Evergreen Marine expects to pay little for potential loss and damage arising from the blockage of Suez Canal.
The Taiwanese container line is the charterer of the Shoei Kisen Kaisha-owned, 20,388-teu Ever Given (built 2018), which halted all traffic at the key waterway for six days after running aground in the southern section last month.
“Our risk exposure to the incident is very, very low,” Evergreen president Eric Hsieh told reporters on Thursday. “We are only responsible for the carriage of cargoes on board.
“Even if we have some claims, those will be covered by insurance.”
Evergreen has stated that Shoei would be responsible for any costs associated with ship repairs, salvage operations and third-party liabilities based on the charter arrangement.
Hsieh added that Evergreen should not be liable to shippers’ claims arising from cargo delays.
“We have a carrier’s exception stated in carriage terms that we would not be responsible for any delays caused by incidents during the transport of cargo,” he said.
The vessel was one of the six 20,000-teu containerships that Evergeen fixed from Shoei on long-term period charters.
Hsieh does not expect any lawsuit between Evergreen and the Japanese side related to the blockage, as “the charter terms are pretty clear on the liabilities”.
Still, industry speculation remains that some of the cargo and salvage liability could eventually fall on Evergreen Marine.
Such claims are expected to be met by Evergreen Insurance Co, Evergreen’s captive insurance company that operates out of Singapore.
The grounding led to almost 400 ships queuing at the peak of congestion and forced dozens to divert, with supply-chain disruptions expected to last for weeks.
Leth Agencies reported 249 vessels awaiting transit as of Thursday, including 81 bulkers, 56 boxships, 23 crude and 14 product tankers.
In addition to the Ever Given, Hsieh expects Evergreen to have 11 vessels affected by the incident. Three of them were re-routed, four were queuing and four sailing towards the canal.
“Those not diverted face delays of five to seven days,” he added.
The Ever Given was refloated on 29 March and towed to the Great Bitter Lake for inspection. The Suez Canal Authority is investigating the incident.
Technical manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement said the crew of 25 Indian nationals remain on board to assist with investigations.
The Indian government and seafarers’ organisations are concerned that the seafarers could face criminal charges and be detained until the probe is concluded, The Times of India reported.
The ship manager said it is not aware of any criminal investigations.
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