Headlines: Somali Basin – suspected pirates disarmed; CBP – technical correction to electronic cargo information regulations; Certified question re choice of law for marine insurance policy; Australia – investigation of bulk carrier grounding; New Zealand – The Good Oil newsletter; Singapore – prohibition against blending of MARPOL cargoes; and Singapore – removal of anti-fouling coatings.
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Somali Basin – suspected pirates disarmed
The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that a helicopter from a NAVFOR warship identified a suspected pirate group (mothership and two skiffs) in the Somali Basin near the Seychelles. As a boarding party from the warship approached, the suspects threw various items overboard. The boarding party found grappling hooks, ammunition, GPS, and ten barrels of fuel on the mothership, but no fishing equipment. The potential pirate equipment was confiscated and the suspects were released. (10/13/09). Note: This situation appears to meet the US Coast Guard definition of a manifestly unsafe voyage. For the protection of seafarers, the individuals would have been removed from the vessels, which then would have been sunk as hazards to navigation. Food for thought.
CBP – technical correction to electronic cargo information regulations
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued technical correction to its electronic cargo information regulations. The corrections remove the compliance date provisions of various sections of these regulations. All of the compliance dates are now in the past. Therefore, their inclusion in the regulations has been rendered obsolete. The corrections are effective immediately. 74 Fed. Reg. 52675 (October 14, 2009).
Certified question re choice of law for marine insurance policy
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in a somewhat unusual decision, answered a certified question regarding the choice of law respecting a marine insurance policy. Plaintiff insurance company provided hull and protection and indemnity insurance to defendant with respect to a motor yacht used by defendant solely for pleasure on inland and coastal waters around Mississippi. After the yacht sank, plaintiff insurer sued to have the policy declared void due to allegedly material misstatements made by defendant in its application for insurance respecting the value of the yacht. The issue arose as to which law should be applied. The policy provided that disputes thereunder would be adjudicated according to well established, entrenched principles and precedents of substantive US Federal Admiralty law. In the absence thereof, disputes would be adjudicated under the substantive laws of the state of New York (where plaintiff’s agent for service of process resided and plaintiff’s principal place of business in the US). Defendant contended that Mississippi law, rather than federal or New York law applied and that Mississippi did not recognize the concept of uberrimae fidei [utmost good faith] as regards marine insurance law. The question certified to the appellate court was whether: (1) Mississippi law applied, or (2) either federal or New York law applied. The court answered the certified question determining that either federal or New York law applied. Among other things, the court noted that the choice of law provision in the insurance contract is controlling. Thus, even if federal law does not apply, New York law will apply. Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC v. Durham Auctions, Inc., No. 08-60898 (5th Cir., October 9, 2009).
Australia – investigation of bulk carrier grounding
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released the report of its investigation into the grounding of a bulk carrier at Port Hedland, Western Australia on 31 July 2008. The ship lost steering as it was departing port and grounded. The ship’s hull was not breached and there was no report of pollution. The ship was refloated the next day. Investigation revealed that the steering gear failed to respond to helm orders because a leaking actuator relief valve was limiting the steering system hydraulic pressure. In addition, the master was not aware of the appropriate emergency steering system change-over procedure. MO-2008-008 (10/13/09).
New Zealand – The Good Oil newsletter
Maritime New Zealand released the October issue of its oil spill response newsletter – The Good Oil. This issue highlights assistance provided with regard to oil spills in Samoa and Australia. (10/13/09).
Singapore – prohibition against blending of MARPOL cargoes
The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a circular reminding owners, operators, and masters to avoid blending of MARPOL cargoes on board tankers during a sea voyage. Shipping Circular No. 28 of 2009 (9/28/09).
Singapore – removal of anti-fouling coatings
The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a circular reminding the maritime community that the IMO recently issued guidance on best management practices for removal of anti-fouling coatings from ships. Shipping Circular No. 29 of 2009 (10/8/09).
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 – October 2009