A legal dispute over fuel payments between a ship owner and the company that chartered the vessel spilled over into the waters off Eastport, as the freighter H.R. Margaretha was placed under arrest and anchored for several days between Eastport and Campobello. The Liberian-flagged vessel had been loading 15,000 metric tons of wood pulp at the Port of Eastport for Alexandria, Egypt, when the arrest occurred on September 29. Loading of the 142-meter vessel was finished, and the ship then lay at anchor until October 5, when U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen ordered the release of the vessel, after an agreement was reached between the two parties.
The company that had chartered the vessel in March 2011, SE Shipping Lines of Singapore, stated in its complaint filed with the court that under the terms for chartering the vessel from the owner, a company based in Hamburg, Germany, any fuel on board the vessel belonged to SE Shipping. When the vessel was returned to the owner, the H.R. Margaretha had fuel valued at $730,768, but the owner did not pay the chartering company for the fuel. U.S. District Court Judge John Rich then ordered the arrest of the ship, and National Maritime Services, a vessel arrest and custody company based in Florida that can serve as an agent for the U.S. Marshals Service, acted as substitute custodian of the vessel. The company moved the vessel away from the Estes Head terminal and ensured that the Filipino crew was fed and that there was fuel aboard the ship, according to Robert Toney, chairman of National Maritime Services.
On October 5 the two companies filed for dismissal of the case, with $650,000 dismissed with prejudice, so the chartering company cannot refile a lawsuit concerning that amount, and with the remaining amount of $80,758 dismissed without prejudice, according to court documents. SE Shipping has been paid the $650,000, but the remainder still could be subject to legal action if a resolution between the two companies is not reached. However, SE Shipping agreed not to re-arrest the H.R. Margaretha.
SE Shipping paid the costs of the U.S. Marshall and the substitute custodian, and the ship owner agreed to pay SE Shipping $10,000 for the substitute custodian costs.