Headlines: Court – Massachusetts preempted from regulating ships; AFRICOM – pirates attack frigate, end up being captured; DOS – international efforts to bring pirates to justice; Indian Ocean – two vessels attacked by pirates; Somalia – hijacked freighter arrives off coast; NATO – working together in counter-piracy efforts; Baltimore – TWIC cards checked; FMC – fact-finding hearings; MPAFAC meeting; NOAA – petition to list bumphead parrotfish as threatened; and UK – Freight Modal Choice Study.
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Court – Massachusetts preempted from regulating ships
The US District Court for the District of Massachusetts ruled that the attempt by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to establish manning requirements for tank vessels transiting Buzzards Bay and to establish tug escort requirements for those same vessels is preempted by federal law and regulation. The court found that, in accordance with authority provided to it by Congress in the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA), the US Coast Guard had promulgated regulations that expressly preempted the Massachusetts requirements. Under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, the federal mandate trumps the conflicting state mandate. In dicta, the court chastised the Coast Guard for failure to prepare a formal environmental impact statement. The agency had analyzed the environmental issues and included that analysis in the record, but its failure to follow the detailed provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) had created a litigation issue that could have been avoided. United States v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, No. 05-10112-DPW (D. Mass., March 31, 2010).
AFRICOM – pirates attack frigate, end up being captured
The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) issued a news release stating that, while operating west of the Seychelles, the USS Nicholas (FFG 47) took fire from a suspected pirate skiff. The warship returned fire, pursued the fleeing skiff, detained its occupants, and sank the skiff. It then captured a suspected mothership nearby. A total of five suspected pirates are under detention on the frigate until a determination is made regarding their disposition. (4/1/10). Note: Somali pirates are experiencing great difficulty in vessel recognition and identification. Possibly enhanced training would be appropriate.
DOS – international efforts to bring pirates to justice
The US Department of State (DOS) issued a news release stating that the United States has partnered with more than 50 countries and international organizations to confront piracy in waters off the Horn of Africa. Judicial capacity building is a significant part of that effort because it brings the rule of law, prosecutes criminals, and deters others. The efforts of Kenya and the Seychelles are particularly noteworthy in this regard. (3/31/10). Note: Bringing the rule of law to the Somali pirate situation is a little-noticed, but vital, part of the effort to end this scourge. Only when these individuals calculate that the risk of spending years in prison outweighs the potential profit of hijacking a ship will they cease this line of employment. Continued and dedicated assistance will be necessary to address the burdens being assumed by Kenya and the Seychelles in this regard.
Indian Ocean – two vessels attacked by pirates
The EU Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that pirate action groups staged two separate attacks on vessels in the Indian Ocean. The first attack was against a container vessel approximately 600 miles east of the Seychelles. The pirates used small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. They also attempted to attach boarding ladders to the ship, which utilized speed and evasive maneuvers to evade the pirates. The second attack was against a fishing vessel about 600 miles north of the Seychelles. The pirates used small arms in their unsuccessful attack. One crewmember on the fishing vessel reported suffered a leg injury during the attack. (4/1/10).
Somalia – hijacked freighter arrives off coast
The EU Maritime Security Centre-Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA) issued a press release stating that the freighter hijacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean on March 23 has now arrived off the coast of Somalia near Garacad. The freighter has a crew of 21. (4/1/10).
NATO – working together in counter-piracy efforts
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) issued a news release stating that navy task groups are increasingly working together in counter-piracy efforts in waters in and around the Somali Basin. (4/1/10).
Baltimore – TWIC cards checked
The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that it and other law enforcement agencies conducted port security and compliance inspections at a major marine terminal in the Baltimore area. Among other things, Transportation Worker Identification Cards (TWICs) of persons entering the terminal were verified. (4/1/10).
FMC – fact-finding hearings
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) issued a press release discussing the upcoming fact-finding hearing on vessel capacity and equipment availability. The first scheduled hearings will be in San Francisco (April 6-7) and Portland, Oregon (April 8). These hearings will be conducted in closed, non-public sessions. (4/1/10).
MPAFAC – meeting
The Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee (MPAFAC), sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will meet in Charleston on April 20-22. 75 Fed. Reg. 16749 (April 2, 2010).
NOAA – petition to list bumphead parrotfish as threatened
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a notice stating that it has received a petition to list the bumphead parrotfish as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The bumphead parrotfish is found in waters of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Pacific Remote Island Areas. Comments on the petition should be submitted by May 3. 75 Fed. Reg. 16713 (April 2, 2010). Note: This creature wins today’s prize as having the most interesting species name.
UK – Freight Modal Choice Study
The UK Department for Transport posted its Freight Modal Choice Study. The study aims to confirm the economic, social, and environmental benefits of current freight movements by non-road modes on UK network corridors and to identify where changes in future modal choice, from road to rail or water, could achieve appropriate outcomes on the network. (4/1/10).
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 – March 2010