A Japanese-owned cargo ship, the Ever Given, was released by Egyptian authorities on Wednesday, after it was seized when it ran aground in the Suez Canal. The release followed a settlement between parties.
The cargo ship became lodged between the banks of the Suez Canal, a major world shipping route, on March 23, following a sandstorm that brought winds in excess of 45 mph. There was dispute at the time over whether the weather conditions were primarily responsible for the grounding, or as the Suez Canal Authority suggested, human error played a role.
A massive salvage effort by a flotilla of tugboats helped by the tides freed the skyscraper sized vessel six days later, on March 29, ending the crisis, and allowing hundreds of waiting ships to pass through the canal.
The Suez Canal Authority seized the Ever Given in April as it argued with the ship’s owner and insurers over how much they owed for the costs associated with the canal’s nearly weeklong blockage. The ship’s owner, leasing business Shoel Kisen Kaisha, reportedly denied any liability.
Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, chairman of the canal authority, said at the time of the ship’s seizure that Shoei Kisen Kaisha did not want to pay “anything.”
“They are still talking to us, so we will continue negotiations on compensation,” a spokesman for Shoei Kisen Kaisha said of Egyptian authorities at the time.
Officials did not confirm details of the settlement, but at first, the Suez Canal Authority reportedly demanded $916 million in compensation, but later lowered the amount to $550 million, and according to local reports the canal would also receive a tugboat.
Ever Given’s insurer and legal team announced June 23 that they had agreed “in principle” to a compensation agreement with the canal authority following weeks of negotiations and a court standoff. That agreement was reportedly signed in a ceremony on Wednesday, and the vessel was then released to set sail.
After being held for over three months over a financial dispute, the Ever Given left the Suez Canal’s Great Bitter Lake and on into the Mediterranean. Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. said the ship would undergo a dive surgery in Egypt’s Mediterranean city of Port Said, before resuming the voyage and delivering the cargo aboard.