Evergreen Looks at Moving Cargo From Seized Suez Ship

Evergreen Navy Corp.

is considering removing thousands of containers from its Ever Given ship to take the goods to their final destination after an Egyptian court seized the giant cargo ship over an indemnity feud.

“Customers are asking when their boxes will be delivered after the ship is seized and the prospect of moving the containers to other ships and delivering them to customers in Europe is now on the table,” said one person directly involved in the matter .

“It won’t be easy, but there are a number of options,” said this person. “Empty ships can be used to pick up boxes and some can be loaded onto other container ships on the same route to Europe.”

The Ever Given ran aground on March 23rd in the Suez Canal and hauled around 18,000 loaded containers in 20-foot container equivalents, a standard maritime measure, from Asia to Europe. Salvage teams rescued the ship six days later, but it remains in a holding area in the canal while the Suez Canal Authority has filed a $ 916 million lawsuit against shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. based in Japan, including recovery and other costs, collects damages.

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Taiwan’s Evergreen was operating the ship on a long-term charter from ship owner Shoei Kisen when Ever Given ran aground.

Relocating the cargo to another ship would be a physical challenge and may require the ship to be moved from its anchorage in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake to the nearby Egyptian port of Said. Any attempt to remove the shipments would be hampered by the legal rights and fees that affect the ship and its freight customers.

Shoei Kisen has invoked the shipping clause, known as the general average, according to which companies with cargo on a distressed ship are asked to contribute to the costs of salvaging the ship.

Evergreen said in a statement that it is examining the Egyptian court order allowing the ship to be detained “and examining the possibility that the ship and cargo on board may be treated separately”.

The Suez shutdown has contributed to delivery delays and rising costs for cargo owners, and has further weighed on a shipping industry struggling with capacity bottlenecks and overloads due to disruptions triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Evergreen has not identified the customers whose shipments are on Ever Given, but some companies have indicated the potential impact on their operations.

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Germany-based discounter Aldi, which operates 10,000 stores in 20 countries, announced in a Facebook post last month that a range of products, from floor mats to bicycles and driving accessories, will hit the shelves in March and April should delay, on average, about a month.

“We’re sorry, the special purchases you are looking for may have been delayed due to recent events,” said the grocer.

American furniture manufacturer La-Z-Boy Inc.

said at an investor conference on March 24th that there were five containers on the ship.

UK’s P&I Club, Ever Given’s insurer, said the $ 916 million claim was “largely unsupported” and without “detailed justification”.

“The grounding resulted in no contamination and no reported injuries. The ship was made afloat again after six days and the Suez Canal immediately resumed commercial operations, ”said a statement this week.

The ship has been rated safe to sail by the American Bureau of Shipping, a naval classification society. It said it could move to Port Said for further inspection and then on to Rotterdam, its original destination.

Write to Costas Paris at [email protected] and Joyu Wang at [email protected]

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