Cairo, 7 July 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Egypt on Wednesday released the Ever Given, a massive container ship that had blocked the Suez Canal earlier this year, after the waterway’s authorities and the vessel’s Japanese owners struck a settlement deal.
The supertanker’s release ends a stand-off of more than three months, after the vessel was impounded over a compensation request made by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
The Panama-flagged ship was refloated on March 29, six days after it ran aground during a sandstorm and blocked the canal, disrupting traffic on one of the busiest shipping routes and causing ripple effects around the world.
The 400-metre-long vessel was later anchored at the Great Lakes area, a wider section of the canal.
On Wednesday, legal representatives of the SCA and the megaship’s owners signed an out-of-court compensation agreement of an undisclosed value during a televised ceremony in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia.
The SCA head Osama Rabae said at the ceremony that the deal fulfilled the interests of both sides, capping three-month negotiations.
“I announce to the world reaching an agreement settling the crisis,” he said.
After the signing of the deal, Ever Given was seen sailing from the Suez Canal.
Rabae said later the vessel was heading to the nearby Egyptian coastal city of Port Said for technical examinations before resuming its journey.
“The ship has been released. Now it is under the command of [its] owners,” he added.
The vessel will head to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Egyptian media reported.
Footage broadcast live on Egyptian television stations showed the vessel leaving as a group of uniformed guides waved the Egyptian flag.
SCA lawyer Khalid Abu Bakr said the authority was committed to the secrecy of the deal with the megaship’s owners. He added that the agreement “fully preserves the SCA rights.”
Later Wednesday, Rabae said the accord stipulated that the settlement money be paid as one lump sum.
“Let’s forget the issue of the figure [settelement value]. We have preserved our rights and relations with our partners,” he said without elaborating at a press conference in Ismailia.
As part of the deal, none of the two sides shall make other requests in the future, according to Rabae.
The SCA initially demanded 950 million dollars in compensation, before it lowered the request to 550 million, according to Egyptian media.
On Tuesday, an Egyptian court issued an order allowing Ever Given to be released.
The Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, provides one of Egypt’s main sources of income, alongside tourism and remittances from expatriates.