Ever Given

3 more Ever Given crew members allowed to go home

Three crew members of the Ever Given containership, who are due to be relieved following the expiration of their contracts, have been granted permission to leave the vessel, which remains arrested in Egypt.

Ever Given; Image credit: Boskalis

The ship has been anchored in the Great Bitter Lakes region for a month now, awaiting for the legal battle between the owner of the vessel and the Suez Canal Authority to be resolved.

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“Requests to allow the overdue crew to depart have been granted by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA). Minimum safe manning standards for the vessel will be maintained at all times and crew members who depart the vessel are being relieved,” Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the shipmanager of the containership, said in an update.

Earlier this week, the head of SCA Osama Rabie said that the ship’s crew was not arrested, adding that the authority had no objection to the crew’s leaving or replacement, provided that an adequate percentage of sailors necessary to secure the ship is guaranteed, along with the continued presence of the ship’s captain.

In this way Rabie wanted to dispel fears raised by seafarers and unions that the crew might be held hostage of the situation.

Previously, SCA gave approval for the departure of two crew members from the ship, who cited urgent private matters. In the meantime, two additional seafarers joined the vessel.

Currently, there are 25 Indian national crew members onboard the vessel. According to BSM, day-to-day operations onboard the vessel continue with the seafarers aboard conducting routine fire and safety drills alongside ongoing planned vessel maintenance.

“Our utmost priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our crew. We are in regular contact with them and their families, offering all necessary support. While we are hoping that the vessel and her crew will be able to resume the voyage as soon as possible, we are incredibly proud of our master and crew who have and continue to perform their duties to the highest standards with exceptional professionalism under difficult circumstances,” says Ian Beveridge, CEO at BSM.

The conundrum over the payment of claims related to Ever Given’s grounding in the Suez Canal in late March is yet to be resolved.

The canal authority is seeking payment of $916 million in damages for the costs incurred by the ship’s blockage of the waterway. On the other hand, the ship’s owner and insurer believe the amount is too high.

Earlier this week, Japanese shipping company Shoei Kisen Kaisha filed an appeal before the Ismalia court in Egypt against the arrest of Ever Given and its cargo.

According to the UK P&I Club, the appeal is set to be heard on 4 May 2021.

Meanwhile, negoatiations between the parties resume.

Rabie said the canal authority was keen to make the ongoing negotiations a success, voicing hope that a compromise solution would be agreed upon soon.