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Auction of Stranded Freighter Canceled

April 21, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ The auction of a cargo ship, stranded at a pier since December and seized by the government last month, was canceled Monday when nobody bid $100,000.

″We’ll have to go back to court and report back to the judge who has the case and ask for further instructions,″ said David Howe, a Justice Department attorney.

The U.S. government seized the Court Carrier, a 277-foot, German-built vessel registered in Panama, on behalf of crew members who had not been paid since November.

Harley Smith, a deputy federal marshal who served as auctineer, said two potential bidders showed up at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn but ″neither party was able to meet that $100,000 opening bid or to put down the 10 percent required downpayment.″

The crew of 10, from Colombia, Chile and Peru, has been stranded with its cargo of cement since Dec. 12, when the ship docked in Brooklyn, two weeks late.

A small explosion damaged the ship’s engine off Cape Hatteras, N.C., and when the Court Carrier limped into port at 1.5 knots, the consignee no longer was interested in the 2,100 tons of Venezuelan cement.

Capt. Hernando Serrano was supposed to collect $143,942 for repairs and pay crew members their $200 monthly salary. The owner sent $17,000 just before Christmas but Serrano has not received any more money or been able to contact the owner since.

The vessel also owes the Port Authority $172 a day in berthing fees.

The crew members, who remain on board to guard the vessel, have been aided by the Seamen’s Church Institute since February, when they ran out of food.

A representative of one of the potential bidders said the asking price was too high.

″It’s worth only $50,000 to $60,000 as is,″ he said.

The representative, who would not give his name or employer, said it would cost $15 to $20 a ton to remove the cement, the value of which would depend on its condition.