A dispute between AP Moller-Maersk and Unifeeder over cargo loss from a cross-Red Sea voyage last year has washed up on US shores.
The Danish shipping giant has filed two lawsuits in US federal courts, one in the Northern District of Texas and the other in Delaware, seeking to garnish $2.5m from Unifeeder accounts.
Maersk is seeking to shield itself against claims made over 41 containers that were lost overboard from the 20,500-dwt multipurpose vessel Elreedy Star (built 1998).
“The incident was caused by a negligent failure on the part of the subcontractors of Unifeeder to properly stow, lash and secure the containers,” the boxship giant said in the complaints.
Maersk said in the lawsuit that it contracted with Unifeeder to carry containers via its Feedertech subsidiary.
The liner operator said the Elreedy Star departed Jeddah in November 2021 en route to Port Sudan, approximately 290 km across the Red Sea. During the voyage, 45 containers were lost from cargo hold 14, and 41 of those were carried on behalf of Maersk.
Maersk said the owners of the cargo have threatened to commence legal proceedings against it and that its agreement with Unifeeder require Unifeeder to indemnify it against the claims.
The liner giant said one has already sued in Sudanese courts, contrary to jurisdiction clauses in the bills of lading.
The claims currently total $2.2m, with Maersk seeking additional funds to retrieve the containers and for legal fees.
Neither Unifeeder nor parent DP World responded to a request for comment on the proceedings.
The lawsuit in Texas seeks to garnish Unifeeder property held at DNB Norbank and container shipping rivals CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, K Line and Ocean Network Express. Maersk is also seeking a lien on property held at Hamburg Sud North America.
The lawsuit in Delaware seeks to garnish property held at four DP World companies: DP World Americas, DP World Business, DP World Logistics USA and DP World Tracking.