Headlines: Influenza update – pandemic; Safe port warranty; Long Island Sound anchorages; FERC – Weavers Cove Offshore Berth Project; USCG – Certificates of Alternate Compliance; Asian gypsy moth inspection program; Contract for helicopter services is not maritime; World Maritime Day Parallel Event; EC – state aid to ship management companies; and IMO news supplement.
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WHO & CDC – Influenza A (H1N1) updates – pandemic
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a notice stating that the outbreak of Influenza A (H1N1), also referred to as the swine flu, has been officially designated a pandemic. While the outbreak has spread virtually world-wide and the alert level has been increased to Phase 6,this outbreak is only slightly more lethal that the common influenza. Therefore, WHO is not recommending restrictions on travel at the present time. It will monitor the situation closely. The agency also issued an update stating that, as of 1400 GMT, 11 June, 74 countries have reported 28,774 confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection, including 144 deaths. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a news release on the pandemic. (6/11/09).
Safe port warranty will not be implied into a charter party
The UK Supreme Court of Judicature Court of Appeal (Civil Division) ruled that, where a charter party lacks an express safe port warranty, such a warranty will not be implied. In the instant case, plaintiff shipowner and defendant charterer entered into a standard form (Gencon) voyage charter for the carriage of cargo from Chekka, Lebanon to Algiers, Algeria. While loading at a berth in Chekka, the hull of the vessel was penetrated by a hidden underwater projection. The shipowner brought suit against the charterer to recover the costs of repairing the vessel. Among other things, the shipowner asserted that the charterer breached the implied duty to designate a safe port and safe berth for the vessel. The court professed extreme reluctance to read or imply into the contract (charter party) a provision that the parties had not expressed therein and which was not absolutely necessary to effectuate the commercial purpose of the contract. While the court indicated a willingness to imply a safe berth warranty into the charter party had contained a safe port clause, it was unwilling to fill the larger void on its own. Mediterranean Salvage & Towage Ltd v. Seamar Trading & Commerce Inc.,  EWCA Civ 531 (June 10, 2009).
Long Island Sound – anchorage regulations proposed
The US Coast Guard proposes to establish seven anchorage grounds in waters of Long Island Sound. These anchorages would be located within Connecticut or New York State. These anchorages are intended to provide safe and secure anchorage of vessels, particularly deep-draft vessels, transiting Long Island Sound or awaiting entry to a port or facility in Connecticut or New York. Comments on this proposal should be submitted by August 11. 74 Fed. Reg. 27948 (June 12, 2009).
FERC – technical conference re Weavers Cove Offshore Berth Project
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice stating that it will convene an engineering design and technical conference regarding the proposed Weavers Cove Offshore Berth Project. The conference will be held in Swansea, Massachusetts on June 16. The conference is not open to the public. 74 Fed. Reg. 28044 (June 12, 2009).
USCG – Certificates of Alternative Compliance
The US Coast Guard published notices stating that it issued Certificates of Alternative Compliance to two vessels engaged in offshore supply operations. The vessels provide support to the offshore oil and gas industry. Full compliance with the federal and international regulations relating to placement of navigation lights on these particular vessels would hinder their ability to maneuver in close proximity of offshore platforms. Offshore Supply Vessel BLN HULL 563. 74 Fed. Reg. 28053 (June 12, 2009). Crew Boat MR ZACHARY. 74 Fed. Reg. 28053 (June 12, 2009).
USCG – slow response in SAR case
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it was slow to launch search and rescue (SAR) assets because of poor collection and analysis of information and decision-making regarding the status of a fishing vessel. A detailed analysis of the incident may be found in the final action memo. (6/11/09).
APHIS & CBP – Asian gypsy moth inspection program
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are disseminating information regarding the Asian gypsy moth inspection program. The 53-page document provides background information on the problem presented by the Asian gypsy moth (AGM), how to reduce the likelihood that your ship will be impacted, and what the inspection program entails. This information was brought to my attention by one of my long-suffering readers – John Bennett of the Maritime Protective Services. (5/29/09).
Contract for helicopter services is not maritime
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a contract for helicopter services to transport passengers from shore to an offshore platform is not a maritime contract. In the instant case, the operator of an offshore platform hired a helicopter company to transport individuals out to its platform. On one trip, the helicopter landed on the platform, but then, while repositioning, its rotor blade struck part of the platform and fell into the water. One passenger died and several were injured. The passengers sued the helicopter company, which impleaded the platform operator/employer. The contract between the platform operator and the helicopter company included a mutual indemnity clause, under which each company agreed to indemnify the other against claims made by its employees. If maritime law applied to the incident, the mutual indemnity clause took effect. If the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and state law applied, the mutual indemnity clause was void. The court found that, because the controlling issue was contractual rather than in tort, maritime law did not prevail. Thus, the OCSLA and state law applied. The court further found that, because the precipitating casualty occurred after the helicopter had safely touched down on the platform, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) did not apply. Alleman v. Omni Energy Services, No. 08-30086 (5th Cir., June 9, 2009).
IMO & USCG – World Maritime Day Parallel Event
The US Coast Guard issued a notice stating that the United States will conduct a World Maritime Day Parallel Event in New York City on October 16. (6/11/09).
EC – state aid to ship management companies
The European Commission (EC) issued a press release stating that it issued updated guidance on state aid granted to ship management companies. The tonnage tax may be applied to ship managers, so long as they contribute to development of the European maritime cluster and make a commitment to implement the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 ahead of its entry into force. (6/11/09).
IMO – News Supplement
The IMO issued a News Supplement summarizing its major efforts to enhance marine safety and security and to protect the environment. (6/11/09).
TSA – TWIC update
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued an update to its status report on the implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The TWIC Dashboard shows that (as of 11 June) 1,235,682 maritime workers have enrolled for a TWIC and that 1,066,793 cards have been activated. (6/11/09).
Portsmouth, Maine – tanker touches bottom
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it responded after receiving a report that a tanker had touched bottom in the Piscataqua River at Portsmouth, Maine. There were no reports of injury or pollution. The incident is under investigation. (6/11/09).
F/V owner fined $500,000 for illegal fishing
The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that the owner of a foreign fishing vessel paid a fine of $500,000 for illegally fishing in the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Howland and Baker Islands in the central Pacific. (6/10/09).
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 – June 2009