A settlement is reached on the stranded ship blocking the Suez Canal in Egypt

Cairo – the owner and insurer of the huge container ship that blocked it Suez Canal One of the insurance companies said on Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with Egyptian authorities to halt global shipping for another six days in March.

The insurer’s statement did not mention the amount, but said that once the settlement was formalized, the ship – after nearly three months of bargaining, finger-pointing and court hearings – eventually sailed through the canal. will complete his journey.

“After extensive discussion with Suez Canal In the last few weeks the negotiating committee of the authority, an agreement has been reached in principle between the parties,” said one Statement From the insurer UK P&I Club. “We are now working with SCA along with the owner and other ship insurers to finalize a signed settlement agreement as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for the UK club said it would not release further details. The Suez Canal Authority had not commented on the deal as of Wednesday afternoon.

since the ship was Freed in a massive rescue effort In March, about six days later running across suezThe canal authority was locked in an often acrimonious standoff with the ship’s owner and operators, which the authority said it owed for the incident.

The authority sought up to $1 billion in compensation, a figure that included the cost of the tugboats, dredgers and crew hired to salvage the ship as well as the loss of revenue when the canal was blocked. happened. During the delay, some ships U-turned and went around the tip of Africa instead of waiting for Suez traffic to resume, depriving the canal of their fees.

Below standard terms Before crossing the Suez Canal, shipping companies are required to acknowledge that ships are liable for all costs or damages incurred in the canal. Yet, the authority never gave a detailed account of how this huge amount was received.

The amount does not cover disruptions to worldwide shipping, including delayed cargo and the cost of other shipping lines, which experts have said could eventually rise into the hundreds of millions.

Physically, at least, Ever Given was declared fit to proceed long ago. But until compensation is paid, the ship and her crew will be kept in the Great Bitter Lake, a natural body of water that connects the part of the canal where the ship was stuck in the next section, Lieutenant General According to Osama Rabi the head of the Suez Canal Authority.

An Egyptian court ordered the ship to be kept until the financial claims were settled, a move that attracted opposition from Ever Given’s Japanese owner, Shui Kisen Kaisha.

For more than three months, they encountered each other in an Egyptian commercial court and the local press. The Egyptians insisted that the captain – who, under the rules of the Suez Canal Authority, bears ultimate responsibility for command of the ship despite the presence of Suez pilots directing the steering and speed – was to blame.

Whatever the objection of Ever Given, the canal, which is famous for demanding large dues from shipowners, was a strong hand in the negotiations. The canal is the shortest route for carrying goods from Asia to Europe and beyond. For the ship, it was too valuable to leave.

Months of negotiations left 25 Indian sailors on board the ship’s crew, unable to leave Ever Given until the deal was concluded, but in some cases in which Egyptian authorities allowed crew members to leave after their contracts had expired. Requested to leave or for family reasons.

In the aftermath of other maritime accidents, crew members have found themselves stranded on confiscated ships for months or even years. In some cases, they have been arrested because local authorities have blamed someone for an oil spill or a messy accident.

In this case, however, the crew appears to have been spared.

“A foreign sailor is a very easy target,” said Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, which represents the crew.

In an interview after the ship was seized, Abdulgani Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India, described the crew, whose members he spoke to briefly, as feeling tense and under pressure from the investigation.

“Fair enough,” he said, “they are tense.”

Nada Rashwan contributed reporting.

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