Strong winds resulted in grounding of MV Ever given, crew safe
MV Ever Given, the massive Japanese-owned container vessel that has created a logjam in the Suez Canal after it ran aground this week, has an all-Indian crew of 25 members who are all currently safe.
The ship’s management and Egyptian officials have contended that strong winds resulted in the 200,000-tonne ship getting wedged across the canal on March 23. The blockage has affected the daily movement of goods worth an estimated $9.6 billion, according to data from Lloyd’s List.
Ever Given, among the largest container vessels in the world, was sailing from China to Rotterdam when the incident occurred.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the technical manager of Ever Given, said in a statement that the vessel was transiting northbound through the canal with two canal pilots on board, and that initial investigations suggested it “grounded due to strong wind”.
“All 25 crew are safe and accounted for. All crew are Indian nationals and remain onboard. The crew are working closely with all parties involved to re-float the vessel. The hard work and tireless professionalism of the Master and crew is greatly appreciated,” BSM said.
According to the Suez Canal Authority’s official rules of navigation, a ship’s master or captain will be held responsible for any accidents while transiting through the canal.
“Masters are held solely responsible for all damage or accidents of whatever kind resulting from the navigation or handling of their vessels directly or indirectly by day or night,” says the section of the rules of navigation related to pilotage.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the Japanese owner of Ever Given, said in a separate statement that there was “no information on crew injuries caused by this accident and oil spills”. The company also apologised for “causing a great deal of concern to the vessels scheduled to sail and their related parties while navigating the Suez Canal due to the accident of this vessel”.
Evergreen Marine, the Taiwanese firm that operates Ever Given, too cited the ship’s owner as confirming that the crew, vessel and cargo “are all safe, and no marine pollution has materialised”.
The Taiwanese firm also indicated that all expenses related to the recovery operation and third party liabilities would have to be borne by the owner. “As the vessel is chartered, the responsibility for the expense incurred in the recovery operation; third party liability and the cost of repair (if any) is the owners,” Evergreen Marine said in a statement.
BSM said its priority is to safely re-float Ever Given and ensure that marine traffic in the Suez Canal resumes.
“The focus now is on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow. In addition to the dredgers already on site a specialised suction dredger is now with the vessel and will shortly begin work. This dredger can shift 2,000 cubic metres of material every hour,” BSM said.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha acknowledged that “the situation is extremely difficult”, while Evergreen Marine said two professional maritime rescue teams from Smit Salvage of the Netherlands and Nippon Salvage of Japan had been appointed to help free the vessel. “These teams will be working with the Captain and the Suez Canal Authority to design a more effective plan for refloating the vessel as soon as possible,” the Taiwanese shipping firm said.
Earlier reports that the vessel, which is 400 metres long and 59 metres wide, had been partially refloated have proved to be incorrect.
With about 12% of global trade passing through the Suez Canal, which provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe by connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, shipping firms are now considering the use of a longer route around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa that can take a fortnight longer.
About 50 merchant vessels and 1.45 million barrels of oil pass through the Suez Canal daily.
Authorities are now hoping to free Ever Given at high tide during March 27-28. If this attempt fails, the next opportunity is expected to be only after a fortnight, experts said.