Photo courtesy of Hanjin Shipping.
More than a week after the world’s seventh-largest shipping company filed for bankruptcy, three of its vessels remained stranded near the Port of Long Beach (POLB) as of Thursday afternoon, amid continued efforts by various industry and government officials to continue the movement of goods.
Since Hanjin Shipping Co. filed for bankruptcy protection last Wednesday South Korean officials expressed their intent to work closely with the company and help resume suspended delivery, according to a release sent out Wednesday by the government’s Economic Policy Bureau.
During a meeting Wednesday, Finance Minister Yoo Il Ho explained ways they would “absorb shocks following Hanjin Shipping’s filing for court receivership,” including “close cooperation between the government and private entities involved in the Hanjin Shipping restructuring.”
Il Ho said Wednesday he expected that Hanjin vessels would be able to resume entering the Long Beach terminal and unloading cargo this week. As of Thursday afternoon, the three Hanjin vessels stranded in the Long Beach shores since last week were still waiting to go into the port, said Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson.
The bankruptcy filing has also resulted in fewer jobs for dock workers at the terminal operated by Total Terminal International, which is one of three terminals that handles Hanjin cargo. Those workers have been told they could try to seek jobs at other terminals, POLB spokesman Michael Gold said Tuesday.
The TTI terminal moves about a quarter of the goods coming through the Long Beach port annually, handling 2 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units out of the 7 million to 8 million TEUs each year, Gold said.
POLB Board of Harbor Commissioners released a statement Sunday saying the port would continue round-the-clock monitoring on Hanjin developments and particularly the potential impacts to operations at affected terminals.
“The goods movement situation remains fluid and Port executives, in conjunction with the Board of Harbor Commissioners, are constantly engaged with our customers and stakeholders to ensure that the flow of cargo through our Port continues as smoothly as possible,” said the Board of Harbor Commissioners in a statement.
Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, who is the co-chair of the Congressional Ports Caucus, sent a letter Tuesday to Commerce Secretary Penny Prtizker, urging the cabinet official to help get South Korea and Hanjin to reach an agreement so that funds will be available to pay dock workers who unload cargo at West Coast ports.
“The ports will not unload them (the ships) because they have been told they will not get paid,” Hahn wrote. “These ships need to be unloaded—each day that they sit there our local workers and businesses lose money.”
The Hanjin vessel, Montevideo, was ordered by a judge to be held in Long Beach after the Miami-based company World Fuel Services sued more than $488,750 in unpaid fuel bills, Reuters reported last week. According to Gold, the vessel appeared to have dropped anchor after it had already unloaded its cargo and was about to leave the port.
Hanjin also owes the Marine Exchange of Southern California $20,000 in unpaid vessel traffic fees that were racked up over several months, according to its executive director Capt. J. Kip Louttit.
South Korean officials have stated they are working to deliver cargoes waiting to be loaded on Hanjin vessels by increasing alternative vessels by more than 20 for freight destined to the Americas, Europe and Southeast Asia, according to Wednesday’s press release. They also stated they “plan to launch support programs for those by the bankruptcy, such as crew members, subcontractors and others who lost jobs,” the release stated.