The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has released a video on the salvage operation of the giant boxship that ran aground and blocked the key Egyptian waterway for six days in March.
In its YouTube channel, the SCA sought to highlight its achievement in refloating the 20,388-teu Ever Given (built 2018) with 15 tugs and more than 600 staff members.
“The Suez Canal authority has assumed full responsibility in dealing with the grounding crisis of the…Panamanian-flagged container ship ‘Ever Given’ since the incident took place,” the canal authority said in the video.
The public relations effort came after the SCA exchanged accusations with Shoei Kisen, the Japanese shipowner, over who should be responsible for the grounding incident.
The canal authority has detained the megaship and its cargo in the Great Bitter Lake since April as it launches a lawsuit seeking compensations totalling $916m for damages and salvage costs.
Earlier this month, Ahmed Abu Ali, a member of the shipowner’s legal team, told Reuters that the SCA had failed to prove any fault by the ship.
He claimed the SCA was wrong for allowing the ship to transit the waterway amid bad weather, and that there had been disagreements at the time between SCA pilots and its control centre over whether it should enter the canal.
Abu Ali also claimed the work to release the ship was not "a salvage [operation] in the proper legal sense", meaning the SCA could not seek compensation for such an operation. "This was one of the duties of the authority according to the traffic contract," he said.
In a statement, the canal authority said Shoei Kisen did not show “the due recognition deserved” after the ship was saved without any damage to the hull or the cargo on-board.
The SCA added that one of the salvagers died after a marine unit sank during the rescue operation, without providing details.
SCA chairman Osama Rabie stressed the shipmaster should be held responsible for directing the ship rather than the pilots, describing their opinion as “advisory and non-binding”.
Rabie said the claim that the SCA had allowed the vessel to transit under unfavourable weather conditions “has nothing to do with the truth”.
“The navigation traffic in the Suez Canal runs normally even during the bad weather, which is what actually happened on the day of the incident,” he added.
An Egyptian court of first instance will consider Shoei Kisen’s appeal to throw out the claims on 29 May. Rabie has suggested the SCA could accept a $550m payout in an out of court settlement.