Hanjin says U.S.-bound ship is being held "hostage"

Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:14pm EDT
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By Tom Hals

Sept 15 (Reuters) - A lawyer for Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd , the failed South Korean container carrier, said on Thursday a U.S.-bound vessel was held "hostage" by disputes over payments, adding to the struggles in getting $14 billion of cargo off its ships stranded at sea.

"There is no clear visibility yet on what will happen with this business," Hanjin lawyer Ilana Volkov said at a hearing, when asked by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Sherwood whether Hanjin was liquidating.

Hanjin, the world's seventh-largest container line, filed for bankruptcy last month, leaving more than 100 ships and their cargo at sea and threatening to snarl U.S. freight traffic as the year-end shopping season approaches.

Some ships chartered to Hanjin have been sold and more are up for sale.

Last week, Hanjin said a Korean judge authorized $10 million to pay tug operators, ports and cargo handlers to unload four of its U.S.-bound vessels.

Since then, the Hanjin Boston, Hanjin Greece and Hanjin Gdynia have begun to unload. But the fourth ship, the Hanjin Jungil, remains at sea off the coast of California, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

"We're negotiating with every service provider and they are saying 'I'm not going to let this ship berth,'" said Volkov at the Newark, New Jersey hearing. "My client is being held hostage."

She told the court that the Korean court had postponed hearing Hanjin's request to authorize another $50 million that would allow at least four more Hanjin ships to unload U.S. cargo.   Continued...