Debts amounting to at least fifty dollars ($50), contracted for the benefit of vessels, are liens in the cases provided in Section 491.Actions for any of the causes specified in Section 491 shall be brought against the owners by name, if known, but if not known, that fact shall be stated in the complaint, and the defendants shall be designated as unknown owners. Other persons having a lien upon the vessel may be made defendants to the action, the nature and amount of such lien being stated in the complaint.(Amended by Stats. 1970, Ch. 1341.)
All vessels are liable for:
(a) Services rendered on board at the request of, or under contract with, their respective owners, masters, agents, or consignees.
(b) Supplies furnished in this State for their use, at the request of their respective owners, masters, agents, or consignees.
(c) Work done or materials furnished in this State for their construction, repair, or equipment.
(d) Their wharfage and anchorage within this State.
(e) Breach of any contract for the transportation of persons or property between places within this State, made by their respective owners, masters, agents, or consignees.
(f) Injuries caused by them to persons or property, in this State.
Demands for these several causes constitute liens upon all vessels, have priority in the order enumerated, and have preference over all other demands; but such liens only continue in force for the period of one year from the time the cause of action accrued.
The master of a vessel has a general lien, independent of possession, upon the vessel and freightage, for advances necessarily made or liability necessarily incurred by him for the benefit of the vessel, but he has no lien for wages.
The mate and seamen of a vessel have a general lien, independent of possession, upon the vessel and freightage, for their wages, which is superior to every other lien.
The cost of repairing or replacing any buoy or beacon which is maintained by authority of the United States Bureau of Lighthouses which may be misplaced, damaged, or destroyed by any vessel being made fast to it, is, when the cost is legally ascertained, a lien upon the vessel, and is recoverable against it and its owner.
In any action brought pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, the complaint shall designate the vessel by name, and shall be verified by the oath of the plaintiff, or someone on his behalf.
The summons and copy of the complaint shall be served on the owners if they can be found; otherwise, they may be served on the master, mate, or person having charge of the vessel.
Notwithstanding Section 483.010 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the plaintiff, at the time of issuing the summons, or at any time afterwards, may have the vessel, with its tackle, appurtenances, appliances, furnishings, and furniture, attached as security for the satisfaction of any judgment that may be recovered in the action. A writ of attachment may be issued in the manner provided by Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 485.010) of Title 6.5 of Part 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure without the showing required by Section 485.010 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
The writ shall be directed to the sheriff of the county within which the vessel lies, or the marshal of the court, and direct him or her to attach the vessel, with its tackle, appurtenances, appliances, furnishings, and furniture, and keep the same in his or her custody until discharged in due course of law.
The sheriff or marshal to whom the writ is directed and delivered shall execute it without delay, and shall attach and keep in his or her custody the vessel, named therein, with its tackle, appurtenances, appliances, furnishings, and furniture, until discharged in due course of law; but the sheriff or marshal is not authorized by any such writ to interfere with the discharge of any merchandise on board of the vessel or with the removal of any trunks or other property of passengers, or of the captain, mate, seamen, steward, cook, or other persons employed on board.
The owner, or the master agent, or consignee of the vessel, may, on behalf of the owner, appear and answer or plead to the action and may object to the undertaking filed on behalf of the plaintiff.
After the attachment is levied, the owner, or the master, agent, or consignee of the vessel, may, in behalf of the owner, have the attachment discharged, upon filing with the court, subject to the provisions of Section 489.060 of the Code of Civil Procedure, an undertaking in an amount sufficient to satisfy the demand in the suit, besides costs. Upon receiving notice of the filing of the undertaking with the court, the sheriff or marshal shall restore to the owner, or the master, agent, or consignee of the owner, the vessel attached.
After the appearance in the action of the owner, the attachment may, on motion, also be discharged in the same manner, and on like terms and conditions, as attachments in other cases, subject to the provisions of Section 495.9.
(b) To the payment of the judgment and costs, including his or her fees.
The sheriff or marshal shall pay any balance remaining to the owner, or to the master, agent, or consignee who may have appeared on behalf of the owner, or if there is no appearance, then into court, subject to the claim of any party or parties legally entitled thereto.
Any mariner, boatman, or other person employed in the service of the vessel attached, who may wish to assert his or her claim for wages against the vessel, the attachments being issued for other demands than those wages, may file an affidavit of his or her claim, setting forth the amount and the particular service rendered, with the clerk of the court; and thereafter no attachment can be discharged upon filing an undertaking, unless the amount of the claim, or the amount determined as provided in Section 496, is covered thereby, in addition to the other requirements; and any execution issued against that vessel, upon judgment recovered thereafter shall direct the application of the proceeds of any sale:
(a) To the payment of the amount of such claims filed, or the amount determined, as provided in Section 496, which amount the clerk shall insert in the writ.
(b) To the payment of the judgment and costs, and sheriff’s or marshal’s fees, and shall direct the payment of any balance to the owner, master, or consignee, who may have appeared in the action; but if no appearance by them is made therein, it shall direct a deposit of the balance in court.
If the claim of the mariner, boatman, or other person filed with the clerk of the court, as provided in Section 495.9, is not contested within five days after notice of the filing thereof by the owner, master, agent, or consignee of the vessel against which the claim is filed, or by any creditor, it shall be deemed admitted; but if contested, the clerk shall indorse upon the affidavit thereof a statement that it is contested, and the grounds of the contest, and shall immediately thereafter order the matter to a single referee for his determination, or he may hear the proofs and determine the matter himself. The determination of the clerk or referee may be reviewed by a court in which the action is pending or a judge thereof immediately after such determination is made, and the judgment of the court or judge is final. On the review the court or judge may use the minutes of the evidence taken by the clerk or referee, or may take the evidence anew.
The notice of sale published by the sheriff or marshal must contain a statement of the measurement and tonnage of the vessel and a general description of her condition.