Sanko Steamship Co., the Japanese operator of 185 ships, asked a court to protect its U.S. assets after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in Japan, Bloomberg reported. Sanko listed assets and debt of more than $500 million in a Chapter 15 petition filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Companies use Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to protect their U.S. assets while they reorganize operations under the jurisdiction of a foreign bankruptcy court. Sanko said yesterday that the Tokyo District Court granted the closely held company permission to keep operating. A trustee will be appointed to oversee a reorganization, the Tokyo-based company said in an e-mail statement. “The Japanese proceeding is intended to provide Sanko with the protection needed to reorganize its financial affairs and maximize recoveries for all stakeholders,” the company said in court papers, referring to the main bankruptcy case in Tokyo. The ship operator failed to act quickly enough to cut expensive charters as the economy faltered and shipping rates fell, it said. Sanko also asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to recognize the case in Tokyo as the one to be used to help the company reorganize. Sanko, which was founded in 1934, had 185 ships as of April 1, including dry-bulk carriers, tankers and offshore vessels, according to its website. It canceled an order for a gas tanker earlier this year that was to be built by Sasebo Heavy Industries Co. Read more.