Egypt (AP) – Suez Canal authorities on Wednesday announced the clearance of a giant ship that blocked the vital east-west waterway for almost a week earlier this year.
Ever Given was seen leaving the Suez Canal after its Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., reached an agreement with the canal authorities on compensation after more than three months of negotiations and a legal stalemate.
The settlement agreement was signed on Wednesday in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia in a ceremony, after which the ship sailed into the Mediterranean.
An Associated Press video journalist aboard a tug watched the ship head north to the Mediterranean as representatives of the Suez Canal, the ship’s owner and insurers, penned the deal in Ismailia.
The release on Wednesday came a day after an Egyptian court lifted the judicial seizure of the ship after the Suez Canal Authority announced it had reached an agreement in its financial dispute with the ship’s owners and insurers.
The Suez Canal Authority did not provide details on the terms of the settlement. Initially, the Suez Canal Authority had requested compensation of $ 916 million, which was later reduced to $ 550 million. In addition to the money, the canal will also receive a tug, it was said on site.
The Panama-flagged ship ran aground in March and blocked the important waterway for six days. It has been held ever since in the dispute over financial compensation.
The money was supposed to cover the salvage work, the cost of the blocked canal traffic and the lost transit fees for the week that the Ever Given blocked the canal, according to the canal authorities.
The Ever Given was en route to the Dutch port of Rotterdam on March 23 when she crashed into the bank of a single-lane section of canal about 6 kilometers north of the south entrance near the city of Suez.
Its bow had touched the east wall of the canal while its stern looked leaning against the west wall – an extraordinary event that experts said they had never heard of in the canal’s 150-year history.
A massive salvage by a tidal-aided fleet of tugs liberated the skyscraper-sized Ever Given flying the Panama flag six days later, ending the crisis and allowing hundreds of waiting ships to pass through the canal.
The ship had since been detained in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake while the canal and the ship’s owners negotiated a settlement.
The blockade of the canal forced some ships to take the long alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa, which required additional fuel and other costs. Hundreds of other ships waited for the blockade to end.
The shutdown, which raised concerns about delivery bottlenecks and rising costs for consumers, weighed on the shipping industry, which was already affected by the coronavirus pandemic.