Federal Law News

29 Oct 2019

Full Utilization of HMTF Passes in U.S. House

Photo: Dredging Contractors of America

This evening the U.S. House of Representatives passed by a recorded vote the Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), H.R. 2440. The vote was 296 in favor and 109 opposed. The voting required a two-thirds super majority of the House in order to pass under “suspension of the rules.”There were  seventeen (17) bills presented in the House of Representatives today with fifteen (15) bills passing by voice vote. The Full Utilization of the HMTF was one of two bills…

28 Aug 2019

Tanker Owner, Operator & Officers Guilty in ECA Crimes

File Image: AdobeStock / © 14KT Gold

The owner and operator will pay a total criminal fine of $3,000,000.00.U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert for the District of the Virgin Islands announced that IONIAN SHIPPING & TRADING CORP., LILY SHIPPING LTD., STAMATIOS ALEKIDIS, ATHANASIOS PITTAS and REY ESPULGAR have been convicted and sentenced for various pollution, recordkeeping, and obstruction of justice crimes on the Motor Tanker (“M/T”) Ocean Princess in St. Croix, U.S.V.I. The defendants’ conduct included using fuel that exceeded the maximum allowable sulfur concentration in the U.S. Caribbean Emission Control Area (“U.S.

07 Aug 2019

Maritime Recordkeeping is Serious Business

© Igor Kardasov/Adobe Stock

In addition to fuel, modern ships also run on paper or their electronic equivalent. Vessels are required to keep written or electronic records of many things – and the list is growing.There is the traditional Ship’s Log, which records the vessel’s position, course, speed, weather, and unusual events to name a few. The Oil Record Book (ORB) has been around for a long time and tracks all movement of oil throughout the vessel, including its loading, consumption, and discharge (generally via the oily water separator and overboard discharge piping).

24 Jun 2019

Shipping Company Pleads Guilty to Environmental Laws

© Giorgos Tsampazis/ MarineTraffic.com

Portline Bulk International S.A. pleaded guilty in federal court in Charleston, South Carolina, to one count of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one count of Obstruction. The charges stem from the falsification of the Oil Record Book onboard the M/V Achilleus, a Maltese-flagged ocean-going bulk carrier ship managed by Defendant Portline.From April 2017 to August 2018, senior members of the vessel’s engineering team oversaw and participated in the bypass of the ship’s Oil Water Separator utilizing a yellow plastic hose, referred to as a magic pipe.

19 Jun 2019

Cocaine Seized in Philadelphia Port

Federal officials in Philadelphia seized more than 15,000 kilos of cocaine with a street value of more than $1 billion at the Philadelphia Port, making it the largest seizure ever for the eastern district of Pennsylvania area and one of the biggest in U.S. history.According to various media report, quoting law enforcement officials, more than 15,500 kilos of cocaine were found in seven containers, which were found aboard a cargo ship, the MSC Gayane, that previously stopped in Colombia, Chile, Panama and the Bahamas.A press release from the MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company said that it is aware of reports of an incident at the Port of Philadelphia in which U.S. authorities made a seizure of illicit cargo.MSC noted it has a longstanding history of cooperating with U.S.

15 Apr 2019

WASHINGTON WATCH: A Tale of Two Fleets

Jeff Vogel, a Member in Cozen O’Connor’s Transportation & Trade Group.

Mixed Government Support for U.S. Shipbuilding.It has been a busy start to the 116th Congress for the U.S. shipbuilding industry, with three congressional hearings in early March focused on the industry’s role as a critical component of the U.S. national security industrial base. In addition, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, which was signed into law on February 15, contained mixed news for shipbuilding programs. Through the congressional hearings and enacted legislation, two opposing themes have emerged.

22 Feb 2019

Crowley Christens LNG-Powered M/V Taíno

The ship, crew, terminal team and Crowley.

Event heralds new era of world-class supply chain service. Crowley Maritime Corp. christened the U.S.-flag combination container/roll on-roll off (ConRo) ship MV Taíno today in San Juan, where the company’s investments have ushered in a new era of world-class supply chain services in the U.S. mainland-Puerto Rico trade. Clara Crowley, daughter of Chairman and CEO Tom Crowley and board member Christine Crowley, served as the ship’s sponsor and broke the ceremonial bottle of champagne on the bow of MV Taíno at the company’s Isla Grande Terminal before several hundred employees…

22 Feb 2019

The USCG -Mandated Drug Testing Increase:

Lee Seham, partner, Seham, Seham, Meltz & Petersen and General Counsel of the non-profit drug testing consortium American Maritime Safety, Inc.

