(Reuters) – The container ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal in March struggled to steer due to its high speed and the size of the rudder and could have chosen not to enter the waterway in bad weather, the channel authority told the Reuters chief.
The comments from Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie on Thursday come amid a dispute over compensation with the owner and insurers of the Ever given container vessel, which is being held in court decisions in the canal almost two months after it was unloaded.
The Ever Given got stuck across the canal in strong winds on March 23, stopping traffic in both directions and disrupting global trade.
A legal team for the Japanese owner Shoei Kisen disputes the ship's detention and compensation claim and has said that SCA was wrong to allow the ship to enter and not provide tugs.
Mr. Rabie said the captain could have held back the ship.
"He knows the ability of his ship … so he can come and say, 'I do not want to come in. I feel that the weather is not suitable ", he said in an interview at SCA's head office in Ismailia.
Before it was grounded, the giant ship traveled about 25 kilometers per hour, well over the 8-9 kmh suitable for the Channel's narrow southern channel, Rabie said.
Due to the speed, two tugs accompanying Ever Given could not help.
"That speed was very high and the rudder was not in line," he said. “There were many technical errors; among them was that the size of the rudder did not fit the size of the ship.
A member of Shoei Kisen's legal team told Reuters on Saturday that the authority had not proved any wrongdoing from the ship.
SCA claimed $ 91
It says the owner has offered $ 150 million in compensation. Shoei Kisen has not commented on the negotiations.
"We lowered our price by about 40%, and we also said that we would make it easier for them, but honestly, the offer they do not get to the level we are talking about. about, ”said Rabie.
SCA, which said it was suffering from material and reputational losses, lowered the amount it sought after receiving an estimate of $ 775 million in the value of Ever Givens' cargo, much lower than the $ 3 billion estimate they had originally used, said Rabie. The value of the ship was $ 140 million, he said.
"It is, of course, illogical that the compensation price you are asking for is higher than the price of the ship and the cargo," he said.
A court hearing on the compensation claim is scheduled for Saturday. Pending a court decision, only the court had the power to release the ship or its cargo, Rabie said.