(Reuters) – The head of the Suez Canal Authority said on Monday that he hoped the talks would soon lead to an agreement with the owner and insurer of a giant container ship that is still being held because it blocked the waterway for six days last month.
The 400 meter (430-yard) Ever Given was split diagonally across the canal in strong winds on March 23 and blocked all traffic. Since it was finally released, it has been kept with its cargo in a lake that separates two sections of the canal. SCA has made a claim of 916 million dollars against its Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen.
Only two crew members have left the ship since dropping anchor in the lake after unloading on March 29, while 23 crews, all Indian nationals, remain on board.
In a statement, SCA President Osama Rabie said the crew was not detained and was free to leave or be replaced as long as the captain remains on board as the ship's guard and its cargo.
The ship's protection and indemnity insurer UK Club and its chief technical officer Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement have said they are disappointed that the ship is being kept. The UK Club has appealed to the Egyptian court against the property, citing lack of evidence on SCA's claim.
"(SCA) handles all specific requirements of the negotiations with complete flexibility, in full respect of international standards in such situations," Rabie said Monday.