Egypt has impounded the Ever Given amid a financial dispute with the owners of the massive cargo vessel which blocked the Suez Canal last month.
The hulking container ship will not be allowed to leave the country until a compensation amount has been settled on with the ship’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd, said the authority which manages the waterway.
He did not confirm how much money the canal authority was seeking, however a judicial official said it was demanding at least 900 million dollars (£655 million).
Lt Gen Osama Rabei, who leads the Suez Canal authority, told Egypt’s state-run television: “The vessel is now officially impounded. They do not want to pay anything.”
The compensation sum takes into account the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic and lost transit fees for the week that the Ever Given blocked the canal, authorities confirmed.
The order to impound the vessel was issued on Monday by a court in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, and that the vessel’s crew has been informed on Tuesday.
Prosecutors in Ismailia have also opened a separate investigation into what led the Ever Given to run aground.
The Panama-flagged ship ran aground on 23 March in the narrow canal dividing continental Africa from the Asian Sinai Peninsula.
On March 29, salvage teams freed the Ever Given, ending a crisis that had clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways and halted billions of dollars a day in maritime commerce.
The unprecedented six-day shutdown, which raised fears of extended delays, goods shortages and rising costs for consumers, added to strain on the shipping industry already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
Lt Gen Rabie told state-run television there was no wrongdoing by the canal authority.
When asked whether the ship’s owner wasat fault, he said: “Of course, yes.”
Lt Gen Rabie said the conclusion of the authority’s investigation was expected on Thursday. There was no immediate comment from the vessel’s owner.
Additional reporting by Associated Press