By Jim Christie
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A ship of bankrupt Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd is finishing unloading in California and expected to leave port on Monday, and truckers expect to pick up cargo soon, shipping industry officials said, in a good sign for importers.
The Hanjin Greece docked in Long Beach on Saturday after a U.S. bankruptcy court granted it protection and terminal operators agreed to take it.
However, the Greece carries only a fraction of the $14 billion in goods on dozens of ships owned or leased by the world’s seventh-largest container carrier, which filed for receivership in a Seoul court on Sept. 4.
The collapse of Hanjin under debts of $5.5 billion has caused havoc in global trade networks and a surge in freight rates. Some vessels have also been seized.
It is not clear when port operators will bring others to berths in Southern California and elsewhere. The U.S. court on Friday gave three other Hanjin ships protection from seizure, and one has been waiting near the Long Beach port since. Two others are in the Pacific Ocean.
The delays have concerned importers like Alex Rasheed, president of Pacific Textile and Sourcing Inc in Los Angeles, which has a shipment of clothing in 16 containers on Hanjin ships off Long Beach.
“We’re already starting to run out of some colours and some sizes,” Rasheed said, noting Hanjin’s collapse comes as U.S. retailers prepare for the all-important holiday shopping season.
Truck drivers probably will begin moving containers from the Greece on Monday while the vessel prepares to leave late in the day for the Port of Oakland, said Teamsters spokeswoman Barbara Maynard and shipping traffic controllers.
With prospects for other Hanjin ships unclear, Robert Krieger, president of Carson, California-based customs broker and freight forwarder Krieger Worldwide, is looking for alternatives to bring containers now on Hanjin ships in Asia across the Pacific.
“We’ve already planned for the contingency for Hanjin saying, ‘Here are your containers, come get them,’” said Krieger.
The three other Hanjin ships protected by the U.S. court order are the Hanjin Boston, which remained off the Port of Long Beach awaiting orders on Sunday, and the Hanjin Gdynia, which was several hundred miles away from Long Beach, and the Hanjin Jungil, 310 nautical miles west of San Francisco with its destination listed as Long Beach, according to Marine Exchanges on the west coast that coordinate shipping traffic.
Another Hanjin ship off Long Beach, the Hanjin Montevideo, is under the supervision of a court-ordered custodian after two fuel companies obtained an arrest warrant for it over unpaid bills. Hanjin and the fuel providers are trying to work out an arrangement to release the vessel.
(Editing by Peter Henderson and Lincoln Feast)