Headlines: NATO – all-Arab naval task force to address piracy; Spain and US discuss piracy problem; EPA to propose air emission standards for large ships; California requires use of low-sulphur fuel; Seaman’s claims not subject to arbitration; USCG – voluntary compliance with MARPOL Annex IV; New York – ferry allision; USACE – deauthorization of water resources projects; Bill introduced to modify tonnage tax; Australia – LRIT operational; and Mariner fatigue study launched.
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.
NATO – all-Arab naval task force to address piracy
The NATO Shipping Centre issued an update stating that the Arab media is reporting that eleven littoral states of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea have agreed to create an all-Arab naval task force to prevent the spread of piracy in the region. The task force would comprise warships from Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The Saudi navy will coordinate joint efforts for a period of one year. (7/1/09).
Spain and US discuss piracy problem
The US Department of Defense issued a news release stating that during the meeting between US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Spanish Minister of Defense Carme Chacon the parties discussed, among other things, the need for a legal framework to address the piracy problem off Somalia. (7/1/09).
EPA – air emission standards to be proposed for large ships
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a news release stating that it intends to propose regulations that would impose air emission standards for large ships that would harmonize with international standards. The draft proposal would impose nitrogen oxide (NOx) limits on Category 3 marine diesel engines installed on US ships similar to those provided for on foreign ships under recent amendments to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention. It would also forbid the sale of marine diesel fuel for use in the US Emissions Control Area (ECA) of above 1% sulphur content. (7/1/09).
California – requirement for low-sulphur fuel
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued a news release stating that, effective July 1, ocean-going ships must use low-sulphur fuel when operating within 24 nautical miles of the California coast. (7/1/09).
Seaman’s claims not subject to arbitration
The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that claims filed by a crewmember against his employer are not subject to arbitration. Plaintiff was injured while working as a head waiter on a Panamanian-flag cruise ship operating out a Florida port. After receiving allegedly cursory medical treatment, he took vacation time to recover. He returned to work for a short period, but never fully recovered and was eventually discharged. His original employment agreement had no arbitration clause, but the one he signed upon his return to work did include a clause providing that claims arising under the agreement would be arbitrated in the Philippines applying the laws of Panama. He brought suit in a Florida state court, asserting negligence under the Jones Act; unseaworthiness and failure to provide maintenance and cure under general maritime law; and failure to pay wages under the Seaman’s Wage Act. Defendant employer removed the case to federal court and moved to compel arbitration in accordance with the arbitration clause of the employment agreement. The trial court granted defendant’s motion and plaintiff crewmember appealed. The appellate court found that the arbitration clause did not apply retroactively to the claims that arose prior to the execution of the second employment agreement. With regard to the Wage Act claim, the court ruled that compelling arbitration in a foreign jurisdiction applying foreign law to a claim that only exists under US law would be contrary to public policy. The case was reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Thomas v. Carnival Corporation, No. 08-10613 (11th Cir., July 1, 2009). Note: At this stage, it is unclear whether this case is unique or whether it will open floodgates of litigation in US courts by foreign crewmembers serving on foreign ships.
USCG – voluntary compliance with MARPOL Annex IV
Overcoming some minor technical glitches, the US Coast Guard posted its guidance for owners and operators of US commercial vessels to voluntarily comply with international ship sewage regulations found in Annex IV to the MARPOL Convention. The United States is currently not party to Annex IV, but requirements of the Annex would be enforced against applicable US ships that call in the ports of nations that are party to the Annex. The Coast Guard circular also provides guidance to manufacturers of shipboard sewage processing equipment and to facilities that test such equipment. NVIC 1-09 (6/23/09).
New York – ferry allision
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that it is responding to an allision involving the Staten Island ferry at the Saint George’s Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. Ten injuries have been reported after the ferry allied with the pier. A second news release states that there have been 17 injuries. The incident is under investigation. (7/1/09).
FMC – proposed repeal of Marine Terminal Agreement exemption
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) proposes to repeal the exemption from the 45-day waiting period requirement applicable to certain Marine Terminal Agreements. Comments on the proposal should be submitted by August 17. 74 Fed. Reg. 31666 (July 2, 2009).
USACE – deauthorization of water resources projects
The US Army Corps of Engineers issued a notice containing the list of water resources projects that have been deauthorized. The list includes several navigation projects. 74 Fed. Reg. 31713 (July 2, 2009).
NTSB – annual report to Congress
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) delivered its 2008 Annual Report to Congress. The report states that NTSB conducted 19 major investigations during the year, including three in the maritime sector (M/V Crown Princess heeling incident off Florida; M/V Kition allision with bridge pier on the Mississippi River; and M/V Empress of the North grounding in Alaska). (7/1/09).
Bill introduced to modify tonnage tax
Representative Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced a bill (H.R. 3049) to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the application of the tonnage tax on vessels operating in the dual United States domestic and foreign trades, and for other purposes. (6/25/09).
Australia – LRIT operational
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued a media release stating that the Australian Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system became operational at midnight on 1 July. (7/1/09).
New Zealand – French warship rescues family on disabled yacht
Maritime New Zealand issued a media release stating that, at the request of RCC New Zealand, a French warship diverted course and rescued a family of eight whose yacht have become dismasted and disabled on a voyage from Tonga to New Zealand. A Royal New Zealand Air Force plane also assisted. (7/1/09).
Singapore – amendment to merchant shipping safety regulations
The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a circular advising that the Merchant Shipping (Safety Convention) (Amendment) Regulations, 2009 came into operation on 1 July. These Regulations put into effect the amendments to the regulations annexed to the SOLAS Convention adopted by Resolutions MSC.239(83) and MSC.240(83) in October 2007. Shipping Circular No. 21 of 2009 (7/1/09).
UK – mariner fatigue study launched
The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a press notice stating that a major multi-partner European research project aiming to tackle the problems posed by seafarer fatigue has been launched. (7/1/09).
EMSA – newsletter
The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) issued the July 2009 edition of its newsletter. Topics included in this edition include the EU LRIT data center entering production and the launch of a tender for the EMSA CleanSeaNet data center. Alternatively, the newsletter may be accessed through EMSA Extranet. (7/1/09).
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 – July 2009