The big, beautiful Ever Given is still stuck in the Suez Canal, trapped now by the legal wrangling of insurance companies, shipping conglomerates and a whole country. And with the ship stuck, so too is the cargo and some of the crew. We’re learning more about what is on the Ever Given, and how long it might be stuck there. It turns out, it’s not just garden gnomes that have been held up since March.
The Ever Given spent six days blocking the Suez Canal after the mega cargo ship became stuck in the sand along the canal during an intense sandstorm. Once it was refloated, it was sent to the Great Bitter Lake while all sides duked it out in court to determine who would pay for the disaster. It’s not just big companies that are waiting on items stuck on the Ever Given. From CNN:
IKEA and Lenovo (LNVGF) are among the companies with products stuck on the Japanese-owned vessel that blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March. Smaller firms such as UK bicycle maker Pearson 1860 and Snuggy UK, which makes wearable blankets, also have vital orders stuck in limbo.
“We don’t hold out much hope of seeing our stock this year and although it is insured in transit, we have guessed there will be little chance of seeing a settlement for months if not years,” Will Pearson, director of Pearson 1860, told CNN Business. His company has products worth more than $100,000 on the ship.
An Egyptian court impounded the Ever Given and its 18,300 cargo containers after the Suez Canal Authority filed an initial $916 million compensation claim against Japanese ship owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha for damages and losses incurred when the ship ran aground in a narrow part of the canal, blocking traffic.
The process of getting all of those goodies off of the big boat is going to be quite the headache. No one seems to be budging on who is at fault. While Egypt has lowered its demand for compensation to $550 million from $918 million, the Suez Canal Authority blames the entire fiasco on the captain of the mega cargo ship, despite several SCA pilots being on board and insisting it was safe for the ship to continue through the canal. The various stakeholders in the Ever Given, naturally, blame the incredible windstorms and SCA pilots for the ship’s calamity.
While larger companies are taking the delay in stride, smaller ones are struggling. For instance, there’s nearly half a million dollars worth of Snuggies on that boat, half its stock for the year. A small appliance company lost $100,000 worth of commercial refrigerators restaurants were counting on to reopen after COVID shutdowns.
What’s wild is companies with items on the Ever Given might end up having to pay into any settlement, or at least, their insurance companies will, despite having no involvement in the accident. A maritime law called “general average” puts IKEA, Snuggy and other companies participating in the Ever Given’s voyage on the hook for losses, CNN reports. Apparently, it’s based on a law from the ancient past:
The principle has its roots in regulations governing maritime trade set out by the people of Rhodes more than a millennium ago in what is now Greece.
“If somebody [the ship owners in this case] incurs an extraordinary expense for the common good, then everybody is asked to contribute to it,” said Jai Sharma, the head of cargo casualty at Clyde & Co., a law firm that represents companies and insurers with over $100 million in cargo on the Ever Given. The firm estimates the total value of goods on board to be $600 million to $700 million.
Wait, we’re still operating under rules set down by ancient Greeks? What the heck. No wonder this whole clean up has been an epic shit show.