The containership Ever Given is preparing to set sail from Egypt on Wednesday, close to four months after its grounding in the Suez Canal blocked the waterway and caused havoc to world trade for six days.
The ship is scheduled to raise its anchor from the Great Bitter Lake roughly an hour before the start of a planned ceremony in Ismailia at 11am Egypt time (0900 GMT).
The 20,388-teu Ever Given (built 2018) will sail past Ismailia on its way out of the Suez Canal on a 10-day voyage to Rotterdam.
The ceremony has been arranged to mark the conclusion of a compensation agreement between the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), shipowner Shoei Kisen Kaisha and its insurers. Major global press and broadcasting companies have been invited to take part.
The ceremony will be attended by SCA chairman Osama Rabie and Faz Peermohamed, a director at transportation law firm and legal consultancy Stann, who headed negotiations on behalf of Shoei Kisen Kaisha.
"In what has been the highest-profile maritime incident for many years, I am delighted that a positive solution has been found which will enable the vessel to return to operational service once again," said Peermohamed.
As Egypt is a red-listed country under Covid-19 travel protocols, Shoei Kisen Kaisha representatives are unable to attend the ceremony from Japan.
However, Shoei Kisen Kaisha president Yukito Higaki, who also heads associated company Imabari Shipbuilding, is scheduled to give a presentation via video link. The vessel is operated by Taiwan’s Evergreen Line under a long-term charter contract to the Japanese shipowner.
The ceremony is being held to celebrate the salvage operation and the subsequent compensation agreement as a great success. There will also be an emphasis on how the agreement has restored Egypt and Japanese relations.
All parties have vowed to keep the terms of the agreement strictly confidential. However, the settlement is unlikely to be the end of the legal wrangles related to the Ever Given.
Shoei Kisen Kaisha has declared general average, which will require all the involved insurance parties to settle the cargo damage and delay claims that are likely to be considerable. The claims process is likely to be conducted through the UK High Court.
Under general average, cargo owners are required to put up security to receive their cargo. The release of the crew will also come as a relief to the 25 Indian seafarers who have remained on the vessel. The crew were supplied by ship manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement.