Headlines: Somalia – shots fired at EU warship; Gulf of Aden – two bulk carriers attacked by pirates; USCG – guidance on compliance with ITAR and related laws; Malta – M/V Arctic Sea departs Valletta; Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal – safety zone and RNA; Congressional action need not be rational; NTSB meeting; DOT – Secretary LaHood honor merchant mariners; UK – maritime statistics; UK – report on ship allision; and Yarmouth Castle fire and sinking – 13 November 1965.
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Somalia – shots fired at EU warship
The European Union (EU) Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that shots were fired at two RHIBs belonging to an EU warship. The RHIBs were conducting a routine patrol off the Somali coast and were 83 nautical miles from Boosaaso at the time. The RHIBs were passing some dhows at a distance of approximately 400 meters when the shots were fired. The EU units responded with cover fire and withdrew to a safe distance. There were no casualties on the EU side. (11/11/09).
Gulf of Aden – two bulk carriers attacked by pirates
The European Union (EU) Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that two bulk carriers were unsuccessfully attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. An EU warship has been tasked to search for the mother skiff and two attack skiffs. (11/12/09).
USCG – guidance on compliance with ITAR and related laws
The US Coast Guard issued an updated advisory concerning the placement of firearms on US vessels to defend against or deter pirate attacks in high-risk waters. The advisory summarizes issues related to compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the Gun Control Act, and the National Firearms Act, among others. Meeting the various conditions and obtaining the necessary permits is not easy, but it is no longer impossible. Port Security Advisory 4-09 (Rev 2) (11/4/09). Note: I am personally opposed to arming of crew members. I contend that armed response to piratical attacks should be performed by military personnel, either on a warship accompanying the merchant vessel or actually embarked aboard the merchant vessel for its transit through high-risk waters.
Malta – M/V Arctic Sea departs Valletta
The Malta Maritime Authority issued a press release stating that, after undergoing repairs and surveys required for the issuance of operating certificates, the M/V Arctic Sea departed Valletta toward its original destination, the Algerian port of Bejaia. (11/11/09). Note: Long-suffering readers may recall that the Arctic Sea was apparently hijacked under mysterious circumstances in the Baltic Sea on July 24 and was boarded by the Russian Navy off the Canary Islands on September 7.
Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal – safety zone and RNA
The US Coast Guard has established a temporary safety zone and regulated navigation area (RNA) on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville, Illinois. This action basically continues the prior safety zone and RNA placing navigational and operational restrictions on vessels transiting waters located adjacent to and over the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) electrical dispersal fish barrier system. The rule will be in effect through November 20. 74 Fed. Reg. 58545 (November 13, 2009).
Congressional action need not be rational
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has officially stated something we all knew but had failed to express. The dispute relates to the constitutionality of a federal statute and has no maritime relationship. Still, I felt the need to share the court’s wisdom with my long-suffering readers. In upholding the statute, the court stated on page eight of its decision: There is not, however, a free-floating requirement that all congressional action be rational. Who can argue with that? Matsuo v. United States, No. 08-15553 (9th Cir., November 12, 2009).
NTSB – meeting
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a press release stating that, on November 17, it will conduct a public meeting at its office in Washington, DC to consider the fire that broke out in the engineroom of a US small passenger vessel on the Columbia River on April 8, 2008. (11/12/09).
DOT – Secretary LaHood honors merchant mariners
The Maritime Administration (MARAD) posted a news item reporting on the actions of Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to honor merchant mariners on Veterans Day. (11/11/09).
UK – maritime statistics
The UK Department for Transport released maritime statistics for the second quarter of 2009. Total traffic for the quarter was down 13% from the same quarter of 2008. (11/12/09).
UK – report on ship allision
The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) released the report of its investigation into the contact made by a tanker with two other tankers moored at the Fawley Marine Terminal on 25 February 2009. As the tanker was entering the channel to get to its berth, the pilot was advised that the berthing had been aborted because the customs paperwork was improper. While turning the tanker in confined waters to return to its original anchorage, the pilot was advised that the paperwork had been corrected and that the tanker should proceed to a closer anchorage before going to its berth. While the pilot and master were discussing these changes, the helmsman lost control of the turn. Before the pilot could take corrective action, the tanker allided with two tankers that were discharging cargo at the nearby terminal. By the way, the paperwork problem was that the submittal to customs was made on a form used for cargoes arriving from outside the EU, but this particular cargo was from within the EU. All three tankers suffered structural damage, there was minor damage to the jetty, and there was minor pollution. Report No. 23/2009 (11/12/09).
Yarmouth Castle fire and sinking – 13 November 1965
The passenger ship SS Yarmouth Castle caught fire and sank on November 13, 1965 while en route from Miami, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas. Of the 376 passengers and 176 crew on board, 88 passengers and two crew died. The ship was built in 1927 with a wooden superstructure. Wood and other flammable materials were used throughout the ship. As the US Coast Guard investigation noted, the foreign-flag vessel was not subject to USCG inspection. Passenger ship construction standards were subsequently strengthened and US law was amended to provide for examination by the Coast Guard of foreign passenger vessels embarking passengers in a US port to ensure compliance with international standards.
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