Has the ‘Ever Given’ been formally arrested? A shipping agency in Libya, put out a tweet on Tuesday giving rise to the question.
“Egypt has formally arrested MV Ever Given container ship with a court order (issued by the Court of Ismailia City), pending a compensation payment of 900 million dollars,” MedWave Shipping Agency Libya said.
It could not be independently verified if the ship indeed had been ‘arrested’. But reports suggested that the ship had been ‘seized’.
National Shipping Board member Capt Sanjay Prashar said he had also tried to verify it. “So far, we have no official confirmation about it,” he told TOI. “Nevertheless, it appears that the Indian crew aboard ‘Ever Given’ will have to be prepared for a long haul.
Observing the situation, it is clear that the Suez Canal Authority wants compensation for the mishap. If it does not get this, the issue will prolong,” he said.
This means the giant ship with its cargo and crew cannot leave Egypt until the one billion dollars which are reportedly being claimed by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) is given as compensation by the shipowners or other agencies associated with it.
It is already 15 days that the crew have been on board as the investigation has been taken up by the SCA and other agencies. The Japanese shipowner has declared ‘General Average’ which means that every agency, including cargo owners, will have to share losses to meet the demand for compensation.
Whether the ship is restrained informally from sailing or formally arrested, this becomes a matter of concern for the Indian crew.
Explaining what ‘arrest’ of a ship means, Capt Sanjay Prashar said the ship with its cargo would not be allowed to sail further until the compensation is paid. “If the ship is formally arrested, the seafarers are placed under house arrest until the case is resolved. They will be provided accommodation and that is where they will have to stay and not move out until the matter is resolved,” he said.
The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has been trying for an out of court settlement by negotiating with the ship owners and other agencies, also clearly saying that neither the ship nor the crew will be allowed to go until their demand is met.
When the ship owners and other agencies decide to contest the claim, the matter will inevitably lead to a civil dispute wherein a certain percentage of the demanded amount will have to be deposited in the court. In that scenario, the authorities may allow the ship to leave. “But until the case is resolved, if not all the crew, officers in responsible positions on the ship may be detained and placed under house arrest,” a shipping expert said. He said this is the norm and it happens in all countries.
‘Ever Given’ went aground in the Suez Canal on March 23 and was refloated on March 29. From that day, it is has been in the Great Bitter Lake which is part of the Suez Canal where an investigation has been taking place on how the mishap took place.
Bernard Shulte Shipmanagement when contacted by TOI about the status of the ship said they would get back with the details sought.