After almost a week, salvage teams have partially freed and refloated the 1,300-foot Ever Given ship stuck in the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the vital trade route could soon reopen. Freedom for the stranded Ever Given ship would take its operator Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine Corp. out of a harsh global spotlight.
Evergreen Marine previously said on March 24 that they had “urged the shipowner to investigate the cause of this accident” and work closely with the Suez Canal Authority to “refloat the stranded ship as soon as possible.”
The Ever Given is owned by Japan-based Shoei Kisen Kaisha. A representative of Shoei Kisen Kaisha confirmed Monday the refloat operation had begun and that “things are going well,” but could not estimate a timeline.
The Taiwanese company, which is one of the largest shippers in the world by cargo carrying capacity, also said it will ask Shoei Kisen Kaisha to bear responsibility for the mishap that has blocked billions of dollars’ worth of cargo. “As the vessel is chartered, the responsibility for the expense incurred in the recovery operation, third-party liability and the cost of repair, if any, is the owners,” Evergreen Marine says.
A dust storm where wind speeds reached 30 knots (55.56 kilometers per hour) caused the ship to deviate from its course, a suspected cause of the mishap, Evergreen Marine said in its March 24 statement. It pledged to work with the shipowner and Suez Canal Authority to “deal with the situation with the utmost urgency, ensuring the resumption of the voyage as soon as possible.”
Evergreen Marine belongs to the Evergreen Group, a Taiwanese shipping-to-aviation conglomerate that was founded by the late billionaire Chang Yung-fa. Chang, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 88, had worked in shipping since age 14 and got a key break when his neighbor and first mate on a freight liner let him work on the ship. He eventually became a captain himself. The company started with one ship in 1968. Today Evergreen has more than 160 vessels and calls at 240 ports.
The Suez Canal incident will probably impact Evergreen’s reputation only in the short-term, given the global demand for marine shipping, says Cathy Chin, chairperson with the Taiwan International Logistics & Supply Chain Association.
“Short-term of course the impact is big, but long-term it’s OK, because we still need cargo to be shipped by sea,” Chin says. “Maybe a half a year later people will still remember this big trouble caused by Evergreen and its Japanese shipping company.”