Judge grants Hanjin ships protection from creditors, hoping to get cargo moving



A U.S. bankruptcy judge said Friday he will approve Hanjin Shipping Co.’s provisional protection from creditors so vessels could dock and unload products, and retailers could begin selling those products in stores.

“The objective is to get ships into port,” said Judge John Sherwood of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark, New Jersey.

Last week’s financial fall of the world’s seventh-largest shipping company has had a stunning ripple effect throughout the United States, leaving ships stacked high with goods as the holiday shopping season looms. Workers can’t unload the cargo out of fear they won’t be paid.

But lawyers for Hanjin on Friday said a South Korean bankruptcy court approved the release of $10 million in funding to unload four Hanjin Shipping Co. chartered ships that have been sitting off U.S. waters, including at least two off the coast of Southern California, lawyers for Hanjin said.

There are still nine additional ships owned or leased by Hanjin at sea filled with cargo and crews near the United States, said Ilana Volkov, a lawyer for Hanjin, during the bankruptcy proceedings.

“We have the money to fully service those four ships,” she said. “We want the customers to get their goods.”Hanjin filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection after seeking recievership in South Korea last week. Sherwood granted protection on an interim basis, but on Friday sought to begin untangling the complicated business relationships in the supply chain and among the dozens of Hanjin creditors who want to be paid.

Two massive cargo ships have been moored off the coast of Southern California since the financial collapse of Hanjin last week: the Hanjin Greece, Hanjin Boston and the Hanjin Montevideo, which was placed under arrest last week.

Vokov said the injection of funding would pay for operators to unload the Greece and Boston, as well as two other ships off the United States coast: Gdyina and Jungil. The fate of the remaining nine ships at sea is unclear.


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