Free From the Sandbar, Now Come the Lawyers

After 75 days stranded on a sandbar just outside Ensenada, 60 miles south of San Diego, the ship American President Lines Panama was finally floated free then towed just within two miles of the cove of Ensenada. .

The ship ran aground last Christmas.

The Mexican Environmental Protection Agency and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation will keep the vessel just outside the port for inspection and damage evaluation.

Port Master Jose Luis Rios Hernandez, warned APL, however, that the ship might be detained longer. "The ship can't leave without having the owner company comply with a series or requisites and payment of sanctions it has incurred," he says. Inspections are expected to take about two week

As it finally floated free, the APL Panama lacked ability to maneuver and the only way it could be moved was with tugs.

Additionally, the ship faces legal problems: the insurance company Lloyds Germany now claims it does not own the ship and has assigned it a lower insurance grade.

Putting the ship afloat was not easy as a 400 meter long, 40 meter wide canal had to be dredged by the specialist company, Jan de Nul (which is now being sued by environmental authorities). Two hydraulic pistons, with the power to move 300 tons, were placed onboard, and the early dawn high tide finally helped float it.

It is clear repairs will not be carried out in Mexico, since there is apparently no dry dock in Mexico to fit the size of this ship.

One condition Mexican authorities had insisted upon was that to liberate the APL Panama the affected beach had go back to its original shape -- though it is now clear that the dredged canal is irreversible.

The APL Canada was bound for Manzanillo with thousands of containers. Its sand barring caused break ups in the supply chain efficiency of dozens of companies as it carried assembly components for Nissan, General Motors, Ford, Trouper, and many more, causing even companies like Nissan to suspend operations for days at a time.

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