Note from the Editor

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr.

Looking back through past issues of Mainbrace, the articles published over time clearly reflect the ebb and flow of “hot” topics in the maritime industry. These have included—among many others—the global financial crisis and resulting scramble for maritime security on claims, the sharp rise of piracy, the perilous state of maritime cybersecurity, the ever-changing ballast water and emissions regulations landscape, the flood of maritime bankruptcies, and the dynamic U.S. sanctions landscape. Finding these topics covered in our newsletter should not be surprising to our readers—we have always aimed to provide timely and relevant analysis of the issues that are important to our clients.

This issue of Mainbrace is no different. Perhaps most importantly, the #MeToo movement has spurred a long-overdue discussion of the role of women in the maritime industry and the many challenges they face, both shipboard and in the home office. In their article, Susan Bickley, Emery Richards, and Jeanne Grasso overview of this topic, both from the vantage point of the employee and the employer.

Additionally, Sean Pribyl addresses new developments in the industry’s inexorable march towards autonomous vessels; Jon Waldron and Joan Bondareff discuss recent developments that strongly indicate that offshore wind is finally moving from concept to mainstream project in the United States; and Joan and Jeanne highlight some of the issues arising from the massive (and growing) island of plastic circling the Pacific Ocean.

We also bring you a roundup of recent developments in the maritime litigation world, including raising new questions about when a defendant may be “found” in a district for purposes of maritime attachment under Rule B (Thomas Belknap and Noe Hamra); what constitutes a safe port in the modern world (Emma Jones); and when a “knock for knock” indemnity agreement may be enforceable under maritime law in oil and gas exploration contracts (David Meyer). And Mike Schaedle and Rick Antonoff from our Firm’s bankruptcy group discuss a recent decision concerning chapter 15 of the bankruptcy code, relating to recognizing foreign main proceedings.

Lastly, I am very excited to announce the launch of our maritime blog, Safe Passage, where readers can find archives of articles from our Mainbrace newsletter and also our maritime development advisories. Articles are sorted both chronologically and by broad topic area to make the blog not only easy to peruse, but also a useful research resource.

We hope you find this issue interesting and informative. As always, we welcome any comments and, particularly, ideas for future articles.

What #MeToo Means for the Maritime World

Susan L. Bickley, Emery G. Richards, and Jeanne M. Grasso

The #MeToo movement has shone new attention on issues for employers in the maritime industry seeking to ensure that seafarers and shore-based personnel can participate in a work environment free of sexual harassment and assault, both ship­board and shoreside. Employees at sea, often for months at a time, can face special challenges associated with a work envi­ronment that can be thousands of miles away from any home office, lead to feelings of isolation, make communications dif­ficult, involve close proximity between work spaces and living quarters, and generally require employees to remain at the workplace during rest periods.

In other sectors of the global maritime industry, companies engaged in inter­national business can find themselves navigating scenarios that arise from expec­tations regarding workplace interactions between men and women that are as diverse as their workforces. We examine here the unique legal framework that applies to sexual harassment in the mar­itime context, what to keep in mind for addressing incidents, and recent trends regarding steps employers are currently taking in response. Continue reading “What #MeToo Means for the Maritime World”

Stronger Winds Blowing Off the Atlantic Coast

Joan M. Bondareff and Jonathan K. Waldron

 We are seeing strong signs of a burgeoning offshore wind industry off the Atlantic Seaboard. While modest, the first offshore wind project, Deepwater Wind, is fully operational in Rhode Island state waters, bringing low-cost renewable energy to the residents of Block Island. In addition, new projects in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, described further below, are setting the stage for the construction of much larger offshore wind farms in federal waters. From Maine to North Carolina, governors and states are lining up to be a part of the offshore wind revolution. This is good news for developers, suppliers, consumers, and the environment.

Why This Is Happening Now

There are several reasons why offshore wind is taking off now. In the first place, the price of offshore wind is coming down—largely based on Europe’s expe­rience with offshore wind and bringing this experience to the United States as lessees, partners, and contractors, as well as the development of improved and more efficient turbines and other related technologies. Indeed, European developers and contractors are now looking to part­ner with U.S. interests. In addition, companies are finding ways to work within the framework of the Jones Act, as discussed in more detail below. Continue reading “Stronger Winds Blowing Off the Atlantic Coast”

Has the Ground Shifted under the Law Concerning When a Party Is “Found within the District” for Purposes of Rule B?

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr., and Noe S. Hamra

It has long been the law in the Second Circuit that when a foreign party registers with the New York Department of State to conduct business in New York and designates an agent within the district upon whom process may be served, it will be “found within the district” for purposes of Rule B of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the “Admiralty Rules”). This precedent was clearly established in STX Panocean (UK) Co. v. Glory Wealth Shipping Pte Ltd., 560 F.3d 127, 133 (2d Cir. 2009), where the Second Circuit unequivocally held that “a company registered with the Department of State is ‘found’ [within the district] for purposes of Rule B… .”

Recent developments in the law concerning the constitutional scope of a court’s personal jurisdiction, however, combined with the absence of clear legislative statements in New York’s registration statute, raise fresh questions about the continuing viability of STX Panocean’s holding, and the extent to which a party can seek to immunize itself against Rule B attachment in a state by registering there. Continue reading “Has the Ground Shifted under the Law Concerning When a Party Is “Found within the District” for Purposes of Rule B?”

Jeffrey Moller Elected to the Maritime Law Association’s Board of Directors

Blank Rome Partner Jeffrey S. Moller has been elected to the board of directors of the Maritime Law Association of the United States (“MLA”) for a three-year term. A member since 1988, Jeffrey has also served as chairman of MLA’s Committee on Regulation of Vessel Operations.

Founded in 1899, the MLA is the primary maritime law organization in the United States with over 3,600 members. The objectives of the MLA are to advance reforms in U.S. maritime law; furnish a forum for discussion of problems affecting maritime law and its administration; participate as a constituent member of the Comité Maritime International and affiliated organization of the American Bar Association; and act with other associations in efforts to bring about a greater harmony in the shipping laws, regulations, and practices of different nations.

For more information, please visit mlaus.org.

Blank Rome Maritime Highly Ranked in The Legal 500 United States 2018

Blank Rome’s maritime practice and attorneys were highly ranked and recommended in The Legal 500 United States 2018, receiving the following rankings

Top-Tier Firm

Leading Lawyers

Continue reading “Blank Rome Maritime Highly Ranked in The Legal 500 United States 2018

Advanced Automation in Shipping Takes Center Stage at IMO

Sean T. Pribyl

Advanced automation in the inter­national maritime industry has officially arrived on the international stage, as the International Maritime Organization’s (“IMO”) Maritime Safety Committee (“MSC”) 99th session fur­thered the discussion on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (“MASS”). The topic garnered a great deal of attention, with the IMO receiving 19 papers from industry and various countries in support of the MASS regulatory scoping exercise. The international interest in this topic echoes senti­ments of the IMO Secretary-General Kitack Kim, who recently acknowledged that digitalization—including autonomous ships—remains at the top of his agenda, along with climate change and seafarer issues.

It is clear that technology continues to outpace the regulators, however, and more is still needed in the way of cultural acceptance. In fact, the industry challenges that the IMO faces over the next decade harkens those of disruptive technologies at the end of the 19th century with the advent of the automobile. Continue reading “Advanced Automation in Shipping Takes Center Stage at IMO”