Headlines: Gulf of Aden – suspected pirate accidently killed; Somalia – crewmember wounded in pirate attack; Seal Island, Maine – safety zone – munitions and explosives; Perth Amboy – change to special anchorage area; Calcasieu River and Ship Channel – convert safety zone to security zones; TSAC meeting; PHMSA meeting re HM-ACCESS; Philippines – response to ferry sinking; Australia – offshore oil leak update; Singapore – draft amendments to MARPOL Annexes I and VI; NOAA – development of marine aquaculture plan; NTSB – public docket on sinking of Alaska Ranger; Washington – facility and vessel oil spill readiness plans approved; IMO – LRIT authorized testing application service providers; Norwegian Sea – seabed mud volcano observatory; Disaster at Honda Point – September 8, 1923; and Fire on SS Morro Castle – September 8, 1934.
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Gulf of Aden – suspected pirate accidently killed
The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that a warship operating as part of the EU NAVFOR investigated a suspected pirate skiff with a crew of five in the Gulf of Aden. It launched a helicopter, which observed and filmed the crew throwing ladders and weapons over the side of the skiff. The warship directed the skiff to stop, but the skiff continued. After warning shots were fired, the skiff stopped. [There are unofficial reports that the warship was authorized to fire into the skiff to force it to stop.] A team from an RHIB boarded the skiff, where weaponry was found. One of the suspected pirates was wounded in the incident. Although he was provided medical treatment onboard the warship, he was later pronounced dead. (9/7/09). Note: I have little sympathy for pirates. I also believe that the accidental wounding and killing of this individual was very unfortunate. There is a lesson to be learned here, though not the one you might expect. If trained sailors on a warship can accidently kill someone on a small boat when firing warning or disabling shots (this is the second such incident), then it is much more likely to occur if merchant mariners are routinely provided with firearms. In this instance and the prior one, the sailor was a member of the military forces and thus not subject to the usual potential of prosecution by the nation of the deceased. The same cannot be said if the errant shot had been fired by a civilian. Arming of merchant vessels should not be undertaken lightly.
Somalia – crewmember wounded in pirate attack
The NATO Shipping Centre issued an update stating that the merchant vessel An San reported that her engine broke down and she is under pirate attack 16 nm from Mogadishu, Somalia. The pirates came alongside and fired warning shots, resulting in the wounding of one crewmember. The vessel has medics embarked and has not requested assistance, which was offered by a US warship in the vicinity. (9/5/09). Note: Although the nationality of the An San is not mentioned in the NATO release, other records indicate that it is registered with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).
Seal Island, Maine – safety zone – munitions and explosives
The US Coast Guard has established an interim safety zone on waters surrounding Seal Island, Maine from the shoreline out to the 60 foot depth curve. Persons and vessels may not enter the safety zone without specific permission. This immediate rulemaking is necessitated by the discovery of undetonated munitions and explosives around the island, which was previously used by the US Government as an aerial bombing and target range. Comments on the interim rule should be submitted by December 7. 74 Fed. Reg. 46011 (September 8, 2009).
Perth Amboy – change to special anchorage area
The US Coast Guard is changing the special anchorage area at Perth Amboy, New Jersey at the junction of the Raritan River and Arthur Kill to better facilitate navigation and provide for the safe and secure anchorage of vessels not more than 20 meters in length. The change comes into effect on October 8. 74 Fed. Reg. 46007 (September 8, 2009).
Calcasieu River and Ship Channel – convert safety zone to security zones
The US Coast Guard proposes to disestablish the permanent safety zone at the Trunkline LNG facility on the Calcasieu River and Ship Channel and replace it with a security zone with new boundaries. It also proposes to establish two additional security zones on the same waterway for the mooring basins of the Cameron LNG facility in Hackberry and the PPG Industries facility in Lake Charles. Comments on the proposal should be submitted by October 8. 74 Fed. Reg. 46040 (September 8, 2009).
TSAC – meeting
The Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC), sponsored by the US Coast Guard, will meet in Martinsburg, West Virginia on September 24-25. 74 Fed. Reg. 46216 (September 8, 2009).
