Asia Practice - Maritime

Safe Passage

Maritime Practice in Chinese:  海事

“This firm is a major player in the maritime industry.  It fields one of the most highly regarded regulatory teams in the USA alongside stellar litigation and transactional practices, and is also home to one of the premier governmental affairs groups.”
—Chambers USA

"Blank Rome is quality…[with] first-class attorneys."
—Chambers Global 

"Clients praise 'the lawyers' willingness to assist quickly
and proffer reliable off-the-cuff advice.' "
Chambers Asia


Blank Rome’s notable combinations with the maritime practices of Dyer Ellis & Joseph in 2003 and Healy & Baillie LLP in 2006 gave the Firm a solid foundation as the largest maritime practice in the United States.  Our maritime attorneys are based in New York, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia, and regularly handle complex, multi-jurisdictional, and international maritime and admiralty matters for publicly traded and privately-owned companies throughout the world, including:

  • ship owners
  • operators and charterers
  • cargo owners
  • ship managers
  • shipyards
  • waterfront facilities
  • P&I clubs
  • marine insurers
  • shippers
  • financial institutions
  • private equity investors

Our industry success is attributed to a unique combination of regulatory, legislative, defense, and commercial advice and assistance.  Whether the matter involves vessel or corporate finance; structuring a strategic alliance; compliance with state, federal, or international regulatory requirements; interpreting or complying with the rules of maritime, shipping, or transportation law; commercial, corporate, or general litigation; bankruptcy; insurance and reinsurance; tax; or defending against enforcement actions or criminal prosecutions, we have the knowledge and experience you need to get the job done.

International Business

Blank Rome has the depth and breadth to support its clients in the global arena.  Many of our maritime attorneys are fluent or conversant in languages other than English, including Cantonese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Hindi, Mandarin, Norwegian, and Spanish.  Members of the team are admitted to practice in Australia, Canada, Greece, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Shanghai, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Complementing our Asian and Pacific practices, Blank Rome has a strategic alliance with Brussels-based Interel, a leading European public affairs agency.  Through this partnership, we provide a seamless E.U.-U.S. public affairs, government relations, and strategic communications service to companies increasingly impacted by decisions made on both sides of the Atlantic.


Blank Rome Maritime regularly advises international vessel owners and operators, managers, charterers, and shippers on the complex U.S. federal, state, and local environmental requirements—as well as on the international conventions—that govern all transportation, including the carriage of passengers and the handling of petroleum products and hazardous materials.  In addition to the marine transportation industry, our clients include agricultural and fishery interests, oil and chemical companies, and other manufacturers and shippers.

Our Pollution and Incident Response Team (PIRT) is a dedicated team of attorneys ready to respond at a moment’s notice to a major casualty and any potential civil and criminal consequences involved.  In addition to having served as on-site criminal and environmental counsel to oil refineries and chemical facilities, our team has represented owners, operators, charters, and responders as on-site counsel in varied incidents, including:

  • Julie N oil spill in Maine
  • Bouchard No. 120oil spill in Massachusetts
  • Ammonia release from a pipeline in Iowa
  • Asphalt release from a barge in Virginia
  • Pesticide release from an ISO tank in South Carolina
  • Incidents and criminal investigations involving oil-water separator issues for tanker, cruise ship, and cargo ship operators
  • Incidents and criminal investigations involving Clean Water Act discharges, and Clean Air Act and CERCLA emissions and releases from chemical plants and refineries

Our team has also been involved in the most significant pollution incidents of the past century, including the Amoco Cadiz, Exxon Valdez, Cosco Busan, Athos I, Deepwater Horizon, Torrey Canyon, and Amazon Venture spills.  Members of our PIRT team meet regularly to remain apprised of current developments across the globe.  Click here for a full listing of our PIRT members.

Regulatory Compliance

Throughout the world, carriers, shippers, builders, waterfront facilities, and their counsel trust Blank Rome to navigate them through the hazards of U.S. and international regulation.  We help our clients achieve their business goals while simultaneously protecting them from liability exposure.  We can audit operations and implement compliance and training programs that help protect our clients in the event of environmental and security incidents, or violations of regulations.  Our services also include: training and compliance program development; regulatory advice for both U.S. and international operations; defense against criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement actions; and updates and analysis of legislative and regulatory changes.

