16 Jun 2005

Marshalls release two ships held over unpaid port charges

4:04 pm on 16 June 2005

Marshall Islands authorities have released two container ships arrested in Majuro Harbour last week.

The two vessels, the Micronesian Nations and Micronesian Navigator, owned by the Micronesia and Orient line were detained after the Majuro Stevedore and Terminal Company filed suit claiming it was owed more than 350,000 US dollars in dock loading and container storage fees dating back to late 2003.

The ships carry food and other cargo to islands in the central and South Pacific from Asia and the United States.

Reports from Kosrae, an island in the Federated States of Micronesia that relies on the ships for all of its imported goods, indicated that stores on that island were running out of many staple food items with the ships a week behind their regular schedule.

Some stores on Ebeye Island, the next stop in the Marshall Islands, were also reporting that they had run out of rice that is on one of the vessels.

After lawyers for both companies worked out a deal to settle the debt, the court allowed both ships to move from their anchorage in Majuro's lagoon back to the docks to complete loading empty containers.

They are expected to clear the Marshalls today or tomorrow.