After fruitful negotiations over a boatload of allegedly rotten bananas, Del Monte Fresh Produce International agreed Friday to allow the boat, the M/V Green Brazil, to leave Gloucester City and slip unimpeded into the deeper waters of the Delaware River en route to the Atlantic Ocean.
The story began Dec. 12, when the M/V Green Brazil set sail from Santo Tomas, Guatemala, with 170,989 cartons of melons and bananas for Del Monte Fresh Produce.
By the time the ship arrived at the dock in Gloucester City, sometime around Monday, 109,908 cartons of bananas worth $1.5 million were spoiled, according to a lawsuit Del Monte filed Wednesday in federal court in Camden. Gloucester Terminal L.L.C. runs the port facility.
The melons were fine, but the bananas had no appeal, the suit said.
The bananas "were no longer fit for human consumption" because they were in a "distressed state," the suit said. Mushy and black bananas have limited appeal, so they would need to be discounted, "dumped, donated, or otherwise destroyed," the suit said.
Del Monte officials could not be reached for comment.
On Wednesday, Del Monte attorneys asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio to "arrest" the vessel, lest it depart before the shipping companies posted some security while the rotten-banana problem was resolved.
The lawsuit said the ship was owned, operated, registered, or chartered by companies with offices in Curaçao, Belgium, Norway, Poland, and the Bahamas. The attorney representing the ship owners could not be reached for comment.
By late Friday afternoon, the arrangements had been made and a different Camden federal magistrate signed an order allowing the M/V Green Brazil to sail away.
The ultimate fate of the allegedly overripe bananas could not be determined Friday evening.
Perhaps someone had a recipe for banana bread.