Enforcement of Maritime Liens

Under general maritime law, a vessel can be held responsible for the misconduct of its master, crew, owners or operators. A maritime lien grants the lienholder a financial interest in the ship and the right to have the ship sold to satisfy the debt. There are a number of reasons why a creditor may seek a lien against a ship, such as:

  • Failure to pay marina fees for dockage or gas
  • Foreclosure for failure to pay on a ship mortgage
  • A finding of financial liability for a negligently caused injury

The Bluestein Law Firm, P.A., in Charleston, South Carolina, represents the interests of banks, marinas, vessel repair companies, other vendors, and repair people who are owed money by ship owners. We can help you obtain a lien and enforce a lien against a ship so that you receive the payment you are due.

To learn more about how a skilled admiralty lawyer can protect your financial interests in a maritime lien, contact our Charleston law office. We offer clients a free initial consultation to discuss specific needs and concerns.

Enforcing a Lien: Arrest of the Ship or Formal Filing of a Lien

One of the strongest weapons a plaintiff has is the right to arrest the vessel in a federal admiralty proceeding. This is done by having a warrant of arrest issued and served and the vessel taken into physical custody by the U.S. Marshal. The ship's owner may choose to pay the outstanding debt to get the ship released from arrest, or the lienholder may ask the court to sell the vessel at a U.S. Marshal's sale. The lienholder can then take the money to satisfy the maritime tort lien.

The arrest of a vessel can be costly and time consuming. You can also pressure the ship owner to make payment by filing a notice of the lien with the U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center. A lien may be a violation of the terms and conditions of the vessel's preferred ship mortgage and will deter potential buyers from purchasing the vessel. This places a cloud on the vessel's title and often cause's the ship's owner to pay the outstanding debt.

Contact our Charleston Law Office For Assistance

To understand which action is best in your particular situation, contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation. Call us at 843-577-3092 or toll-free at 866-428-4030 or complete and submit our online contact form.