‘It would be an absolute logistical nightmare to get that vessel unloaded and reloaded onto other vessels’
The recent arrest of the Ever Given by the Suez Canal Authority has added to the complexity of the unloading of its cargo. While cargo owners deal with this latest legal wrench, American Shipper has learned more specifics about the products stuck on the Ever Given, as well as the overall number of containers that were on the vessels delayed by the Suez closure.
According to supply chain management software provider E2open, the Ever Given is approximately 85% loaded. E2open is tracking about 10% of the overall load for its customers. Out of respect to the carrier’s privacy and its customers, E2open said it would not divulge any additional detail on specific companies or contents.
“The owners of cargo on the Ever Given are facing a different set of challenges since the ship is stuck again, now for legal reasons, for an uncertain period of time,” said Pawan Joshi, E2open’s executive vice president of product management and strategy. “Cargo owners have to now scramble to rebalance and reroute alternate goods to deal with potential stock-outs on retail shelves and shortages across manufacturing sites.”
Maritime sources with knowledge of the Ever Given’s manifest tell American Shipper the following product categories are on the vessel, in order from the most twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to the least: electronics, machinery and parts, household goods, furniture and footwear. For legal reasons, American Shipper is not allowed to provide exact percentages.
Frustrated cargo owners are pressuring the ship’s operator, Evergreen Marine Corp., to unload the Panama-flagged container ship, but that will not be an easy task.
“It would be an absolute logistical nightmare to get that vessel unloaded and reloaded onto other vessels,” explained Paula Bellamy, managing director of Ocean Wide Logistics (OL) Dubai. “Starting with the cost element of the double handling, there is cargo on board which is losing time with expiry dates. Customers also have no idea when they will be able to receive them. Then you also have customers with deadlines that come with penalty clauses.
“It’s a very sorry situation.”
Francisco Carreira-Pitti, senior partner at Carreira Pitti PC, the leading plaintiff firm in Panama and at the Panama Canal, explained the general average process now that the ship has been arrested.
“The vessel has been arrested, but the cargo cannot be arrested. Now more than ever, cargo owners have to arrange bonds to transship the cargo out of MV Ever Given,” he said. “The cargo has to be unloaded, individually or collectively. Bottom line, you need to reach agreements about the GA bond with the insurer and the average adjuster.”
Carreira-Pitti noted that a “flag arrest” in Panama is perfectly possible in the future to protect the right against the vessel. “This would freeze the Ever Given’s registration with the PMA (Panama Maritime Authority), preventing the owners from reflagging the ship and registering with a new mortgage and transferring it to a new ownership or changing its name.”
He added, “Having the Ever Given arrested in Egypt means recovery could be very speculative for cargo. It is not a good idea to have cargo owners file additional claims. A flag arrest in Panama is a better remedy since there are not competing claims such as the Suez Canal Authority.”