The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #71965   Message #1234722
Posted By: Charley Noble
27-Jul-04 - 09:45 AM
Thread Name: Song Challenge: Ship in Limbo!
Subject: SONG CHALLENGE: Ship in Limbo!
This is a very sad story, even sadder since I sputtered coffee all over my morning newspaper as I was reading it. Here is the link for the skeptical:Click here!

And here is the story for those who can't figure out how to use a link:

"Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Ship, crew - and Scottish whiskey - still in limbo in Portland Harbor

By JOHN RICHARDSON, Portland Press Herald Writer

Copyright © 2004 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.


The cargo ship Shamrock, along with a crew of 13 and a load of imported liquor and other cargo, was still anchored in Portland Harbor on Monday, nearly a week after being detained because of a financial dispute between two European companies.

Local attorneys hired to represent the French owner of the vessel and the Dutch bank that holds the mortgage said the ship may be allowed to unload some of its cargo on the Portland waterfront within the next day or two. But the bank's demands for immediate repayment of $14.3 million had not been resolved, and it was not clear how soon container cargo would start moving through Portland again.

"We're still working on that," said Michael Kaplan, a Portland lawyer representing the vessel owner, Copropriete du Navire Shamrock.

"I assume the parties are talking in Europe," said Peter Plumb, the Portland lawyer representing Fortis Bank.

U.S. marshals arrested the vessel last Tuesday under the terms of admiralty law and the order of a federal judge in Portland. The action followed a legal claim by Fortis Bank saying it had not received any mortgage payments on the vessel since Sept. 2001. The bank is now demanding immediate payment of all outstanding principal and interest on the loan, and the vessel sits at a designated ship anchorage off Portland's East End.

The ship's owner has 10 days from the arrest to post a bond for the disputed amount of money, after which the bank can move to repossess and potentially sell it. Other creditors would then file for compensation. The city of Portland, which is owed about $11,000 in docking fees, would be among them.

While the crew and cargo are not technically under arrest, neither has been able to get off the 400-foot-long ship because of the legal action.

There are 13 people on board, including 11 professional crew and two Canadian cadets. The Shamrock's crew generally does not come ashore in Portland, and crews aboard foreign-flagged tankers that tend to stay in port for several days are often restricted to their ships because of new security rules. Shamrock's crew is used to making a weekly round-trip run between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Boston and has essentially missed one circuit so far.

"If this goes on for a while . . . there's going to need to be some thought given about whether some (crew) can go home, but we're not there yet," Plumb said. Food and supplies can be taken to the ship in the meantime, lawyers said.

The movement of cargo appeared to be the bigger concern. The bank and the ship owner were seeking approvals to have the Shamrock unload Portland-bound cargo while remaining under arrest, lawyers said Monday. "That would not resolve the global situation, but at least it would help the shippers," Kaplan said.

That would be good news for Maine businesses such as White Rock Distilleries of Lewiston, which has a shipment of whiskey from Scotland sitting on board the ship. The delay hasn't caused any whiskey shortages yet, but the company is one of the local customers monitoring the situation closely, employees said.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: jrichardson@pressherald.com"

One wonders what the crew of 13 could possible do to survive if their food supplies run short or if they grow bored waiting for the courts to resolve the legal issues involved. This is surely a "case" that will be studied in detail by apprentice sea lawyers for years to come, as they muse over their mugs at the local pub.

Possible song titles? How about "High and Dry aboard the Shamrock"?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble