The Suez Canal Authority on Tuesday said it has seized the Ever Given, a container ship that blocked the waterway for nearly a week, on an Egyptian court’s orders till the vessel’s owners pay $900 million (approximately Rs 6,758 crore) as compensation, reported AFP.
The cargo vessel with a 25-member Indian crew was seized as the Japanese owner of the ship said “they do not want to pay anything” and contested 90% of the compensation sought, Suez Canal Authority chairperson Osama Rabie was quoted as saying by state-run newspaper Al-Ahram.
Rabie said that the compensation was calculated on the basis of the “losses incurred by the grounded vessel” along with “the flotation and maintenance costs”.
An unidentified official told AFP that the negotiations related to damages for the blockage caused by the vessel were under way between its owners, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, insurance companies and the authorities of the waterway.
The 400-metre long cargo vessel Ever Given was set afloat on March 29 evening (Indian time). The ship became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds early on March 18, halting shipping traffic. Authorities lodged a tedious excavation operation, with diggers working to remove parts of the canal’s bank and expand dredging close to the ship’s bow to a depth of 18 metres. At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal when the blockage was cleared. The ship is currently at the Great Bitter Lake.
Maritime data company Lloyd’s List said the blockage held up cargo approximately worth $9.6 billion, or over Rs 72,193 crore, between Asia and Europe each day it was stuck. Egypt also lost between $12 and $15 million (nearly Rs 90 crore-Rs 112 crore) in revenue for each day the canal was closed, according to the Suez Canal Authority.
On Tuesday, UK Club, the protection and indemnity insurer for the Ever Given, said that they have questioned the basis of the compensation claim, reported CNN. “Despite the magnitude of the claim which was largely unsupported, the owners and their insurers have been negotiating in good faith with the SCA [Suez Canal Authority],” the UK Club said in a statement. “On 12 April, a carefully considered and generous offer was made to the SCA to settle their claim.”
The statement said that the Suez Canal Authority has not given a detailed justification for its claims, which includes $300 million (nearly Rs 2,256 crore) for a “salvage bonus” and the same amount for “loss of reputation”.
“The grounding resulted in no pollution and no reported injuries,” it said. “The vessel was re-floated after six days and the Suez Canal promptly resumed their commercial operations. The claim presented by the SCA [Suez Canal Authority] also does not include the professional salvor’s claim for their salvage services which owners and their hull underwriters expect to receive separately.”