Investigator boards ship at start of probe into Suez Canal blockage

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ISMAILIA, Egypt: Divers inspected the hull of the Ever Given on Wednesday (Mar 31) as the man tasked with investigating how the giant container ship ran aground, choking off international trade through the Suez Canal for almost a week, boarded the vessel.

Lead investigator Captain Sayed Sheasha, who boarded the Ever Given on Wednesday afternoon, told Reuters that the investigation would include examining the seaworthiness of the ship and its captain’s actions to help determine the causes.

Divers had gone to check the hull of the ship while it is anchored in the Bitter Lakes area, a canal source said.

The Ever Given’s captain was committed to fully complying with the probe, Sheasha said.

READ: Commentary: Too big to sail? Suez Canal debacle sparks debate over huge container ships

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“The ship will remain in the lakes area until the investigations are complete,” Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie told a local television channel late on Wednesday, adding that there was no definite time frame for the inquiry.

Rabie also said that investigators on Wednesday questioned the crew.

The six-day blockage threw global supply chains into disarray after the 400-metre-long ship became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

The SCA said on Wednesday that shipping had returned to normal levels, with a total of 81 ships transiting the canal.

Egypt’s Leth Agencies said on Wednesday that a total of 163 ships had transited the Suez Canal since its reopening and that 292 ships were currently waiting.

READ: Ship backlogs from Suez Canal chaos could take months to clear, container lines say

Five liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels transited on Tuesday, commodities analysts Kpler said in a note, adding that it appeared congestion at the canal was “now quickly tapering off”.

The SCA has scheduled accelerated shipping convoys and has said it hopes the backlog of ships can be cleared by the end of the week.

The blocking of the canal is expected to give rise to flurry of insurance claims, with Lloyd’s of London expecting a “large loss”, possibly amounting to US$100 million or more, according to its chairman.

The Japanese owner of the Ever Given said it had not received any claims or lawsuits over the blockage.

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