The Ever Given might have to change its name to the Ever Stuck after an Egyptian judge ruled on Tuesday that the massive cargo ship can be legally held in the Great Bitter Lake by the Suez Canal Authority over unpaid debts.
The ship has been loitering in the holding lake inside the Canal complex since it was re-floated on March 29 after six days of blocking the canal. Insider has the details on the latest bad news for the Ever Given:
The court’s decision came from the city of Ismailia, the same court that initially approved the seizing of the vessel. The decision arose from an appeal from the UK Club, the vessel’s protection and indemnity insurer. Reuters reported the group said the original appeal was made “on several grounds, including the validity of the arrest obtained in respect of the cargo and the lack of supporting evidence for the SCA’s very significant claim.”
Osama Rabie, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told local media in April the ship would remain in the region until the debt was paid.
The UK Club disputes the nearly $1 billion price tag for the accident. Some of the cost does seem a little ridiculous. The Suez Canal Authority remade much of its lost revenue once it opened back up after the six-day closure in March. Part of that high price tag is $300 million for “loss of reputation.” Considering the Suez Canal is literally the only way for ships to avoid going around Africa on all of planet Earth, I’m not entirely sure loss of reputation is going to really hurt the canal’s operators. (I know, I’m siding with an insurance company and I don’t like it.)
The crew of the Ever Given has been watching all this political and legal wrangling with trepidation, though they are reportedly in good spirits, according to their union representatives. That’s due to a strong agreement the National Union of Seafarers in India has with the ship’s technical manager the German firm Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement. Five members of the crew have been allowed to leave the ship once their work contracts expired or for personal reasons. Hopefully, we won’t have another situation where a sailor is trapped alone for years on a discarded vessel.
The Suez Canal Authority is currently investigating what caused the Ever Given wreck. While many point to incredibly high winds during the Ever Given’s trip through the canal, the chairman of the SCA denied that weather was a factor, citing technical or human error. There is no formal date for the end of the investigation at this point, according to Insider.