As the Suez Canal grounded ship Ever Given is seized by the Canal authorities, the operators are facing a new dilemma over the cargo.
Reports highlight that the operators are thinking of unloading 18000 cargo containers from Ever Given and transport them through other ships. Transporting cargo is proving to be a legal and logistical nightmare as the ship remains stranded in a legal dispute.
The ship won’t be released by the canal authorities unless the 1$ billion compensation is paid by the Japanese shipping company that owns the ship. Ever Given ran aground back in 23rd March and was refloated on 29th March. Since then the ship is at the Great Bitter Lake outside the canal for investigation.
However, pressure is mounting on the Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine Corp. to deliver the cargo on board the ship. A wide range of consumer products – from toilet papers to coffee to furniture – is on the ship.
“Customers are asking when their boxes will be delivered after the ship seizure, and the prospect of moving the containers to other ships and delivering them to the clients in Europe is now on the table,” revealed an unnamed source.
Meanwhile, the port authorities have underlined the physical and logistical challenges of moving the 20-foot high container units from the ship. For this to happen, the ship needs to move from its current position.
“It won’t be easy to do, but there are a number of options. Empty ships can be deployed to pick up boxes and some can be loaded to other container ships crossing on the same route to Europe”, said the unnamed source.
This will create a fresh legal dispute over claims and fees surrounding the vessel. Evergreen Marine Corp. said in a statement, “We are studying the possibility of the vessel and the cargo on board being treated separately.”
The Japanese Shipping company, Shoei Kisen Kaisha has already filed a general-average claim against the vessel’s operators, making the compensation a shared cost for all parties involved.
According to maritime lawyers, Bruce Paulsen and Brian Maloney of Seward & Kissel t “The seizure of the Ever Given and compensation demand for salvage and other expenses by Egypt’s canal authority escalates the complexity and cost for the numerous cargo owners with property in transit aboard the vessel.”
“Barring a settlement, those cargo owners now face additional expense and delay while the vessel’s arrest is maintained,” they added.
So far Evergreen hasn’t identified the customers whose cargo are stuck onboard but companies like IKEA and Germany-based supermarket ALDI, have revealed that they are affected.