TOKYO — It took six days to prise free a giant container ship that ran aground and clogged the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most crucial shipping arteries. It could take years to sort out who will pay for the mess.
Cargo companies, insurers, government authorities and a phalanx of lawyers, all with different agendas and potential assessments, will not only need to determine the total damage, but also what went wrong. When they eventually finish digging through the morass, the insurers of the ship’s Japanese owner are likely to bear the brunt of the financial pain.
The costs could add up quickly.
There are the repairs for any physical damage to the Ever Given, the quarter-mile-long ship that got stuck in the Suez. There is the bill for the tugboats and front-end loaders that dug the beached vessel out from the mud. The authority that operates the Suez Canal has already said the crisis has cost the Egyptian government up to $90 million in lost toll revenue as hundreds of ships waited to pass through the blocked waterway or took other routes.
And the stalled ship held up as much as $10 billion of cargo a day from moving through the canal, including cars, oil, livestock, laptops, sneakers, electronics and toilet paper. Companies delivering goods may have to pay customers for missed deadlines. If any agricultural goods went bad, producers may look to recoup lost revenue.
Richard Oloruntoba, an associate professor of supply chain management at the Curtin Business School in Perth, Australia.
Jeff N.K. Lee, a lawyer in Taipei who specializes in commercial and transportation law.
“While the ship is just parked there, the cargo isn’t actually being damaged,” Mr. Lee said. “The only damage is that it’s delayed.”
“Say I have a batch of cloth, and on top of the time it took to come to Taiwan, it got stuck for six or seven days,” he said. “It just sat there. Will it go bad? It won’t.”
There is a caveat. The ship’s owner could have to pay for cargo delays, if its crew is found to be at fault for the accident.
Some so-called third-party claims related to delayed cargo may be covered by yet another insurer for the ship, the UK P&I Club. The same goes for any claims by the Suez Canal Authority, which operates the waterway and might file over any loss of revenue.
Nick Shaw, chief executive of the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs, the umbrella group that includes the UK P&I Club, said the insurer would “make decisions together with the shipowner as to which ones had validity and which ones are illegitimate.”
Adding to the complexity of the Suez accident are the layers upon layers of insurance. Reinsurers, companies that covers the risk of other insurance companies, come into play for claims above $100 million. Between insurance and reinsurance, the ship’s owner has coverage for those third-party claims up to $3.1 billion, although few experts believe the damages will run that high.
The sheer size of the Ever Given makes the situation all the more labyrinthine. Aside from time of war, the Suez Canal has never been blocked quite so spectacularly or for as long a time as it was with the Ever Given, and this is the biggest ship to run aground.
The ship is as long the Empire State Building is tall, with the capacity to carry 20,000 containers stacked 12 to 14 high. The Ever Given is one of a fleet of 13 in a series designed by Imabari, part of a push to lower the costs per container and make the ships more competitive in an increasingly fierce market dominated by Chinese and South Korean shipbuilders.
“The bigger the ships get, the risk is whenever you have an incident like this is that you are putting more of your eggs into one basket,” said Simon Heaney, senior manager of container research at Drewry UK, a shipping consultancy. “So the claims will magnify.”
Raymond Zhong and Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting from Taipei, Taiwan. Vivian Yee contributed from Cairo and Makiko Inoue, Hisako Ueno, Hikari Hida from Tokyo.
ISMAILIA, Egypt—With ships moving again in the Suez Canal after the Ever Given was unstuck, the Egyptian sailors tasked with piloting huge vessels through one of the world’s busiest waterways are back at work—and facing growing scrutiny.
Authorities plan to more than double the number of vessels passing through the 120-mile canal each day to clear a backlog of more than 400 ships that were left waiting for days after the Ever Given ran aground a week ago. Local regulations require that one or two pilots, in some cases three, must be on board to help captains navigate the narrow channel. To meet the increased demand, some former pilots since assigned to desk jobs are being sent back to the canal.
The pilots, many of whom are retired sailors from the Egyptian Navy, haven’t always been entirely welcome.
In 2017, a local shipping agent complained about pilots demanding 17 cartons of cigarettes and other goods to let his ship pass. The head of the Suez Canal Authority at the time dismissed his remarks as an attempt to besmirch Egypt’s reputation.
One current pilot said demands for cigarettes and free food were once commonplace. By tradition, canal workers divide up their haul among themselves, a former pilot said.
BANGKOK — Nearly three months after Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 crashed into the Java Sea, Indonesian officials announced Wednesday that they had recovered the memory module of the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder by pumping up mud and sand from the seafloor.
The crucial memory unit, which apparently broke loose from the cockpit voice recorder on impact, could reveal the final words of the pilot and co-pilot as the Boeing 737-500 plummeted into the sea on Jan. 9.
The module was recovered Tuesday night and brought to shore Wednesday by a Coast Guard ship. Officials said they believed the module was still functional and that it would take three days to a week to download and read its data.
The aircraft crashed minutes after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport near Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, killing all 62 people aboard, including six active crew members.
difference in the level of thrust between the plane’s two engines might have contributed to the aircraft rolling over before it plunged into the sea.
