ISMAILIA: The mega-ship MV Ever Given which blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March headed out of the waterway on Wednesday as Egypt and the vessel’s Japanese owners signed a final compensation deal.
The ship weighed anchor and began sailing north from near the central canal city of Ismailia towards the Mediterranean Sea, shortly after 11:30 am local time.
The nearly 200,000-tonne container vessel became wedged across the canal during a sandstorm on March 23, blocking a vital artery from Asia to Europe that carries 10 percent of global maritime trade and provides Egypt with vital revenues.
After around-the-clock salvage operation to dislodge it, Egypt seized the ship and demanded compensation from owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha for lost canal revenues, salvage costs and damage to the canal.
In a ceremony attended by ambassadors and international media, Suez Canal Authority chief (SCA) Osama Rabie inked a final deal with representatives of the owners.
“I announce to the world that we have reached a deal,” Rabie said at the ceremony carried live on Egypt’s state television.
He called March’s salvage operation a “race against time” to restore global shipping flows. “We were facing a tough test with the world watching,” he added.
The SCA announced last month it had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Japanese firm ahead of reaching a final deal.
Khaled Abou Bakr, a prominent lawyer who headed the SCA negotiating team, reiterated Wednesday the “secrecy” of the final compensation package.
“I can unequivocally state that we preserved the full rights of the Authority,”