Headlines: Pirates killed crewmember during hijacking; GAO report on USCG modernization program; USCG FPEIS re removal equipment requirements; Jet ski accident is within admiralty jurisdiction; Misdirected Arrow Clause hits the mark; Bill introduced to reauthorize MARAD; and Hong Kong – submarine cable works.
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NATO – crewmember on hijacked vessel shot and killed by pirates
The NATO Shipping Centre issued a news release stating that the merchant vessel Marathon was released by Somali pirates on June 22. It had been held off the coast of Somalia since being hijacked on May 7. Following its release, the vessel is being escorted to a safe harbor by the HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën. One member of the crew of the hijacked vessel was shot and killed by pirates during their violent boarding. A second, wounded crew member is receiving medical treatment. (6/23/09).
GAO – report on USCG modernization program
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report entitled: Coast Guard: Observations on the Genesis and Progress of the Service’s Modernization Program. The report explains the command and control issues that led the Coast Guard to seek a major realignment. It also points out that the agency has ongoing efforts to monitor the progress of the modernization, but that various performance metrics have yet to be fully developed. GAO-09-530R (6/24/09).
USCG – FPEIS re VRP and FRP removal equipment requirements
The US Coast Guard issued a notice stating that it is seeking comments on the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (FPEIS) for vessel response plans (VRPs) and facility response plans (FRPs) for oil: 2003 removal equipment requirements and alternative technology revisions. Comments should be submitted by July 27. 74 Fed. Reg. 30316 (June 25, 2009).
Jet ski accident is within admiralty jurisdiction
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a claim for personal injury by a person who fell off a jet ski while it was being operated on navigable waters comes within admiralty jurisdiction. In the instant case, plaintiffs were injured when the jet ski on which they were being carried as passengers was operated negligently. The incident occurred on waters of Mission Bay, near San Diego, reserved for use by such vessels. After the accident, the owner of the jet ski (who was not the operator) sought exoneration or limitation of liability in federal court. The injured passengers opposed the petition, asserting that the waters involved were not used for commercial activity and that jet ski operation was not a traditional maritime activity. The trial court ruled in favor of the passengers, holding that there was no admiralty jurisdiction over the incident. The jet ski owner appealed. The appellate court held that because the waters involved were within the ebb and flow of the tide, the location test for admiralty jurisdiction was satisfied. It further found that the nexus test for admiralty jurisdiction was met because the tort alleged, harm by a vessel in navigable waters to a passenger, had a potential effect on maritime commerce and the general character of the activity, operation of a vessel in navigable waters, had a substantial relationship to traditional maritime activity. The case was remanded to the trial court for consideration of the petition seeking exoneration or limitation of liability. Mission Bay Jet Sports v. Colombo, No. 08-56142 (9th Cir., June 24, 2009).
Misdirected Arrow Clause hits the mark
In a brief summary order, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a concessionaire on a cruise ship is not entitled to claim against an indemnity policy issued in favor of a cruise ship company and the vessel owner. Plaintiff concessionaire had paid the cruise ship company to procure liability coverage. A seaman (in the employ of the concessionaire) required hospitalization. The concessionaire paid for the treatments and paid maintenance and cure. The court ruled that the insurance policy included a Misdirected Arrow Clause, which unambiguously provided that any loss associated with the seaman’s maintenance and cure was properly the responsibility of the concessionaire. The court noted that its ruling was without prejudice to whatever remedies concessionaire may have against the cruise ship company. Trident International Limited v. American Steamship Owners Mutual, No. 08-3648-cv (2nd Cir., June 22, 2009).
Bill introduced to reauthorize MARAD
Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Maritime Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (S. 1308) to reauthorize the Maritime Administration, and for other purposes. If enacted into law, the bill would, among other things, formally establish a port infrastructure development program and a short sea transportation grant program. (6/19/09).
Hong Kong – submarine cable works
The Hong Kong Marine Department issued a notice stating that, for approximately the next eight weeks, a vessel near the eastern boundary of Hong Kong waters will be installing protection works for a submarine cable and gas pipeline. Vessels transiting the vicinity are urged to navigate at slow speed and give a wide berth. Notice No. 82 of 2009 (6/23/09).
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