Proctor-In-Admiralty and maritime attorney John K. Fulweiler maintains his maritime law office in Newport, Rhode Island and practices federal maritime law throughout the East and Gulf Coasts.
"Sometimes," he explains. "People will ask me what really happens when a vessel is 'arrested'? You know that term, it makes people think that the vessel is going to be frisked and cuffed when, it doesn't really work that way."
Arresting a vessel is a unique remedy only available under the maritime law and it's a process whereby the vessel is seized by the United States Marshals pursuant to a Court order. "Unlike, say, a house or a car," John says. "A vessel can be sued and seized by an admiralty court in aid of foreclosing on a claimant's maritime lien." Instead of handcuffs or zip ties, a vessel is typically restrained by the presence of a United States Marshal, or, a substitute custodian. "What you see is the Marshal's place a sticker on the vessel and they post the Court's orders allowing for the warrant of maritime arrest. With yachts and smaller vessels, you'll sometimes see the vessel hauled from the water."
If you have a maritime claim with lien rights, the possibility of seizing the vessel to secure your claim or foreclose the lien may be an option. The key is to sit down with an admiralty attorney with knowledge of maritime vessel arrests.
The remedy of a maritime arrest is typically available whether the vessel is a commercial vessel or a yacht. "Talk to an admiralty attorney," John urges. "Because it's important to understand what rights and remedies may be available."
Underway and making way.
By John Fulweiler