All the way back in March, the Ever Given container ship blocked up the Suez Canal, helping to push a shipping industry strained by the COVID-19 pandemic to the breaking point. Now, over three months later, the ship is finally on its way out of the Suez Canal.
The Ever Given became a global sensation when, after an intense sandstorm, the cargo ship became stuck on the bank of the Suez Canal for six days. The process of getting the ship out involved an orchestra of dedicated workers and equipment. But even though the ship was free, the Suez Canal Authority impounded the vessel in a holding spot in the canal called the Great Bitter Lake. The ship, its crew and its 18,000 containers of goods were stuck once again.
As the New York Times reports, the ship’s owners and the Suez Canal Authority finally struck a compensation agreement. On Wednesday, the ship set sail again, first stopping in Port Said for a hull inspection. After that, the ship will be free to sail to Rotterdam, Netherlands. However, CNN Business notes that the trip to Rotterdam could take two weeks due to damage sustained in the grounding.
The Ever Given’s containers have a little bit of everything from household goods and electronics to machinery. IKEA, Lenovo and even bicycle makers had products and parts stuck in the canal.
Egypt originally demanded $916 million to release the Ever Given out of ship jail, eventually coming down to about $550 million. Meanwhile, nobody could seem to agree on who was at fault:
While the ship’s Japanese owners, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd, and its German operators Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement Ltd could not be reached for comment, a lawyer for Shoei Kisen Kaisha previously blamed a massive windstorm for the accident. It’s their opinion that the ship should never have been allowed into the Canal during such intense sandstorms. Just last week the Ismailia Economic Court heard recordings of the Ever Given crew arguing with Suez Canal Authority pilots over whether the ship could make it through or not. Also, two SCA pilots were onboard when the Ever Given ran aground. The SCA, however, says the ship’s captain is the one who ultimately makes the decision on what happens on the ship.
The Ever Given’s mishap had reverberating effects through the shipping industry. Ports already struggling to handle ship traffic through the pandemic had to deal with hordes of ships arriving from an unclogged Suez Canal. Everything from garden gnomes to cars got delayed in a system working hard to keep up. Meanwhile, the ship’s crew was stuck tending an impounded ship without knowing when they’ll be able to be under way again.
Go, Ever Given, be free to sail the seven seas. May you happily deliver your cargo all over the world without getting lodged in a canal again. Make us proud, big ship!