Our team routinely works with the U.S. Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, Federal Maritime Commission, Environmental Protection Agency (and state counterparts), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Military Sealift Command, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, and the International Maritime Organization, as well as regional port authorities throughout the United States and the world.

Commercial and Financial Transactions

We offer full-service commercial and corporate legal advice, including structuring, negotiating and documenting transactions, and addressing the tax and regulatory issues that may arise.  We help identify and take advantage of funding sources, including government grant programs and private equity, and the most favorable financing terms, including government credit enhancement programs, lease financing options, public debt, private debt, and equity financing. We have helped take companies public, guided strategic and financial buyers and sellers in the purchase and sale of large and small companies (including conducting due diligence for buyers), and structured international joint ventures from both economic and tax perspectives.

Blank Rome Maritime regularly handles vessel purchase and sale transactions, ship mortgage loan financings, financing leases, vessel charters and contracts of affreightment, and similar matters. Given our experience and depth in the industry, we often bring commercial opportunities to our clients.

Maritime Business Restructuring

Our business restructuring & bankruptcy and maritime practice groups are nationally recognized providers of legal counsel and support in transaction and litigation matters.  Blank Rome has an unmatched capability to provide full service counsel for financial restructurings and bankruptcies in the maritime industry to debtors, creditors, and other stakeholders.  We provide the specialized advice our clients need regarding ship purchases and sales; and regulatory, security, and environmental matters; as well as vessel arrests and foreclosures worldwide.

To The Rescue

We have represented debtors, creditors, creditors’ committees, and other stakeholders in many nationwide bankruptcies and insolvencies, reorganizations, restructurings, and workout matters throughout the United States.  We advise financially distressed companies in a variety of industries and assist them in evaluating their options, including Chapter 11proceedings and out-of-court restructurings.  Our attorneys also represent potential purchasers interested in purchasing assets from Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 debtors, and have served as our global clients’ advocates in Chapter 15 proceedings in the United States.

We routinely assist companies defending against preference, fraudulent transfer, and in other bankruptcy litigations.  We also defend companies in the assertion of claims both in and out of bankruptcy court.

A Balanced Approach

We address financial and insolvency issues with lawyers experienced in litigation and as deal makers.  Our bankruptcy litigators and transactional lawyers regularly negotiate, structure, and document complex financing transactions.

We maximize successful outcomes for our clients by taking a pragmatic approach, combining practical experience and creative strategies that address the nuances of each representation.  We discreetly guide clients by providing risk assessment, and counsel them on alternatives, structure and completion of transactions, and litigation where appropriate.

Our general representation of borrowers, lenders, issuers, underwriters, servicers, bondholders, trustees, and other parties involved in private, public and project financing, lending, leasing and securitization transactions, coupled with our significant litigation capabilities, allow us to offer our clients a highly sophisticated set of legal solutions.

Government Relations

Our affiliate, Blank Rome Government Relations LLC, is comprised of an experienced team of lobbying and communications professionals who understand the interplay between law and politics.  We serve as advisers and advocates, and help clients anticipate and take advantage of the issues and opportunities that affect the maritime industry by handling government relations matters such as:

  • environmental compliance
  • government financing programs
  • port security
  • customs and border protection

We have a comprehensive understanding of international, federal, and state safety and environmental regimes governing ocean transportation.

We maintain top-level relationships with the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, Federal Maritime Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Customs Service, Military Sealift Command, Office of Foreign Assets Control, and various regional port authorities.

Experienced Attorneys, Recognized in Their Fields

Blank Rome is consistently listed as the leading maritime law firm in the United States by Chambers USA and by the Chambers Global edition of The World’s Leading Lawyers. Our lawyers play a major role in many of the industry’s leading conferences and often write for, and are quoted in, leading maritime publications. Our attorneys encompass a wide variety of backgrounds and experience, including former U.S. Coast Guard and Navy officers, flag officers, representatives and senior staff from Congressional committees, and high level officials of government agencies, including the U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Among our attorneys, we have a professor of maritime law at New York University School of Law, and several authors and editors of leading maritime treatises and textbooks, including Time Charters, Voyage Charters, The International Law of the Shipmaster, Maritime Security Handbook, and the Benedict on Admiralty volumes relating to salvage and carriage of goods by sea. Members of the Firm are often called upon to serve as arbitrators and to serve as expert witnesses in foreign litigation and courts on issues of U.S. maritime law.