If you learn unexpectedly that you have a maritime lien on your vessel, you like other boat owners may wonder what that means and what options you have. Such liens place claims against watercraft, allowing seizure of the vessels as enforcement.
To help protect yourself and your rights, you will benefit from understanding how maritime liens may work.
According to Marlin magazine, maritime liens apply to those vessels in navigation or temporarily withdrawn for repairs. Through these types of liens, suppliers may extend credit to shipowners.
In addition to applying to the vessel itself, maritime liens also typically cover other property associated with the boat and its use. For instance, this includes furniture, electronics, machinery, cargo and fishing gear.
With few exceptions, maritime liens arise automatically, without recording or consent. They come from various torts and contracts, including claims for unpaid freight, breach of charter and crew wages.
Preferred ship mortgages stand as the primary exception to giving no notice for maritime liens. If you finance your vessel through a bank or other financial institution, the lender will typically record a maritime lien.
To enforce a maritime lien and seize your vessel, the lien holder will need to file a federal court complaint. Depending on the circumstances, the court may issue an arrest warrant and the U.S. Marshals Service will make the detainment.
Having liens on their vessels may affect how you operate. Therefore, you may consider working with legal representatives to ensure your boats do not have liens or other such outstanding issues.