The Suez Canal Authority has barred the largest container ship Ever Given from leaving the canal until an investigation into how the ship stopped foreign shipping for nearly a week is completed.
According to USA Today, Egypt's Sada ElBalad news announced that the Authority would likely claim about $1 billion in physical and financial damages as a result of the trade route's closure. The sum would cover the costs of missed transit fees, the seven days of dredging and tugboat operation required to dislodge the ship, as well as the damage to the canal as a result.
The $1 billion figure excludes the financial losses suffered by over 400 vessels that were forced to reroute due to the canal's closure. Until the ship was dislodged, an estimated $9 billion in global trade was delayed per day.
The cargo ship's captain has yet to provide either documentation or the vessel's black box to help investigators understand how the Ever Given came to be lodged sideways across the canal, according to Lieutenant General Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority.
High winds and a sandstorm may have contributed to the Ever Given being pushed sideways and wedged between the canal's banks. However, authorities want to know if human error played a role in the accident.
"These catastrophic events can be caused by a variety of factors, including the wind, the human element, and technological factors. All of these elements will be revealed during the investigation," Rabie said this during a press conference on Monday, according to Reuters.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the ship's owner, said on Tuesday that it would comply with the investigation. Bernhard Schulte Ship Management, the ship's boss, said the initial investigation ruled out mechanical or engine failure as the cause of the mishap.
The Ever Given will not be able to proceed to its original destination of Rotterdam, Holland, until canal authorities complete their investigation.
The Ever Given is a Japanese-owned ship that sails under the Panamanian flag and transports goods from Asia to Europe. The ship, which is owned by the Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine, was first stranded in the waterway on March 23. It clogged a major shipping route linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea by blocking the Suez Canal.
Even though the ship was dislodged on March 29, the data firm Refinitiv forecast that clearing the backlog of ships waiting to move through the canal could take more than ten days.
While the canal was closed, hundreds of ships took a detour around Africa's southernmost point, the Cape of Good Hope. The 3,100-mile detour increased vessel travel time by two weeks and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel and other costs.