Headlines: Indian Ocean – piratical attack 1,000 miles off Somalia; USCG – updated port state responses to DOS weapons demarche; Kenya – seven suspected pirates transferred for prosecution; Mobile – port closed due to TS Ida; Gulf of Mexico – two rescued from damaged oil rig; Bering Sea – search for missing crewman; FMC – licensed OTI may engage unlicensed persons as agents; MMC meeting; Salvage claim by crewmembers; New Zealand – MSDSs for SOLAS ships; Panama Canal – operations summary – October; UK – National Policy Statement for Ports; UK – open call re Motorways of the North Sea projects; UK – report on smoldering cargo in hold; and SS Edmund Fitzgerald – November 10, 1975.
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Indian Ocean – piratical attack 1,000 miles off Somalia
The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that a very large crude carrier (VLCC) came under piratical attack in the Indian Ocean 400 nautical miles off the Seychelles and 1,000 nautical miles east of Mogadishu. Automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades were fired in the unsuccessful attack, the furthest yet from the Somali coast. With increasing speed and evasive maneuvers, the master of the tanker was able to evade the attack. (11/9/09).
USCG – updated port state responses to DOS weapons demarche
The US Coast Guard posted an updated summary of the responses received to date from various port states to the Department of State (DOS) demarche requesting information regarding carriage and transport of self-defense weapons aboard US commercial vessels. There is one wholly new response: Kenya allows such carriage on non-naval vessels on a case-by-case basis. The response from South Africa has been amended to indicate that a temporary import license is required for weapons brought into the country. The response from Sweden has also been amended to indicate that it will evaluate on an individual basis each request to bring weapons into the country. (11/9/09). Note: Ship owners and operators may want to check carefully prior to entering a port with weapons or armed security guards on board.
Kenya – seven suspected pirates transferred for prosecution
The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that seven individuals suspected of having attacked a French fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean on October 27 have been transferred to Kenya for prosecution in accordance with an agreement between the EU and Kenya. (11/9/09).
Mobile – port closed due to TS Ida
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that, due to the approach of Tropical Storm Ida, the ports of Gulfport, Pascagoula, Mobile, Pensacola, and Panama City have been closed to all vessel traffic. (11/9/09).
Gulf of Mexico – two rescued from damaged oil rig
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that two workers were rescued from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico that incurred damage as a result of Hurricane Ida. (11/9/09).
Bering Sea – search for missing crewman
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that a search is underway in the Bering Sea for a crewman reported missing from a coal carrier in transit from Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Asia. (11/9/09).
FMC – licensed OTI may engage unlicensed persons as agents
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued an order granting a petition for a declaratory order, affirming that it is lawful for a licensed Ocean Transportation Intermediary (OTI) to engage unlicensed persons to act as their agents to perform OTI services. Docket No. 06-08 (11/6/09).
MMC – meeting
The Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) and its Committee of Scientific Advisors will meet in Waikiki Beach on December 2-4. Among the topics on the agenda are the status and effectiveness of marine protected areas. 74 Fed. Reg. 58056 (November 10, 2009).
Salvage claim by crew members
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that, while crew members may in limited circumstances assert salvage claims for services rendered which their ship is in distress, the plaintiffs here are not eligible for a salvage award. In the instant case, plaintiff crew members were ashore when their employer asked them to return to a damaged, listing semi-submersible drilling unit in an attempt to prevent it from sinking. Plaintiffs led a team of other crew members who, with assistance from professional salvors, saved the rig. Plaintiffs sued, seeking recovery as pure salvors. The federal district court granted summary judgment in favor of the rig owner and plaintiffs appealed. After reviewing the law of salvage and the application of the International Convention on Salvage, 1989, the appellate court agreed that the crew members were not entitled to a salvage award because it was understood that they would be paid whether or not they were successful. The appellate court remanded the case, though, for a determination as to the appropriate level of compensation that the rig owner owed to the crew members. Solana v. GSF Development Driller I, No. 06-30930 (5th Cir., October 29, 2009).
New Zealand – MSDSs for SOLAS ships
Maritime New Zealand issued a notice reminding owners, operators, and masters that any SOLAS ship that makes use of or transports a chemical or fuel should identify the hazard related to such activity, provide the appropriate material safety data sheet (MSDS) for the substance in question, and supply personal protective equipment (PPE) and emergency procedures to suit. Guidance Notice 12 (11/9/09).
Panama Canal – operations summary – October
The Panama Canal Authority issued an advisory that summarizes Canal operations for the month of October. It also includes the schedule of locks maintenance work for the remainder of the fiscal year. Advisory 23-2009 (11/9/09).
UK – National Policy Statement for Ports
The UK Department for Transport released the statement of the Secretary of State for Transport (Andrew Adonis) announcing the launch of the public consultation on a draft National Policy Statement for Ports. The aims of the reform to the planning system are to be more responsive to challenges such as climate change; more streamlined, efficient, and predictable; and more transparent and accountable, with fair opportunities for public consultation and community engagement. A press release discussing the proposal was also posted. Comments on the draft document should be submitted by 6 May 2010. (11/9/09).
UK – open call re Motorways of the North Sea projects
The UK Department for Transport issued an Open Call for tender for Motorways of the Sea projects in the North Sea Region: 2009-2013. (11/9/09).
UK – report on smoldering cargo in hold
The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) issued the summary of its preliminary examination on minor smoldering damage to a cargo of wheat pellets on a small freighter. The ship’s previous owner had installed 300-watt hold lights, which were unapproved. The lights had been switched on during loading of the wheat pellets and no one remembered to turn them off when the loading was completed. On passage, smoke was seen to escape from a hold ventilation terminal. A 4-man Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) was transferred by helicopter to the ship to assess the situation. After the ship docked, it was unloaded while under fire department personnel were in attendance. The hold lights have since been removed. (11/9/09).
SS Edmund Fitzgerald – November 10, 1975
On November 10, 1975, the laker Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior with a loss of all 29 hands. It was one of the largest ships on the Great Lakes, carrying over 26,000 tons of taconite ore between Duluth/Superior and the steel mills to the south. The “Fitz” had departed on November 9 in tandem with another laker, but sailed directly into an early winter storm. It sank suddenly, without making a distress call, at about 7:30 p.m., in heavy snow with winds gusting to hurricane force and seas exceeding 30 feet in height. Gordon Lightfoot memorialized the casualty in his hit song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.
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 – November 2009