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Services — Arrested Vessel Recoveries

An improper arrest is the worst nightmare of vessel owners and mortgage-holders:  it often results in the total loss of the vessel without recompense from her insurance company or P&I Club.  Because such an arrest is always accompanied by a legal claim of some kind advanced in a local court, the shipowner is required to protect his vessel from fraudulent seizure in a foreign—and usually hostile—jurisdiction.

Types of Improper Seizures

The most common type of improper seizure is one which results from a charter dispute.  Usually, the charterer claims to have been wronged by the shipowner and has the ship seized by improperly influencing a local court.  Also common are improper seizures which result from a dispute with a shore entity such as a chandler, agent, or stevedore.  In almost every case, the claimant has a clandestine connection to the court, either through a local confederate or by paying a bribe.  This type of seizure does not occur in well-regarded maritime jurisdictions due to counter-security requirements and sanctions available for wrongful arrest, but in other areas, such as Africa, South-East Asia and South America, fraudulent seizures are common.

Locals Benefit at the Shipowner's Expense

A shipowner must realize that no one loses when his ship is seized except himself and the crew.  Local agents, lawyers, chandlers, ship-suppliers, and even the port itself (through dock fees, etc.) all benefit from the ship's arrest.  The only reason why all ships don't get seized in corrupt ports is that local receivers would protest if shipowners refused to sail to the port due to hostile conditions.

Freeing Ships the Traditional Way

Usually the shipowner manages to free his vessel by resolving the underlying dispute and obtaining a release of claim—even if the owner is totally innocent.  Sometimes even this will not satisfy the local interested parties, including the agent and the court.  Often, the shipowner's only option is capitulation.

The VessEx Recovery Option

In every case, VessEx will determine and verify the status of the underlying claims that are the basis for the seizure at issue.  VessEx will not effect the removal of a vessel from a legitimate seizure or one resulting from a matter of genuine controversy.  VessEx will make an independent investigation of each case before securing the vessel’s release.  Of course, the facts of each case and the conditions in each port dictate the best method with which to approach this problem.  VessEx will be pleased to discuss possible solutions to each problem on a case-by-case basis with prospective clients.

Proven Ship Recovery Experience

Click here to view an excerpt from Seized by VessEx Operations Director Capt. Max Hardberger for an account of his efforts to recover a ship in Haiti.

Ship surveillance in Venezuela 

Book cover of Seized

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