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Arresting Vessels in Florida, by Rod Sullivan, Sullivan & Co.


8777 San Jose Blvd, Suite 803
Jacksonville, FL 32217
United States of America
Tel: 904-355-6000
Fax: 904-737-0920

The State is divided into three federal districts:

The Southern District: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, and Key West.

The Middle District: Jacksonville, Tampa, Port Canaveral, Fernandina Beach, Fort Myers, Naples

The Northern District: Pensacola, Panama City

Prior to commencing an arrest proceeding, the United States Marshal requires the deposit of sufficient funds to hold the vessel under arrest for a period of ten days. Out-of-state checks are not accepted for vessel arrests. Local law firm trust account checks generally are, particularly if the Marshal’s office has a relationship with the firm. Be prepared to wire transfer funds to an attorney’s trust account for the arrest.

In some circumstances, substitute custodians will advance the cost of arrest and take their fees from the proceeds of the judicial sale of the vessel. In order to keep fees as low as possible, it is important to appoint a substitute custodians who is ready to take possession of a vessel from the United States Marshal immediately after the arrest. If it is anticipated that the vessel will be under arrest more than three days, it is recommended that the vessel be moved to low cost dock space.

Most arrests are resolved in less than 24 hours by the posting of a bond issued by an approved underwriter for the 124 percent of the base amount of the claim. The additional 24 percent is designed to allow for prejudgment interest for 4 years at 6 percernt per annum. Letters of undertaking from recognized protection and indemnity associations are generally accepted. The Clerk of the United States District Court maintains a list of approved underwriters with authority to issue bonds, as well as signatories who are approved to sign those bonds locally.

If the vessel has a crew aboard, it is the responsibility of the arresting parties to make arrangements for their repatriation if the vessel is not released. Repatriation expenses became a custodia legis expense against the vessel.