CCMA, LLC, an independent, New York-based trading house focused on metals, alloys and other raw materials, has filed a complaint with the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) against Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. and Mediterranean Shipping Company (USA) Inc.
CCMA’s complaint resulted from MSC’s transportation of ten 20-foot containers loaded with high-carbon ferrochrome in October 2021 from Durres, Albania to Seattle, Washington.
The filing states that, on November 1, CCMA was notified that the shipment was under review by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). On November 4, the company learned that CBP would require the containers to be moved to a customs examination station (CES). The following day, the CES operator advised that it could not move the containers until sometime after expiration of the last free day – November 11 – allowed for pickup.
On November 9, CCMA was advised that only one designated container needed to be moved to the CES. The CES operator refused to move the container, citing its weight, and CBP refused to release the remaining containers until the exam had been completed.
Chandi Transport, which CCMA contacted to move the container to the CES, was unable to obtain an appointment to drop off the container at the CES until November 19.
On December 14, the Customs exam was completed and the hold on the container was released. The next day, the hold on the remaining containers at the port was released. On December 16, the container at the CES was picked up, and the other containers were picked up from the Port of Seattle over the next few days.
MSC assessed demurrage charges of $114,156, payment for which was required to pick up the containers.
MSC reportedly refused to extend the last free day or to waive or reduce demurrage charges.
The Shipping Act prohibits a common carrier or marine terminal operator from failing to “establish, observe, and enforce just and reasonable regulations and practices relating to or connected with receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property.”
CCMA’s complaint alleges that MSC failed to establish and observe just and reasonable practices, by assessing demurrage charges on containers that were unavailable for pick-up and that served no incentivising principle and did not promote freight fluidity.
CCMA is seeking reparations for MSC’s “unlawful conduct.”