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 U.S. Shipping Partners. U.S. Shipping filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 earlier this year.
On July 17, 2009, the Bankruptcy Court approved a Settlement Agreement under which U.S. Shipping agreed to release its ownership interest and management role with the Company. With the termination of U.S. Shippingâ€™s association with the Company, Blackstone is pleased to announce that the Company will continue under the name American Petroleum Tankers. Crowley Maritime Corporation has been appointed as the 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.
â€œWe are very pleased to put the bankruptcy proceedings of U.S. Shipping behind us and to move forward,â€ said David Foley, a Senior Managing Director of Blackstone. â€œWe are excited to have Crowley on board to manage the construction and operation of these long term and strategic assets. Crowley has an outstanding safety record in the operation of petroleum vessels and a healthy balance sheet. They bring a strong management team with significant experience in vessel construction oversight and fleet management that will benefit APT and our charterers in the years to come.â€
â€œWe are excited and honored to take part in this venture,â€ said Tom Crowley, Crowley Chairman, President and CEO. â€œWe look forward to bringing our technical vessel construction expertise to the new-build process, and on the operational side of the business, weâ€™re pleased to be working with some of our existing customers who have chartered these new ships. We pledge to deliver the same attention to detail and safety that we have always provided with our own petroleum vessels.â€
â€œWe are pleased to be working with American Petroleum Tankers and its investors to arrange a senior secured debt financing facility that will provide up to $250 million to the Company,â€ said Jurek Bochner, a Senior Vice President in DVB Bank SEâ€™s Product Tanker Group. â€œWe believe APT is attractively positioned in the Jones Act market with a new and well-built fleet of NASSCO product tankers, a favorable charter profile and a strong and experienced vessel construction and management partner in Crowley.â€
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