Egypt has finalized a compensation agreement with the owners and insurers of a massive container ship that clogged the Suez Canal in March, affecting global trade.
Witnesses say the Ever Given hoisted anchor just after 11:30 a.m. local time (09:30 a.m. GMT) and went north, escorted by tugboats, towards the Mediterranean.
The ship has been kept for three months at Ismailia, a canal city.
The deal’s terms were not disclosed, but Egypt had requested $550 million (£397 million).
The Suez Canal, which runs for 193 kilometers (120 miles) and connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea in the south, is the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.
However, the canal was blocked when the 400m-long (1,312ft) Ever Given ran aground in strong winds and became wedged across it. Hundreds of ships were stranded in the traffic bottleneck, disrupting global trade.
After a six-day salvage effort including a flotilla of tug boats and dredge vessels, the cargo ship was refloated. During the operation, one individual was killed. The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has been pursuing reimbursement from the Ever Given’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen, for the expense of the recovery operation, damage to the canal’s banks, and other losses since then.
The SCA first requested $916 million in damages, including $300 million for a salvage bonus and $300 million for reputational damage. The claim was rejected by UK Club, which insured Shoei Kisen for third-party obligations. It was described as “extraordinarily huge” and “entirely unfounded.”
Later, the SCA dropped its demand to $550 million. The final agreement, which has not been made public, was reached a few days ago and signed on Wednesday, only days before the ship was released.
Shoei Kisen’s representative said the company would continue to be “a regular and loyal customer” of the Suez Canal Authority after the ship started its cruise on Wednesday.
The vessel, which is crewed by Indians, is still carrying around 18,300 cargo. According to the Wall Street Journal, it will pass safety checks at Port Said before traveling to Rotterdam in the Netherlands and then to Felixstowe in the United Kingdom, where it will dump its containers.
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