Headlines: Merchant Mariners’ Memorial ceremony; European Maritime Day; Influenza updates; National Safe Boating Week; Great Lakes icebreaker bill introduced; MOVEMENT Act introduced; Whizzinators and warrantless genitalia searches; Tampa – explosion on tanker; COOP exercise; Mississippi River closed at Memphis due to collision
Note: This blog is one section of the Bryant’s Maritime Consulting website. Visit the site for more extensive maritime regulatory information. Individual concerns may be addressed by retaining Dennis Bryant directly. 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. Improvements in this blog site, while slow, are due to the assistance of Kim Nettles. She rapidly points me to the improvements. I, with the speed of a glacier, implement them. Please bear with me.
New York – merchant mariners’ memorial ceremony
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that a wreath-laying ceremony was held at the American Merchant Mariners’ Memorial in Battery Park honoring mariners who have perished at sea. (5/19/09).
EU – European Maritime Day
The European Union issued a notice stating that May 20 has been designated as European Maritime Day. (5/19/09).
WHO & CDC – Influenza A (H1N1) updates – 9,830 cases
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an update stating that, as of 0600 GMT, 19 May, 40 countries have reported 9,830 confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection, including 79 deaths. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an update stating that 48 states have reported a total of 5,469 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu infection, including six deaths. (5/19/09).
White House – National Safe Boating Week
President Obama issued a proclamation declaring May 16-22, National Safe Boating Week 2009. 74 Fed. Reg. 23605 (May 20, 2009).
Bill introduced to authorize construction of Great Lakes icebreaker
Senator Levin (D-MI) introduced the Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act (S. 1024) to authorize appropriations for the design, acquisition, and construction of a combined buoy tender-icebreaker to replace icebreaking capacity on the Great Lakes. (5/12/09).
Bill introduced to establish National Goods Movement Improvement Fund
Representative Richardson (D-CA) introduced the MOVEMENT Act of 2009 (H.R. 2355) to establish a National Goods Movement Improvement Fund to provide funding for infrastructure projects that will improve the movement of goods, mitigate environmental damage caused by the movement of goods, and enhance the security of transported goods to establish a National Goods Movement Improvement Fund to provide funding for infrastructure projects that will improve the movement of goods, mitigate environmental damage caused by the movement of goods, and enhance the security of transported goods. (5/12/09). Note: While the concept of this legislation has merit, its overly cute name sounds like something out of a bran cereal advertisement.
Whizzinators and warrantless genitalia searches
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld regulations of the Department of Transportation requiring employees in safety sensitive positions in the transportation industry (including the merchant marine) who either failed or refused to take a drug test to successfully complete a drug treatment program and pass a series of urine tests as a condition of returning to duty in the safety-sensitive position. Among other things, the employee must provide a urine sample under the direct scrutiny of a same-gender observer, who must watch the urine go directly from the employee’s body into the collection container. The regulations were so drafted in light of evidence the cheating on urine tests was rampant and that devices, such as the Whizzinator, were available on the open market that resembled human genitalia and could be used to provide a drug-free urine sample under less-intrusive test conditions. The DOT regulations were challenged by a railway company and several labor unions. The court ruled that warrantless genitalia searches in accordance with the detailed provisions of the regulations were neither arbitrary nor capricious and were not violative of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches. BNSF Railway Co. v. US Department of Transportation, No. 08-1264 (DC Cir., May 15, 2009). Note: In my wildest dreams, I never envisioned a subject line such as the above in my newsletter. This decision was brought to my attention by John Bennett of Maritime Protective Services.
Tampa – explosion on tanker, mariner injured
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that a tanker in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 30 miles northwest of Tampa experienced an explosion after a hydraulic line ruptured while the ship was raising anchor. One crewmember was injured and has been medically evacuated. The incident is under investigation. (5/19/09).
Florida – COOP exercise
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that, on May 20-21, it will conduct a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) exercise in Bradenton, Florida to test its ability to continue operations along the Gulf Coast of Florida during an emergency scenario in which Sector St. Petersburg facilities are damaged. (5/19/09).
Helena, Arkansas – Mississippi River closed due to collision
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it ordered the closure to navigation of the Mississippi River between mile markers 595 and 640 due to the collision of two towboats. The collision resulted in 26 barges coming adrift and one barge has possibly sunk. Most of the drifting barges have since been recovered. There have been no reports of injury or pollution. A second press release states that the river has been reopened to navigation. (5/19/09).
St. Louis – rivers closed to recreational vessels
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it has closed portions of the Upper Mississippi River and the Illinois River to recreational vessels due to high water levels. (5/19/09).
Panama Canal – Conference on Marine Simulation and Ship Maneuverability
The Panama Canal Authority issued a press release stating that it will host the 2009 Conference on Marine Simulation and Ship Maneuverability (MARSIM) on August 17-20. (5/18/09).
If you have questions regarding the above items, please contact the editor:
Dennis L. Bryant
Bryant’s Maritime Consulting
4845 SW 91st Way
Gainesville, FL 32608-8135
© Dennis L. Bryant – May 2009