Suez Canal Authority calls for cooperation in Ever Given legal dispute

Calls for scheduling changes as vessels turn their back on Suez Canal

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has called for all parties involved in the dispute over the detained Ever Given to cooperate and compromise.

In a statement, the SCA’s chairman and managing director Osama Rabie has said the SCA is keen for it, the Ever Given’s owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd and insurer, UK P&I Club, to reach a settlement on the impounded vessel.

The Ever Given caused chaos across the container shipping world when it grounded in the Suez Canal in March 2021, causing more than 300 vessels to wait at anchor and many others to divert around the Cape of Good Hope.

As well as delays to the flow of goods, it also threatened to cause a new congestion crisis in Europe’s ports and raised fears among some industry commentators that the continent’s infrastructure would not be able to cope.

The vessel has been held at anchor since 7 April by the SCA, which is claiming $916 million for the revenue it lost when the waterway was closed for almost a week. According to reports that quote Rabie, the ship’s owners are trying to reduce the possible bill by as much as 90%.

The SCA insisted it is “flexible to all the special requirements of the negotiations” while adhering to what it calls “international norms”. It also denied suggestions that the ship’s crewmembers are not allowed to leave.

“[Rabie] asserted that it is no truth in the allegations of detaining the ship crew, pointing to that the SCA does not mind the departure or recrew operations,” the SCA said.

It insisted that it only need the “presence of the sufficient number of sailors to secure the vessel” as well as that of the ship’s captain who is its and the onboard cargo’s “juridical guardian”.

“It is worth mentioning that the SCA has responded to all the requests made by the ship-owning company, including permitting two crew members to leave the ship and return to their homeland for urgent personal circumstances,” the SCA insisted.

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