March 9, 2009
Note: Much of the highlighted text in this newsletter constitutes links to Internet sites providing more detailed information. Links on this page may be in PDF format, requiring use of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Comments on these postings are encouraged and may be made by clicking the envelope that appears at the end of each posting. Be aware that the daily blog entry is a single posting, even though it contains a number of individual items.
DOJ – pilot of COSCO BUSAN pleads guilty
The Department of Justice issued a news release stating that the pilot of the COCSO BUSAN when it allided with a tower of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on November 7, 2007, pleaded guilty in federal court to negligently causing the discharge of approximately 53,000 gallons of oil in violation of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) and to killing approximately 2,000 migratory birds in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Sentencing has been scheduled for June 19. As part of the plea agreement, the government dismissed charges of making false statements to the Coast Guard regarding his use of prescription medications. The punishment terms of the plea agreement, which are subject to approval by the court, provide for confinement in prison for between two and ten months, a fine of between $3,000 and $30,000, and one year of supervised release during which the defendant will not serve as a pilot or master. Trial for the ship manager has been scheduled for September 14. Note: failure by the government to pursue its charges relating to the failure of the pilot to disclose his extensive use of prescription drugs to the Coast Guard when he renewed his license sends a confusing signal to the maritime community of the significance of such omissions during the merchant mariner documentation process. (3/6/09).
Galveston – tanker salvage operations continue
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it continues to monitor salvage operations on a tanker in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 65 miles south of Galveston. An underwater survey revealed a large area of structural damage below the waterline on the port side of the SKS SATILLA. A later press release states that lightering operations have begun. A submerged mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) has been discovered nearby. The MODU was reported missing after Hurricane Ike in 2008. The 900-foot long double-hull tanker is in stable condition. There have been no reports of injury or pollution. A video of the lightering operations has been released. Compare this with the earlier video of the tanker with an 8-degree list. (3/8/09).
San Pablo Bay – temporary safety zone
The US Coast Guard has established, through March 20, a temporary safety zone in the navigable waters of San Pablo Bay. The safety zone is utilized for airborne use of force judgmental training flights and associated fast-moving small boats. Give them a wide berth. 74 Fed. Reg. 9956 (March 9, 2009).
MACOSH – meeting
The Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (MACOSH), sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), will meet in Washington, DC on March 24. 74 Fed. Reg. 10096 (March 9, 2009).
SLSDC – meeting
The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Advisory Board will meet in Washington, DC on April 23 via conference call. 74 Fed. Reg. 10125 (March 9, 2009).
Race to the courthouse
The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the winner of the race to the courthouse can largely determine whether an action is heard in admiralty without a jury or is heard with a jury, either on the law side of the court or under the “saving to suitors” clause. In the instant case, defendant’s yacht was damaged when it partially sank while undergoing engine repairs. Defendant filed a claim with plaintiff marine insurer, which denied the claim. The insurer then filed a complaint in federal court seeking a declaratory judgment and asserting admiralty jurisdiction. Plaintiff insurer prevailed at trial which was heard by the court without a jury and defendant appealed, asserting, among other things, that its motion to have the dispute heard by a jury should have been granted. Relying on earlier circuit precedent, the appellate court denied relief on that ground, although it did remand the case for the limited purpose of resolving one confusing part of the trial court’s decision. One judge on the panel filed a lengthy concurring opinion, expressing strong doubts about allowing the victor in the race to the courthouse decide whether the dispute is decided by the court or a jury. Circuits are split on this issue. This case looks like it may be headed to the Supreme Court. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. v. Lago Canyon, Inc., No.08-13398 (11th Cir., March 6, 2009).
IMO – meeting of working group on greenhouse gas emissions
The IMO issued a news release stating that the Second Intersessional Meeting of the Working Group on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from Ships will be held in London on March 9-13. The session is tasked with further developing and finalizing the Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships and the revised Interim Guidelines on the Energy Efficiency Operational Index. (3/6/09).
Singapore – periodic testing of immersion suits
The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a circular reminding owners, operators, and masters of the need for periodic testing of immersion suit and anti-exposure suit seams and closures in accordance with MSC/Circ.1114. Shipping Circular 2009-12 (3/3/09).
Odd news – inmate arrested while breaking into jail
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that deputies in Woodbine (located in southeast Georgia) arrested an inmate who was trying to break back into the jail. The individual was in jail for possession of a controlled substance and violating probation. Apparently he broke out of jail, stole 14 packs of cigarettes for a nearby convenience store, and was trying to get back into the jail when apprehended. Further proof that nicotine is addictive. (3/7/09).
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
Redistribution permitted with attribution