The container ship that caused global disruption after blocking the Suez canal earlier this year has finally docked in the UK – four months later than planned.
The Ever Given finally arrived at the Port of Felixstowe on Tuesday after gaining notoriety for becoming stuck against a bank of the major shipping lane in Egypt for six days from 23 March.
Dozens of people headed down to the port to see the 400m-long ship’s arrival, which port records show occurred at 4.30pm. Some of the onlookers were so keen to get a look at the infamous 220,000-ton vessel that they came armed with deckchairs and binoculars.
The operation to unblock the ship from the waterway back in March caused one of the biggest traffic jams in shipping history. The chaos and backlog meant the journeys of hundreds of ships were delayed and some were forced to take the much longer route around the southern tip of Africa.
The ship was then held by the Egyptian authorities, in charge of the canal, for several months amid a dispute over compensation. The losses and damages resulting from the blockage will eventually cost the world more than $1bn (£730m), according to the Suez Canal Authority.
Initially, the ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd said the canal authority was at fault, claiming it should not have allowed the Ever Given to enter the waterway amid bad weather – and had failed to prove any fault by the ship.
At one point, there were concerns for the welfare of the crew, and representatives from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), an umbrella union that represents seafarers, were sent onboard to check up on them.
But in July, it was freed after a compensation agreement was struck. The departure of the ship from the Suez canal was marked by fanfare and a signing ceremony for the deal. And, despite the earlier dispute, the ship’s owner said: “Our company … will continue to be a regular and loyal customer of the Suez canal.”
The vessel was watched by a lavish party of assembled diplomats and flag-waving canal authority officials in Ismailia as it sailed up the canal after being freed, while smaller boats sprayed jets of water in celebration.
Having spent about three months at anchor, the Ever Given headed for an inspection in the northern city of Port Said, then to Rotterdam, where it was due to unload the 18,300 containers onboard.
Thereafter, it made its way to Felixstowe – Britain’s busiest container port, handling more than 3,000 ships each year – and is due to head for Hamburg next.