The Ever Given began its journey out of the Suez Canal more than three months after it ran aground, clogging one of the world’s most vital trade arteries and disrupting global supply chains.
The 400-meter-long container ship, which blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March, will now sail to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, with hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo still on board. It is then due to call at Felixstowe in England.
The voyage to Rotterdam could take approximately two weeks, as the ship will likely have to sail at a slower than usual pace due to damage sustained from the incident, according to Jai Sharma, a partner at Clyde & Co. The law firm represents companies and insurers with more than US$100 million in cargo on the ship and estimates the total value of the goods on board at more than US$600 million.
The Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal on March 23, increasing pressure on strained global supply chains when hundreds of other ships were trapped. The blockage exacerbated container shortages, port congestion and capacity constraints that have made shipping goods around the world much more expensive and led to shortages of everything from stationary bicycles to cheese at a time of unprecedented demand.
The ship was refloated on March 29, but has been held in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake amid a legal battle between Japanese shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha and the Suez Canal Authority, which initially filed a US$900 million compensation claim for losses stemming from the six-day blockade.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha thanked the Suez Canal Authority for releasing the ship and said it “will remain a regular and loyal customer” of the canal.
The company said the Ever Given will be inspected at Egypt’s Port Said before completing its voyage, subject to approval by the American Bureau of Shipping, the ship’s classification society, and dismantling its cargo. “We regret the impact the voyage delay has had on those with cargo stuck on board,” he added.
Goods held up
The heist trapped goods belonging to companies such as IKEA and Lenovo and many smaller companies on board. British bicycle manufacturer Pearson 1860 and Snuggy UK, which makes portable blankets, have vital orders stranded on the ship, which was carrying 18,300 containers.
Pearson 1860 expects to wait another three to four weeks before receiving its steel bicycle frames in London, narrowly missing its busiest sales period. The company has more than US$100,000 worth of products on the ship.
“We expect the delivery process to be relatively smooth,” director Will Pearson . “It has been a frustrating time for so many companies with goods held for salvage for more than 100 days and little information available.”