Wasteful, Unwarranted and does not address the ‘Marijuana Challenge.’On December 28, 2018, the United States Coast Guard published a notice in the Federal Register alerting the maritime industry of its determination to increase the minimum annual rate of random drug testing for 2019 from twenty-five percent (25%) to fifty percent (50%). American Maritime Safety, Inc. (AMS), a non-profit industry consortium that facilitates the industry’s compliance with these regulations, regrets the Coast Guard’s decision.AMS counts as members over 400 maritime employers including cruise liners…

19 Dec 2018

Crowley Takes Delivery of Second LNG-Powered ConRo Ship

Photo courtesy of Crowley Maritime

Crowley Maritime Corp. has taken delivery of Taíno – the second of two of the world’s first combination container/roll on-roll off (ConRo) ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) – from shipbuilder VT Halter Marine Inc., of Pascagoula, Miss.Taíno will soon join sister ship El Coquí, which was delivered in July, in providing fast, reliable and environmentally friendly shipping and logistics services between Jacksonville, Fla., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. This major milestone marks the final chapter in construction of Crowley’s $550 million investment in the two newly built…

05 Nov 2018

Regulatory Reform: Good Ideas … Ready to Start?

Image credit: USCG / Anthony Soto

Regulatory reform is one of President Trump’s priority agenda items. Upon taking office, the President issued a number of Executive Orders focusing attention and demanding action on the myriad of regulations impacting American businesses.Last May, the reform spotlight fell on maritime regulations when the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), published a Request for Information (RFI) on how the government should “prudently manage regulatory costs imposed on the maritime sector.” OMB…

26 Jul 2018

The Jones Act and Offshore Wind in Light of the Aeolus Energy Announcement

Emily Huggins Jones

As the domestic offshore wind industry comes to life, U.S. flag vessels will necessarily be part of that expanding equation.A potential sea change came with the recent announcement from Aeolus Energy Partners that the renewable installation and operation company was investing in a fleet of Jones Act-compliant vessels dedicated to the offshore wind industry. Long a barrier to entry for foreign and domestic prospectors alike, the Jones Act, a portion of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920…

22 May 2018

Indian Fishermen Hail US Supreme Court Decision to Hear World Bank Suit

© pjhpix / Adobe Stock

Farmers and fishermen in western India have welcomed a U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear their lawsuit against a World Bank agency, which financed a power plant they blame for damaging the environment and their livelihoods.The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal by the villagers of a lower court ruling that the International Finance Corp (IFC) was immune from such lawsuits under federal law.The court must now consider for the first time whether international organisations are immune from such suits under federal law…

11 May 2018

US Fines Shipping Company $1 Mln for Pollution Crimes

© Roy Ledford / MarineTraffic.com

A Japanese shipping company will have to pay $1 million after being convicted and sentenced for obstruction of justice and falsification of an Oil Record Book to cover-up intentional pollution from bulk carrier M/V Atlantic Oasis.The company Nitta Kisen Kaisha Ltd., owner and operater of the Atlantic Oasis, admitted that its engineers failed to document the illegal discharge of oily wastes from the vessel’s fuel and lubrication oil purifier systems, as well as discharges of oily bilge waste from the bilge holding tank and from the vessel’s bilges when delivering steel products to Wilmington…

10 May 2018

Scrapping Risks

© Gudellaphoto / Adobe Stock

Traditionally, when a ship reached the end of its economic life, the owner sold it, often to a cash buyer, for scrapping with little consideration of the next step. Many ships ended up on a beach in south Asia (India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh) where they were cut apart and the metal was sold for scrap. The working conditions were sometimes dangerous and hazardous to the workers’ health. In addition, little was sometimes done to protect the environment. For many ship owners these days…

08 May 2018

Fishing Companies to Pay $400,000 for Pollution Claims

Challenge Fisheries LLC, Quinn Fisheries Inc., Charles Quinn II, and Charles Quinn III have agreed to pay a total of $414,000 in civil penalties and to perform fleet-wide improvements and other compliance assurance measures to resolve federal Clean Water Act claims stemming from oily bilge discharges from the commercial fishing vessel Challenge, and a related fuel oil discharge in August 2017 in New Bedford Harbor, Mass., the Department of Justice and the Coast Guard announced.In its complaint filed Monday, along with the lodging of a consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States alleges…

19 Apr 2018

US Coast Guard Offloads $13.3 Mln Drug Haul

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ricardo Castrodad)

