Headlines: Indian Ocean – M/V Maersk Alabama evades piratical attack; UN – efforts needed on land to fight piracy off Somali coast; Somalia – pirates release Spanish fishing vessel; EU – ships should register for piracy protection; USCG – meetings re STCW implementation; NOSAC meeting; FMC – Maritime Environmental Advisory Committee; NTSB – report on engineroom fire; Stevedore not liable as vessel owner for loading negligence; EMSA – two additional oil pollution response vessels; Australia – update re offshore oil leak; and UK – report on accident during launch of workboat.
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Indian Ocean – M/V Maersk Alabama evades piratical attack
The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that the container ship Maersk Alabama came under piratical attack in the Indian Ocean 350 nautical miles off the Somali coast. The pirates fired automatic weapons. Fire was returned by the embarked vessel protection detachment (VPD). Pirates then broke off the attack. No casualties were reported. (11/18/09). Note: This is the same vessel that was boarded by pirates in April. In that incident, the master was briefly taken hostage. Three pirates were killed by snipers. The fourth pirate is awaiting trial in New York.
UN – efforts needed on land to fight piracy off Somali coast
The United Nations issued a news release stating that the Somali Government and the African Union force in the country need more help on land in order to defeat piracy in waters of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia. A report by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states, in part: “One of the ways to ensure the long-term security of international navigation off the coast of Somalia is through a concerted effort to stabilize the situation ashore, as pirates have become more sophisticated in their methods and techniques of attacking.” The report further notes that the efforts of naval vessels and aircraft, as well as better self-protection by commercial ships, have considerably reduced the number of successful hijackings. (11/16/09). Note: The Secretary-General’s report provides an excellent overview of the counter-piracy efforts. The report’s assessment that piracy attacks have declined, though, may have been premature. Data for October and November seem to indicate an upward trend in both piratical attacks and successful hijackings.
Somalia – pirates release Spanish fishing vessel
The EU Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that the Spanish fishing vessel Alakrana and its crew of 36 have been released by pirates who have been holding it off the coast of Somalia after hijacking it in the Indian Ocean on October 2. (11/17/09). Note: Unofficial reports indicate that a ransom of approximately $3 million was paid for the release. Pirates had earlier indicated that they would kill some crew members unless the two suspected pirates detained by the Spanish Navy were set free. There have been no further reports on this aspect of the matter.
EU – ships should register for piracy protection
The European Union Parliament issued a press release reporting that the Commander of the EU Naval Force recommends that vessels should register with the naval patrols before crossing the Gulf of Aden. None of the registered and escorted “high risk” cargo ships have been successfully attacked. (11/16/09).
USCG – meetings re STCW implementation
The US Coast Guard issued a notice stating that it will host a series of public meetings to receive comments on its proposed implementation of the 1995 Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978. The meetings will be in Miami (December 1); New York City (December 2); New Orleans (December 9); Seattle (December 11); and Washington, DC (January 20, 2010). Written comments should be submitted by February 16. 74 Fed. Reg. 59502 (November 18, 2009).
NOSAC – meeting
The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee (NOSAC), sponsored by the US Coast Guard, will conduct a teleconference meeting on December 8. Topics on the agenda include standards for existing offshore supply vessels (OSVs); MARPOL Annex II; medical treatment of injured divers on the OCS; and minimizing lifts on the OCS. 74 Fed. Reg. 59581 (November 18, 2009).
FMC – Maritime Environmental Advisory Committee
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued a news release stating that it has formed an internal Maritime Environmental Advisory Committee to provide leadership in identifying and supporting the creation of green jobs in the maritime industry. (10/29/09).
NTSB – report on engineroom fire
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a news release stating that the probable cause of the fire on board the Queen of the West was the failure of a pressurized component on the port main propulsion hydraulic system, resulting in hydraulic oil spraying onto the port engine’s exhaust piping and catching fire. (11/17/09).
Stevedore not liable as vessel owner for loading negligence
In an unpublished decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a longshoreman may not sue his stevedore employer in the capacity of vessel owner for negligence related solely to the loading and unloading of the vessel. In the instant case, plaintiff was injured in the hold of a cargo barge owned by defendant stevedore while unhooking cargo that had been lowered by a crane. Plaintiff alleged that the stevedore negligently failed to hold a joint safety meeting with regard to the loading and negligently supervised a trainee who was operating the crane. The court ruled that the negligence alleged relates solely to stevedoring operations and provides no basis for liability based on the defendant’s ownership of the cargo barge. Jones v. Cooper T. Smith Stevedoring, No. 09-30441 (5th Cir., November 17, 2009).
EMSA – two additional oil pollution response vessels
The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) issued a news release stating that it awarded two new contracts for at-sea oil recovery services. One of the vessels will operate in the northern Baltic Sea; the other will be in the Channel and its Atlantic approaches. This brings to 16 the number of oil pollution response vessels under contract. (11/17/09).
Australia – update re offshore oil leak
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued a media release stating that clean-up operations, while continuing, have been scaled back at the site of the offshore oil leak in the Timor Sea due to the reduced amount of oil being observed in the area. (11/17/09).
UK – report on accident during launch of workboat
The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) issued the summary of its preliminary investigation of an accident that occurred during the launch of a workboat from a general cargo vessel. Rather than utilize the regular hand-operated davit, it was decided to use the electrically-driven stores davit to launch the workboat. During the lowering, the wire parted close to the hook. As a result, the workboat fell eight meters into the water, seriously injuring the two persons onboard. (11/17/09).
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 – November 2009