The settlement agreement recently approved by a US Bankruptcy Court judge in New York became effective July 28, clearing the way for an investor group led by The Blackstone Group to terminate its relationship with US Shipping and to retain Crowley Maritime Corporation to manage five US-flag petroleum tankers for the newly renamed company, American Petroleum Tankers LLC (APT).
The five tankers, two of which are in operation and three of which are due for delivery from shipbuilder NASSCO in San Diego through 2010, were to be owned by a joint venture controlled primarily by affiliates of The Blackstone Group and US Shipping partners. US Shipping filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 earlier in 2009.
On July 17, 2009, the bankruptcy court approved a settlement agreement under which US Shipping agreed to release its ownership interest and management role with the company. With termination of US Shipping’s association with the company, Blackstone announced that the company will continue under the name APT. Crowley has been appointed as construction manager for the three tankers still being built and vessel manager for all five vessels. The company also expects to put in place new debt financing led by DVB Bank SE.
APT’s fleet includes the Golden State, which was delivered in January 2009 and is on long-term charter to BP; the Pelican State, delivered in June and is on long-term charter to Marathon. The Sunshine State, the Empire State, and the Evergreen State (the latter two are to be chartered to the Military Sealift Command) are scheduled for delivery later in 2009 and 2010.