Every sailor knows that a good knot will hold for years without unraveling, but can also be undone at a moments notice when the need arises. When it comes to legal solutions in the shipping and maritime industries — where unexpected accidents can give rise to complex challenges and ownership of a vessel or its cargo can change hands while the ship is still between ports — strength and flexibility are equally mandatory.

For decades, Hunton & Williams LLP has had a robust admiralty and maritime law practice, focusing on litigation and transactional matters in the United States. Our lawyers represent clients from every corner of the industry, including shippers, carriers, ship owners, stevedores, energy companies, cruise lines, non-vessel-operating common carriers, treasure salvors, terminal operators, shipyards, banks and financial companies, among others. From offices on both coasts, our experienced trial and corporate lawyers — including a former professional mariner and major port commissioner — work hand-in-hand to ensure that disputes are resolved quickly and effectively and that client deals are negotiated, structured and documented with care and full attention to detail.

Our cross-disciplinary capabilities include the following:

  • Litigation and arbitration involving claims for lost, damaged, delayed or hazardous cargo; claims arising out of collisions and allisions; wrongful death and personal injury; contract disputes; oil spills, pollution and product liability; in rem claims against vessels and other property; and complex marine insurance claims.
  • Transactional counsel, including mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and vessel sales; financing; and the full range of shipping, logistics, towage, vessel charter, marine terminal, salvage, stevedoring and other agreements and contracts.
  • Domestic and international regulatory counsel, including compliance with the US Ocean Shipping Reform Act; environmental law such as the Clean Water Act and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL); US Coast Guard and Homeland Security regulations such as the Maritime Transportation Security Act; and other shipping laws and policies.


    • Represented foreign ocean carrier in federal court litigation involving breach of container leases and Rule B attachment of the carrier’s bank accounts to seek security for a judgment
    • Represented large tobacco company in federal court litigation against an ocean carrier for the theft of several containers of cargo shipped in international commerce
    • Represented salvor in federal court litigation involving in rem claim to gold salvaged from an 18th century shipwreck
    • Represented shipyard in bid protests and claims related to contracts to repair U.S. Navy vessels
    • Represented foreign tobacco company in negotiations over a worldwide shipping contract with an ocean carrier
    • Represented large international shipper of liquid cargo in negotiations over a 10-year charter party for a tank vessel
    • Represented large U.S. fishing company during investigations by the U.S. Coast Guard concerning alleged oil discharge, crewing deficiencies and other vessel safety concerns involving its fleet of vessels
    • Represented stevedores in negotiation of multiyear stevedoring contract with terminal operator
    • Represented large U.S. energy company in negotiations over terminal, stevedoring and towing agreements related to the importation of coal
    • Advised U.S. bank concerning ship’s mortgages and liens under the Commercial Instruments and Maritime Liens Act