HOEK VAN HOLLAND, Netherlands - The giant container ship MV Ever Given steamed into Rotterdam port early Thursday, more than 4 months after it got stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal, blocking shipping in one of the world's busiest waterways.
The ship, almost as long as New York's Empire State Building is tall, entered Europe's port at around 0300 GMT, an AFP correspondent saw.
"It was a great relief to see her and a special moment," said Hans Nagtegaal, the Rotterdam port's director of containers.
"Finally we can get the job done offloading and hopefully get her back to a normal sailing routine," he told AFP.
Nagtegaal said the Ever Given will remain in Rotterdam until Monday, when she's expected to sail for Felixstowe in Britain, before going to into a dry dock in Dunkirk in France for a further inspection.
The MV Ever Given, which blocked the Suez Canal for 6 days in late March, finally steamed out of the waterway three weeks ago after Egypt and the vessel's Japanese owners signed a compensation deal.
The nearly 200,000-ton container vessel became wedged in the canal during a sandstorm on March 23, blocking a vital artery from Asia to Europe that carries 10 percent of global maritime trade and provides Egypt with vital revenues.
After a round-the-clock salvage operation to dislodge it, Egypt seized the ship and demanded compensation from owners Shoei Kisen Kaisha for lost canal revenues, salvage costs and damage to the canal.
The Suez Canal Authority announced last month it had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Japanese firm ahead of reaching a final deal.
Cairo initially demanded $916 million in compensation before slashing that to around $550 million, but the final figure was the subject of tough negotiations.
Egypt, which earns more than $5 billion a year from the canal, lost between $12 million and $15 million in revenues each day it was closed, the SCA said.
In April, maritime data company Lloyd's List said the blockage by the vessel, which is longer than four football fields, held up some $9.6 billion worth of cargo each day it was stuck.