Red-tape keeps cargo ship docked
CHARLESTON, South Carolina: A legal fight has left an Egyptian cargo ship and its crew of 29 stranded in Charleston.
The Edco was ordered by a federal court here last month to be held until the company that owns the ship can respond to a lawsuit filed by Hong Kong-based Grand Max Marine Ltd., which contracted with the Edco s sister ship, the Edco Star.
The Edco Star, carrying powder to make cement from China to Spain, was found to be un-seaworthy at the Suez Canal on May 29 and remains under detention, according to attorney David B. Marvel, who is representing Grand Max.
Grand Max is seeking $4 million because the company is losing money on the undelivered goods, according to the lawsuit.
None of the Egyptian sailors on the Edco has a visa and a private security company is making sure the crew stays on board, said Mike Balero, spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Atlanta.
The company handling the Edco s cargo, Kinder Morgan, said the ship was carrying a cargo of bulk salt from Chile. For now, the lawsuit means the Edco s crew remains stranded in Charleston.
Marvel said a custodian has been appointed to oversee the ship s welfare while the suit plays out. He says the ship was being re-supplied in Charleston for a scheduled trip to South America when it was seized in late June.
The 635 190.5 meter bulk cargo ship and crew could be stranded indefinitely, but Marvel says he hopes the case will be settled soon.
As far as I know, those guys are fine, Marvel said. Mark Cooke of the Charleston Port & Seafarers Society, a local waterfront humanitarian group, said ship asset seizures happen regularly in ports as maritime companies seek to protect their financial interests. When it does, the crew is stuck in the middle, he said.
Cooke said he hopes to visit the crew this week to deliver fresh drinking water and check out the sailors needs. The detainment has rekindled memories of the Kapetan Martinovic, a Yugoslav freighter which remained anchored in Charleston for about two years in the early 1990s. The freighter was barred from leaving U.S. waters in the midst of war in Bosnia. AP