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“Ever Given” Under Vessel Arrest. Crew Members Stranded. What Now?

June 14, 2021

On April 13, 2021 Evergreen Line’s chartered vessel, Ever Given, was arrested by a court in Egypt for nonpayment of claims of approximately $916 million, including a claim for $300 million for loss of reputation. 

The ship has been the source of many news articles over the past couple of months as the ship blocked the Suez Canal for a period of six days in March. The Suez Canal is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes that connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. 

The ship was on its way to the Rotterdam Port prior the ship blocking the famous canal. The Ever Given is owned by Japan’s Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., and was being chartered by the Ever Green Line.

What Is Vessel Arrest?

Under Admiralty law, a vessel is responsible for the payment of any liens, mortgages, or torts (such as negligence) that may arise relating to the vessel itself. Torts and breaches of maritime contracts caused by the vessel may lead to maritime liens that can be enforced by the courts in a foreclosure action against the vessel. A maritime lien is the property right of a non-vessel owner in a vessel that gives the non-vessel owner the ability to have the vessel sold in order to satisfy a pending lien.

Admiralty law provides for “in rem” actions against the vessel or other maritime property subject to maritime liens. In actions against the vessel, the vessel or the maritime property becomes the “res” or the subject matter of the lawsuit. Generally, vessels are arrested due to a pending lien over the vessel. The arrest of a vessel is part of the process by which a court gains jurisdiction over it.

In order to establish jurisdiction or authority over the vessel, the vessel must first be arrested. Admiralty law provides that a ship may be arrested, or prevented from moving or trading, pending the resolution of a court action. The vessel arrest is the manner in which the court gains jurisdiction of the lawsuit “in rem” or “over the thing.”

If a court finds that the conditions for an in rem proceeding exist, the court may then issue an order directing the clerk to issue a warrant for the arrest of the vessel.

What Is happening with the Ever Given Ship?

As of June 8, 2021, the Ever Given Ship along with its 25-person Indian crew remains under vessel arrest. On April 22, 2021, the Ever Given’s owners filed an appeal regarding the Egyptian court’s seizure of the vessel; however, the Egyptian court upheld the ruling preventing the Ever Given from leaving Egypt. 

Currently, negotiations are ongoing between the owners of the Ever Given and the Suez Canal authority. To date, no information has been disclosed regarding an expected release date of the Ever Given crew nor has information regarding the claims of the owners of the approximately 18,000 containers.

A major concern with the Ever Given’s arrest is the uncertainty of when its crew members will be released home. The processing of these claim disputes and investigation of the incident is a very lengthy process; on past occasions, crew members have been stuck on their ship for several years pending the resolution of claims against a vessel. 

Though the crew may have not been in control of the Ever Given at the moment it became stuck on the Suez Canal, the crew is held to be responsible for the ship during transit. Of note, the crew members are compensated during their time under vessel arrest. Crew compensation represents a large portion of custodial expenses during a vessel arrest.

Contact Mase Mebane Seitz For Legal Help

Overall, the arrest of a vessel can be an extremely costly and lengthy procedure. If you need to amend a maritime lien and arrest a vessel or you find your vessel placed under vessel arrest, contact our office immediately. Our team of experienced maritime attorneys can help you obtain a favorable settlement of any claims against your vessel and crew. Call us today to get started: (844) 627-3529.

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