Ship company bankruptcy could impact holiday shopping

LONG BEACH -- For nearly two weeks, dozens of cargo ships belonging to Hanjin Shipping have been stuck at sea, after the South Korean company filed for bankruptcy. A judge has cleared the way for some of those ships to unload. 

Docking at the port of Long Beach, California, the Hanjin Greece is finally starting to unload millions of dollars in merchandise.

Ships were left stranded, after the company couldn’t cover its fuel bills or guarantee it could pay its employees.

“There’s another ship that’s out on the sea, we don’t know what’s happening with that, we don’t know what the conditions are of those workers on those ships,” said Patrick Kelly who represents impacted workers. 

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South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co. containers are seen in the Port of Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday, Sep 1, 2016. 

Damian Dovarganes, AP

At its worst, the South Korean based company had dozens of cargo ships floating at sea, filled with $14 billion in product from companies like Samsung, Nike and Forever 21.

On Friday, a U.S. bankruptcy judge allowed four ships to dock, but so far only one has. 

Jess Dankert, senior director for the Retail Industry Leader Association said the Hanjin delay could impact one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

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South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co. container ship Hanjin Montevideo, top, is anchored outside the Port of Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016.

AP

“There are long supply chains and this is the beginning of peak season, and this is when a lot of the shipping is happening,” said Dankert. “So does this does have the potential affect on the holiday shopping season, certainly more near term items as well -- Black Friday, but hopefully we won’t get to a point where that becomes a concern.”

South Korean officials expect a two to three month delay in some cases. But they are enlisting from other shipping companies, deploying up to 20 replacement vessels to help minimize the delay.

  • Mireya Villarreal

    Mireya Villarreal is a CBS News correspondent.