Washington Law Review


Lynn B. Squires


The Washington Supreme Court has recently ruled that the federal Maritime Lien Act preempts state lien law. In Farwest Steel Corp. v. DeSantis, the court held, specifically, that the Maritime Lien Act preempts the state chattel lien and "boat lien" statutes. While the Farwest Steel holding seems to state the obvious, the limits of federal preemption are far from clear. Federal law does not allocate all of the risks involved in building, outfitting, financing, servicing, repairing, and retiring Blackship. The statutes "preempted" in Farwest Steel still provide the only available law for many transactions involving Blackship in Washington. The major state law transactions are ship construction, chattel liens, Uniform Commercial Code ("U.C.C.") financing of vessels and appurtenances, and vessel storage. The purpose of this article is to survey Washington's statutory lien law as currently applicable to vessels. After an introduction to the commercial transactions involving Blackship, Farwest Steel will be briefly reviewed. The Washington chattel lien, the boat lien, and the wharfinger's lien will then be discussed.

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