Cargo Ship Almost Free After 7-Month Arrest
USCG team conducts ship deck inspection, 2013.
A cargo ship that has been detained in the Delaware River for the last seven (7) months – due to necessary repairs and owners who could not pay for them – is expected to set sail next week.
The newly-renamed Nicolina also now has a new crew of 20 Filipinos and new owners. A federal lawsuit that had kept the vessel there has been settled.
Because their visas had expired, the original crewmembers could not leave the ship over the summer, after it was arrested in April. As their contracts expired, most received U.S. Customs releases to go home. The rest left when the new owners took over.
The Nicolina, registered in the Philippines, has also been retrofitted with new parts, as the new owners are working to bring it up to class. Once the last generator is installed, the ship is scheduled to sail on Wednesday, November 19. This is also contingent on a U.S. Coast Guard safety inspection.
The new captain and crew arrived last month, after Keeper Maritime Co. of Manila and Orient Shipping Rotterdam B.V., Netherlands, acquired the former Nikol H on October 22, reports The Inquirer.
The saga began in mid-April after the ship discharged a massive cargo of cocoa beans in South Philadelphia. The U.S. Coast Guard cited the vessel for operational deficiencies and ordered it not to sail until repairs were made.
In May, Dependable Distribution Services sued in federal court, seeking to arrest for failure to pay nearly $300,000 in wharfage, stevedoring, and other fees for the six weeks it had been docked for repairs. Other suppliers, the ship agent, and a time-charter firm joined the lawsuit, saying they also were owed money for the time the Nikol H was there and received fuel and other necessities.
The owner and operator at that time, Derna Carriers S.A., claimed not to have the money to pay. Last month, all the claims were settled.