PHMSA – meeting re HM-ACCESS
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a notice stating that it will host a meeting to receive input and guidance for the upcoming Proof-of-Concept Study for the Hazardous Materials-Automated Cargo Communication for Efficient and Safe Shipments (HM-ACCESS) initiative. The study will consider the use of electronic data sharing in lieu of paper hazardous materials shipping documents. The meeting will be held in Washington, DC on October 13-14. 74 Fed. Reg. 46292 (September 8, 2009).
Philippines – response to ferry sinking
The Philippines Coast Guard issued a news release stating that it is coordinating and overseeing the conduct of the search and rescue operations for the remaining unaccounted passengers/crew of the MV Superferry 9. A total of 926 survivors and nine conformed fatalities have been recovered so far. It is reported that there were 968 persons on board the ferry when it capsized and sank. (9/7/09).
Australia – offshore oil leak update
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued a media release stating that the latest surveillance flight shows that the oil leaking from the offshore platform remains 170 km away from the shore of Western Australia. Booms and skimming equipment has been deployed and dispersant continues to be sprayed. (9/4/09).
Singapore – draft amendments to MARPOL Annexes I and VI
The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a circular forwarding an IMO Circular Letter on draft amendments to MARPOL Annexes I and VI. The proposed amendment to Annex I relates to use or carriage of certain oils in the Antarctic area. The proposed amendment to Annex VI relates to the proposed North American emission control area (ECA). Shipping Circular No. 25 of 2009 (9/3/09).
NOAA – development of marine aquaculture plan
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a news release stating that it intends to develop a national marine aquaculture plan. The plan will provide a framework for addressing aquaculture activities in federal waters. (9/3/09).
NTSB – public docket on sinking of Alaska Ranger
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened a public docket on its investigation into the sinking of the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger in the Bering Sea on March 23, 2008. The docket contains factual material that will be considered by the Board as it attempts to identify the cause or causes of the marine casualty. (9/4/09).
Washington – facility and vessel oil spill readiness plans approved
The Washington State Department of Ecology issued a news release stating that it has approved 13 oil spill readiness plans for refining, oil handling, and vessel shipping companies operating in Western Washington. All but one are located in Puget Sound. (8/27/09).
IMO – LRIT authorized testing application service providers
The IMO issued a provisional list of authorized testing application service providers for the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) requirement pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 6.3 of MSC.1/Circ.1307 (8/25/09).
Norwegian Sea – seabed mud volcano observatory
The European Commission (EC) issued a press release stating that EU-funded researchers installed a deep-sea observatory to monitor the impact of a subsea mud volcano on the deep waters of the Norwegian Sea. (9/7/09).
Disaster at Honda Point – September 8, 1923
The Honda Point Disaster occurred just off the spit of land at the north end of the Santa Barbara Channel on the evening of September 8, 1923 when seven US Navy destroyers, traveling at full speed, grounded in the fog on charted rocks. Due to poor visibility, the ships, transiting as a squadron from San Francisco to San Diego, were utilizing dead reckoning. A radio signal from a new radio direction finder (RDF) station had been received but misinterpreted. Twenty-three sailors died in the grounding. Two other destroyers grounded briefly, but refloated themselves. Five destroyers from the rear of the formation were able to avoid grounding. The squadron commander and the squadron navigators, as well as the commanding officers of the seven destroyers that were lost, were all court-martialed. This incident is the first in which electronic navigation played a role.
Fire on the SS Morro Castle – September 8, 1934
The passenger/cargo ship SS Morro Castle caught fire and burned on September 8, 1934, while on a voyage from Havana, Cuba to New York. The origin of the fire was never conclusively determined. The master had died in his sleep the previous night of an apparent heart attack. The fire was detected in the First Class Writing Room at about 3 a.m. It spread rapidly through the extensive wood used in construction of the passenger spaces. The Acting Captain maneuvered the ship toward the New Jersey shore, but the ship soon lost power and steering. It eventually grounded on the beach at Asbury Park. A total of 137 passengers and crew died in the casualty. Major changes were later made to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to address use of fire retardant materials, automatic fire doors, fire alarms, and life boat drills, reducing the risk of future casualties.
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 – September 2009