Egypt court upholds seizure of ship that blocked Suez Canal

An Egyptian court Tuesday rejected an appeal by the owner of a massive container ship of the court-ordered seizure of the vessel over a financial dispute. Egyptian authorities have impounded the hulking Ever Given, which blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week in March, halting billions of dollars in maritime commerce.

The Suez Canal Authority said the vessel would not be allowed to leave the country until a compensation amount is settled on with the vessel’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. A court in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia ordered the seizure of the vessel earlier this month. The Ever Given’s owner filed an appeal on April 22 in hopes of overturning the decision. The Suez Canal Authority has demanded $916 million in compensation, according to the UK Club, an insurer of the Ever Given. The 400m-long (1,312ft), 220,000-tonne ship became wedged diagonally across the waterway on 23 March after running aground amid high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility. It was freed six days later, after a salvage operation involving a flotilla of powerful tug boats and dredging vessels that shifted an estimated 30,000 cubic metres (1.1m cubic ft) of mud and sand. That amount takes into account the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic and lost transit fees for the week the Ever Given blocked the canal.

Negotiations between the Suez Canal Authority and the shipowner were still ongoing to settle the compensation claim, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. said last week. More than 400 vessels had to wait to pass through the 193km (120-mile) canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.