About — Operations Director Capt. Max Hardberger
Max Hardberger's diverse background includes experience
as a ship captain, maritime lawyer, port captain, commercial
instructor, and classification society surveyor. He is also a published
author and a court-recognized maritime expert. As
Operations Director for VessEx, he brings wide-ranging
legal, maritime, and special-project expertise to the task
of asset recovery and protection. With Capt.
Hardberger in command of extraction and protection operations, VessEx
clients benefit by having the vital experience of many
professions in one man.
A Ship Captain ...
Capt. Hardberger earned a Panamanian Certificate of
Competency as an Unlimited Master Mariner and has spent a
number of years at sea serving as master of ocean cargo
vessels in the general cargo trade.
A Shore-Side Vessel Operator ...
His shore-side operational experience includes employment as
a vessel technical manager, port captain, and liner-service
operations manager. As a port captain, Capt.
Hardberger worked in most major ports of the Caribbean and
on the north and west coasts of South America. He has
developed an extensive network of contacts throughout Latin
America and Europe, including Greece, Italy, Belgium,
Holland, Germany, Poland and Russia.
A Marine Surveyor
addition to possessing extensive operational experience,
Capt. Hardberger is an expert surveyor and salvage
master. His surveying expertise includes vessel
construction and condition, vessel valuation, collision and
allision causation analysis, cargo stowage and damage, dock
damage, charter-party review, and lay-time and demurrage
- Hull & Machinery
Surveyor. Capt. Hardberger
earned certification in Hull & Machinery by the National Association of
Marine Surveyors (NAMS). As a surveyor, he has
supervised numerous repair operations, including Port
State Control detention-item remediation, drydocking,
and class-mandated repairs.
- Classification Society
Surveyor. A unique benefit to VessEx
clients is Capt. Hardberger's credentials as a senior
marine surveyor. He has been a class surveyor for
Panama, Belize, and Honduras, and he currently performs
pre-purchase surveys, marine risk-assessment surveys,
and P&I surveys for most of the world's major P&I
clubs, including UK
P&I, West of England, Steamship Mutual, and the
- Salvage Master.
Capt. Hardberger's experience as a surveyor also extends
to acting as salvage master. In this area his
experience includes wreck stabilization, pollution
prevention, ballasting operations, external and internal
lifting, emergency hull repair, and towage.
An Aviator ... Capt.
Hardberger also holds current instrument, multi-engine, and
flight instructor licenses from the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration. His experience in this area includes
acting as a flight instructor and crop duster. He has
also delivered a large number of aircraft to Latin America
from the United States. Capt. Hardberger possesses
over forty years of aviation experience.
A Maritime Lawyer ...
After his admission to the California bar, Capt. Hardberger
began specializing in vessel arrests, charter party
formation and performance, package limitation, salvage, and
An Author ...
is also the author of Freighter Captain (1998), a
semi-autobiographical account of a series of voyages on a
tramp freighter in the Caribbean, and Deadweight:
Owning the Ocean Freighter (1994), a textbook on
ship ownership. Deadweight has been described
as “Required Reading” by Fairplay Magazine and
was quoted in Lloyd's Ship Manager. In 2010,
the Broadway Books imprint of Random House, the world's largest English-language
publisher, released SEIZED, Capt. Hardberger's ship recovery
memoirs. He is
also the author of several articles on maritime security,
including “The Prevention and Care of Stowaways,”
published in The Maritime Security Handbook (U.S.
Department of Transportation, 1994). In
addition, Capt. Hardberger is the author of more
than one hundred articles in WorkBoat Magazine, Marine
News, and National Fisherman.
A Court Appointed Expert ...
Capt. Hardberger has also supervised a number of major
marine projects. His expertise was invaluable to the
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in
1999, when, after several unsuccessful attempts by others,
the Honorable Charles Schwartz appointed him to take charge
of an abandoned freighter in the Mississippi River, transit
her upriver as a “dead ship,” and transship her cargo of
40,000 tons of CARE/World Vision wheat for delivery to
On Extraction Operations ...
Capt. Hardberger’s maritime expertise has also been of
service to clients whose ships were seized in non-U.S. ports
on fraudulent claims. He has been successful in each
case by utilizing legal acumen, local contacts, and maritime
expertise to remove the subject vessel from the port of
seizure and deliver her to a port where the legal system
protected the owner’s rights.
“In vessel extractions,” Capt. Hardberger says, “every
situation is unique. Each project requires different
planning and preparation, and a mix of overt and covert
action. The goal may be simple, but the execution is
usually complex. What sets VessEx apart from other
services is our ability to provide prudent and farsighted
situation assessment as well as effective planning and
Click here to
read an excerpt from SEIZED detailing Captain
Hardberger's efforts to free a vessel from fraudulent
seizure in Haiti.
Capt. Max Hardberger