Ever Given makes successful trip through Suez Canal

In this March 30, 2021 file photo, the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, is anchored in Egypt's Great Bitter Lake. (AP Photo/Mohamed El-shahed, File)

The Ever Given container ship made a successful crossing of the Suez Canal on Friday, almost five months after it blocked the crucial waterway for six days.

The Panama registered vessel is sailing to China after dropping its cargo off in the United Kingdom.

Experienced senior authority guides and two tugboats accompanied the ship during its journey to ensure safe passage, according to the canal authority.

Lieutenant-General Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, said in a statement that the crossing indicated the good relations between the authority and the owners of the Ever Given – Japanese shipping company Evergreen.

The vessel was only released at the beginning of July amid a dispute over financial compensation for blocking the canal.

Officials have not revealed details on the terms of the settlement. At first, the Suez Canal Authority had demanded $916 million in compensation, which was later lowered to $550 million. In addition to the money, local reports said the canal would also receive a tugboat.

The money, according to canal authorities, would cover the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic, and lost transit fees for the week the Ever Given had blocked the canal.

The ship was on its way to the Dutch port of Rotterdam on March 23 when it slammed into the bank of a single lane stretch of the canal about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.

Its bow had touched the eastern wall of the canal, while its stern looked lodged against the western wall — an extraordinary event that experts said they had never heard of happening in the canal’s 150-year history.

A massive salvage effort by a flotilla of tugboats helped by the tides freed the skyscraper-sized, Panama-flagged Ever Given six days later, ending the crisis, and allowing hundreds of waiting ships to pass through the canal.

The blockage of the canal forced some ships to take the long alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip, requiring additional fuel and other costs. Hundreds of other ships waited in place for the blockage to end.