An Egyptian court ruled on Tuesday to end the detention of the Ever Given container ship, which blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March and halted the global maritime trade.
A legal dispute between the 400-metre vessel’s owner and the waterway’s authority ended amicably days earlier, with plans to sign a compensation contract on Wednesday.
The ship has been moored at Great Bitter Lake, off the canal, with its captain and crew on board since it was refloated in March.
The Panama-registered Ever Given will be allowed to leave on Wednesday after a ceremony is held in the nearby city of Ismailia to mark the agreement.
A legal battle between the Suez Canal Authority the ship’s owner, Japanese shipping company Shoei Kisen Kaisha, began in March.
They reached an amicable agreement after three months of negotiations and delayed court hearings.
The compensation sum will be announced officially tomorrow. But on Sunday, a source close to the negotiations told The National the figure would be $540 million, with $240 million to be received in one batch and the rest paid in instalments over the next year.
On Tuesday, Ismailia Economic Court said the Ever Given’s captain and crew would be told later that day their detention had ended.
It said the ship would be escorted out of the waterway by two tugboats and two of the canal’s most seasoned pilots, guides who help passing vessels navigate the canal.
The authority had previously requested $916 million in compensation from the ship’s owner, which contested the figure in court.
SCA later reduced its demand to $550 million for physical damage sustained to the canal and lost revenue.
Hundreds of ships had to wait to pass the blockage or make the longer journey around the Cape of Good Hope, one of Africa’s southernmost points.
The legal dispute became a nationalistic struggle for many Egyptian observers, who lauded the SCA for protecting Egypt’s rights and not budging in its request for compensation.
It ended with no damage to Japanese-Egyptian relations, SCA chairman Admiral Osama Rabie said on Sunday. He said the authority was keen not to lose Shoei Kisen Kaisha as a client.