A Bunch Of Filipino Sailors Have Been Trapped On A Ship Near Georgia Since April

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
Font Size:

A shipping vessel’s 15-man crew has spent the last four months fishing and playing cards while floating three miles off the coast of Georgia, all because of a legal battle over the ship’s ownership.

A hearing in a federal district court, however, may soon put an end to the Newlead Castellano’s maritime abeyance.

The Liberian-flagged ship, carrying over 20,000 metric tons of sugar, was seized by U.S. marshals in April on behalf of the ship’s creditors. The ship’s owner, Greek-based NewLead Holdings, ceased making payments on the vessel, effectively placing it in a process similar to foreclosure. Since the company did not have the capital necessary to make a payment on the ship after the seizure, the ship fell into default, and was placed on the auction block by creditors.

While the title of the vessel has been for sale, the crew of 13 Filipinos, 1 Greek, and 1 Romanian, have been stranded aboard the ship, listing mundanely in the waters six miles outside the port of Savannah. The crew cannot disembark because they lack the proper immigration documentation to enter the United States, but cannot sail to a different port until a new owner assumes title of the vessel.

The sugar was unloaded in short order, while the crew has been attended to by National Maritime Services (NMS), a court-appointed custodian for the 15 sailors. The crew has continued to receive compensation from NMS, which also paid out weeks of backpay owed by NewLead Holdings. The crew receives periodic shipments of supplies, including beef, lamb, and celery.

A Catholic priest, Fr. Brett Brannen of Blessed Sacrament parish in the diocese of Savannah, has also visited the ship several times to say Mass and hear confessions.

“We need to give them that hope that this is going to pass and that it’s going to be a difficult experience for them, but it will be a great learning experience for them as well,” Brannen said, according to WBTV.

The ship was sold at auction to Connecticut-based company for $7.4 million. Members of the crew could return home as soon as this weekend should the federal district court in Savannah approve the sale.

Follow Kevin on Twitter

Send tips to

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact