South Korean cargo ship sits off Prince Rupert after company’s financial woes

Container ship Hanjin Scarlet sits off B.C. coast after financial woes, says port

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. – The Port of Prince Rupert says a large container ship is sitting idly in the waters off British Columbia’s northwest coast because the South Korean company that owns the vessel is having financial trouble.

The 255-metre long Hanjin Scarlet arrived at the port Tuesday night and was immediately anchored in the inner harbour, said port spokesman Michael Gurney.

A number of media organizations were reporting that Hanjin Shipping Co. filed for receivership but the company could not immediately be reached for comment in Vancouver or by email in South Korea.

Under normal circumstances, the ship would go directly to the terminal for unloading, but it has not been handled because of the uncertain situation, Gurney said.

The port authority said in a release that it is working with DP World, which owns the terminal, and CN Rail to find a resolution.

DP World’s terminal manager in Prince Rupert declined comment.

CN Rail said in a statement that all Hanjin containers in its system will be released for pickup and that the rail company will not accept additional export loads from the shipping company or bookings from other shipping lines destined for Hanjin vessels.

A separate CN Rail statement said the company is “closely monitoring the fluid and evolving Hanjin bankruptcy issue, and is developing the necessary steps to protect the interests of our customers and our business.”

Gurney said the Hanjin Scarlet began its voyage in Busan, South Korea, and port schedules show the vessel was due to make its next stop in Delta, B.C., just outside of Vancouver, later this week.

The shipping line’s financial fortunes are having a big impact on the Canadian freight industry, said Ruth Snowden, executive director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association.

She said members from across the country have been contacting her, concerned about the fate of the cargo on Hanjin vessels.

“It’s most unusual. This is going to impact ports around the world,” Snowden said. “It impacts Canadian importers and exporters because … if I have a container on that vessel I can’t get it.”

There are thousands of containers on Hanjin ships and many more Canadian products could be sitting on docks abroad, Snowden added. Traders will now have to retrieve their cargo and arrange for it to be shipped on other lines, she said.

“It’s going to be very confusing for the next few weeks.”

By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Vancouver

The Canadian Press

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