U.S. Coast Guard Publishes Final Rule That Increases the Marine Casualty Reporting Thresholds

Jeanne M. Grasso, Jonathan K. Waldron, and Sean T. Pribyl

 

 

 

On March 19, 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard published its long-awaited final rule on Marine Casualty Reporting Property Damage Thresholds. In what was widely viewed as a common-sense and non-controversial adjustment, the final rule amends the monetary property damage threshold amounts for reporting a marine casualty and serious marine incidents (“SMI”). These amended thresholds ease the reporting burdens for industry stakeholders and also reduce the administrative burden on the U.S. Coast Guard associated with investigating these incidents.

Marine Casualty Reporting Requirements

Generally, when a marine casualty or accident occurs on navigable waters (within 12 nautical miles), or involving a U.S.-flag vessel wherever it is operating, the owner, operator, master, or person in charge of the vessel involved may have an obligation to immediately report it to the U.S. Coast Guard. Not all marine casualties are reportable, as such reporting is dependent on the type of incident, e.g., grounding, allision, loss of propulsion, injury requiring professional medical treatment, or property damage, and whether the damage meets property damage thresholds. U.S. Coast Guard regulations consider a marine casualty to be reportable when it meets distinct criteria, and has therefore developed regulations that define reporting thresholds and the manner of reporting a marine casualty or an SMI, which also requires drug and alcohol testing. See 46 CFR Subpart 4. Continue reading “U.S. Coast Guard Publishes Final Rule That Increases the Marine Casualty Reporting Thresholds”

A Note from the Chair

Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)

John D. Kimball

As CMA Shipping 2018 convenes, we are more than a year into the Trump administra­tion and it is fair to say that the U.S. regulatory framework for the shipping industry has seen some changes. In this issue of Mainbrace, we drill down on relevant developments in “Trump and the Maritime Industry: A Look Back and Forward.” Additionally, we offer an update on the Jones Act, an important subject that continues to be a focal point for our industry, as well as offer a report on developments concerning the vexing topic of ballast water management.

In our law practice, we have continued our long-term focus on maritime environmental matters and regularly advise our clients on compliance measures. Avoiding problems is a sure way to achieve profits and value, which is the key theme of this year’s CMA conference. Along those lines, this issue of Mainbrace includes suggested tools to strengthen environmental compliance. We also continue to encounter distressing mat­ters involving cybersecurity, and offer a cautionary tale for the shipping industry that we hope our readers will take time to consider, as well as provide a thoughtful analysis on recent varying decisions and approaches from New York bankruptcy courts regarding territorial limits of U.S. Bankruptcy Code avoidance powers.

Lastly, technology continues to develop in the shipping industry and we provide a look ahead to developments in the areas of Smart Ships, drones, and innovative collabora­tion. I expect we will be focusing on these topics for some years to come.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Mainbrace and always welcome your feedback and sug­gestions for future articles.

Ballast Water Management: The Conundrum Continues

Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)

Jeanne M. Grasso and Sean T. Pribyl

It has been about 15 months since the U.S. Coast Guard (“USCG”) type-approved the first three ballast water man­agement systems (“BWMSs”) in December 2016; three more BWMSs have been type approved since. Yet, ballast water management remains one of the most challenging and frustrating regulatory issues of the past decade because of inconsistencies in the international and domestic regimes. This is largely because the United States is not party to the International Maritime Organization’s Convention on the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the “Convention”). Rather, the United States regulates ballast water unilaterally under the National Invasive Species Act, which differs in certain ways from the Convention, especially when it comes to approving equip­ment to meet the standards set forth in the Convention and the USCG’s implementing regulations. As such, ballast water compliance challenges remain far from resolved. In some cases, for example, especially with respect to USCG compli­ance date extensions, the policies continue to evolve on an ad hoc basis, often causing confusion. Continue reading “Ballast Water Management: The Conundrum Continues”

After Flurry of Hurricane Waivers, Calls for Coastwise Changes Recede

Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)

Matthew J. Thomas, Jonathan K. Waldron, and Jeanne M. Grasso

 

