The container ship ‘Ever Given’ that had blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week, has been freed from shorelines. The container that has been wrenched free from the sandy bank by tug boats on Monday, had caused many difficulties.
While now the blockage is cleared the crew comprising of 25 Indians is still concerned regarding the treatment they might receive from the Suez Canal Authority.
As per reports, both the Indian government and the seafarers’ organisations are concerned about the legal issues that the crew may face, including the possibility of criminal charges.
It is anticipated that after the inconvenience caused, the captain and some of the crew may be restrained from traveling further.
They could be placed under house arrest until an investigation is completed into the cause of the accident. The ship management, however, has not explained anything about the legal procedures the crew will have to go through.
“There is a clear danger that the crew will be made scapegoats,” a senior person associated with the shipping industry said.
Captain Sanjay Prashar, a member of National Shipping Board (NSB), told TOI, “Firstly, it has to be ascertained as to how the giant ship ran around. Facts can be checked by examining and listening to the conversation in the ship voyage data recorder and one can come to an understanding as to what caused the mishap.”
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The Ever Given has been blocking one of the world’s busiest trade routes, forcing companies to reroute ships and causing long tailbacks of hundreds of vessels since March 23. This resulted in more than 350 vessels — carrying everything from cattle, clothes to crude oil and furniture — getting stranded on both sides. According to data from Lloyd’s List, the blockage is holding up an estimated $9.6bn of goods each day – or $400m an hour.
While Bernhard Schulte Ship Management (BSSM) did not reveal the names of the 25 Indian seafarers, it said: “All the 25 crew members are safe and accounted for and they remain in good health. They are working closely with all parties involved to refloat the vessel. The hard work and tireless professionalism of the master and crew are greatly appreciated.”
Although Indian Seafarers are much appreciated, a legal wrangle is what will inevitably follow.
The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) based in Mumbai has expressed solidarity with the Indian seafarers.
“The NUSI has promised solidarity with all Indian seafarers on board ‘Ever Given’. I got in touch with them. The seafarers are fine but stressed. They are not alone and we will support them whenever required and in whatever manner required,” NUSI general secretary Abdulgani Serang tweeted.