Maritime Liens and Rank
By David Bohonnon, Bohonnon Law Firm, LLC
A maritime lien, with the exception of a preferred ships mortgage, is a secret lien that arises by operation of law automatically and gives the lienholder a property right in maritime property (for example, vessels) and the right to foreclose the lien in admiralty. It is not created consensually and there is no requirement that a maritime lien be recorded or otherwise perfected by any filing. A preferred ships mortgage, on the other hand, is a maritime lien that is created consensually, must comply with the requirements of Title 46 of the United States Code and must be recorded at the National Vessel Documentation Center.