 

 

In September 2017, in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued a series of widely publicized waivers allowing carriage of cargo by non-coastwise qualified vessels in the Gulf region and to and from Puerto Rico. Public interest in the Jones Act spiked in mid-September, and some members of Congress introduced legislation for longer-term relief, particularly for Puerto Rico. Although controversial, the waivers for the most part seemed to achieve their intended goal, allowing for additional capacity to be available to move certain critical cargoes, particularly in the energy and other bulk sectors. As discussed in more detail below, the way the waivers were granted was rel­atively unique in the context of hurricanes, and some con­troversy arose with regard to the Puerto Rico waiver. The waivers, however, expired as planned with no significant fanfare or controversy, and broader political and public interest in the Jones Act sub­sided after a flurry of activity. Continue reading “After Flurry of Hurricane Waivers, Calls for Coastwise Changes Recede”

Blank Rome Maritime Attorney Spotlights

Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)

Jon Waldron Named Law360 2017 Transportation MVP

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that Partner Jonathan K. Waldron was recognized as a Law360 2017 Transportation MVP.

In Jon’s MVP profile, Law360 praises his noteworthy accomplishments of helping to turn back a proposed regulation that would have banned most international vessels from serving U.S. offshore energy projects in the Gulf of Mexico; advising a shipyard faced with financial ruin in its effort to secure a Jones Act waiver; and representing developers of an offshore wind farm expected to be the largest in the United States upon completion.

During his MVP interview with Law360, Jon discusses his biggest case of the year, reflects on what brought him to maritime law and what he loves about his practice, and offers advice to young attorneys.

For more information on Jon’s Law360 2017 Transportation MVP profile and interview, please click here.

Keith Letourneau Named Co-Chair of Blank Rome’s Maritime and International Trade Practice Group

Blank Rome Partner Keith B. Letourneau was appointed to serve as co-chair of the Firm’s Maritime & International Trade practice group, effective January 1, 2018. Keith will collaborate with Partner John D. Kimball, Chair, and Partner Jeanne M. Grasso, Vice Chair, to lead the group.

The maritime group would also like to thank Jonathan K. Waldron for his recent role as practice co-chair, which concluded on December 31.

Blank Rome’s success is a direct reflection of the commitment, dedication, and hard work of our talented group of attorneys and professionals. We thank them for their ongoing contributions and service to the Firm.

Maritime Cybersecurity: Business E-Mail Compromise, a Cautionary Tale

Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)

Kate B. Belmont

Once upon a time, a shipping com­pany in a land far, far away fell victim to a sophisticated, yet common, e-mail scam that resulted in the loss of more than a million dollars. Due to a slight manipulation to a legitimate e-mail address, in the stroke of a key this company transferred millions of dollars into the account of a cyber-criminal. The story you are about to read is true, and should serve as a cautionary tale to all players in the maritime industry who rely on e-mail communications to conduct business and transfer funds on a regular basis.

A Cyber-Criminal Strikes Again

One day, in the not-so-distant past, a shipping company received an e-mail communication in the regular course of business from what appeared to be their counterparty, requesting the payment of an invoice. Continue reading “Maritime Cybersecurity: Business E-Mail Compromise, a Cautionary Tale”

Blank Rome Proudly Sponsors WISTA USA 2018 Annual General Meeting, Conference, and 20th Anniversary Gala

Mainbrace | March 2018 (No.1)

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that the Firm is a sponsor of the WISTA USA 2018 Annual General Meeting, Conference, and 20th Anniversary Gala, taking place April 26–27, 2018, at the Parker New York hotel in New York City. “The Women Who Move The World” is the theme of this year’s conference, which will recognize the significant contributions of women in the maritime industry.

Kate B. Belmont, a senior associate in the Firm’s maritime group who serves as WISTA USA NY/NJ Chapter President, looks forward to welcoming attendees to this annual event, which is being hosted by the WISTA USA NY/NJ Chapter. Continue reading “Blank Rome Proudly Sponsors WISTA USA 2018 Annual General Meeting, Conference, and 20th Anniversary Gala”