Bankruptcy Filing by Korean Shipping Co. Leads to Partial Halt of Cargo Movement at Long Beach Port

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Hanjin Shipping, one of the world’s top container carriers, announced this week its decision to file for bankruptcy protection, forcing many container vessels into a liquid limbo as port terminals, including the Port of Long Beach, have stopped handling Hanjin cargo.

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As of Thursday evening, three Hanjin ships scheduled to dock at the Long Beach and Los Angeles port complex were directed to anchor off the coast instead, according to Port of Long Beach (POLB) spokesman Lee Peterson.

“The three terminals that normally handle Hanjin cargo are not accepting anymore Hanjin cargo into their terminal—either by ship, truck or train,” Peterson said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what Hanjin and other carriers can work out.”

Total Terminal International, which usually handles Hanjin cargo at the POLB and is the second largest terminal in the port complex, stated on its website that “until further notice, TTI Long Beach will discontinue delivery of all Hanjin import container. Additionally, TTI will no longer accept Hanjin export or empty containers through the gate.”

All three carriers, comprised of two small ships and one medium-sized ship, anchored off coast have about 10,000 containers worth of cargo, according to Peterson.

“It’s a small amount of cargo in terms of daily volume that comes through the ports,” Peterson said.

The South Korean carrier's bankruptcy filing on Wednesday and the expected freezing of its assets has raised uncertainty about when or if business partners, dockworkers and its employees will get paid.

Shane Kennedy of Sea-Cargo, a freight forwarding service company based in Long Beach, saw the bankruptcy filing as having the potential to have a global effect.

“It’s a big deal,” he told the Post in an email. “There are multiple ports around the world that are already saying they will not allow Hanjin vessels into ports as they do not think they will be able to pay the port fees.”

Kennedy said that some of the Hanji-shipped cargo at TTI includes food grade.

“That is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Kennedy. “More than likely, Hanjin will make some deal with another carrier to take something over, but in the meantime there are several entities seizing their vessels and holding their equipment regardless if there is cargo belonging to someone else or not.”

Kennedy also alluded to the potential for massive rate increases from carriers arising from the bankruptcy.



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