The UK P&I Club yesterday disputed claims made earlier by the Suez Canal Authority that the ship’s captain was to blame for the accident that led to the 400 m ship blocking the waterway for six days in March.
The SCA has suggested the ship was travelling too fast. AIS playbacks of the incident do show the ship, travelling in very blustery conditions, was speeding through the waterway at 13 knots at the time it ran into difficulty, four or five knots above standard speeds for transits.
Blame for the ship’s speed ought not to lie with the master of the vessel, the UK Club argued yesterday as both sides battle on a compensation figure, which potentially could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“Critically it is important to clarify that whilst the master is ultimately responsible for the vessel, navigation in the Canal transit within a convoy is controlled by the Suez Canal pilots and SCA vessel traffic management services. Such controls include the speed of the transit and the availability of escort tugs,” the club claimed.
The Shoei Kisen-owned ship is under arrest in the Great Bitter Lake awaiting a final court verdict on compensation, a hearing that has dragged on and on, and is now set for June 20.