Headlines: Port Arthur oil spill – update; Miami – vessel that lost containers now safely moored; USCG – Proceedings; EPA – grant for Learning Barge; MARAD – Reserve Fleet ship refloated; North Pacific – search suspended for missing crewman; NOAA – taking of marine mammals during lighthouse restoration; Court – actual possession of res necessary to assert sovereign immunity; and Hong Kong – maintenance dredging.
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Port Arthur oil spill – update
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that the unified response to the oil spill continues. The waterway is open to limited traffic. A total of 17 vessels await entry and three await departure. (1/28/10).
Miami – vessel that lost containers now safely moored
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that the cargo ship that had approximately 30 containers fall into the water off Key West on January 25 is now safely moored in Miami. The vessel’s entry and docking was approved in advance by the Unified Command and a safety zone was established around the vessel during its transit of the port. The remaining containers will be removed from the vessel after the Coast Guard has received and approved a site safety plan and a cargo discharge plan. The containers lost overboard have not been located. A second news release states that there were no hazardous materials in the containers that were lost overboard. Five partially-afloat containers have been located. Plans call for sinking them in deep water. The search continues for two more containers that may also be partially afloat. All other overboard containers have apparently sunk. (1/28/10).
USCG – Proceedings
The US Coast Guard released the latest issue of the Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council. This issue focuses on grassroots efforts to partner with local ports, vessel operators, and the community. (1/28/10).
EPA – grant for Learning Barge
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a news release stating that it awarded a $28,121 environmental education grant to the Elizabeth River Project in Portsmouth, Virginia to help support the group’s Learning Barge, a one-of-a-kind solar and wind-powered floating classroom with a living wetland onboard. (1/28/10).
MARAD – Reserve Fleet ship refloated
The Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a news release stating that the Monongahela has been refloated. The obsolete ship is part of the James River Reserve Fleet. It broke free of its moorings during heavy weather on November 13, 2009. (1/27/10).
North Pacific – search suspended for missing crewman
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that the search has been suspended for the crewman reported to have fallen overboard from a ship in the North Pacific Ocean 450 miles south of Adak. (1/27/10).
NOAA – taking of marine mammals during lighthouse restoration
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a notice stating that it issued an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to the St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society to incidentally harass four species of marine mammals during the planned restoration of the lighthouse, located six miles offshore of Crescent City, California. The restoration activities might cause the marine mammals hauled out on the rock to flush into the water. 75 Fed. Reg. 4774 (January 29, 2010).
Court – actual possession of res necessary to assert sovereign immunity
The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that a state must have actual possession of the res in order to be entitled to assert sovereign immunity in a maritime case involving a salvage claim. In the instant case, plaintiff salvage company filed salvage claims in federal court to various sunken logs (deadheads) retrieved from the bottom of several rivers in Georgia. The State of Georgia had surveyed the rivers and identified the locations of numerous sunken logs. It had enacted a statute asserting ownership of such logs and had adopted a regulatory scheme for obtaining permits for their recovery. After plaintiff recovered several such logs, it commenced the salvage claims in federal court. The State moved to dismiss the claims, asserting that the Eleventh Amendment to the US Constitution prohibited federal courts from adjudicating its interest in the logs. The court ruled that the State had only constructive possession of the logs. Federal admiralty jurisdiction is only preempted by sovereign immunity when the sovereign has actual possession of the res. Aqua Log v. Georgia, No. 07-00208-CV-1 (11th Cir., January 28, 2010). Note: The court also stated that its decision was limited to the specific issue of sovereign immunity and does not address which party should ultimately prevail on the merits.
Hong Kong – maintenance dredging
The Hong Kong Marine Department issued a notice stating that, with effect from 3 February and for approximately nine months, maintenance dredging will be conducted in the Kau Yi Chau Dangerous Goods Anchorage. Mariners in the vicinity should exercise caution. Notice 13/2010 (1/27/10).
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 – January 2010