FEARS grow that 25 Indian seafarers stranded on the 20,124-TEU Ever Given detained in Suez Canal pending settlement of damage claims after the ship blocked the waterway, cannot provide for their families while lawyers haggle over who pays for what and how much.
Last month, the Ever Given ran aground diagonally across the southern section of the canal, halting for over a week the Asia to Europe movement of around 370 vessels using the world’s busiest waterway, reported Colchester’s Seatrade Maritime News.
“The prospect of seafarers being stuck gives us grave concern,” said Stephen Cotton, the secretary-general of the International Transport Workers Federation in London.
Egypt declared that it would not release the vessel, anchored at the Great Bitter Lake for assessment of damage claims. The ship is owned by Japan’s Shoei Kisen Kaisha (SKKL) and chartered by Evergreen Marine Corp of Taiwan.
Said Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Osama Rabie: “We hope for a speedy agreement. The minute they agree to compensation, the vessel will be allowed to move.”
The SCA claim allegedly names the ship’s charterer, Evergreen, as the defendant, and makes all others who use the Suez Canal as co-litigants.
Authorities engaged a complex salvage operation, with diggers working to remove parts of the canal’s bank and expand dredging close to the ship’s bow to a depth of 18 metres. At least 369 vessels were waiting to transit the canal when the blockage was cleared.