Headlines: USCG – report on 2005 barge explosion; Portland, Oregon – RNAs on Willamette River; Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research – meeting; LMRWSAC – meeting; OFAC – blocking property of certain persons contributing to conflict in Somalia; FERC – Final General Conformity Determination re Sparrows Point LNG terminal; Court – RCMP liable for breach of US contract; IMO & Lebanon – Maritime Sciences and Technology Institute; IMO – News magazine issued; Australia – ship reporting system to be extended to southern Great Barrier Reef; Canada – navigational safety information services for Arctic waters; Malaysia – armed robbery of an anchored ship; New Zealand – QOL review design process; Court – owner not liable for master’s failure to report grounding; Singapore – position paper re nuclear security; and UK & France – additional passengers allowed on Channel ferries.
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USCG – report on 2005 barge explosion
The US Coast Guard released its report of investigation into the circumstances of the explosion, fire, and sinking of the tank barge EMC 423 with one loss of life on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal on 19 January 2005. The tank barge was carrying a cargo of clarified slurry oil. In preparation for discharge of the cargo, a crewmember tested the cargo pump. The pump was inoperative due to the cold winter weather. The crewmember used a portable propane torch to heat the pump. The flame of the torch ignited flammable vapors escaping from the cargo tanks through the standpipe. Flame screens were not being used on the standpipe. The flame traveled through the standpipe into the cargo tank, causing the explosion. The crewmember was killed by blunt force trauma caused by the explosion. The root cause of the casualty was the failure of the barge owner/operator to have an adequate safety program. (4/6/10).
Portland, Oregon – RNAs on Willamette River
The US Coast Guard issued a final rule establishing two regulated navigation areas (RNAs) on the Willamette River in the Port of Portland. The RNAs are intended to preserve the integrity of engineered sediment caps placed within Slip3 and Wheeler Bay at the Portland harbor Superfund Site. The rule comes into effect on May 20. 75 Fed. Reg. 20523 (April 20, 2010).
Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research – meeting
The Interagency Coordinating Committee on Oil Pollution Research (ICCOPR), sponsored by the US Coast Guard, will meet in Seattle on May 19. The purpose of the meeting is to hear comments on the priorities of oil pollution research, including projects in the Arctic environment. 75 Fed. Reg. 20618 (April 20, 2010).
LMRWSAC – meeting
The Lower Mississippi River Waterway Safety Advisory Committee (LMRWSAC), sponsored by the US Coast Guard, will meet in New Orleans on May 6. 75 Fed. Reg. 20619 (April 20, 2010).
OFAC – blocking property of certain persons contributing to conflict in Somalia
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) officially published its list of persons whose property has been blocked in the United States for contributing to the conflict in Somalia. The blocking came into effect immediately. 75 Fed. Reg. 20672 (April 20, 2010). This action by OFAC is in furtherance of the Executive Order regarding the conflict in Somalia recently signed by President Obama.
FERC – Final General Conformity Determination re Sparrows Point LNG terminal
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a notice stating that it has issued a Final General Conformity Determination for the proposed Sparrows Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal and pipeline. 75 Fed. Reg. 20591 (April 20, 2010).
Court – RCMP liable for breach of US contract
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is liable for damages resulting from its breach of contract. In the instant case, plaintiff passenger ship provider contracted with the RCMP to provide three cruise ships in Vancouver, British Columbia to serve as housing for security staff during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Among other things, the contract provided that the owners of the cruise ships (Holland America and Royal Caribbean) would incur no liability for Canadian corporate income and payroll taxes based on their part in performance of the contract. Based on the contract with the RCMP, plaintiff negotiated (but did not yet consummate) charter parties with the two cruise lines to provide the vessels. It also entered into a contract with a travel agency to sell passage on one of the cruise ships as it moved from San Diego to Vancouver to commence performance of the RCMP contract. Just prior to the final execution of the charter parties, the RCMP revoked its prior assurance that the owners of the cruise ships would incur no liability for Canadian corporate income and payroll taxes based on their part in performance of the contract. The cruise lines therefore refused to sign the charter parties and the contract with the travel agency fell through. Plaintiff brought suit for damages against the RCMP in the federal district court in the District of Columbia. The district court dismissed the action, ruling that the RCMP was immune from suit in the United States under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and that its admittedly commercial activity had no direct effect in the United States. The Circuit Court reversed, holding that, because the ships were to be provided from the United States and the travel agency agreement was to be performed in the United States, there was a direct effect in the United States of the breach of contract by the RCMP. The case was remanded to the district court for further consideration. Cruise Connections Charter Management v. Attorney General of Canada, No. 09-7060 (DC Cir., April 6, 2010).
IMO & Lebanon – Maritime Sciences and Technology Institute
The IMO issued a news release stating that Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos and the Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transport participated in the laying of the foundation stone for the new Maritime Sciences and Technology Institute (MARSATI) in Batroun, Lebanon. (4/16/10).
IMO – News magazine issued
The IMO released the latest edition of its News magazine. This edition focuses on anti-piracy efforts and ship recycling. (4/15/10).
Australia – ship reporting system to be extended to southern Great Barrier Reef
The Australian Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, issued a media statement announcing that the system requiring all ships to regularly report their location and route to authorities, backed up by real-time radio and satellite tracking, will be extended to the southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued its report on “Improving safe navigation in the Great Barrier Reef”. This report recommends extending the current coverage of the Reef Vessel Traffic Service (REEFVTS); strengthening regulatory arrangements including modernizing the relevant penalty and offense provisions; enhancing navigational aids; and developing a range of management options to enhance protection of the Great Barrier Reef. (4/19/10).
Canada – navigational safety information services for Arctic waters
Fisheries and Oceans Canada issued a media release stating that Budget 2010 requests funding in the amount of $2.2 million to provide navigational safety information services for two newly created navigational areas (NAVAREAs) in the Arctic Ocean. (3/4/10).
Malaysia – armed robbery of an anchored ship
The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre issued an Incident Alert stating that six robbers armed with swords and parangs boarded a tanker anchored off southern Malaysia. They tied up the greaser in the engine room and stole various engine parts. (4/17/10).
New Zealand – QOL review design process
Maritime New Zealand issued a media release stating that its process for development of its new qualification and operational limits (QOL) framework will run through 27 September 2010. The process is intended to modernize national standards and requirements for domestic vessels and their operators. (4/19/10).
Court – owner not liable for master’s failure to report grounding
The Supreme Court of New Zealand ruled that a ship owner is not liable under the Hague-Visby Rules for damage to cargo caused by the master’s failure to timely report the grounding of the ship. In the instant case, the master took the ship through a narrow, unauthorized shortcut around the mainland of southern Japan. The ship grounded briefly and incurred significant damage. The master kept sailing and only reported damage to the ship when he got back to the authorized trackline. By then, much of the cargo had been damaged by water entering the hull. The cargo owners brought suit against the owner. The court exonerated the owner, holding that the Hague-Visby Rules applied and that the damage here was caused by an act of the master in the navigation or management of the ship outside the knowledge or privity of the owner. Tasman Orient Line v. New Zealand China Clays,  NZSC 37 (16 April 2010). Note: This case was brought to my attention by my good friend Michael Marks Cohen of Nicoletti, Hornig & Sweeney.
Singapore – position paper re nuclear security
The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued its Position Paper on nuclear security. Among other things, it supports enhancement of the security of sea-freight cargo. (4/13/10).
UK and France – additional passengers allowed on Channel ferries
The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a press notice stating that, in agreement with French authorities, it is permitting larger Channel ferries operating out of Dover to carry a further 10% of passengers during the current aviation crisis. (4/19/10).
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