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Hanjin Details When Some But Not All Stranded Ships will Call US Ports

Posted on October 11, 2016

By Hugh R. Morley,

Hanjin Shipping on Thursday gave US importers awaiting the discharge of their stranded goods a better idea of when some ships will call but wasn’t able to give a timeline for two ships under arrest near the Panama Canal and another off the coast of Savannah.

It’s not clear when Hanjin Baltimore and Hanjin Bremerhaven will be released and allowed to make their way to the United States from Panamanian waters, company attorneys told a conference call with representatives of clients who have cargo on the carrier’s ships Wednesday. The two ships are among four that are scheduled to eventually deliver goods to New York, but have yet to do so, leaving the owners of the cargo waiting desperately for their much-delayed goods. The others are Hanjin Chongqing and Hanjin Switzerland, according to Hanjin.

A fifth vessel, Seaspan Efficiency, which is currently waiting to berth at Savannah, Georgia, will come to New York to pick up export containers, but when has yet to be determined, the carrier said.

The call offered some signs that the ocean carrier is moving ahead with efforts to clean up the logistical nightmare unleashed when Hanjin Shipping filed for bankruptcy protection in a South Korean court on Aug. 31. They include more than 30 container yards now open around the United States where Hanjin-owned containers can be returned. Newly posted on Hanjin’s website are detailed instructions on how creditors can file a claim in South Korean court.

Yet elsewhere, progress seems elusive. Although published reports suggested the Hanjin Baltimore had already been released, attorneys for Hanjin Shipping told a conference call of customers and creditors that is not the case. Hanjin is working vigorously to get the ship released, and has hired an attorney in Panama to work on the problem.

Both ships have been arrested twice, but the Hanjin Baltimore has three liens against it, a Hanjin attorney said, calling it “a priority” for the company that they are released.

“I can assure everybody that the email traffic and the amount of effort that’s been put forth by the people of Hanjin here in the US and Korea to try to get those two vessels released has been pretty substantial,” said Edward S. Kiel, a New Jersey attorney for Hanjin Shipping. “I know that they are working on it and as soon as there is any news on that we will post it.”

The call was arranged by Hanjin Shipping attorneys who represent the company in the US arm of the bankruptcy case in Korea. The carrier is seeking Chapter 15 status in US District Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey, which — if approved — would mean the US court recognizes the South Korean case. That would enable Hanjin Shipping to take certain measures to move the case along and help obtain money held in the United States that is owed to Hanjin.

Since the bankruptcy filing, beneficial cargo owners have pushed vigorously to redeem their cargo from ships and terminals around the United States. Truckers, BCOs, and others have struggled to dispose of thousands of empty Hanjin containers and the chassis they arrived on, because there was nowhere to return them.

An attorney for the carrier on Thursday said the Hanjin Seattle would pick up 1,000 empty containers when it stops at the Port of Seattle, and another 3,000 empties when it gets to the Total Terminals International terminals in Long Beach. The company is also working to set up a container yard near the port, where Hanjin-owned empty containers can be delivered, the attorney said.

The court on Friday will hear three motions filed by clients or service providers owed money. Ashley Furniture has asked the court to freeze money paid to Hanjin Shipping that is equal to the amount that the furniture company incurred in damages as a result of Hanjin’s failure to fulfill contractual obligations.

In another motion several chassis, container, and fuel providers are demanding that Judge John K. Sherwood force Hanjin to reply more quickly to their “urgent” requests for information on where the container line’s ships are, and the location of chassis and containers the ocean carrier leased from the creditors.

In a third case, SchenkerOcean, part of third-party logistics provider DB Schenker, is asking Sherwood to force Hanjin Shipping to release 46 containers of goods shipped on the Hanjin Marine in line with its contract. The provider says that it has paid the $55,206 required in the contract, but Hanjin refuses to release the containers until the provider has paid another $970,964 owed for other shipments, some of them made by a Schenker subsidiary, according to court papers filed by the provider.

The cargo was bound for Vancouver, but was diverted to Seattle to avoid seizure. “Hanjin has landed the cargo in Seattle and refuses to move it any further,” the papers say.

SchenkerOcean is asking Sherwood to enforce a “protocol,” or set of guidelines, enacted by the court on Sept. 9 defining how Hanjin Shipping and providers could reach an agreement that would allow the carrier to get paid and release goods it had shipped.


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