Scheduled Sale Of Trawlers Raises Hopes
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A federal judge has rescheduled for later this month the sale of three fishing trawlers, reviving hope among seamen and suppliers of getting paid nearly $40 million in debts owed them by Seattle-based AKC Corp.
U.S. District Judge John D. Roberts has set the sale for Oct. 17.
AKC was able to stave off initial bidding on the ships at the last minute when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Los Angeles Sept. 19.
Because of bankruptcy laws, there was speculation AKC could have regained control of the ships. The judge decided last week the company was financially unable to protect the ships, which were being held to insure claimants would get paid, said Anchorage maritime lawyer Charles Ray.
Ray said his clients still are struggling to buy food and pay rent.
Crew members have said in lawsuits that they were discriminated against by Japanese co-workers and supervisors, and did not receive medical treatment and pay. The U.S. government also has seen the company in court for fishing violations.
The Arctic Hero crew nearly staged a mutiny in November because of rumors of no pay and a lack of medical attention. The U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI intervened.
The minimum bid for the 231-foot Alaskan Hero is $5 million, $500,000 less than the earlier bid. The original bid of $7 million each for the 223-foot Northern Hero and 227-foot Arctic Hero fishing trawlers was dropped to $5.6 million.
About a dozen creditors, bidders and lawyers showed up at the Anchorage federal courthouse last month only to receive a court order explaining that the bankruptcy action prohibited the sale of the vessels.
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