Ever Given Arrives in Rotterdam, Ending Suez Canal Saga

A large salvage tug attempts to pull Ever Given off the bank during her grounding in late March (SCA)

Published Jul 29, 2021 8:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

The container ship Ever Given has arrived in Rotterdam, ending the four-month saga of detention and litigation that followed her grounding in the Suez Canal on March 23. 

The vessel arrived at the ECT Delta terminal at Rotterdam early Thursday and will be in port until Tuesday. Her Hamburg-bound cargo will be discharged at the pier and transshipped aboard the Ever Utile, arriving Hamburg on August 2. The Ever Given will skip Hamburg and transit to Felixstowe to offload her UK cargoes, arriving on August 8. 

Ever Given became a household name when she grounded in the Suez Canal in late March, blocking the busy waterway and interrupting the flow of east-west trade. Billions of dollars in cargo was temporarily delayed while the Suez Canal Authority and its salvors worked to free the vessel. Using dredgers and excavators, they succeeded in pulling her loose after six days of effort. 

However, the vessel's ordeal was not over. The SCA obtained a court order to detain Ever Given, and the vessel, her cargo and her crew were stuck at anchor for months while her owners negotiated for her release. SCA initially demanded nearly $1 billion in total compensation for the grounding, including $300 million for "reputational damage." After negotiations and several court hearings, it reduced its demand to $550 million, payable in installments. The parties ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount - rumored to be much less than the initial demand - and the Ever Given set sail for the Netherlands on July 7. 

The saga is not yet quite over for the owners of her cargo. Shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha declared general average for the casualty, indicating that all cargo interests will have to post a bond reflecting a percentage of the value of their goods in order to retrieve their containers. Some cargoes on the vessel are seasonal or perishable, and these consignments have lost a significant fraction of their market value over the span of four months of waiting. Given the time-limited nature of some cargoes, the disposition of a general average case typically includes handling of containers that are no longer wanted and must be stored, auctioned off or disposed of.