Though traffic resumed at the Canal, the Ever Given remains stuck, along with her crew
The Ever Given was freed on 29 March 2021, much to the affected vessels’ delight. However, it is withheld at one of the canal’s holding lakes, where investigations are in progress. All 25 Indian crew are to remain onboard during investigations. It is anybody’s guess how long the investigation will take.
Another crew change crisis
The Panama-flagged Ever Given was bound for Rotterdam’s port city in the Netherlands from China and was passing northwards through the canal on its way to the Mediterranean when the incident happened. The Panama Maritime Authority said preliminary reports showed Ever Given suffered mechanical problems which affected its navigation.
While investigators dig deep into the possible cause of the beaching, the Suez Canal authorities are wrestling with shipowner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd for compensation over $1 billion out of court – in the name of protecting the latter for future dealings. The authority asserted the Ever Given would be withheld till payment is made. This is in addition to the potentially lengthy investigations. Notwithstanding, Canal chief Lt Gen. Osama Rabie declined to discuss possible causes – vessel’s speed and weather.
While the crew of 25 onboard Ever Given will be paid for their extended stays, there are no indications on possible timelines of any conclusions about both issues. This is a stark addition to the existing crew change crisis plaguing seafarers. The crew onboard Ever Given is said to be in good health, though tensed and stressed.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) reminded in a statement on the importance of seafarers: “I hope this incident will remind governments of the vital role that seafarers and shipping play in keeping world trade moving. Seafarers must not be forgotten as soon as this incident is over.” The ICS referenced this to the existing crew change crisis affecting over 200,000 seafarers worldwide from the pandemic. This time however, it is because of a ship.