THE LIVESTOCK carrier Yangtze Fortune was due to be sold after a tender process, but the highest bid, for US$8.5 million, fell through, setting off a rush to secure a sale to the second-highest bidder.

On January 11, Justice Angus Stewart ordered the sale of the Yangtze Fortune as part of the case Dan-Bunkering (Singapore) Pte Ltd v The Ship Yangtze Fortune and directed the Admiralty Marshal to arrange with shipbrokers for the sale.

Bids for the ship closed on 10 February and the winner was contacted four days later. The bidder was to pay a 10% deposit within five business days. When that time expired, the Admiralty Marshal extended the deadline for deposit until 24 February, advising them that she could terminate the contract if the buyer fails to pay on time.

On Friday 24 February the Marshal filed an affidavit applying for orders directing her to terminate the contract for the breach, saying that no evidence of remittance by the highest bidder had been provided to her. She also sought authorisation to accept the second-highest bid, which she said was about 4% below the appraised value of the ship.

This set off a rush to secure the sale. Under the terms of the bids, they were to remain open for acceptance for 20 banking business days, a period which expires on Friday 10 March.

Justice Stewart, in his reasons for his order to sell the ship to the second-highest bidder, wrote that a matter of pressing urgency was the 16 seafarers that remain onboard as required for the safe manning of the ship. He wrote that some of them have been onboard since April last year.

“They have, understandably, expressed a strong desire to leave the ship as soon as possible,” he wrote.

“It is certainly very much in the crew’s interests that the sale is resolved as soon as possible so that they can go home.”

When the vessel was arrested, there were 36 seafarers onboard, and 19 were sent home in January.

Justice Stewart also pointed out that the longer the judicial sale process takes, the more the ship may deteriorate.

“In the meanwhile, the vessel is also uninsured and has no protection and indemnity insurance in place,” he wrote.