“A great group for vessel financing, and its lawyers are easy to get along with. When you see Blank Rome on the other side you know that the deal is going to run smoothly…They are absolutely great and are fully responsive 24 hours a day.”
— Client feedback, Chambers USA
The construction, financing, ownership, and operation of vessels present commercial and legal issues that are unique to the maritime industry. For over 30 years, the maritime transactions and finance attorneys at Blank Rome have been addressing those issues. During that time, we have lived through boom and bust market cycles and seen the issues and opportunities that arise in each of those cycles.
We have the experience and knowledge to handle these matters efficiently and effectively. Our experience is broad and includes setting up companies to own and operate vessels, drafting ship construction contracts, handling vessel charters and management agreements, structuring vessel lease and mortgage financings, advising on equity investments in shipping companies (including in Jones Act companies), structuring vessel project finance transactions, advising on U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Administration regulatory requirements, advising on liability exposure and insurance, and assisting with maritime bankruptcies and restructurings.
Our clients touch all aspects of the maritime industry. We represent shipyards, shipowners, vessel operators and managers, cargo interests, commercial and investment banks, alternative lenders, and private equity funds in transactions of all types. We have done work in all the major sectors of the industry, including tankers, dry bulk, container, offshore, inland rivers and lakes, and cruise, as well as some more unique pockets of the industry such as offshore wind farms.
We frequently act as special maritime counsel in large bankruptcy matters where primary counsel to the debtor or a large creditor group lacks maritime experience.
We also provide focused advice and legal opinions addressing issues under the laws of the Marshall Islands and Liberia, two of the largest open vessel registries in the world. We have experience with all other major vessel registries, including Panama, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Cyprus, and Vanuatu.
Although our experience in vessel finance encompasses both U.S. and foreign law transactions, we have extensive knowledge and experience with U.S.-flag vessels operating in the U.S. domestic trade, also known as the Jones Act trade or the coastwise trade. In that specific niche of the larger maritime industry, we have helped structure foreign investment in Jones Act vessels through the lease finance law and through equity investments, assisted publicly traded companies in proving their U.S. citizenship under the Jones Act, represented borrowers and bond underwriters in Title XI U.S. Government guaranteed financing transactions, and assisted debtors and creditors in bankruptcies and restructurings of Jones Act companies where there is a debt-for-equity swap.
Our firm’s maritime practice is unique in that we are able to bring in colleagues from our maritime regulatory compliance, litigation, legislative, and white collar sub-groups or from our firm’s other practice groups to create a team that is customized for the client’s needs for particular transactions or other matters.
In short, we are finance and transaction lawyers who focus on the unique needs of the maritime industry and have been doing so for over 30 years.
How We Can Help
- Bareboat, time and voyage charters
- Bills of lading
- Bowaters corporations
- Contracts of affreightment
- Commercial loans
- Company formation and governance
- Private debt and equity placements
- Maritime Administration matters
- Capital Construction Funds
- Construction Reserve Funds
- Maritime Security Program
- Title XI financings
- Foreign transfer approvals
- U.S. government program grants
- Joint ventures
- Jones Act citizenship issues
- Labor agreements
- Lease financings for vessels
- Maritime bankruptcies and restructurings
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Public offerings and SEC compliance
- Ship construction contracts
- Ship mortgage loan financing
- Ship purchase and sale agreements
- Tax issues
- U.S. and international financings
- U.S. Coast Guard regulatory matters
- Vessel operating and management agreements
- Vessel project financing transactions
- Vessel registration matters
What Sets Us Apart
- With nearly 40 shipping lawyers in New York, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Philadelphia, Blank Rome has the largest and most comprehensive maritime practice in the United States.
Chambers Global 2023 recognized Blank Rome as a global leader in Shipping: Litigation — Global-wide.
“Blank Rome has a well-regarded shipping litigation practice, with considerable expertise in dealing with high-profile disputes, as well as maritime arbitration. It is respected both within the USA and internationally for its deep industry knowledge. The law firm offers:
Notable expertise in handling a wide range of issues, including casualties, charter party disputes, bankruptcy and environmental matters.
Experience acting for a mix of owners, operators, charterers, financial institutions and shipyards.
Additional strength advising on shipping issues as they intersect with environmental litigation.”
Sources have said:
“One peer described the team as a ‘real quality outfit.’”
“A source particularly praised the firm’s skills in handling maritime transactions.”
“The firm has a fantastic reputation in the international shipping community.”
Chambers USA consistently ranks our Maritime practice group Band 1:
2019–2023: ranked Blank Rome Band 1 for Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Litigation (New York) – Nationwide, Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Litigation (Outside New York) – Nationwide, and Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Regulatory. Sources have said:
“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…The firm has excellent resources to handle large, complex cases with serious consequences.”
“Clients value the firm’s ‘amazing array of subject matter experts across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions’”
“‘Their service is excellent and they are very responsive.’”
“‘They’re absolutely top of the line, no question at all.’”
“[T]he team has ‘a lot of very successful and talented lawyers’ and … [a] ‘truly international practice.’”
- The Legal 500 United States 2023 ranked Blank Rome Top Tier in Transport: Shipping – Finance and Transport: Shipping – Litigation and Regulation.
- Recipient of the Lloyd’s List North American Maritime Legal Services Award 2015 and 2016.
- 2013 U.S. News & World Report—Best Lawyers (Woodward/White, Inc.): designated “Law Firm of the Year” for Maritime & Admiralty Law.
- Several of our maritime attorneys lecture at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s OPA 90 Qualified Individual Training Program on legal issues related to pollution incidents, and are often asked to serve as arbitrators and expert witnesses in foreign litigation and courts on issues of U.S. maritime law.
- Our attorneys include former U.S. Coast Guard and Navy officers, representatives and senior staff from Congressional committees, and high-level officials of government agencies, including the Department of Justice, Maritime Administration, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Among our attorneys, we have a professor of maritime law at the New York University School of Law, an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s School of Law teaching admiralty law, and an adjunct professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology where she teaches Information Security & Law. Additionally we have several authors and editors of leading maritime treatises and textbooks, including Time Charters, Voyage Charters, The International Law of the Shipmaster, Maritime Security Handbook, the chapter “Maritime Cyber Security: The Unavoidable Wave of Change,” in Issues in Maritime Cyber Security and the Benedict on Admiralty volume relating to salvage.