March 30, 2009
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Mayaguez, Puerto Rico – security zone
The US Coast Guard is establishing, on an interim basis, a security zone around cruise ships calling at the port of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The interim rule comes into effect on April 29. Comments on this rulemaking should be submitted by April 29. 74 Fed. Reg. 14046 (March 30, 2009).
USCG – recertification of PWSRCAC
The US Coast Guard issued a notice stating that it has recertified, through February 28, 2010, the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Committee (PWSRCAC) to monitor activities at terminal facilities and crude oil tankers in Prince William Sound. 74 Fed. Reg. 14142 (March 30, 2009).
USCG – TWIC reader proposal
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it is seeking comments on potential requirements for owners and operators of certain regulated vessels and facilities to use electronic readers designed to work with Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWICs) as an access control measure. Additional requirements under consideration relate to recordkeeping aspects of the electronic readers and amendments to security plans to incorporate TWIC requirements. (3/27/09).
Mobile – multi-agency SAR drill
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that a multi-agency search and rescue (SAR) drill will be conducted in Mobile Bay on April 5. (3/27/09).
Bill introduced to strengthen OPA 90
Senator Cantwell (D-WA) introduced the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 2009 (S. 684) to provide the Coast Guard and NOAA with additional authorities under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), to strengthen OPA 90, and for other purposes. Among other things, the bill would require the Secretary of State to enter into negotiations with Canada to ensure that tugboat escorts are required for tank vessels with a capacity of over 40,000 dwt in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, and Haro Strait. By September 1, 2010, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be required to complete the electronic navigation chart suite of US coastal waters. The bill would amend OPA 90 to include within the definition of “responsible party” the owner of cargo oil in cases where the owner of such cargo oil knew or should have known that the vessel had a poor safety or operational record. (3/24/09).
Bill introduced to require double hulls
Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Oil Spill Prevention Act of 2009 (S. 685) to require new vessels for carrying oil fuel to have double hulls, and for other purposes. The bill, if enacted into law, would require US-flag vessels constructed under a contract entered into after enactment of the Act or delivered after August 1, 2010, with an aggregate oil fuel capacity of 600 cubic meters or more to comply with the protective fuel tank placement requirements of MARPOL Annex I. It would also clarify the authority of Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) personnel to issue directive orders to ships in emergency situations. It would establish a Merchant Mariners Medical Advisory Committee. The bill will also require a comprehensive study of marine casualty causation. It would also establish a fund for the protection and fair treatment of seafarers who are abandoned in the United States or are required to remain in the United States for an investigation or adjudication of Coast Guard-related matters. (3/24/09).
Bill introduced re FWPCA definition of fill material
Senator Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Appalachia Restoration Act (S. 696) to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) to include a definition of fill material. (3/25/09).
Remand of premature interlocutory appeal
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit remanded a petition for leave to appeal from interlocutory orders in a case involving a claim for personal injuries incurred on a floating production facility located on the outer continental shelf. Plaintiff asserted that the facility was a vessel and that he was a seaman under terms of the Jones Act. Defendant facility owner opposed these assertions. The trial judge certified the issue to the appellate court. The appellate court remanded the matter, with directions to clarify the facts and particular conclusions of law. Linton v. Shell Oil Co., No. 08-00042 (5th Cir., March 26, 2009).
EU – two EU ships seized by pirates
The European Union (EU) issued a press release expressing concern that two EU chemical carriers had been seized by pirates during the previous 48 hours. It advised merchant vessels transiting off the coast of Somalia or through the Gulf of Aden to register with the website of the Maritime Security Centre for the Horn of Africa. Naval vessel patrols are conducted by EU NAVFORCE ATALANTA, CFT 151, the NATO maritime group, and Russian, Indian, Japanese, and Chinese warships. It is difficult, though, for those naval forces to provide protection to vessels of which they are unaware. (3/27/09).
Hong Kong – safe towage at sea
The Hong Kong Marine Department issued guidance regarding safe towage at sea. The guidance references a recent collision between an anchored tanker and a crane barge that came partially loose from its tow in heavy weather. The guidance advises against commencing a tow when adverse weather has been forecast; not complying with the towing survey certificate; not maintaining the towing wire; and not advising the VTS and nearby vessels when control of the tow has been lost. Note: While individual vessels are not named in the guidance, the specifics therein clearly point to the 2007 HEBEI SPIRIT incident off the coast of South Korea. Merchant Shipping Information Note 4/2009 (3/11/09).
If you have questions regarding the above items, please contact the editor:
Dennis L. Bryant
Bryant’s Maritime Blog
4845 SW 91st Way
Gainesville, FL 32608-8135
© Dennis L. Bryant – March 2009