CWM has been a leading maritime and admiralty law firm since its establishment in 1923.  Our maritime group is available 24/7 to help clients deal with crisis situations and to provide guidance when an emergency response is required.  The firm represents clients in matters involving vessel accidents, cargo damage, vessel and marina fires, personal injury and death, limitation of liability, marine salvage and pollution.  Maritime clients are assisted in commercial matters such as vessel financing, and vessel and facility pollution response plans.  With respect to U.S. marine casualties, the firm also represents clients in U.S. Coast Guard and OSHA investigations, businesses in civil penalty proceedings with the Coast Guard and merchant seamen in license suspension and revocation proceedings before Coast Guard hearing officers and administrative law judges.

We serve a broad cross-section of maritime underwriters.  Counsel is provided on a full spectrum of maritime insurance issues, including defense, coverage questions, reservations, declaratory actions, reinsurance, excess liability and subrogation.  Underwriter interests represented include all aspects of marine, air and inland transportation, including hull and machinery, cargo, pollution, P&I, F.D.&.D., product liability, toxic tort, ship repairers and subrogation.

With offices on the historic waterfront of the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Virginia, the firm is located in the heart of the country’s premier naval, shipbuilding and terminal operations.  Our size allows us to provide the flexibility and personal service which can only be found at a smaller firm; our location allows us to do so at more reasonable rates than are charged in larger metropolitan areas.

Our team of attorneys are experienced in the following:

  • Cargo Damage and Bills of Lading
  • Charter Party Disputes
  • Environmental Liability
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Jones Act
  • Marine Contract
  • Marina Operator Liability
  • Marine Insurance Coverage
  • Maritime Liens
  • Maritime Products Liability
  • Oil Pollution
  • Riparian Rights
  • Salvage and Wreck Removal
  • Ship Repairer Liability
  • Subrogation
  • Towage Contracts and Disputes
  • Vessel Arrest and Attachment
  • Vessel Casualty and Collision


  • Charter Parties
  • Terminal Acquisition and Development
  • Vessel Construction
  • Towage Contracts
  • Vessel Documentation
  • Vessel Sales
  • Vessel Finance
Honors and Awards

Crenshaw, Ware & Martin was named Shipping & Maritime Law Firm of the Year – Virginia USA in the 2015 Global Awards published by Corporate LiveWire.

November 2014

Crenshaw, Ware & Martin received a Tier 1 Metropolitan Ranking for the 2015 listing of “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News and Best Lawyers in Admiralty & Maritime Law.

November 2013

U.S. News Media Group and Best Lawyers have released the 2014 “Best Law Firms” rankings. CWM is proud to announce that the firm received a Tier 1 Metropolitan Ranking in Admiralty & Maritime.

"2012 Maritime Law Firm of the Year in Virginia"

by Corporate INTL Magazine in its annual Global Awards for Legal Excellence

November 2012

U.S. News Media Group and Best Lawyers have released the 2013 “Best Law Firms” rankings, providing a comprehensive view of the U.S. legal profession. Crenshaw, Ware & Martin, P.L.C. is proud to announce that the firm received a Tier 1 Metropolitan Ranking in Admiralty & Maritime Law.

Representative Cases
Flame S.A. v. Indus. Carriers,

2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131981 (E.D. Va. Sept. 19, 2014)

