A major cause of one of the Suez Canal’s most costly maritime disasters was communication difficulties. The final report by the Panama Maritime Authority into the grounding of the Ever Given cargo ship details an argument between the vessel’s two local pilots and a failure to effectively communicate instructions to the ship’s Indian crew.
“Communication in the Arabic language on the bridge between pilots made it difficult for the captain and the bridge team to understand the situation in the Suez Canal transit,” said the report.
As the disaster unfolded, the report said the wrong instructions were given to the crew: a hard helm order instead of a course of steer.
The report has found that the “root cause” of the grounding was a “loss of manoeuvrability of the ship” arising from factors including wind speed and “bank suction.”
As the ship’s difficulties worsened, the investigators said interventions by the Ever Given’s master – the crew member in charge of the ship – were “not effective.”
The Ever Given is one of the largest container ships in the world. After the 400-metre cargo ship ran aground during high winds on March 23, 2021, news reports put the damage costs at about $US1 billion, one of the most expensive ship damages claims in recent history.
The six-day blockage threw global supply chains into disarray and, according to Lloyd’s List Intelligence data, held up almost US$10 billion worth of trade.
The refloating of the stuck 224,000-ton transport vessel, according to Energy Industry Review, involved dredging 30,000 cubic metres of sand and the help 13 tugboats.
The Panama Maritime Authority’s official investigation into the Ever Given disaster was publicly released this week.