Headlines: White House – new approach to stopping oil spill; NOAA – survey for new ship anchorage site; EU – special oil recovery equipment for Gulf of Mexico oil spill; DOI – enhanced safety measures for offshore oil and gas operations; Joint Investigation – update; White House – National Oceans Month; NOAA – Arctic Vision and Strategy; NOAA – FY 2011 Ocean Exploration of the Aleutian Trench; Senate – bill introduced to create economic injury claims system; Court – reasonable suspicion not required in border search; Somali Basin – pirate action group disrupted; Singapore – update re collision and oil spill; and Memorial Day – May 31, 2010.
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White House – new approach to stopping oil spill
President Obama issued a statement acknowledging that the “top kill” approach to stopping the Gulf of Mexico oil spill did not succeed. The federal government has now directed BP to launch a new procedure whereby the riser pipe will be cut and a containment structure is to be fitted over the leak. A news release was issued depicting this Lower Marine Riser Package approach. (5/29/10).
NOAA – survey for new ship anchorage site
The news release stating that it has begun work to survey a new ship anchorage site at the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico for ships to undergo inspection and oil decontamination before entering ports. (5/28/10). Note: Other reports indicate that, to date, only one ship entering the Mississippi River has required hull cleaning, and that was after it anchored offshore for a period of time to perform ship operations. One ship entering the Port of Mobile required hull cleaning, but that ship had been directly engaged in oil spill response.
EU – special oil recovery equipment for Gulf of Mexico oil spill
The European Union (EU) issued a press release stating that, in response to a request from the US Coast Guard, it is arranging for shipment of three complete sets of rigid sweeping arms. These are specific types of skimmers that can be attached directly to ships in order to recover oil. The rigid sweeping arms are being provided by Spain, the Netherlands, and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). (5/28/10).
DOI – enhanced safety measures for offshore oil and gas operations
The Department of the Interior (DOI) issued a news release stating that Secretary Ken Salazar is calling for new safety measures for offshore oil and gas operations. He ordered a six-month moratorium on exploratory deepwater drilling while issues undergo further review. He also canceled a pending lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, canceled a proposed lease sale off the coat of Virginia, and suspended proposed exploratory drilling in the Arctic. A 30-Day Safety Report, which has been submitted to the President, calls for recertification of all blowout preventers (BOPs), tougher inspections, and enhanced training requirements, among other things. (5/27/10).
Joint Investigation – update
The USCG-MMS Joint Investigation issued a news release stating that it concluded the fourth day of its second session, hearing from seven persons who were aboard the MODU Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010 as to their recollections of events. The next public session of the investigation is tentatively scheduled for July 19-23 in Kenner, Louisiana. (5/29/10).
White House – National Oceans Month
The White House released a Presidential Proclamation designating June as National Oceans Month. (5/28/10).
NOAA – Arctic Vision and Strategy
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has extended through June 25 the period within which to submit comments on its draft Arctic Vision and Strategy. The document provides a high-level framework and six strategic goals to address the agency’s highest priorities in the Arctic region. It is based upon assumptions that the region will: (1) continue to experience dramatic change; (2) become more accessible to human activities; and (3) be a focus of increasing global strategic interest. 75 Fed. Reg. 30383 (June 1, 2010).
NOAA – FY 2011 Ocean Exploration of the Aleutian Trench
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) seeks pre-proposals and full proposals to search, investigate, and document poorly-known and unknown areas of the Aleutian Trench through interdisciplinary exploration and to advance and disseminate knowledge of the ocean environment and its physical, chemical, and biological resources. Completed pre-proposals must be received by July 1. Full proposal submissions must be received by September 10. 75 Fed. Reg. 30380 (June 1, 2010).
Senate – bill introduced to create economic injury claims system
Senator Vitter (R-LA) introduced the Acceptance of Liability and Expedited Claims at Mississippi Canyon 252 Act (S. 3410) to create a fair and efficient system to resolve claims of victims for economic injury caused by the Deepwater Horizon incident, and to direct the Secretary of the Interior to renegotiate the terms of the lease known as ``Mississippi Canyon 252'' with respect to claims relating to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill that exceed existing applicable economic liability limitations. Senator Vitter issued a news release discussing the bill. (5/25/10).
Court – reasonable suspicion not required in border search
The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that the cabins of crewmembers of foreign vessels arriving in the United States are subject to search without reasonable suspicion on the part of Customs officers that there has been a violation of federal law. In the instant case, a foreign freighter arrived in the Port of Miami. During the course of a random inspection, child pornography was found in the cabin of the defendant, one of the crewmembers. At trial, he contended that the search of his cabin violated the US Constitution. On appeal, the court held that the ship was located at the functional equivalent the border when it was searched and that the officers conducting the search were authorized to conduct border searches. The Fourth Amendment provision that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures did not apply to this situation. United States v. Alfaro-Moncada, No. 08-16442 (11th Cir., May 27, 2010). Note: This item was brought to my attention by my good friend John Bennett of Maritime Protective Services.
Somali Basin – pirate action group disrupted
The EU NAVFOR issued a press release stating that, through cooperation with the Seychelles Coast Guard, a pirate action group was intercepted and disrupted in the Somali Basin. An EU NAVFOR maritime patrol aircraft detected a whaler and two skiffs in the Somali Basin. A Seychelles Coast Guard patrol boat was vectored to the site. The nine individuals on board had pirate paraphernalia. They were disarmed. The skiffs were destroyed. The whaler and the nine individuals were released. (5/29/10).
Singapore – update re collision and oil spill
The Singapore Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) issued a news release stating that oil spilled following the collision in the Singapore Strait between a tanker and a bulk carrier has largely been removed. Traffic in the area is unaffected. (5/31/10).
Memorial Day – May 31, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010 was marked in the United States as Memorial Day, commemorating those who have died in wartime service to the nation. Thoughts naturally turn to those who gave their lives while serving in a military branch (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard). Civilians, though, also made the ultimate sacrifice. Many of these civilians were members of the Merchant Marine, who have supported US war efforts from the founding of the nation. They all deserve respectful remembrance.
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 – June 2010