ship blocks Suez Canal
ship blocks Suez CanalReuters

An investigation into the huge container ship which ran aground in the Suez Canal last week has begun. The ship blocked the canal, stopping all maritime traffic and endangering global trade for nearly a week, with crews only freeing the massive vessel on Monday.

On Tuesday, experts boarded the Ever Given in order to solve the mystery of how the big ship became stuck in the canal on March 23, a question with an answer that involves billions of dollars in legal ramifications, reported the Associated Press. Those pressing for an answer include Egyptian government officials, insurers, shippers and the craft's owner.

Reportedly, when and if the investigation points to a culprit, there will be years of litigation, including deciding who will pay for repairing damage to the ship and the canal, and reimbursing parties whose cargo shipments were delayed.

The ship is owned by a Japanese corporation but was being sailed by a Taiwanese shipping firm under a Panamanian flag. The massive boat is now stuck in Egypt for the time being. It is thought that there is “significant damage” to the ship.

“Structural integrity is No. 1. You know, there was a lot of strain on that ship as it was sagging in the waterway,” Capt. John Konrad, CEO of shipping website gcaptain, told the Associated Press in an interview. “They have to check everything for cracks and particularly that rudder and the propeller in the back that’s connected to the engine room.”

“And then they have to go through all the mechanical equipment, make sure they test the engines, all the safety valves, all the equipment, and then determine that it’s safe to sail either by itself or with a tug escort to the next port,” he said.