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Chinese ship 'arrested' in Portsmouth crane mishap
The Virginian-Pilot ^ | February 25, 2011 | Robert McCabe

Posted on 02/25/2011 6:53:42 AM PST by csvset

The U.S. Marshals Service has "arrested" a Chinese ship after a crane aboard the vessel damaged a towering new container crane at APM Terminals in Portsmouth.

The arrest came after the Virginia Port Authority and its operating affiliate sued the Chinese company that made and delivered two new cranes. The suit in Norfolk's federal court seeks $14.65 million in damages.

The court then issued an arrest warrant for the ship. While still berthed at APM Terminals, it's now in federal custody.

"From the time that it's under arrest, it belongs to the United States Marshals Service - until the courts give us further instruction to either release the ship or to turn it over to somebody else as a third-party custodian," said Andy Mazerik, a supervisory deputy for the Marshals Service. "We won't release it unless the judge tells us to."

The Port Authority and Virginia International Terminals Inc. sued the ship itself - the Zhen Hua 24 - and its owner, Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Co. Ltd., known as ZPMC, on Feb. 18.

The suit stems from an accident that occurred Feb. 14 as the Zhen Hua 24 was pulling away from the APM berth after unloading the new cranes. One of two large cranes still aboard the ship to be delivered elsewhere clipped the boom of one of the new APM cranes on the dock, twisting it, port officials said last week.

The 1,650-ton crane, which moves by rail, was knocked off its tracks and is now blocking the berth.

The damaged APM crane is "inoperable," preventing cargo operations from taking place at one of APM's berths, according to the lawsuit.

"As best as can be determined, the Damaged Crane will have to be dismantled and removed in order to permit cargo operations to resume at the affected berth," the suit states. "It is reasonably estimated that it may take up to a year before the berth may be cleared and cargo operations resumed."

The damages are estimated to be $1.2 million a month and total damages to be at least $14.65 million.

"Plaintiffs have, or will be, caused to divert cargo to other port facilities at great cost and expense, including, without limitation, costs of shifting vessels and additional labor and drayage charges," the suit states.

Attorneys involved in the case - Edward J. Powers for Virginia International Terminals and Patrick Brogan for ZPMC - declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

Brogan said the crane is being worked on and that he believed it can be repaired.

Joe Dorto, president and CEO of Virginia International Terminals, said he could not comment on the case.

"We're going to decline to comment until the issue is resolved," said Joe Harris, a Port Authority spokesman.

None of the officials contacted Thursday had information regarding the crew of the Zhen Hua 24, believed to be about 20 Chinese nationals still aboard the vessel.

It arrived in Portsmouth on Feb. 8 after a 41-day journey from China with the two cranes bolted and welded to the deck. It also carried two other large cranes and four rubber-tired gantry cranes, bound for Colombia.

Because a ship was involved in the accident that damaged the crane and the berth, that allowed the lawsuit to be filed under federal maritime law that includes provisions for the "arrest" or detention of a vessel when financial claims are pending, Mazerik said.

The warrant issued on Feb. 18 for the arrest of the Zhen Hua 24 states that the vessel could be "condemned and sold to pay the demands of the plaintiff."

Mazerik said that in cases in which a financial judgment is eventually made against a ship and its owner and the judgment isn't paid, its sets in motion a series of events that in the worst cases ends in front of the courthouse.

"If they can't pay the money," he said, "then it's not unusual to have a sale on the courthouse steps to sell the ship and/or its cargo, if people don't have legal claims to it."

But things seldom go that far, Mazerik said. "The vast majority of all cases are settled way before then, because usually - when you have to sell a ship - everybody loses money."

Robert McCabe, (757) 446-2327,

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Foreign Affairs; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: china; crane; failboat; imports; madeinchina; maritime; portsmouth; shipping; vpa
Interesting case. We'll have to watch and see what happens.
1 posted on 02/25/2011 6:53:48 AM PST by csvset
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To: csvset

Should’ve bought a Manitowoc.

2 posted on 02/25/2011 6:57:41 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (Go Hawks !)
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To: csvset

Did they read it it’s Miranda rights?...............

3 posted on 02/25/2011 7:06:09 AM PST by Red Badger (Want to be surprised? Google your own name. Want to have fun? Google your friend's names.....)
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To: csvset

This will play out like an old toothless man gumming a tough piece of meat. China will punish us politically and financially.

4 posted on 02/25/2011 7:06:38 AM PST by Dixie Yooper (Ephesians 6:11)
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To: csvset

The bosses in Beijing won’t be happy. Expect the ChiCom ship to be quietly released next week.

5 posted on 02/25/2011 7:14:27 AM PST by Virginia Ridgerunner (Sarah Palin has crossed the Rubicon!)
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To: Red Badger
“Did they read it it’s Miranda rights?...............”

They did and the ship stood mute.

Seriously though, “arresting” (actually I believe the term is “libeling,” but that might now be anachronistic) a ship is just a fancy term for putting a lien on a piece of movable property that can be used to compensate a plaintiff for damages done by that property. The intent is to keep it in the jurisdiction of the controlling court.

6 posted on 02/25/2011 7:21:14 AM PST by No Truce With Kings (Ten years on FreeRepublic and counting.)
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To: csvset

I wouldnt want to be on a U.S. ship bound for China right about now. you know they are going to drum up some counter charge and hold our crew hostage as leverage.

If we even have any cargo ships anymore....or ship anything anymore...

7 posted on 02/25/2011 7:44:29 AM PST by Shamrock498
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To: All

admiralty law.

you could always arrest a ship because a ship can leave the jurisdiction and generally is the only asset of significance. The ship owner could bond out after a hearing.

There should be no “ “ around arrest of a ship. The marshal service is specifically tasked with this duty.

Of course now all the blowdryer news readers will give fluf stories about this new thing.

8 posted on 02/25/2011 7:48:49 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! and
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To: Virginia Ridgerunner

you do realize vessel arrests happen all the time? this has happened before and will happen again.

The chinese vessel owners will put in a limitation of liability notice with will limit their damages to the value of the vessel.

this is a non-story.

A distraction from the Obamunists

9 posted on 02/25/2011 8:14:24 AM PST by longtermmemmory (VOTE! and
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