22 June 2005

Paving the road to hell: USCG revising licensing certification legislation

Quoth the Admiral: "We did not intend to remove any rights, benefits or duties of credentialed merchant mariners. The Coast Guard will not make any immediate changes to the existing credentials or regulations solely because of this proposal. Instead, we plan to work with mariners, industry and the public through the rulemaking process."

Ze problem, you zee, iss thisss: the Ghost Kard neffer plans to putt der skrews to der mariner unless itz a crisis. Zo, ve vait for a crisis, no?

Read it all

17 June 2005

A day of import, or yet another reason why I don't like this branch of the Republican party!

Quoth one of the 21st Century's noblest men: "Only a few economic historians are likely to notice June 17 marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Hawley-Smoot tariff bill, and even economic historians are unlikely to be nostalgic about that disastrous legislation.
Who was opposed? Most of the leading economists. A Page One headline in the New York Times of May 5, 1930, read: '1,028 economists ask Hoover to veto pending tariff bill.' Those signing this public appeal against the new tariffs included many top economists -- 25 professors of economics at Harvard, 26 at the University of Chicago, and 28 at Columbia.
The economists' appeal spelled it out: "The proponents of higher tariffs claim that the increase in rates will give work to the idle. This is not true. We cannot increase employment by restricting trade."
Yes, the emphasis is mine.

Read it all

16 June 2005

Court ruling expected to change Canada's health care system - The Boston Globe - Boston.com - World - News

Court ruling expected to change Canada's health care system - The Boston Globe - Boston.com - World - News: "Canada's Supreme Court dealt a powerful blow to the state monopoly on health care yesterday, striking down a Quebec ban on private health insurance for services provided under the country's system of universal coverage."

Yee-hah! Of all the pernicious assertions during HillaryCare-of-unfond-memory's run through the public square, "We have a fine example right next door in Canada", is easily the silliest.

A bit more background. I'm a [US] Navy vet. The USN has major bases near the Canadian Border: Bremerton, WA and the soon-to-be closed Shipyard in Portsmouth, NH (actually, it's in Kittery, ME, but let that go). This means that Navy people are more likely than most to have been exposed to the Canadians traipsing across the border to receive treatment which the Canadian "fine example" often wouldn't provide, um, pre-mortem.

Note that the Canadian Supreme Court found that too: Socialized Medicine Kills.

The World Health Organization ranks Canada's health system 30th in the world and the United States 37th. France, which allows private services to complement its universal system, is ranked first.

Before, my fellow Liberals, you get too enthused about quoting this factoid, please check the premises of the WHO. Hint: they shot the arrow, then drew the target.

Official: Maritime NORAD Is 'Defense In Depth'

aviation week, aerospace, airline industry, space technology, defense, aircraft, homeland security, articles, magazines, FAA, regulations, news: "06/14/2005 09:24:13 AM
By Michael Bruno
Maritime defense - including the creation of a maritime equivalent of the North American Aerospace Defense Command - presents the greatest single opportunity to beef up domestic security, according to the Defense Department's top official for homeland defense. "

11 June 2005

The right to self-defense trumps the right of an employer to fire an at-will employee

The Volokh Conspiracy - -
I don't usually approve of lawyers interfering with private contracts; however, unless this guys agreement with 7-11 specifically said "thou shalt not interfere with a store robbery, even if failure to act will get you killed" and the employee knowledgeably signed the agreement, I think the courts got it right.

10 June 2005

BP's fleet moves aimed at reducing risk of spills

From the Houston Chronicle:"BP is urging shipowners to meet tougher health and safety standards for their tankers, seeking to minimize the risk of an oil spill."Read it all

Presumably, BP will be somewhat more level headed than some regulatory agencies which I won't bother to name. Let's think analysis, risk-management, effectiveness...

Semester at sea operators sue University of Pittsburgh


A legal clash between the University of Pittsburgh and the operators of the Semester-at-Sea educational program over a rouge wave rolled into a Pennsylvania courtroom earlier this week. The Semester at Sea operators had launched a lawsuit against the university over the school's removal of its 24-year sponsorship. In defending its decision to abandon the cruise-based educational experience, the university cited substantial damage sustained to the EXPLORER in January when a rouge wave hit the ship during a storm off the US Pacific Northwest.

The university asserts that the school is concerned for student safety. On the other hand, the Semester-at-Sea operators counter that the program's vessels are as safe as any afloat and have been made even safer since the big wave hit the ship. That incident left the EXPLORER adrift for awhile in heavy seas. Preparing to begin this summer's voyage on June 17 from Halifax in Nova Scotia, the ship will have students from over 200 campuses aboard. It will boast reinforced bridge windows and an improved control system, and will avoid the area of the Pacific where the incident occurred. =

End of the day: would I permit my kids to sail on this ship? Answer: yes.

09 June 2005

Something I didn't know from the LA Times: Who's Really Abusing the Koran?

Who's Really Abusing the Koran?: "All the headlines about 'Abuse of the Koran at Gitmo' are absolutely accurate. Brig. Gen. Jay Hood's internal investigation has uncovered some shocking incidents. On at least six occasions, Korans were ripped up. They were urinated on three times, and attempts were made to flush them down the toilet at least three other times.

Why aren't millions of Muslims rioting in response to these defilements? Because the perpetrators were prisoners, not guards. As John Hinderaker notes on weeklystandard.com, the most serious desecrations of the Koran at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were committed by the Muslim inmates themselves."


The Shipping Coordinating Committee (SHC) will conduct an open meeting at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 14, 2005, in Room 1303 of the United States Coast Guard Headquarters building, 2100 Second Street SW., Washington, DC 20593-0001. The primary purpose of the meeting is to prepare for the thirty-second session of the Facilitation Committee (FAL 32) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), to be held from July 4 to 8, 2005, at IMO Headquarters in London, England.
The primary matters for discussion for FAL 32 will include the following:
* Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic.
* Consideration and adoption of proposed amendments to the Annex to the Convention.
* Electronic means for the clearance of ships.
* Application of the Committee's Guidelines.
* General review of the Convention including harmonization with other international instruments.
* Prevention and suppression of unlawful acts at sea or in port--Facilitation aspects.
* Prevention and control of illicit drug trafficking--Facilitation aspects.
* Measure to enhance maritime security--Facilitation aspects.
* Measures and procedures for the treatment of people rescued at sea--Facilitation aspects.
* Ship/port interface.
* Formalities connected with the arrival, stay and departure of ships.
* Formalities connected with the arrival, stay and departure of persons--Stowaways.
* Facilitation aspects of other IMO forms and certificates.
* Technical cooperation sub-program for facilitation.
Copies of documents associated with FAL 32 will not be available at this meeting. Documents will be available in Adobe Acrobat format on CD-ROM. To request documents, please contact David Du Pont via e-mail at DDuPont@comdt.uscg.mil or write to the address provided below.
Members of the public may attend this meeting up to the seating capacity of the room. Interested persons may seek information by writing to David Du Pont, Commandant (G-MSR), U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 2100 Second Street SW., Room 1400, Washington, DC 20593-0001 or by calling (202) 267-0971.

The IMO, from whence mischief comes.

27 May 2005

A WWII Merchant Marine (or, if you prefer, Merchant Navy) Vet on Maritime day

"Even though it's not formally celebrated until Monday, Sunday is National Maritime Day.

It has become the most ignored national day, memorializing the country's most forgotten historical event and honoring the most ignored element of its military structure, the U.S. merchant marine.

Congress adopted the resolution creating the day on May 20, 1933, taking note of May 22, 1819, the day the steamer Savannah sailed from its home port on the first successful transoceanic voyage by steamship. President Franklin Roosevelt issued the proclamation.

Every succeeding president proclaimed it, and every succeeding generation ignored it.

It was easy to remember winning World War II but easy to forget the merchant marine, the logistical miracle that enabled the victory.

The merchant marine story is all about lessons learned on the cruel seas, of scandalous political treatment of its sailors after the war, of long-fought battles for recognition as veterans, and of a commitment as deep, and a risk at least as high, as any soldier's on any battlefield.

But the merchant marine was invisible."

Despite Mr. Felknor's ignorance of six of the seven maritime academies, you should read it all:Chicago Tribune | THE MERCHANT MARINE:

16 May 2005

Base Realignment and Closure 2005 - BRAC (a/k/a BRAAAAKKKKKK)

Me auld stomping grounds in N'awlinz are on the chopping block. Back in the mists of time the Naval Air Reserve and Naval Surface Reserve were combined into a single HQ and moved to the congressional district of -- SURPRISE! -- Hale Boggs, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. BRAC will move Naval Reserve Forces Command (a/k/a Naval Reserve HQ) to Norfolk -- which is were the Fleet Forces Command hangs out.

Read it all:
Base Realignment and Closure 2005 - U.S. Department of Defense

15 May 2005


This Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report is ... also posted at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency site


Yahoo! Mail - rgmcf@yahoo.com

06 May 2005

A Mexican blueprint to rival US ports

"The driving force behind the proposal is the 'surprising and consistent' growth in Asian maritime cargo to North America, Mr Roel said."

The driving force behind this proposal might have just a little to do with the inability of western US ports to unclog themselves or to guarantee labor peace. Just possibly.

Anti-piracy current developments

1. STRAITS OF MALACCA: A 28 Apr Singapore press report states Indonesia and Singapore have agreed to step up efforts to protect the pirate infested Straits of Malacca through coordinated joint patrols of the waterways. Both sides have agreed to reaffirm their commitment to improve the safety of the waterway that borders
Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

A 26 Apr Malaysian press report states the Malaysian Navy wants all merchant ships that pass through the Straits of Malacca to use channel 6 to safeguard themselves from pirate attacks. A Malaysian Navy public relations officer explained the channel is to facilitate communications of merchant ships when entering the Straits of Malacca. He goes on to explain vessels need to provide their location to make monitoring easier for the military and that the use of channel 6 had been negotiated with the Singaporean and Indonesian
military (Local Media reports).

2. ASIA: The first four countries have signed the Japanese led Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) per 04 May message. Singapore, Cambodia, and Laos joined Japan last week in signing the ReCAAP agreement. The ReCAAP plans to establish and operate an Information Sharing Center, to be located in Singapore, with the goal of facilitating communication and information exchanges between the member countries, as well as improve the quality of statistics and reports on piracy and armed robbery
against ships in the region. The ReCAAP agreement also seeks to enhance capabilities of member countries to combat piracy and will enter into force 90 days after the 10th country signs up (LL).

25 April 2005

The few, the proud, the ... Towing Safety Advisory Committee? TSAC?

The Coast Guard is seeking applications for membership on the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC). TSAC advises the Coast Guard on matters relating to shallow-draft inland and coastal waterway navigation and towing safety.
Application forms should reach us on or before May 27, 2005
You may request an application form by writing to
Commandant (G-MSO-1)
U.S. Coast Guard
2100 Second Street, SW.
Washington, DC 20593-0001
Or you may call (202) 267-0214; or fax (202) 267-4570.
Send your original completed and signed application in written form to the above street address. This notice is available on the Internet at
http://dms.dot.gov in docket USCG-2005-21002
and the application form is also available at
http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/advisory/index.htm (click on “ACM Application'').
For further information contact: Mr. Gerald Miante; Assistant Executive Director of TSAC, telephone (202)267-0214, fax (202) 267-4570, or e-mail gmiante@comdt.uscg.mil.


The Towing Vessel Inspection Working Group of the Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC) will meet to discuss matters relating to specific issues of towing safety. The meetings will be open to the public.
The Towing Vessel Inspection Working Group will meet on Wednesday, May 4, 2005 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Thursday, May 5, 2005 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The meetings may close early if all business is finished.
Written material and requests to make oral presentations should reach the Coast Guard on or before April 27, 2005. Requests to have a copy of your material distributed to each member of the Working Group should reach the Coast
Guard on or before April 27, 2005.
The Working Group will meet at the Arlington Hilton, 950 North Stafford Street, Arlington, VA 22203. Send written material and requests to make oral presentations to Mr. Gerald Miante, Commandant (G-MSO-1), U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 2100 Second Street SW., Washington, DC 20593-0001. This notice and related documents are
available on the Internet at
http://dms.dot.gov under the docket number USCG-2005-21001.
For further information contact: Mr. Gerald Miante, Assistant Executive Director of TSAC, telephone 202-267-0214, fax 202-267-4570, or e-mail gmiante@comdt.uscg.mil.

22 April 2005

Our brethern shield in danger's hour...

MARAD - Welcome to U.S. Maritime Administration
From John Jamian, Acting Maritime Administrator:
Memorial Day National Moment of Remembrance

As Acting Maritime Administrator, I encourage you to participate in the National Moment of Remembrance, taking one minute at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, to remember the sacrifices of America’s fallen, from the Revolutionary War to the present. This honors not only members of the Armed Services, but also the U.S. Merchant Marine and other civilians whose devotion has preserved and defended our heritage of freedom. Yes, I emphasized "Merchant Marine."

To which we append, amen.

What the hell's the ITF

MarEx Newsletter: "
ITF Gains Ten Percent Pay Increase for Seamen
On January 1, 2006, 'able seamen' will receive a rate increase of $1,550 per month, which equates to a ten percent increase. The concept of this benchmark increase was opposed by many shipowners who argue that there should not be a globally applied wage because of the socio-economic conditions in their home countries, most of whom come from developing areas. "
"ITF" is International Trade Federation, a critter of the United Nations. This wage raise has the effect of forcing 'just-barely-satisfactory' shipowners into the ranks of the unsatisfactory shipowners. Further, like all minimum wage schemes, it reduces hiring -- especially from the desparately improverished areas of the world.
BUT, this action completely fulfils the bureaucratic imperative: it's much more important to be seen doing something than it is to do something effective.

15 April 2005

Go ahead, make my day....

Press report describes a private security firm providing armed escorts through the Straits of Malacca, 08 Apr. The Singapore based Background Asia Risk Solutions has its own armor plated vessel that accompanies boats anywhere between Sri Lanka and the South China Sea for around 50,000 US dollars a mission. The firm was established nine months ago and reports having provided 12 escort missions. The firm’s boat has yet to engage in any combat with pirates but states they have warned off several suspicious vessels by using loud hailers, flares, and spotlights.

Pound to a ruble, the retromingent pithecoids of the surrounding nations will try and put a stop to this. They won't protect the ships, but they will protect their sternframes.

Source: Informa Group, formerly LLP, Llp Limited, London

Billion bucks of floating steel

Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard, Formerly Facing Closure, Signs $1 Billion Double-Hulled Tanker Deal;
OSG, Inc. agrees to long-term charter.
Former President Bill Clinton Delivers Keynote Remarks At Shipyard
Oh, yeah. The kind of people that buy/borrow/operate tankers are likely to be really impressed by the running mate of the author of Earth in the Balance.

The team that rescued Kvaerner’s Philadelphia Shipyard (KPSI) from closure in 2001 today announced a $1 Billion, 10 double-hulled tanker deal and the formation of a new wholly-owned, U.S.-based subsidiary that will charter the environmentally-sound ships in the growing Jones Act domestic shipping market. The ships will be chartered for at least five years at a cost of more than $500 Million after delivery to Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. (NYSE:OSG) for service in the Jones Act domestic shipping market.
A ceremonial contract-signing was held in the heart of the shipyard along the Delaware River. It was attended by more than 1,000 workers, customers, suppliers, and friends of the Yard, including former President Bill Clinton, who served as the keynote speaker. He signed into law the 1993 National Shipbuilding Initiative that mightily helped a struggling American maritime industry through streamlining regulations and a $220 million new technology support package. President Clinton said he was proud to play a role in the successful, bi-partisan public-private partnership that set the stage for the shipyard revitalization.“I never lost faith in the American shipbuilding industry and neither did so many of our public servants, workers and private businesses,” said President Clinton. “I salute the men and women of Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard for showing all of us once again that it is possible to achieve great things even in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Today’s announcement is good news for the workers here, for America’s maritime industry and for the environment.” On the site of America’s first naval base, completely rebuilt by Kvaerner to world-class specifications, company officials were also joined by Gov. Ed Rendell, Mayor John F. Street, U.S. Representative Curt Weldon, and numerous other local, state, and federal government officials who came together under the red-white-and-blue banner, “Building the Future”. There were several major positive announcements for the region and America’s commercial shipbuilding industry. These included:• Kick off a new, five-year, 10-ship (plus an option for two additional vessels), $1 Billion Product Tanker Program, believed to be the largest of its kind in American commercial shipbuilding. KPSI will build efficient, cleaner-burning, environmentally sound double-hulled tankers for the domestic Jones Act market. The leading-edge ship design is being provided through an exclusive, five-year agreement with Hyundai Mipo Dockyard. The order, which includes an option for two additional tankers, calls for the fist delivery in 2006 and order completion by 2010. • Formation of ASC (American Shipping, Inc.) as part of Kvaerner ASA, which will in turn own KPSI and charter the new tankers to domestic customers, including major oil and chemical producers and suppliers. Brad Mulholland, the former President of Matson Navigation Company, Inc is serving as CEO of the new subsidiary. He said the new, MT-46 Veteran Class, 46,000 dwt tankers will be among the most efficient tankers ever built• ASC’s first new customer, pending the approval of both company boards of directors, is OSG, the second largest publicly listed tanker owner in the world (measured by number of vessels.) Its fleet totals 99 and with this charter, it would be doubling the size of its Jones Act fleet. • News that the turnaround initiated in December 2001, under Kvaerner’s new management, headed by Mr. Røkke, is succeeding. He rebuked previous management plans to close the yard and focused significant energy and resources on building a stable future supported by steadily increasing efficiency and productivity, KPSI recently declared its first annual profit for calendar year 2004 It has sold its first four ships to Matson with two ships in service and reporting excellent results. The next KPSI-built Matson container vessel is scheduled to be christened May 21.• Start of construction of a new permanent office building on the KPSI site replacing temporary trailer offices the company has occupied since acquiring the facility in 1997. This is another tangible sign that KPSI is “here and here to stay.”Mr. Røkke, the self-made industrialist who believed from the outset that the Philadelphia yard could aggressively compete in the Jones Act market, thanked President Clinton for his contributions to the American maritime industry and to the health and safety of the world. He praised the shipyard’s tireless supporters and the dedication and determination of shipyard workers and the job they are doing to make Kvaerner Philadelphia a more efficient – and profitable – business.“I am proud to be able to show how well the people at the yard have stood up to the challenge of turning this Navy yard into the most competitive yard in the Jones Act market”, he said. “Based on the foundation of bold political decisions in the 1990s, a committed work force now produces great ships, built efficiently and with love and care. I lived and worked in the United States for 15 years, and I know this is a can-do country. We have proven that we are the can-do shipyard in the United States.”Gov. Rendell, who as Mayor of Philadelphia, helped attract Kvaerner to the city and forge a landmark public-private economic development partnership said, “Thousands of jobs have been created and are continuing to be created through our joint efforts. With the help of so many elected officials, including my predecessor, Gov. Ridge, and countless others, Kvaerner Philadelphia stands as a model to the rest of America of how you can transform a former military base into a successful major employer and economic engine that benefits not just one region, but an entire nation.”The Governor noted that more than 140 KPSI workers were rehired and retrained after they lost their jobs in the Naval Shipyard closing.“The proposed bareboat charters of ten newbuild Jones Act product tankers by subsidiaries of OSG represent a significant commitment,” said Morten Arntzen, President & CEO of OSG. “For the Jones Act fleet to grow, it will require yards like KPSI and shipping companies like OSG that are committed to quality and willing to think and act creatively and boldly. The ten ship program is OSG’s first giant step to building a world-class U.S. flag shipping business.”David Meehan, Kvaerner Philadelphia’s CEO, and a Pennsylvania native, said, “This is a proud moment for us as a company that is building the highest quality ships our nation’s maritime economy depends on”. He said while performance and productivity are continually improving, the KPSI team recognizes they are in a fiercely competitive market place. “In this business you are only as good as the next ship you build so we strive for continuous improvement in every area, from productivity to profitability.” Meehan also noted that the new fleet of tankers meets the international standards for double-hulled tankers which must be in service by 2015, replacing an aging fleet of single-hulled tankers. He said the disastrous crude oil spill from a single-hull tanker in the Delaware River last year is a stark reminder to his team of the vital need for their new ships.He also praised the contributions of Manny Stamatakis, the former Chair of the Delaware River Port Corporation (DRPA), and now Chair of the Philadelphia Shipyard Development Corporation (PSDC) and others who have worked to preserve and promote the highest standards of shipbuilding at the Kvaerner yard. About Kjell Inge RøkkeMr. Rokke, the Main Shareholder of Kvaerner ASA, is an entrepreneur, an industrialist, and an internationalist. His career in business began in 1982 in Seattle, Washington, with the purchase of a fishing trawler and that led to his building a network of leading worldwide fisheries. A builder of businesses in diverse sectors, ranging from shipbuilding to materials handling, he has invested significantly in the United States and Norway. His business interests include the Aker Group, Norway’s largest employer in the private sector and Kvaerner, the parent company of both KPSI and newly-formed ASC. The Aker Group is a global technology and service provider to the oil, gas energy and process industries, the fifth largest shipbuilding group in the world, and one of Europe’s leading providers of fresh fish to consumer markets.

© Kværner ASA - Fjordallèen 16, P.O.Box 1423 Vika, N-0115 OSLO, Tel +47 24 13 00 00 Disclaimer

08 April 2005

Another eternal truth unveiled

Quoted in Government Computer News:
Senator Richard Shelby: "Given the amount of information agencies collect, [having] Chief Privacy Officers makes sense."
Congresscritter Tom Davis: "The Shelby legislation contradicts existing infomation policy currently executed by the CIOs."

Eternal Truth: The validity of a statement is inversely proportional to the amount of bureaucratese in the statement.

03 April 2005

Pirates sail Indonesian seas after tsunami

The pirates, believed by analysts to be part of a northern Indonesian crime syndicate, emerged just after operations wound down by more than a dozen foreign navies deployed to Indonesia's northern Aceh province at the peak of the tsunami relief effort.
The good old days when pirates were hung by the first law enforcement agency to lay their hands on them are, alas, gone.
A string of bold attacks by armed bandits in the Malacca Strait is stoking fears of a new wave of sea piracy in one of the world's busiest waterways, fueled by desperation in tsunami-ravaged northern Indonesia.

The three attacks in two weeks bore the trademark style of pirates who have stalked the strait for decades: grappling hooks were hurled as the bandits clambered aboard, abducting crew at gun point and then vanishing in speedboats, demanding ransom.

"It's going to get worse because the money from piracy is so good," said the managing director of a Singapore shipping company whose ships have been ransacked by bandits in the past and who has negotiated with pirates for the release of abducted crew.

"All they have to do is pirate three or four vessels a month. Each averages about $100,000 for them, so they can bring about $4 million a year. That's a lot of money and they can well afford to pay people off," said the shipper, who declined to be identified.

The latest hits were bolder than most of the attacks of 2004 and shattered two months' of peace in the strait, through which pass about a quarter of global trade and nearly all oil imports for Japan and China, since the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami.

"Clearly the tsunami effect was to stop activity but now it's resuming and it's mainly criminal elements based on the east coast of Indonesia," said Clive Williams of the Strategic and Defense Studies Center at the Australian National University.

Three attacks in two weeks
The International Maritime Bureau's Southeast Asian piracy reporting center in Malaysia got first word of the attacks on Feb. 28 when bandits wielding machine guns ransacked a tugboat in Malaysian waters and shot its chief engineer in the leg before abducting its captain and chief officer for ransom.

Twelve days later, gunmen armed with rocket launchers stormed a fully laden chemical tanker, briefly taking control of the ship before making off with the captain and chief engineer. They were held until a ransom was paid, a regional maritime official said. Within 48 hours, 10 bandits speaking in an Indonesian dialect fired at a Japanese tugboat before boarding the ship in northern Malaysia and abducting two Japanese crew and a Filipino. They were later freed after an apparent ransom was paid.
© EITB24 - 2005

David Shirlaw
Editor SeaWaves Magazine
(TEL) 604-924-5401 (FAX) 604-924-5403

29 March 2005


The Coast Guard is proposing to make permanent the 1994 suspension of their crash stop requirements in tanker escort rules. Comments and related material must reach the Docket Management Facility on or before June 27, 2005. You may submit comments identified by Coast Guard docket number USCG-2003-14734 to the Docket Management Facility at the U.S. Department of Transportation. To avoid duplication, please use only one of the following methods:
(1) Website: http://dms.dot.gov.
(2) Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
(3) Fax: (202) 493-2251.
(4) Delivery: Room PL-401 on the Plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is (202) 366-9329.
(5) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
If you have questions on this proposed rule, call Lieutenant Sam Stevens, G-MSE-1, telephone (202) 267-0173, e-mail: SStevens@comdt.uscg.mil. If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Ms. Andrea M. Jenkins, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone (202) 366-0271.
Public Participation and Request for Comments We encourage you to participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments and related materials. All comments received will be posted, without change, to http://dms.dot.gov and will include any personal information you have provided. We have an agreement with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to use the Docket Management Facility. Please see DOT's ``Privacy Act'' paragraph below.
Submitting comments: If you submit a comment, please include your name and address, identify the docket number for this rulemaking (USCG-2003-14734), indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and give the reason for each comment. You may submit your comments and material by electronic means, mail, fax, or delivery to the Docket Management Facility at the address under ADDRESSES; but please submit your comments and material by only one means. If you submit them by mail or delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit them by mail and would like to know that they reached the Facility, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. We may change this proposed rule in view of them.
Viewing comments and documents: To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://dms.dot.gov at any time and conduct a simple search using the docket number. You may also visit the Docket Management Facility in room PL-401 on the Plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street SW., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
This rulemaking addresses ``unfinished business'' from 1994. In 1994, we published the final rule entitled Escort Vessels for Certain Tankers under docket number CGD 91-202, which adopted 33 CFR part 168 (57 FR 30058, Aug. 19, 1994). The rule drew on a study to determine the capabilities of escort vessels to control disabled tankers. The study was published in two parts (59 FR 1411, Jan. 10, 1994; 60 FR 6345, Feb. 1, 1995). Preliminary data for the second study became available after publication of the final rule, but before the rule took effect. This preliminary data indicated that it might be dangerous to implement the final rule's crash stop provision, 33 CFR 168.50(b)(2). Therefore, on November 1, 1994 (59 FR 54519), we suspended the crash stop provision before it could take effect with the other provisions of part 168. No further action was taken with respect to the crash stop provision, and it remains suspended today.
As long as the crash stop provision's suspension remains in effect, we must continue to report the CGD 91-202 rulemaking on the Uniform Regulatory Agenda of the United States, the Federal Government's official list of ongoing regulatory projects. CGD 91-202 appears in the most recent edition of the Agenda at 69 FR 73240 (Dec. 13, 2004). Twice each year, the Coast Guard spends valuable administrative time maintaining its Uniform Regulatory Agenda reports, whether or not a reported project is active.
For the reasons given under “Removal of Crash Stop Provision,” the Coast Guard maintains the position it first adopted in 1994, that the crash stop provision should not be implemented. Therefore, it is the Coast Guard position that the crash stop provision's 1994 suspension should be made permanent, thereby allowing us to complete the CGD 91-202 rulemaking.
Since 1998, the Coast Guard has used the Department of Transportation's Docket Management System (DMS) to make its rulemaking documents widely available to the public. DMS assigns unique docket numbers to each rulemaking, and the format of those docket numbers is not compatible with the Coast Guard's pre-1998 conventions for numbering dockets. Therefore, if we are ever to complete CGD 91-202 in a way that makes our actions visible to the public through DMS, we must complete it under a new, DMS-compatible docket number. For that reason, we opened the current rulemaking under DMS docket number USCG-2003-14734. In essence, when we complete USCG-2003-14734, we will also complete CGD 91-202.

28 March 2005

Beware the bite of a chained dog!

Journal of Commerce -- March 25, 2005
Mariners victims of new rules: SCI
New anti-terror and environmental regulations are increasingly treating today's merchant seamen like pirates, said Douglas Stevenson, director of the Center for Seafarer 's Rights of New York and New Jersey, an arm of the Seamen's Church Institute.
Let us repeat the mantra of the bureaucrat:
"It is more important to be seen doing something than it is to do something effective."
Stevenson, a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander, said foreign crews are being kept in the United States, sometimes in jail, because they were on board ships (schedules) when an accident occurred that spilled oil, the Connecticut Post reported.
They're being held as material witnesses to pollution crimes," he said during a shipping conference in Stamford, Conn., and that in at least one California case, a crew was actually shackled by federal marshals and kept in jail.

Assuming God made lawyers, this is what God made lawyers for: when you're dealing with an agency that's Judge, Jury, and Executioner, you should have a mantra of your own: "Talk to my lawyer."

Of note: at a meeting sponsored, in part, by the Coast Guard, a maritime attorney said much the same thing.

Stevenson also said security companies are charging seafarers exorbitant fees in order to gain access to land facilities in ports under new security regulations.

Oh, Damn. Another E-quake off Indonesia

8.2 according to the USGS

26 March 2005


The maritime world, especially the policy world, may love the Navy or not but may not ignore.
From Power and Control:
"The Cold War model designed in response to the needs of the Cold War and the lessons learned from the Pearl Harbor attack was to have 1/3 of the ships deployed, 1/3 being refitted, and 1/3 training for deployment. This was designed to prevent a sneak attack from destroying our Navy while at the same time giving the sailors enough time at home to maintain a semblance of family life for career officers and enlisted."

From the Defense Industry Daily

25 March 2005

The Ghost Fleet

A bit of background: until the 90s, obsolete ships, including government-owned ships, were 'broken' or scrapped at foreign yards, frequently in the third world. Environmental and worker safety standards were [are] somewhat lacking. The social safety net, however, is almost nonexistant. A Bangladeshi who is not working doesn't receive unemployment protection.

The government agency responsible for scrapping these ships is the Maritime Administration. MARAD was required by law to get best value for scrapped ships; therefore, almost all of them went overseas.

That's changed now. Read it here.

22 March 2005

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, meathead

They're all a-flutter:
A Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigation found disturbing evidence that efforts to reduce crew work hours, crack down on alcohol use and improve tug escorts are being evaded or undermined.
All along the West Coast -- from Prince William Sound to Puget Sound, to San Francisco to Long Beach -- state and federal regulators are taking steps to reduce requirements for tug escorts.

Radical thought: has anyone checked out how much good tug escorts do? Maybe, just maybe, they're (another) example of the eternal truth of bureaucracy: "It's more important to be seen doing something than it is to do something effective."

Money shot (in the ninth paragraph):
While the amount of oil spilled from tankers has declined sharply in recent years...

Yeah, Yeah?

environmentalists point out that just one catastrophic accident would reverse those numbers.

Not just environmentalists, Chucklehead. Pay attention now, this requires advanced mathematics like addition and subtraction of which [even] journalism majors have heard:
Any major accident will put a lot of oil in the water. That's because the ships are so big. Don't want big ships? Then you do want $5.00/gallon gasoline.

Incidentally, the linked article includes a graph of oil spills. Conspicuously missing is a trend line -- which would show the amount of oil decreasing.

It would be very easy to say this is an example of anti-free-enterprise conspiracies in the press corps, and I'd love to say so. Unfortunately, I'm afraid, the answer's more mundane. Journalists, having the mathematical skills of the typical third grader -- I intend no offense to third graders -- I suspect they person/persons involved don't know what a trend line is, much less its importance.

There's a reason why a journaism degree is a BJ!

Merchant Mariners on the Haggis

You unfortunate creatures who've not met him before should know that Mr. Colin Glencannon is Chief Engineer of Ye Goode Shippe Inchcliffe Castle, Mr. MacQuayle is the Second Resistant Engineer and Mr. Mongomery -- obviously of English Descent -- is the Chief Mate. Their doing were chronicled by one Mr Guy Gilpatrick in the old, 'scuse me, auld Saturday Evening Post.

The Making of the Haggis - Edward Quaintance "The Hunting of the Haggis" Glencannon Afloat, in the Second Glencannon Omnibus by Guy Gilpatrick, Dodd, Meade & Company, New York, 1944, pp 215 - 221

Glencannon: "...the haggis is the fruit o' a romonce o' lang, lang ago, involving the humble pudding and the lordly sossage. It is the culinary triumph o' Scotland, which is to say, o' the entire world! ...oatmeal, onions, and pepper, is that orl there is to it? ...weel, proctically, though in enumerating the ingredients, ye left oot the five-gallon bucket. But once ye've got those four succulent essentials ready at hond, yere haggis is as good as made. All that remains to do, then, is slaughter an ox, ...

MacQuayle: "Not an ox--a sheep! Ye commence by chopping his head off. My Auntie Meg in Killiecrankie always did the job with an auld claymore ... till the rheumatism cromped her style. After that, she'd sneak up on him through the heather and bosh him ower the head with a rock. While the sheep would be laying there groggy, she'd sit hersel' astroddle o' him with a cross-cut saw and ...

Glencannon: "Pairdon, me, ox! Ye hong up yere ox and ye let his bluid drain into the five-gallon bucket. His stoomach, his liver, his heart and all his heavier machinery ye put carefully to one side where the collies canna snotch them. ... Ye take all the parts ye dinna plon to use for glue except the stoomach. Ye hash them up. Ye mix them with yere oatmeal, yere onions and yere pepper. Then ye throw the whole business into the five-gallon bucket, soshing it aroond with a broom hondle or a guid, stoot walking stick until it gives off a scupping sound, lik' when ye wade through the ooze in the botton o' a dry dock. At this point, if ye care to, ye can add a sprig o' pursely and a few leaves o' rosemary, gently crushed betwixt the finger and the thumb, although discriminating haggis eaters o' the auld school maintain that this detrocts from the soobtile and deelicate flavor o' the whole.

Montgomery: "Ugh! Me, I'd add some disinfectant and 'eave the 'ole mess overboard! ... Yus, gorblyme, and I'd 'eave the bucket arfter it!

Glencannon: "...pairmit me to obsairve that I think ye're vurra uncouth. ... (then) ye cook it to a turn, for that, incidentally, ye must use a fire. But feerst ye pick up the ox's stoomach in yere left hond, grosping it firmly aroond the waistline, as in the auld-fashioned Viennese waltz. Then, with yere richt, ye stoof it full o' the stoof ye fish oot o' the five-gallon bucket... Do ye check wi' me, Muster MacQuayle?

MacQuayle: "Dom, no, by no means! Ye dinna stoof the stoofing into an ox's stoomach at all; ye stoof it into a sheep's liver!

Montgomery: "I don't think either of you two Scotch cannibals 'ave got the foggiest notion of 'ow to make yer 'orrid 'aggis..."

21 March 2005

On the Water: Smithsonian exhibit in 2008

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., which is visited by millions of Americans each year, and in a recent Harris Brand-Quality survey was ranked No. 1 in reach and quality in the world, is planning a new public exhibition, On the Water: Stories from Maritime America. Opening is anticipated in 2008.
This major exhibition, together with a website and a teachers’ package that will be distributed nationally, will highlight the all-important maritime influence in American history and then bring that great story right up to the 21st century. Our country began as a maritime nation, and – today – our economy depends on our maritime connections.
Few modern Americans appreciate any of this vital history or realize our critical dependence on maritime commerce. For those who appreciate the history of the sea and want that story told publicly and in a highly visible way, On the Water presents an unparalleled opportunity. Ever since the 1980s, all exhibitions and programs at the
Smithsonian have depended on private support, and On the Water is no different. Only the maritime industry can make this project happen.
On the Water will be on view for a minimum of 20 years, in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, on the National Mall between the Capitol and the White House.
The museum receives 5 million visitors a year, and 7 to 10 million across America access the museum’s exhibitions each year in classrooms and at home computers.
On the Water will cover 8,000 square feet and is organized chronologically into seven sections, from the 17th Century to the beginning of the 21st: “The Atlantic World,” “Maritime Nation,” “Harvesting the Sea,” “Inland Waterways,” “Crossing Oceans,” “Answering the Call,” and “Modern Maritime America.” Project director Paula
Johnson says that more than 200 artifacts, 300 graphics, and many interactive video components are included. In addition, “virtual field trips” – electronically connecting classrooms with real-life maritime experiences – are also planned.
Brand quality is always of interest, and the Smithsonian’s is next to none: Reflecting the Smithsonian’s reach and value to Americans, a 2003 Harris Brand Quality survey of 1,152 world-class brands found that the Smithsonian ranked No. 1 overall in public perception.
For more information about On the Water, contact either Paula Johnson, Project Director, at 202.633.3908 and or Bill Withuhn, at 202.633.1919 and

18 March 2005


The headline should read: Senators with political incentives urge ACCELERATION OF COAST GUARD DEEPWATER MODERNIZATION PROGRAM
Citing concerns about the safety and efficiency of Coast Guard ships and aircraft, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee chairman Susan Collins (R-Me.) and ranking member Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) are renewing their call for an acceleration of the 22-year timetable for the Coast Guard’s modernization program, known as the Integrated Deepwater System.
Question for the class: what are the benefits -- economic and political -- which members of the Committee will reap from Deepwater.
Not, of course, that they're not honorable concerns

17 March 2005

Shipbuilders demonstrate [again] that they don't like competition.

The Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus, co-chaired by U.S. Congressman Gene Taylor of Mississippi and Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis of Virginia, sent a letter to the President of the United States expressing the Caucus' concern over a Navy proposal to reopen the construction bidding for next generation destroyer DD(X) to a winner-take-all competition.
The overall cost to the taxpayer will be substantially lower if a shipyard can use the larger economies of scale from a winner-take-all completition.
In the letter, the Caucus spells out the long-term negative effects that the Navy's revised construction strategy could have on shipyards and Navy force structure. The Caucus also urges the President to execute the DD(X) program as outlined in his FY2006 budget request, with Northrop Grumman and Bath Iron Works splitting work in design and ship construction.
This is called a government enforced duopoly. The White House is rocking the boat.
Chief among the Caucus members' misgivings is the threat to the U.S. industrial shipbuilding capacity, which has already suffered major reductions in employment from the anemic shipbuilding budgets of recent years. Citing the potential negative impact on U.S. national security, the Caucus warns the President that the Navy proposal will lead to a single shipyard building our nation's surface combatants, which will forever limit the ability of the U.S to construct destroyers and cruisers at any significant rate. The letter also outlines the unintended consequences of pursuing the re-bidding strategy, mentioning delays in the program and increased costs.
The major shipyards have a good life by dividing the pork-pie among them. Forcing them to get into a free-for-all, dog-eat-dog competitive world would be a lot less fun.
Under the President's FY2006 budget request, Northrop Grumman was scheduled to build the first three DD(X) destroyers at its shipyard in Pascagoula, with Maine's Bath Iron Works shipyard building two additional ships. However, changes to the shipbuilding budget have triggered the Navy to explore a revised bidding process that will create a winner-take-all competition between Northrop Grumman and Bath Iron Works.
There follows a couple of paragraphs and a list of the caucus patting itself on the back.

16 March 2005

A real seaman crosses the bar

Halifax Daily News 2005 --March 13, 2005
Icebreaker's captain always kept his cool
Capt. Paul Moise Fournier O.C. Born Saint Moise, Que. May 11, 1913 Died Musquodoboit Harbour, Feb. 6, 2005 "And there are those with long memories, like me, who won't forget 1967, our centennial year, when the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker, the John A. Macdonald - so fittingly named - sailed a westward Arctic passage to assist an American vessel stranded in the ice. In continuing to sail westward, she became the first Coast Guard ship to circumnavigate North America. "Or in a less-than disguised challenge to our sovereignty in the Arctic. When the American supertanker, Manhattan, was escorted in 1969 though the Northwest Passage by the same John A. Macdonald to provide a Canadian presence throughout that voyage. Our point was made." - Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, July 2, 2002, St. John's, Nfld., 40th anniversary of the Coast Guard.
Capt. Paul Fournier and the icebreaker John A. Macdonald have become legendary in the annals of Canadian Arctic navigation. Supplying native communities in the icebound bays and inlets of the high Arctic in the summer and escorting through ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the winter months, Capt. Fournier earned a reputation as a cool "icebreaking skipper." In 1969, he was awarded the Order of Canada and earned the gratitude of the U.S. Coast Guard for his masterful 1967 rescue of the American coast guard cutter Northwind when she lost a propeller blade while working in heavy ice about 800 kilometers north of Point Barrow, a headland of the western Arctic on the shores of the Beaufort Sea. The Northwind was in grave danger of becoming fast in the ice for the winter. The John A. Macdonald faced insurmountable ice until a shift in the wind opened a crack in the ice allowing rescuers to reach the stricken Northwind. The Canadian icebreaker was met by jubilant crowds in British Columbia ports and grateful families of the Northwind crew in Seattle as she made her way down the Pacific coast toward the Panama Canal and then to her home port of Halifax. "The operation required the utmost in ice seamanship, skilful manoeuvring of the vessel and outstanding teamwork from the entire crew of the Macdonald," read the U.S. Coast Guard citation. Capt. Fournier said that his ship was merely returning favours done many times by the U.S. coast guard, and "we're paid to do this job. We try to do our best."
A Montreal Gazette editorial said: "The Arctic has truly been conquered when a ship's master can say the Northwest Passage is all in a summer's work. "The ghosts of a thousand mariners who tried to find the passage without success must have watched the John A. Macdonald smash her way through." But a more momentous task lay ahead. In 1969, with Capt. Fournier again in command, the John A. Macdonald escorted the U.S. tanker Manhattan through the Northwest passage to test the feasibility of transporting oil by ships through the Northwest Passage. Oil had been discovered in Prudhoe bay on the North Slope of Alaska the previous year.
As a young reporter with The Canadian Press, I was on a sovereignty surveillance flight with the Canadian Forces over the Canadian Arctic that August when we flew low over Pond Inlet and spotted the John A. Macdonald cutting a path through the ice for the Manhattan. Crew aboard the Argus were jubilant at the fact that it was Canada's "queen of the ice" as the John A. Macdonald was known, making the historic journey. We flew over the ships several times, taking pictures. At one point during the voyage, when the Manhattan became stuck in the ice, the Macdonald was called to assist. William Smith of The New York Times, who accompanied the Manhattan and later wrote a book about the voyage, said Canadian reporters aboard the Macdonald were elated that the mighty U.S. tanker was calling for help. "The stocky Canadian ship charged through the ice like a horse bucking through deep snow," wrote Smith. "She cut a path across the Manhattan's stern and up the port side. Then she backed off and did the same on the starboard side. The prescription was perfect. The tanker was able to back up far enough to gather momentum. The ice broke in front of her, and the expedition was on the way again."
The Johnny Mac, as the Canadian icebreaker came to be known by the Americans, was called to free the Manhattan on more than a dozen occasions during the three- month journey. Shipmates remember Capt. Fournier as a master in manoeuvring through ice who always had his little black dog, Midnight, with him on the bridge after his wife died. "He was a good icebreaking skipper," remembers Capt. Earl Jennex of Dartmouth, chief officer on the John A. Macdonald for two years. "Very cool. It was like a cup of tea for him."
Capt. Fournier was popular in the Inuit communities which he supplied and he often took tuberculosis victims to hospital in Montreal. Capt. Jennex remembers when they rescued several Canadian scientists off the ice in a howling snowstorm when the men called for help while drifting toward the open ocean and certain death. He retired in 1976, but continued to work as a consultant for oil companies working in the North Sea.

His ashes will be buried in his beloved Port Daniel, Que., in May. The only memorial in his home port is the damaged starboard propeller of the John A. Macdonald, which is on display on the Dartmouth waterfront. The caption reads that on her return from escorting the Manhattan, it was discovered in dry-dock that the ice had broken off two propeller blades.

15 March 2005

A long-time denizen of Capitol Hill spills the beans... and the pork.
The Navy League of the US book review:
"If the old maxim “politics makes strange bedfellows” is true, then Winslow T. Wheeler is certainly divorced. His new tell-all exposé, The Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security, describes a Congressional bureaucracy so infused with political pork that it essentially washes away money publicly foresworn (ed note: sic) to national defense."
Further evidence, not that it's needed, that 'tis more important to be seen doing something than 'tis to concern yourself about the effectiveness of what you're doing.
Gods of the Copybook Heading, are you listening?
Read it all

14 March 2005

Pork in the name of security?
A warning from the inimitable Dr. James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation:
"It was right there in the recommendations of the 9/11 commission: Don’t let homeland security become the newest outlet for pork-barrel spending."
Read it all here.

11 March 2005

FEC: Your regulatory proposal draws 92 inches
The Online Coaliton has written a letter to the Federal Election Commission over possible regulation of blogs and websites. Acting on the premise that there are very few ideas so good that attention from bureaucrats and lawyers can't mess 'em up, You should read the letter and add your name.http://www.onlinecoalition.com

10 March 2005

The Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) and its working groups will meet to discuss various issues relating to the training and fitness of merchant marine personnel. MERPAC advises the Secretary of Homeland Security on matters relating to the training, qualifications, licensing, and certification of seamen serving in the U.S. merchant marine. All meetings will be open to the public.
MERPAC will meet on Tuesday, April 5, 2005, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Wednesday, April 6, 2005, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. These meetings may adjourn early if all business is finished. Requests to make oral presentations should reach the Coast Guard on or before March 22, 2005. Written material and requests to have a copy of your material distributed to each member of the committee or subcommittee should reach the Coast Guard on or
before March 22, 2005.
MERPAC will meet on both days in the Classroom Building Auditorium of the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School, 27050 St. Michaels Road, Easton, MD 21601. Further directions regarding the location of the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School may be obtained by contacting 410-822-9600.
Send written material and requests to make oral presentations to Mr. Mark Gould, Commandant (G-MSO-1), U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, 2100 Second Street, SW.,
Washington, DC 20593-0001. This notice is available on the Internet at http://dms.dot.gov.
For further information contact: For questions on this notice, contact Mr. Gould, Assistant to the Executive Director, telephone 202-267-6890, fax 202-267-4570, or e-mail mgould@comdt.uscg.mil.
Notice of these meetings is given under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App. 2 (Pub. L. 92-463, 86 Stat. 770, as amended).
Agenda of Meeting on April 5, 2005
The full committee will meet to discuss the objectives for the meeting. The working groups addressing the following task statements may meet to deliberate:
  • Task Statement 30, concerning utilizing military sea service for STCW (that's Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping. Comes from the International Maritime Organization; Caesarian honorable men, one and all) certifications;
  • Task Statement 47, concerning recommendations on knowledge and practical qualifications for
    engineers at the operational and management levels to serve on steam propelled vessels;
  • Task Statement 48, concerning recommendations to develop training and service requirements for personnel with limited engineer licenses to obtain STCW OICEW (that's Officer in Charge of an Engineer Watch, for those of you who don't speak STCW-ese) and unlimited third assistant engineer licenses; and
  • Task Statement 49, concerning recommendations for use of a model sea course project in conjunction with an approved program for officer in charge of an engineering
    watch coming up through the hawse pipe.
  • In addition, new working groups may be formed to address issues proposed by the Coast Guard, MERPAC members, or the public. All task statements may be viewed at the MERPAC Web site
    at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/advisory/merpac/merpac.htm. At the end of the day, the working groups will make a report to the full committee on what has been accomplished in their meetings. No action will be taken on these reports on this date.
    Agenda of Meeting on April 6, 2005
    The agenda comprises the following:
    (1) Introduction.
    (2) Working Groups' Reports:
    (a) Task Statement 30, concerning utilizing military sea service for STCW certifications;
    (b) Task Statement 47, concerning recommendations on knowledge and practical qualifications for engineers at the operational and management levels to serve on steam propelled vessels;
    (c) Task Statement 48, concerning recommendations to develop training and service requirements for personnel with limited engineer licenses to obtain STCW OICEW and unlimited third assistant engineer licenses;
    (d) Task Statement 49, concerning recommendations for use of a model sea course project in conjunction with an approved program for officer in charge of an engineering watch coming up through the hawse pipe, and
  • (e) Other task statements which may have been adopted for discussion and action.
    (3) Other items to be discussed:
    (a) Standing Committee--Prevention Through People.
    (b) Briefings concerning on-going projects of interest to MERPAC.
    (c) Other items brought up for discussion by the committee or the public.
INTERTANKO has allied itself with American Waterways Operators, Chamber of Shipping of America and BIMCO to petition to join the U.S. Government Complaint against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The industry alliance sees the State Oil Spill Act as a threat to safety and to environmental protection.
Which is a polite way of saying that the People's Republic of Taxachusetts has demonstrated the old political maxim, "It's way more important to be seen doing something than it is to worry doing something effective." State regulation of interstate commerce is unconstitutional, and there are enough shysters in the state gov't and legislature that they should know that.
The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO); the American Waterways Operators (AWO) - the national trade association for the American tugboat, towboat and barge industry; the Chamber of Shipping of America; and the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) formally petitioned this week to join a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Government against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts concerning an unconstitutional
oil spill law enacted there.
Not that these yahoos have clean hands. There have been times -- once or twice -- when the abovementioned retromingent pithecoids have used -- or attempted to use -- government regulation to squash their competition.
The lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (Civil Action No. 05-10112 JLT) on January 18, 2005, charges that the Oil Spill Act impermissibly treads on federal jurisdiction, specifically, the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard, in making rules governing maritime operations in U.S. waters. It also asserts that comprehensive federal regulation already exists in the areas covered by the state Act, and that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution provides that federal laws and regulations override any attempt by a state government to legislate or regulate in the same areas. This same provision was upheld when INTERTANKO won its long-running legal battle against the State of Washington by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89 (2000).
Beware, my friends. There are few ideas so good they can't be screwed up through the attention of shysters and politicians
The Act was signed into law in Massachusetts on August 4, 2004 in response to a 2003 tank barge accident that resulted in an oil spill in Buzzards Bay. It regulates oil-carrying vessels travelling in interstate and/or international commerce while such vessels are within the waters of Massachusetts. The industry asserts that such interstate commerce requires a single, clear set of federal regulatory standards that are uniform from state to state and locality to locality, in
order to avoid confusion that could lead to accidents.
We'll let them pat themselves on the back...
INTERTANKO’s members represent, on a tonnage basis, approximately 70% of the world’s independently owned (i.e., not government-owned or oil company-owned) self-propelled tank vessel fleet’. Many INTERTANKO members own or operate tank vessels that currently call at ports in Massachusetts while engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.
In submitting this motion to intervene, INTERTANKO stated that its members who call at Massachusetts ports, or are considering doing so, have been adversely affected by the Act. “Our members are subject to being required to equip, man, operate, deploy, and manage their vessels in accordance with the Act when in Massachusetts waters, in a manner different from federal requirements and requirements in other states and countries. The departure of Massachusetts from an extensive federal regulatory scheme poses a burden on and expense to our members.”
The Association continues to point out that “the lack of uniformity impairs federal control of tank vessel safety standards and presents a threat to international maritime safety, as well as to the lives and property of INTERTANKO’s members, their employees, and to the marine environment.” It adds that its members not calling at Massachusetts ports are adversely affected by the Act “to the extent that the Act’s deviations from federal and international requirements constitute impermissible barriers to their use of Massachusetts ports even when their vessels already comply with federal laws and international treaties.”

08 March 2005

Tired of a few of my fellow maritime academy grads skating their obligation? Here's your chance to sound off:
In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), this notice announces that the Information Collection abstracted below has been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval. The nature of the information collection is described as well as its expected burden. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) published a 60-day notice and request for comments on this information collection in the
Federal Register (69 FR 69668) on November 30, 2004, indicating comments should be submitted by January 31, 2005.
IOW: We published a note on this subject. Commenting period closed 31 Jan.
One comment was received. The commenter asserted that no waivers should be given, except in the case of medically verified disability, and there is an obligation these students assume and they should pay it. In addition, the commenter indicated that taxpayers are burdened by the costs of this education and they deserve recompense. Also, the commenter asked how many students sought waivers last year and on what grounds.
Out of 300 million Americans, we received one comment.
46 CFR part 310 authorizes the Maritime Administrator to grant waivers in cases where there would be undue hardship or impossibility of performance of the provisions of the agreement, due to accident, illness or other justifiable reason. The regulation also allows for deferments in exceptional cases for entry into a maritime-related graduate course of study, or the graduate
may seek approval to accept maritime-related shoreside employment after first seeking afloat employment. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) is cognizant of the obligation of graduates as we review waiver and deferral requests. In 2004, MARAD granted 18 employment determination requests for shoreside employment. These employment determinations were granted for maritime-related shoreside employment on the recommendation from the
U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, only after the graduates diligently sought afloat employment and were unable to obtain it.
Comments must be submitted on or before April 6, 2005.
For further information, contact Rita Jackson, Maritime Administration, 400 7th Street SW., Washington, DC
20590. Telephone: (202) 366-0284; fax: (202) 366-7403; or e-mail: rita.jackson@marad.dot.gov.
Copies of this
collection also can be obtained from that office.
Title: Request for Waiver of Service Obligation, Request for Deferment of Service Obligation.
OMB Control Number: 2133-0510.
Type of Request: Extension of currently approved collection.
Affected Public: The respondents are students and graduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and subsidized students or graduates of the State Maritime Academies who request waivers of service obligations.
Forms: MA-935, MA-936 and MA-937.
Abstract: This information collection is essential for determining if a student or graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, or subsidized student or graduate of a State maritime academy, has a waivable situation preventing them from fulfilling the requirements of a service obligation contract.
Annual Estimated Burden Hours: 9 hours.
Send comments to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20503, Attention MARAD Desk Officer. Comments are invited on: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed
information collection; ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. A comment to OMB is best assured of having its full effect if OMB receives it within 30 days of publication.

03 March 2005

The TSA is indeed a test
Courtesy of a much better writer than I:
"The TSA is indeed a test
"Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." -- Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857. "

01 March 2005

Latest use of ADA to make Lawyers Rich(er).
The little gem of propaganda below is courtesy of your tax dollars: see the link here. Note the "dot-gov" url.
National Council on DisabilitySpector v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd. —
Background, Legal Issues, and Implications for Persons with Disabilities*
National Council on Disability1331 F Street, NW, Suite 850Washington, DC 20004202-272-2004 Voice202-272-2074 TTY202-272-2022 Fax
On February 28, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear argument in Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd., No. 03-1388, a case that will determine whether foreign-flagged cruise ships serving U.S. ports must comply with the public accommodations provisions contained in Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This paper examines the Spector case in detail and concludes that the plain and expansive language of Title III evidences a congressional intent to require cruise ships to comply with Title III (editor note: to the surprise of every four-year-old reading this. The policy analyst writing for this merry band who didn't find a requirement to comply with ADA would be flippin' hamburgers and grateful for the work) Cruise ship owners and operators claim that they and their ships are exempt from the ADA because all of their ships are, with few exceptions, foreign-flagged, and historically under international law, a seagoing vessel need only comply with the laws of the flagging nation when it comes to the regulation of a ship's internal operations. This paper explains that compliance with Title III would not impinge on the internal management prerogatives of cruise lines or conflict with the United States' obligations under international law. Moreover, the contemporary practice of flying what is known as a "flag of convenience" is simply a business decision that only marginally implicates the sovereign interests of the flagging nation. In stark contrast, however, the United States has a significant interest in ending invidious discrimination against persons with disabilities by cruise lines - particularly when cruise lines are headquartered in the United States, base their ships in U.S. ports, draw their clientele almost exclusively from the United States, and advertise and solicit most of their passengers in the United States. In passing the ADA, Congress sought to guarantee "full participation" by persons with disabilities in all aspects of American life. The Supreme Court has an opportunity in Spector to give force and effect to Congress' unequivocal intent by refusing to exempt foreign-flagged cruise ships from Title III of the ADA. To do otherwise would place the Court's imprimatur upon the discriminatory practices of inaccessible cruise lines, and write segregation on the basis of disability into American law.

23 February 2005

The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) is celebrating its 130th birthday today, February 23. It was back in 1875 when a collection of local marine engineers' association representatives, fed up with the intolerable working conditions of the day, banded together in Cleveland, Ohio. Boiler explosions aboard steamboats and pathetic working conditions coupled with measly paychecks spurred these trailblazers to unite for the protection of mariners. Early on, our forefathers battled for beneficial legislation to certify and license waterborne engineers. They also prevailed in securing U.S. officers - both deck and engine - aboard U.S.-flagships displacing foreign seamen. Those early struggles and many others paved the way for the worker protections and benefits.
MEBA President Ron Davis made a few remarks on the upcoming occasion. "As members of the MEBA we are honored to recognize our great Union on this momentous 130th anniversary. The longevity of the MEBA stems from the inherent strength and cohesiveness of our members that few other labor unions can claim. We stand upon the shoulders of those who came before us and are privileged to build upon the proud foundation they established. As union members, we know that we must work together from a position of strength and unity so that the members who follow us can prosper from the efforts we put forward today."

18 February 2005

The GAO has published a report called, "Process for Reporting Lessons Learned
from Seaport Exercises Needs Further Attention"
Quoth the mavens:
The framework under which federal agencies would manage a port-terrorism
incident is still evolving. The primary guidance for response, the National
Response Plan, was just issued in January 2005, and the National Incident
Management System, the structure for multiagency coordination, is still
being put in place. As a result, it is too early to determine how well the
complete framework will function in an actual incident.

16 February 2005

The Coast Guard is seeking applications for appointment to membership on the Lower Mississippi River Waterways Safety Advisory Committee (LMRWSAC). LMRWSAC provides advice and makes recommendations to the Coast Guard on matters relating to the safe navigation of vessels to and from ports on the Lower Mississippi River.
Applications must be completed and postmarked no later than April 30, 2005.
You may request an application form by writing to Commanding OfficerUSCG Marine Safety Office New OrleansAttention: Waterways1615 Poydras StreetNew Orleans, LA 70112;
All application forms must be returned to the following address: Commanding Officer Attn: LMRWSAC Executive Secretary USCG Marine Safety Office, New Orleans1615 Poydras StreetNew Orleans, LA 70112.
For further information, contact LCDR Michael McKean, Executive Secretary of LMRWSAC at (504-628-1555) or LTJG Melissa Owens, Assistant to the Executive Secretary of LMRWSAC at (504-589-4251).

15 February 2005

The Shipping Coordinating Committee, sponsored by the Department of State, will conduct two meetings in Washington, DC.
The first meeting, on February 25, is to prepare for the upcoming meeting of the IMO Subcommittee on Flag State Implementation. Topics on the agenda include maritime security, seafarer’s working hours, PSC reporting procedures, and investigation of marine casualties.
The second meeting, on March 16, is to prepare for the upcoming meeting of the IMO Subcommittee on Stability and Load Lines and on Fishing Vessels Safety. Topics on the agenda include large passenger ship safety, the Intact Stability Code, the Offshore Supply Vessel Guidelines, and harmonization of damage stability provisions.