A difference in the level of thrust — the force of the engines that propels the aircraft forward — can make planes difficult to control, but it is unclear why that problem may have occurred during the Sriwijaya flight.
Officials hope that the recovered memory module will shed some light on why the pilot and co-pilot were unable to recover control of the plane, which plummeted more than 10,000 feet in less than a minute.
“Without the cockpit voice recorder, it would be very difficult to know the cause in this Sriwijaya 182 case,” Mr. Soerjanto said.
The Sriwijaya aircraft was the third to crash into the Java Sea in just over six years after departing from airports on Java, one of Indonesia’s five main islands.
In December 2014, Air Asia Flight 8501 crashed into the Java Sea off the coast of Borneo with 162 people aboard as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. Investigators eventually attributed the disaster to the failure of a key component on the Airbus A320-200 and an improper response by the flight crew.
nose-dived into the Java Sea northeast of Jakarta minutes after taking off for Pangkal Pinang with 189 aboard. Investigators concluded that the anti-stall system malfunctioned on the Boeing 737 Max, a newer model than the Boeing that crashed in January.
SUEZ, Egypt — For six days, billions of dollars’ worth of international commerce sat paralyzed at either end of the Suez Canal, stalled thanks to a single giant container ship apparently knocked sideways by a powerful southerly wind.
The ship’s insurers and the canal authorities summoned the largest tugboats in the canal, then two even larger ones from further afield. They deployed diggers, front-end loaders and specialized dredgers to guzzle sand and mud from where the ship was lodged at both ends. They called in eight of the world’s most respected salvage experts from the Netherlands.
Day and night, with international pressure bearing down, the dredgers dredged and the tugboats tugged.
But not until the seventh day, after the confluence of the full moon and the sun conjured an unusually high tide, did the ship wriggle free with one last heave shortly after 3 p.m., allowing the first of the nearly 400 ships waiting to resume their journeys by Monday evening.
reconstruction of the ship’s movements through the narrow section of the canal north of the port of Suez shows the Ever Given weaving back and forth from one side of the canal to the other almost as soon as it entered the channel, gathering speed until the 224,000-ton ship tops 13 knots, or about 15 miles per hour.
internet memes about the epic traffic jam piled up, the Suez Canal Authority and the ship’s owner and insurer scrambled tugboats and dredging equipment to the scene. By the day after the grounding, they had called in a highly regarded team of salvage experts from Smit Salvage, a Dutch company.
“The time pressure to complete this operation was evident and unprecedented,” Peter Berdowski, chief executive of Royal Boskalis Westminster, Smit’s parent company, said in a statement on Monday.
images emerged on social media of the ship, for so long diagonal, once again parallel with the canal.
celebrated the moment on Twitter, writing that “Egyptians have succeeded today in ending the crisis of the stuck ship in the Suez Canal despite the great complexities surrounding this situation in every aspect.”
Ms. Stausboll said that the authorities’ often overly rosy projections during the past week left many shipowners confused about what to believe. “A lot in the shipping community would wish there had been more clarity about what was going on in Egypt from the authorities,” she said. “It does harm your reputation.”
In the absence of a faster, cheaper option, however, the Suez Canal will remain a key artery for shippers, she said. And she pointed out that most ships, including large ones, have navigated the canal without incident in the past.
Shippers have, in any case, a more pressing concern: how to resolve the chain reaction of delays that may ripple out for weeks or months even after the Suez backlog clears, as it was beginning to do by Monday night.
The first ship to pass through the canal after the Ever Given got out of the way was the YM Wish, a 1,207-foot-long Hong Kong-flagged container ship that exited the canal at about 9:15 p.m.
If there is schadenfreude among ships, the YM Wish was perhaps not feeling it. VesselFinder.com reported the YM Wish ran aground in the Elbe River in Germany only six years ago. In its case, however, it took less than a day to float again.
Marc Santora contributed reporting from London, Nada Rashwan from Ismailia, Egypt, and Thomas Erdbrink from Amsterdam.
“I had to let go of my own standards to try to support myself through this tough period,” he said, noting the working conditions were very unsafe. “I would never fly for wildcat mining again.”
After this plane crashed, when it became clear help was not going to come from the sky, Mr. Sena, 36, started walking.
He turned on his dying phone one final time to launch a geolocation app and then, looking at the map, decided to head in the direction of the Paru River, some 60 miles away. It was the closest area he knew to be inhabited.
For days, Mr. Sena walked only in the morning, using the sun’s position to head eastward toward the river. After slogging through swamps and ducking under vines for hours, he would stop in the afternoon to set up a campsite, using palm trees and branches to shelter from the rain.
Mr. Sena knew that predators usually hunt near the water, where prey is abundant. So he slept on hills. But he was frequently besieged by packs of spider monkeys, which tried to destroy his precarious shelters.
“They are very territorial,” he said. “I never want to cross their path again.”
The monkeys, however, were a godsend: After watching them eat a small, bright pink fruit called breu, Mr. Sena assumed it was safe for human consumption, and it became his main source of sustenance. Besides that, he ate three small, blue eggs from inambu birds, and little else.
One afternoon about four weeks after the crash, when he gone three days without eating, a buzzing noise stopped him in his tracks. Chain saw!