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Hanjin cargo ship stranded off California finally unloads

LONG BEACH (AP) — A Hanjin container ship that was stranded off the California coast for more than a week began unloading Sept. 10 after a judge protected the global shipping giant from having its assets seized in the U.S. as it struggles to avoid bankruptcy.

The 1,145-foot-long Hanjin Greece began unloading tons of imported clothing, electronics, furniture and plastic goods, Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson said.

Greece was one of four vessels that were blocked from entering or leaving the port after Hanjin filed for bankruptcy protection on Aug. 31 in South Korea and the U.S. on Sept. 2.

Dozens of ships around the world were stranded because Hanjin couldn’t cover fuel bills or guarantee that dockworkers, crane operators, tugboat captains and others would be paid for their services. The vessels reportedly contain about $14 billion worth of merchandise.

The disruption has sent ocean shipping rates soaring and left major retailers scrambling to work out contingency plans to get their merchandise into stores.

Several ships were seized on behalf of creditors, including Hanjin Montevideo, which was unable to leave Southern California after unloading. Two suppliers claim that Hanjin owes them about $775,000 for fuel in the ship’s tanks.

On Sept. 9, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John K. Sherwood in New Jersey granted Hanjin protection from any more seizures in United States territory.

Lawyers for Hanjin told the judge that a South Korean bankruptcy court had approved releasing $10 million to cover the costs of unloading the four ships that were off the U.S. coast, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.

Other nations have granted similar protections.

The world’s seventh largest ocean shipper, Hanjin Shipping, is part of the Seoul-based Hanjin Group, which said it will inject nearly $90 million to help resolve disruptions to the supply chain.

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