In the ongoing tit-for-tat between the Suez Canal Authority and Japanese owner Shoei Kisen over who was to blame for the blockage on the key waterway in March, the Egyptians have hit back.

Interviewed by Reuters, SCA chairman Osama Rabie said Shoei Kisen’s 20,388 teu Ever Given was travelling too fast through the canal and the size of the vessel’s rudder also contributed to the accident.

The two sides are in a fierce battle over compensation with the SCA arresting the Panamanian-flagged ship and demanding hundreds of millions of dollars for the damage done during the high profile six-day blockage of the canal two months ago.

Rabie said the captain could have held the ship back.

“He knows the capabilities of his ship … so he can come and say, ‘I don’t want to enter, I feel the weather is not appropriate,” Rabie told Reuters, adding that the ship was travelling too fast and the rudder was not aligned.

“There were a lot of technical faults, among those was that the rudder’s size was not appropriate to the size of the ship.”

For its part, Shoei Kisen has said the SCA was responsible for the 400 m long vessel grounding in the first place.

Lawyers for Shoei Kisen said last week the ship should have been accompanied by at least two tug boats suitable for the ship’s size for the transit during stormy conditions.

The SCA has said that Shoei Kisen is willing to pay $150m in compensation, something Rabie has dismissed as too low. Initially the SCA was seeking $916m in damages, something that has been dropped repeatedly in recent weeks as lawyers for both sides haggle over the release of the ship anchored in the Great Bitter Lake.

Another court hearing relating to the Ever Given and compensation is due tomorrow.


Mr Sam Chambers

Photo: Alam54 /