The MV Ever Given container ship sails past a tugboat spraying a jet of water along Egypt’s Suez Canal, near Ismailia.—AFP
The MV Ever Given container ship sails past a tugboat spraying a jet of water along Egypt’s Suez Canal, near Ismailia.—AFP

ISMAILIA: The megaship MV Ever Given which blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March headed out of the waterway on Wednesday as Egypt and the vessel’s Japanese owners signed a final compensation deal.

The ship weighed anchor and began sailing north from near the central canal city of Ismailia towards the Mediterranean Sea, shortly after 11:30am local time.

The nearly 200,000-tonne container vessel became wedged across the canal during a sandstorm on March 23, blocking a vital artery from Asia to Europe that carries 10 percent of global maritime trade and provides Egypt with vital revenues.

After a round-the-clock salvage operation to dislodge it, Egypt seized the ship and demanded compensation from owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha for lost canal revenues, salvage costs and damage to the canal.

In a ceremony attended by ambassadors and international media, Suez Canal Authority chief (SCA) Osama Rabie inked a final deal with representatives of the owners.

“I announce to the world that we have reached a deal,” Rabie said at the ceremony carried live on Egypt’s state television.

He called March’s salvage operation a “race against time” to restore global shipping flows. “We were facing a tough test with the world watching,” he added.

The SCA announced last month it had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Japanese firm ahead of reaching a final deal.

Khaled Abou Bakr, a prominent lawyer who headed the SCA negotiating team, reiterated Wednesday the “secrecy” of the final compensation package.

“I can unequivocally state that we preserved the full rights of the Authority,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2021

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