Monday, April 26, 2010

Bryant’s Maritime Blog – 26 April 2010

Headlines: Norfolk – eleven suspected pirates indicted; NATO – Maritime Security: Sink or Swim; Gulf of Mexico – environmental response to sunken MODU; Port Clarence – Alaska’s tallest structure scheduled for demolition; MMS – RFI for wind energy leasing offshore Delaware; Biscayne National Park – coral reef restoration plan; FWS – proposed polar bear deterrence guidelines; DHS – semi-annual regulatory agenda; Court – undocumented immigrant may collect LHWCA injury award; and UN – funding for counter-piracy projects in Somalia.

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Norfolk – eleven suspected pirates indicted

clip_image004 The US Department of Justice issued a news release stating that eleven men from Somalia have been indicted by a federal grand jury for engaging in piracy and related offenses. The indictment alleges that five of the men were involved in the March 31 assault on the USS Nicholas and that the other six men were involved in the April 10 assault on the USS Ashland. If convicted of piracy, the mandatory sentence is life in prison. (4/23/10).

NATO – Maritime Security: Sink or Swim

clip_image006 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) posted the latest edition of its NATO Review. Labeled “Maritime Security: Sink or Swim”, it consists of three videos relating to maritime security, including one specifically on the impact of piracy on merchant shipping, and an essay regarding the impact on naval forces of maritime lawlessness and climate change. (4/23/10). Note: This item was brought to my attention by my good friend John Bennett of Maritime Protective Services.

Gulf of Mexico – environmental response to sunken MODU

clip_image008 The Joint Information Center issued a news release stating that there were approximately 700,000 gallons of diesel fuel in enclosed tanks on the MODU Deepwater Horizon before the explosion and fire. It is unknown how much, if any, of this fuel was consumed prior to the sinking of the MODU. Response personnel and equipment have been made available. Oil does not appear to be coming from the well head, but the situation is being monitored. The casualty is under investigation. A second news release states that the search for the eleven missing workers has been suspended. (4/23/10).

Lower Mississippi River – tank barge explosion

clip_image008[1] The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that a tank barge on the Lower Mississippi River near Sunshine, Louisiana exploded while loading benzene. Two workers were reportedly injured. The fire has been extinguished. Air monitoring is being conducted. The incident is under investigation. (4/24/10).

Port Clarence – Alaska’s tallest structure scheduled for demolition

clip_image008[2] The US Coast Guard issued a news release stating that the tallest structure in Alaska – the 1,350 foot LORAN transmitting tower in Port Clarence – is scheduled to be taken down in a controlled demolition. The LORAN Station ceased transmitting on February 8. (4/23/10).

MMS – RFI for wind energy leasing offshore Delaware

clip_image010 The Minerals Management Service (MMS) issued a Request for Interest (RFI) inviting submissions describing interest in obtaining one or more commercial leases for construction of a wind energy project(s) on the outer continental shelf (OCS) offshore Delaware. MMS also invites comments and information that will be useful in consideration of the area of interest for commercial wind energy leases. Submissions and comments must be received by June 25. 75 Fed. Reg. 21653 (April 26, 2010).

Biscayne National Park – coral reef restoration plan

clip_image012 The National Park Service (NPS) issued a notice stating that it is seeking comments on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Coral Reef Restoration Plan for Biscayne National Park. The DEIS provides a systematic approach to addressing injuries to coral reefs caused by vessel groundings within Biscayne National Park. 75 Fed. Reg. 21650 (April 26, 2010).

FWS – proposed polar bear deterrence guidelines

clip_image014 The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued proposed guidelines for deterrence of polar bears. Among the proposals are use of acoustic devices and patrolling an area in a small boat. If eventually finalized, these measures could be utilized without further specific FWS approval. Comments should be submitted by May 26. 75 Fed. Reg. 21571 (April 26, 2010).

DHS – semi-annual regulatory agenda

clip_image016 The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its semi-annual regulatory agenda. These documents show what rulemakings the Department and its constituent agencies are engaged in and provide a non-binding schedule of when the next rulemaking action is planned. The agendas are generally boring (probably intentional). This edition of the agenda indicates, among many other planned rulemakings, that the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends to publish (tentatively in June 2010) an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding transportation of certain merchandise and equipment between coastwise points. In 2009, CBP proposed modifying previously-issued ruling letters that determined whether the transportation of certain articles and equipment by non-coastwise-qualified vessels between coastwise points was in violation of the Jones Act. Because any determination on this matter would impact a broad range of regulated parties, and the scope of potential economic impact of any change in existing practice is unknown, CBP is undertaking this rulemaking project. 75 Fed. Reg. 21805 (April 26, 2010).

Court – undocumented immigrant may collect LHWCA injury award

clip_image018 The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that personal injury benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) may not be withheld solely because the claimant is an undocumented immigrant. In the instant case, the petitioner worked for defendant shipyard for eight months. When he was hired, he lied about his citizenship and presented a false social security number. The shipyard paid his compensation claim for two years, until it learned of his immigration status. When payments stopped, the petitioner filed a formal complaint. The court held that the LHWCA directs payments of benefits to “any employee” injured on the job. The statute makes no distinction as regards immigration status. Bollinger Shipyards v. Rodriguez, No. 09-60095 (5th Cir., April 22, 2010).

UN – funding for counter-piracy projects in Somalia

clip_image020 The United Nations (UN) issued a news release stating that its trust fund set up as part of the international fight against maritime piracy announced plans to support a series of five projects that are aimed at assisting Somalia and its neighbors to tackle the scourge. Four projects will help strengthen institutions in the Seychelles and the autonomous Somali regions of Puntland and Somaliland in such areas as mentoring prosecutors and police, building prisons, reviewing domestic laws in piracy, and increasing the capacity of local courts. A fifth project aims to help local media disseminate anti-piracy messages within Somalia. (4/23/10). Note: Even this modest effort is long overdue. While naval patrols and use of best management practices by merchant vessels can reduce the likelihood of a successful hijacking, only by rebuilding the infrastructure on shore can the continuing threat of Somali piracy be eliminated.

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

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  1. Any thoughts about the possibility that the South Korean ship might have been sunk by a torpedo?

  2. I only know what I read in the press on this issue, but have not heard a viable alternative theory.