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Suez Canal officials impound Ever Given ship amid financial dispute with owners
Drama surrounding the Ever Given, a massive cargo ship that held up marine traffic in one of the world's busiest trade waterways for nearly a week in late March, has yet to come to a close.
Though the ship has been removed from the location where it got stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal, drama surrounding the vessel has evolved into a spat between Egyptian authorities and the ship's owner, a company called Shoei Kisen Kaisha, CNN reports.
An Egyptian court ordered officials with the Japan-based company to fork over $900 million to cover losses that were allegedly caused when the Ever Given got stuck and prevented marine traffic from flowing through the Suez Canal.
The $900 million also includes maintenance fees and other costs associated with the rescue operation.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha responded to questions regarding the demand by saying its insurance companies and lawyers were working on the compensation claim. The company refused to comment further.
On Wednesday, the ship's technical managers, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), confirmed that the Ever Given had been declared safe for onward passage to Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, but was being detained because of the dispute between the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and the vessel's owners.
"The SCA's decision to arrest the vessel is extremely disappointing," BSM CEO Ian Beveridge said in a statement. "From the outset, BSM and the crew on board have cooperated fully with all authorities, including the SCA and their respective investigations into the grounding."
He added, "BSM's primary goal is a swift resolution to this matter that will allow the vessel and crew to depart the Suez Canal."
According to CNN, UK Club, one of the Ever Given's insurers, said it responded to a claim from the SCA for $916 million, and questioned its basis, saying, "The SCA has not provided a detailed justification for this extraordinarily large claim, which includes a $300 million claim for a 'salvage bonus' and a $300 million claim for 'loss of reputation.'"
Its statement continued, "The grounding resulted in no pollution and no reported injuries. The vessel was re-floated after six days and the Suez Canal promptly resumed their commercial operations. The claim presented by the SCA also does not include the professional salvor's claim for their salvage services, which owners and their hull underwriters expect to receive separately."
The Suez Canal Authority says the ship's cargo has been seized until the dispute is resolved.
More than 400 ships were prevented from passing through the Suez Canal when the Ever Given ran aground on March 23; finally freed and re-floated on March 29, the ship was then moved to the nearby Great Bitter Lake for a process of inspection and repair.
Egyptian authorities are still investigating the circumstances that led to the situation.
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