A mammoth cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal last month is being held in the waterway as authorities pursue a $916 million compensation claim against its owner, according to the vessel’s insurer.
The UK Club, an insurer for the Ever Given, said in a statement Tuesday that the ship’s Japanese owners received a claim from the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), which runs the canal, on April 7. The claim includes $300 million for “loss of reputation.”
The company said a “generous offer” was made to the SCA to settle their claim on Monday, without elaborating on the sum.
“We are disappointed by the SCA’s subsequent decision to arrest the vessel today,” the company’s statement added.
The vessel ran aground in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Asian Sinai Peninsula on March 23. Salvage teams freed the ship nearly a week later, ending a crisis that had paralyzed one of the world’s most crucial waterways and held up $9 billion in global trade a day.
The SCA said in a statement that investigations were “still ongoing, in parallel with the progress of negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement suitable for all parties, which may take some time.”
SCA Chairman Osama Rabie said on Egyptian TV last week that the Ever Given would not leave until the investigation was finished and compensation paid, Reuters reported. He said the canal had borne “great moral damage” as well as shipping fee losses and salvage operation costs, adding that he hoped to settle matters amicably.
A spokesman for the ship’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., told NBC News on the phone Wednesday that the company was informed of the compensation money sought by the SCA and they are currently in negotiation over the figure.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given, also said that the vessel’s owner informed them that the Suez Canal Authority began procedures against the ship, calling the decision “extremely disappointing.”
The company said the ship’s crew has fully cooperated with the canal authority’s investigation into the grounding, giving them access to the voyage data recorder and other requested materials.
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The company added that the ship has been inspected and cleared to sail to Port Said at the northern end of the canal, where it will be assessed again before departing for Rotterdam in the Netherlands, its original destination.
The vessel remains anchored in Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed.