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”

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

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

Chambers USA 2018 Honors Blank Rome Maritime Attorneys and Practices

Band One: Shipping Litigation (New York) — Nationwide

What the team is known for: “Esteemed practice with significant experience handling high-profile maritime litigation for national and international clients. Highly regarded for crisis response and offering additional expertise in alternative dispute resolution. Maintains an excellent reputation for advising maritime industry entities in federal investigations arising from intentional misconduct allegations and casualty events, as well as in a host of cybersecurity issues. Increasingly active in shipping bankruptcy disputes, having recently acted in a number of Chapter 15 cases. Represents a range of clients including P&I Clubs, operators, investment banks, owners and private equity funds.”

Strengths: “One client finds Blank Rome to be an ‘impressive team’ who do ‘a really good job communicating proactively.’ Another client says the firm consists of ‘very professional, hugely experienced partners who provide succinct, clear advice.’” Continue readingChambers USA 2018 Honors Blank Rome Maritime Attorneys and Practices”

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.

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.