Suez Canal: 'Ever Given' crew may be under house arrest, face charges

A formal investigation into the cause of the accident has been launched.

A satellite image shows stranded container ship Ever Given ran around in Suez Canal, Egypt March 25, 2021. (photo credit: CNES/AIRBUS DS VIA REUTERS)
A satellite image shows stranded container ship Ever Given ran around in Suez Canal, Egypt March 25, 2021.
 The Ever Given may no longer be trapped, but its crew might not be so lucky.
The 25-strong crew of Indian nationals of the massive cargo ship that had blocked the Suez Canal on March 23 and sparked a global economic disaster until it was freed Monday might be facing house arrest or even criminal charges in Egypt, the Times of India reported.
According to shipping industry insiders, it is possible the Ever Given's captain and some of the crew could be placed under house arrest as an investigation into the accident is launched. 
And many in both the shipping industry and the Indian government are worried what will happen.
“There is a clear danger that the crew will be made scapegoats," National Shipping Board member Capt. Sanjay Prashar told Times of India
The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) have expressed solidarity with the crew of the ship, who are reportedly "fine but stressed," according to NUSI general secretary Abdulgani Serang.
"They are not alone, and we will support them whenever required and in whatever manner required," Serang tweeted.
It should be noted that while the 25-man Indian crew was responsible for the ship during its transit, they were not in control of the ship during the accident.
As a canal, the Suez Canal requires local pilots to take the helm in order to navigate the difficult passages. In fact, it has been reported that two Suez pilots were on board the Ever Given at the time.
But while these pilots are trained to face potential disasters, many in the industry have had bad experiences with these pilots in the past. As writer Rose George recounted in an op-ed in The Guardian about one passage through the canal she was part of in 2010, "the pilot we had was too busy eating his way through the entire menu, and dozing, to be particularly commanding."
Despite this, the Suez Canal Authority's official policy states that it is the ship's "original master," rather than the local pilots, who are responsible for any accidents. As noted by Suez Canal Authority documents posted online by the company Seaways Marine and reported on by the Canadian newspaper National Post, “Masters are held solely responsible for all damage or accidents of whatever kind resulting from the navigation or handling of their vessels directly or indirectly by day or night.” This is because the canal pilots “cannot know the defects or difficulties of maneuverability for every vessel.” 
It should be noted that according to Reuters, a formal investigation has been launched Wednesday into how the Ever Given ran aground in the canal, causing an economic crisis that brought global trade to a standstill and may have cost as much as $400 million an hour.
The exact cause of the accident remains unclear, though Suez Canal Authority chairman Osama Rabie has suggested both weather conditions and human error as possible reasons.
While it is unclear how much of a role it played, a degree of human error being involved in the accident. According to a 2017 report by the Maritime Journal, human error accounts for anywhere between 75% and 96% of maritime accidents.