Stranded Asian ship finally berths in Prince Rupert
Port will unload cargo from bankrupt shipping line if customers pre-pay
After a week in limbo in the Prince Rupert harbour, the Hanjin Scarlet, was finally allowed to moor at the port's container terminal at 6 a.m. PT Wednesday.
"Cargo is currently being handled at [the] Fairview Container Terminal," stated a written notice on the Prince Rupert Port Authority's website.
CN and port will unload pre-paid cargo
Fairview and CN Rail have set up an elaborate system for unloading the cargo from the bankrupt shipping company's hold.
The port noted "pre-payment for handling of all Hanjin containers" is required.
South Korea's Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. filed for bankruptcy protection last week, leaving its container vessels in limbo and creating chaos for cargo customers.
Ports around the world refused entry to Hanjin's ships, including the 255-metre Scarlet,which anchored in the Prince Rupert harbour instead of unloading in the port.
Officials feared the bankrupt company wouldn't pay docking fees.
Ship in limbo
It's the first time a container ship has anchored in the Prince Rupert harbour in almost a decade.
Prince Rupert's port typically moves sea containers off a ship and onto CN Rail trains within 24 to 36 hours.
"Nothing's happening with any of the cargo... and unless the terminal is paid to unload the ship — and it needs to be paid by a carrier that's now entering bankruptcy — then the cargo's not going to get moved," said Peter Tirschwell, a senior director at IHS Maritime & Trade.
Officials wouldn't disclose the exact contents of the Scarlet's containers, but said they likely include furniture, high-end electronics, and clothing bound for retailers in major urban centres like Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, and Memphis — for back to school supplies, Black Friday sales, and Christmas stock.
Crew's future still uncertain
It's still not clear what will happen to the sailors on board or whether they will be paid.
Norm Craddock of the Prince Rupert Seafarers Mission said he hasn't seen any of the ship's crew come ashore.
Despite the uncertainty over the shipping line's future, Craddock said it's likely the ships crew is still busy.
"The watch cycle continues even when they're at anchor," said Craddock.
With files from George Baker and Daybreak North