Mullins v. River Docks Corp.,

791 F.Supp.2d 511 (E.D.Va. 2011)

Misener Marine Constr., Inc. v. Norfolk Dredging Co.,

594 F.3d 832 (11th Cir. 2010)

Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line RR Co. v. M/V MARLIN,

2009 A.M.C. 2465 (E.D. Va. 2009)

Styron v. Norfolk Dredging Co.,

262 F.R.D. 502, 502 (E.D.N.C. 2009)

Norfolk Dredging Company v. Wiley,

450 F.Supp.2d 620 (E.D. Va. 2006)

Vulcan Materials Company, Tug Chance Limitation Proceedings,

412 F.Supp.2d 566 and 369 F.Supp.2d 438 (E.D. Va. 2005)

Norfolk Dredging Company Derrick No. 4 Limitation Proceedings,

287 F.Supp.2d 674, 2003 A.M.C. 403 and 2622 (E.D.N.C. 2003)

Maersk Line Ltd. v. ADM, Inc.,

271 F.Supp.2d 818 (E.D.Va. 2003)

Eck v. United States, 1999 AMC 2941 (S.D.Cal); United States v. Phillips,

56 M.J. 771 (C.G. Ct. Crim. App. 2002)

Maritrans Operating Partners v. M/V BALSA 37,

64 F.3d 150, 1995 A.M.C. 2671 (4th Cir. 1995)

Gillikin v. Weeks Marine,

247 Va. 89 (1994)

Columbus-America Discovery Group, Inc. v. SS CENTRAL AMERICA,

742 F.Supp. 1327 (E.D.Va.1990), rev’d 974 F.2d 450 (4th Cir. 1992)

Cargill v. C & P Towing,

943 F.2d 48 (4th Cir. 1991)

Representative Clients

Dredging Companies

Commercial Fishing

Importers and Exporters

Marina Owners and Operators

Marine Construction Companies

Marine Fuel Suppliers

Marine Salvors

Seafood Industry


Terminal Operators

Tug and Barge Operators

U.S. and London Market Marine Insurers

Vessel Owners

Waterfront Facilities

Articles & Presentations

James L. Chapman, “Shipping and Maritime Law 2014”, Roundtable Panel, presented by Corporate Live Wire (October 2014)

Steven Stancliff , “It’s No Fun Being an (Injured) Illegal Alien (Maritime Worker),” presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2010)

Steven Stancliff, “The Continuing Vitality of the Limitation of Liability Act,” presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2009)

Steven Stancliff, “A Legal Guide to Pleasure Boating” — presented at Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association CLE Seminar — covering subjects including: the nautical rules of the road, the legal framework for Coast Guard search and rescue operations, the evolution of government maritime security regimes, laws for the protection of the environment, and law enforcement authorities on the navigable waters of the United States; May 2008 and 2010

J. L. Chapman, “Red Letter Clauses in Marina Slip Leases,” presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2008)

Steven Stancliff, State and Federal Cooperation in Maritime Homeland Security Mission; Panelist at National Association of State Boating Law Administrators 45th Annual Conference, 2004

J. L. Chapman, S. A. Voyles, “Cargo Litigation: A Primer on Cargo Claims and Review of Recent Developments,” 16 U.S.F. Mar. L.J. 1 (Spring 2004)

Steven Stancliff, United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Maritime Security, and International Fisheries Law and Management; Defense International Institute of Legal Studies 2003 mission to the archipelagic state of Vanuatu.

J. L. Chapman, M.M. Poindexter, “Treasure Salvage: Is it Finders-Keepers?” presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (1991)

News and Updates
CWM is pleased to announce seven lawyers named to the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers in America
Posted on September 1, 2015
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin PLC is pleased to announce that seven of its lawyers have been named to the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers in America. Delphine G. Carnes - Project...
Read More
Steven M. Stancliff Named Chair of the Firm's Admiralty & Maritime Practice Group
Posted on November 14, 2014
Mr. Stancliff joined the firm in 2007 following a distinguished career in the United States Coast Guard, retiring at the rank of Commander.  "Steve's background and expertise make him ideally...
Read More
Firm Receives Tier 1 Ranking for the 2015 Listing of Best Law Firms
Posted on November 3, 2014
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin received a Tier 1 Metropolitan Ranking for the 2015 listing of "Best Law Firms" by U.S. News and Best Lawyers in three practice areas:  Admiralty & Maritime...
Read More
2014 Corporate Live Wire Roundtable on Shipping & Maritime Law
Posted on October 14, 2014
James Chapman was a member of the panel of experts from around the world in the Shipping & Maritime Law 2014 roundtable presented by Corporate Live Wire.  The panel discussed the...
Read More
James Chapman and Steve Stancliff represent partnership in win for rights to salvage gold treasure
Posted on July 10, 2014
CINCINNATI (AP) — A fugitive treasure hunter's company has lost its bid to stop deep-sea explorers from bringing up gold and other artifacts from a ship that sank off the...
Read More
CWM announces eight lawyers selected for inclusion in 2013 Virginia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars
Posted on May 1, 2013
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin, P.L.C. is pleased to announce that eight of its lawyers were selected for inclusion in the 2013 Virginia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars lists appearing in...
Read More
Lawyer Search