Liskow’s maritime practice group advises clients in all aspects of maritime liens arising under the Commercial Instruments and Maritime Liens Act (46 U.S.C. § 31301-31343) and regarding vessel arrest proceedings to enforce such liens and others under the general maritime law. The firm has both prosecuted and defended lien claims associated with bunker supply contracts, salvage operations, preferred ship mortgages, cargo damages, unpaid freight, and property damage to docks and terminals.
In a recent victory for a client, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that alleged maritime liens asserted against three Offshore Supply Vessels were improper because the bunkers loaded aboard the OSVs were “cargo,” destined to be transferred to and consumed by seismic vessels operating offshore. As a result, the bunkers were not “necessaries” of the OSVs under the Maritime Lien Act. Martin Energy Services, LLC, v. Bourbon Petrel M/V, 962 F.3d 827 (5th Cir. 2020).
The maritime practice group is often called upon to prosecute and defend vessel arrests under the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture. For our vessel owner and charterer clients with vessels subject to seizure, which often occurs with little notice and results in significant interruption of the vessel’s voyage, we assist clients in obtaining security in the form of Letters of Undertaking and Supersedeas Bonds to either forestall a seizure or secure a vessel’s release to continue on her voyage.
Equally important, our maritime attorneys are prepared to effectuate vessel seizures under the Supplemental Rules in order to preserve a client’s in rem rights before a vessel leaves the jurisdiction of U.S. federal courts. Understanding that time is of the essence, the firm works closely with the U.S. Marshals Service to ensure that, once vessel arrest pleadings are filed and orders are issued, service of process on the vessel can be made without delay and substitute custodians can be put in place to secure the vessel pending adequate security or sale of the vessel.