The U.S. Coast Guard offloaded $13.3 million worth of suspected heroin and cocaine and transferred custody of two suspected smugglers to authorities in San Juan Tuesday, following a recent interdiction in the Caribbean Sea off Puerto Rico.The crew of a patrolling Customs and Border Protection Caribbean Air and Marine Branch (CAMB) maritime patrol aircraft initially detected a 30-foot go-fast vessel Saturday afternoon transiting with two people onboard and visible packages on deck south of Patillas…

29 Mar 2018

US Women Dockworkers Accuse Shippers, Union of Discrimination

© cascoly2 / Adobe Stock

Four women dockworkers have filed federal discrimination claims against the shippers' association that runs 29 ports on the U.S. West Coast, saying they unfairly lost pay and seniority after becoming pregnant. Male dockworkers who temporarily left to serve in the armed forces got benefits denied to women on pregnancy leave, one of the workers, Tracy Plummer, said in an interview. Another woman with a complicated medical history said she tried to work during pregnancy for fear of losing seniority and suffered a miscarriage, according to her complaint.

16 Jan 2018

New Patrol Boat Delivered to Puerto Rico PD

The Puerto Rico Police Department's new Metal Shark 35 Defiant, operating off the coast of San Juan. (PRPD Photo)

The Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) has taken delivery of a new patrol boat from Louisiana-based boatbuilder Metal Shark. The new 35-foot Defiant welded aluminum pilothouse patrol vessel, built at Metal Shark’s Jeanerette, La. production facility, joins the fleet of 36-foot Metal Shark Fearless-class high performance center console patrol boats delivered to the PRPD a year ago. The PRPD’s new patrol boat features a fully-enclosed, climate-controlled pilothouse for all weather operation, outfitted with Shockwave shock-mitigating seating for a crew of four, the builder said.

20 Oct 2017

Legal Limbo: Risk Management in a Modern Marine Economy

© Currahee Shutter / Adobe Stock

Technology helps maritime companies do more with less. But today, technological advances are outstripping legal developments. As a result, many marine-based businesses operate in a legal limbo with many lawyers and insurance professionals confused about what laws will apply to what claims. While sometimes philosophical, the problem of what law will apply becomes stark and very real when a worker is injured. We live in a golden age of maritime technological development as we learn to use our oceans, lakes, rivers and coastlines in new and unique ways.

12 Oct 2017

Can Employers Ask About Prescription Drug Use?

© Feng Yu / Adobe Stock

On the waterfront, it all depends. It is well established that workplace safety and productivity can be compromised, not just by the use of illicit substances and alcohol, but also by the use of prescription drugs. Federal law, however, imposes limits on employer inquiries in this area both with respect to the affected job classifications and the scope of the inquiry. Generally, an employer may not ask all employees what prescription medications they are taking because such an inquiry is not job-related and consistent with business necessity, according to Enforcement Guidance from the U.S.

11 Oct 2017

Marine Casualty Investigation

Dennis Bryant

In the realm of marine casualty investigations the allocation of blame should be secondary to marine safety. There are three important criteria for marine casualty investigations to be of value to the maritime industry. First, the report must be completed promptly. It does little good to see for the first time the report on a casualty that occurred three or more years ago. Second, the report must be publicly disseminated. The best report is of little value if it is available only to the principals. Third, the report must focus on the root cause of the casualty.

13 Jul 2017

Trump Administration Approves Eni Plan to Drill Offshore Alaska

Image of sea ice in the Beaufort Sea, acquired on 3 June 2017 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument, on board the Aqua satellite. (Photo: NASA)

Eni US will become the first energy company allowed to explore for oil in federal waters off Alaska since 2015 after the Trump administration this week approved a drilling plan on leases the company has been sitting on for 10 years. The approval is conditional on Eni getting other state and federal permits, which in past cases are generally granted once BOEM gives the green light. "We know there are vast oil and gas resources under the Beaufort Sea, and we look forward to working with Eni in their efforts to tap into this energy potential," said BOEM's acting Director Walter Cruickshank.

02 Jun 2017

Delfin Project Gains US Approval to Export LNG

Image: Delfin LNG

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has approved a long-term application to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the first offshore project, Delfin LNG, LLC. Exports in the amount of 1.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas are approved from Delfin’s proposed offshore Louisiana floating LNG terminal in the Gulf of Mexico. Development of the Delfin project offshore of Cameron Parish, La. will include the construction of floating liquefaction and storage vessels.

Maritime Reporter Magazine Cover Nov 2019 - Workboat Edition

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