Headlines: Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands – preparations re Tropical Storm Ana; Malta – criminal investigation re MV Arctic Sea; Bahrain – multinational counter-piracy meeting; Singapore – preventing and suppressing acts of piracy; Boston – LNG DWP safety zone; OSTP, DHS & EPA – Planning Guidance for Recovery following Biological Incidents; USCG – VRP alternate planning criteria; UK – report on ship’s snagging of buoy cable; IMO – US issuance of new MMC; IMO – stowaway statistics for 2008; Securities class action settlement upheld; FMC – repeal of marine terminal agreement exemption; and EPA – reminder re VCP NOI submittal requirement.
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Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands – preparations re Tropical Storm Ana
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that, in anticipation of the approach of Tropical Storm Ana, port condition X-RAY has been set for ports in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Waterfront facilities should remove potential flying debris, hazardous materials, and pollutants from dockside areas. Oceangoing commercial vessels of greater than 200 gross tons must leave port upon setting of port condition YANKEE. Such vessels that are unable to depart must prepare a safe mooring plan and submit it to the USCG Captain of the Port (COTP). (8/15/09).
Malta – criminal investigation re MV Arctic Sea
The Malta Maritime Authority issued an update stating that Finnish, Swedish, and Maltese authorities are conducting coordinated investigations into alleged offenses relating to the cargo vessel Arctic Sea. The alleged offenses involve extortion and hijacking. (8/15/09).
Bahrain – multinational counter-piracy meeting
The US Navy issued a media release stating that a meeting of the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) multinational counter-piracy group was held in Bahrain on August 11. The meeting was attended by representatives of 23 nations, including China, Russia, India, and Egypt, and members of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), NATO, the European Union (EU), the UK Maritime Trade Organization (MTO), the Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO), and the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) representing the marine industry. The purpose of the meeting was to further coordinate efforts of the international community to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. With weather in the area improving, attacks on vessels are expected to increase. Preparation and watchfulness are vital. (8/13/09).
Singapore – preventing and suppressing acts of piracy
The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a circular forwarding various IMO guidance and advice on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and sea robberies on ships. Shipping Circular No. 23 of 2009 (8/14/09).
Boston – LNG DWP safety zone
The US Coast Guard has established, through February 16, 2010, two temporary safety zones in the North Atlantic Ocean off Boston. The safety zones extend 500 meters from each of the two submerged turret-loading buoys and accompanying systems that are part of GDF Suez Energy’s Neptune Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Deepwater Port (DWP). 74 Fed. Reg. 41334 (August 17, 2009).
OSTP, DHS & EPA – Planning Guidance for Recovery following Biological Incidents
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are seeking comments on the draft Planning Guidance for Recovery following Biological Incidents. Comments should be submitted by November 16. The draft may be utilized immediately, should the need arise, but is subject to revision based on comments received. 74 Fed. Reg. 41431 (August 17, 2009).
USCG – VRP alternate planning criteria
The US Coast Guard issued industry guidelines for requesting alternate planning criteria approval, one-time waivers, and interim operating authorization. Several areas under US jurisdiction do not have sufficient spill response resources to meet the national planning criteria. In remote areas, where response resources are not readily available, or available commercial resources do not meet the national planning criteria, the owner or operator of a vessel required to have a vessel response plan (VRP) may request acceptance of alternative planning criteria by the Coast Guard. These guidelines amplify previously-issued policy and provide updated information to vessel owners and operators on submitting alternative planning criteria requests. The guidelines also address the situation where a vessel may need a one-time waiver, as when it comes to a Captain of the Port (COTP) Zone for the first time and does not, for that first voyage only, meet all the applicable requirements. Also addressed is the situation where an alternative planning criteria request has been submitted, but final approval has yet to be granted by the Coast Guard. In that event, the vessel owner or operator may request an interim operating authorization (IOA) which the full application is under review. CG-543 Policy Letter 09-02 (8/12/09).
UK – report on ship’s snagging of buoy cable
The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) issued the summary of its preliminary examination of the incident on 9 July 2009 in the approaches to the Humber when a tanker made contact with a buoy. The buoy cable was then snagged by the rudder horn of the tanker, resulting in a slight indentation to the ship’s aft peak tank, minor damage to the rope guard, and a notch on one propeller blade. The master was maneuvering around the buoy while entering port and became distracted while conversing on the VHF radio with a passing ship. The strong current set the tanker down onto the buoy. The ship management company will use this incident in its bridge team management (BTM) refresher training. (8/14/09).
IMO – US issuance of new MMC
The IMO issued a circular forwarding notification received from the Government of the United States of its issuance of the new Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) and the gradual phase-out of the older credentials: Merchant Mariner’s Document (MMD); Merchant Mariner’s License (License); Certificate of Registry (COR); and an International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) endorsement. STCW.2/Circ.22 (5/14/09).
IMO – stowaway statistics for 2008
The IMO issued a circular forwarding the annual statistics on reports of stowaway incidents for the year 2008. During the year, the IMO received reports of 494 such incidents involving 2,052 individuals. Two of the stowaways died and six requested political asylum. Three were reported to have entered the ship dressed as stevedores. Reports indicate that in 295 cases the stowaways were repatriated. FAL.2/Circ.113 (6/30/09).
Securities class action settlement upheld
The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court approving the settlement of a securities class action lawsuit. This is not really a maritime case and is included here only because it involves a maritime company. In re CP Ships Ltd. Securities Litigation, No. 08-16334 (11th Cir., August 13, 2009).
FMC – repeal of marine terminal agreement exemption
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued an advance notice that it will be extending, through September 8, the period in which to submit comments on its proposal to repeal the marine terminal agreement exemption. The official notice should be published soon in the Federal Register. (8/14/09).
EPA – reminder re VGP NOI submittal requirement
On December 29, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice stating that it had finalized the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Vessel General Permit (VGP) program. The VGP program regulates discharges into waters of the United States that are incidental to the normal operation of a vessel (otherwise known as “incidental discharges”). The program applies to incidental discharges of non-recreational vessels with a length of 79 feet or longer, except for commercial fishing vessels. For ballast water discharges only, the program applies to all non-recreational vessels (including commercial fishing vessels and vessels with a length of less than 79 feet). All covered vessels were automatically included in the VGP program when it became effective on February 19, 2009 and were required to comply with its discharge restrictions as of that date. Larger vessels, defined as those of greater than or equal to 300 gross tons or having a ballast water capacity of at least eight cubic meters, were required, though to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) in order to remain in compliance. The NOI must be submitted between June 19 and September 19, 2009. Thus, owners and operators of these vessels have basically one month left in which to collect the necessary information and submit the NOI. Failure to submit the NOI in a timely manner can lead to a prohibition against operation of the vessel in waters of the United States. Owners and operators needing assistance in preparation and submittal of the VGP NOI should contact me in a timely manner.
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 – August 2009