Headlines: Netherlands – captured pirates arrive; Somalia – pirate mother ship destroyed; Malta – joins fight against Somali pirates; USN – commercial vessels should protect themselves against pirates; Juneau – oil to be removed from 1952 wreck; CFIVSAC meeting; CBP – quarterly interest rates; House – bill introduced to authorize vessel loan guarantees; Senate – bill introduced re spending of HMT funds; Court – agreement to arbitrate maintenance and cure claim upheld; and Tokyo MOU – annual report.
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Netherlands – captured pirates arrive
The EU Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that the pirates who attacked and boarded a German merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden and were subsequently captured by marines from HNLMS Tromp arrived in the Netherlands. Plans call for the ten suspected Somali pirates to be extradited to Germany for trial. When the pirates boarded the merchant ship, the crew disabled the ship and locked themselves in a safe room until they were rescued. (4/15/10).
Somalia – pirate mother ship destroyed
The EU Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that a suspected pirate mother ship was boarded by an EU warship just off the coast of Somalia. The three individuals on board claimed to be fishermen, but the vessel had no fishing gear. Rather, it had large amounts of fuel and ammunition. The vessel was destroyed and the individuals were placed ashore. (4/16/10).
Malta – joins fight against Somali pirates
The EU Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that Malta has joined the fight against Somali pirates by providing a Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) to be embarked on a Dutch warship through July 2010. (4/16/10).
USN – commercial vessels should protect themselves against pirates
The US Navy issued a news release stating that Admiral Mark P. Fitzgerald, commander of US Naval Forces in Europe and Africa and commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Task Force Command Naples said that the scope of the piracy problem off Somalia is too great to be policed by military vessels alone. He said that it is incumbent upon the vessels that are sailing the high seas to either protect themselves or accept the dangers. Asked if he would recommend that commercial vessels arm themselves, Admiral Fitzgerald said: “I think they should. Commercial vessels should take appropriate protections because we cannot offer 100-percent guarantees of protection as the ships pass through.” (4/16/10).
Juneau – oil to be removed from 1952 wreck
The US Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) issued a news release stating that efforts have commenced to remove the remaining oil from the wreck of the passenger vessel Princess Kathleen, which sank in 1952 off Point Lena, near Juneau. Unrecoverable oil has slowly leaked from the wreck since then, but has recently increased in quantity. It is estimated that between 14,000 and 34,000 gallons of heavy bunker oil remains in the wreck. (4/17/10).
CFIVSAC – meeting
The Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Advisory Committee (CFIVSAC), sponsored by the US Coast Guard, will meet in Oakland on May 11-13. 75 Fed. Reg. 20372 (April 19, 2010).
CBP – quarterly interest rates
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a notice stating that the quarterly interest rates used in calculating interest on overdue accounts and refunds on customs duties for the calendar quarter beginning April 1 will be 3% for overpayment by corporations; 4% for overpayments by non-corporations; and 4% for underpayments. 75 Fed. Reg. 20373 (April 19, 2010).
House – bill introduced to authorize vessel loan guarantees
Representative Wittman (R-VA) introduced a bill (H.R. 5035) to authorize appropriations for the construction of vessels for the Navy and to authorize appropriations for loan guarantees for commercial vessels. Official text of this bill is not yet available. (4/15/10).
Senate – bill introduced re spending of HMT funds
Senator Levin (D-MI) introduced a bill (S. 3213) to ensure that amounts credited to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used for harbor maintenance. Official text of this bill is not yet available. Senator Levin issued a press release stating that, if enacted, the bill would make it difficult to not spend all HMT monies each year on HMT projects. (4/15/10).
Court – agreement to arbitrate maintenance and cure claim upheld
Over a vigorous dissent, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that an agreement by a seaman to arbitrate his claim for maintenance and cure and any potential claim under the Jones Act was not prohibited by law and was not, in the circumstances, unconscionable. Plaintiff seaman was injured while working on defendant’s vessel. Defendant paid maintenance and cure. When plaintiff sought an increase in payments, defendant agreed to the increase for a fixed term providing that plaintiff agreed to arbitrate his claims and potential claims relating to the injury. When payments ceased at the end of the fixed term, plaintiff brought suit in federal court. Plaintiff contended that the agreement was void as a matter of law and unconscionable because it was misleading and he had been drinking when he signed it. On appeal, the court ruled that arbitration agreements in seaman personal injury cases are not void as a matter of law and that the terms of the agreement were not unconscionable. Harrington v. Atlantic Sounding Co., No. 07-4272-cv (2nd Cir., April 16, 2010).
Tokyo MOU – annual report
The Tokyo MOU released its annual report for 2009 on port state control in the Asia-Pacific region. The concentrated inspection campaign (CIC) on lifeboat launching arrangements revealed that 18.2% of inspections had CIC-related deficiencies. (4/15/10).
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 – April 2010