The accident that brought shipping to a halt

Ever Given, a load of doubts

by Port News Editorial Staff

Now that the Ever Given has been refloated, a new phase begins; ascertaining the responsibility and causes of the accident that blocked the passage through one of the world’s most popular shipping lanes for six days.

The Panama Register of Shipping, where the ship is registered, will initiate the investigation. Its findings and conclusions will be communicated to the International Maritime Organization.

At the moment, the Registry has not issued any press release or made any statement about the timeframe for the possible availability of the first expert reports. It is known, however, that a delegation from the Registry will reach the ship no later than this evening.

The Ever Given, which is 400 metres long and 59 metres wide, is currently moored in Ismailia, on the west bank of the Suez Canal, about halfway between Port Said and Suez. The Panamanian registry will certainly want to question all crew members and the two pilots who were on board the Ever Given at the time of the accident.

Data will also be acquired from the Voyage Data Recorder, the equivalent of the black box, the electronic data recording device installed in an aircraft or vessel with the aim of facilitating investigations after an accident. The VDR is reported to have already been acquired by the vessel’s shipping agent, Bernard Schulte Shipmanagers. It will be handed over to the Registry representatives upon their arrival in Egypt.

The Suez Canal Authority will also launch its own investigation to ascertain whether it is actually possible for a ship of Ever Given’s tonnage to lose control due to a strong sand and wind storm.

This is the justification given by the ship manager and originally contested by the Suez Canal Authority. Initial evidence suggests that at the time of the grounding the wind was 30 knots. On paper, a 20,000 TEU container ship should be able to withstand the impact of such weather and sea conditions. It will not be long before the mystery is solved.

The ship’s owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, and the UK P&I Club, an association specializing in insurance cover, will also work proactively with the Suez Canal Authority to find out what actually happened. A technical fault cannot be ruled out.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ever Given’s insurance coverage is $3.1 billion. A large sum that could prove inadequate to cover the claims that could be made by the owners of the more than 350 ships stranded for days in both directions of the Canal. Based on estimates provided by Lloyd’s List, the obstruction of the Panama Canal caused a loss of 9.6 billion dollars a day.

Translation by Giles Foster