11 May 2006

ColRegs Rule!

Yep, emphasis added.
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that agreed maneuvers between two ships do not constitute a special circumstance excusing violation of the nternational Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS), as previously determined by a lower court.
Crowley Marine Services, Inc. Owned and operated a tug boat hired to accompany an oil tanker operated by Maritrans Operating Company to an oil platform in the Puget Sound. During the crossing the two vessels collided, causing more than $2 million in damages.
In the inevitable suit that followed, each side identified numerous violations of the COLREGS as the alleged cause of the collision. The district court apportioned fault for the accident as 75% to Crowley and 25% to Maritrans.
The district court found that the two vessels were operating in concert according to agreed maneuvers, and therefore determined that several substantive provisions of the COLREGS at issue were inapplicable. Specifically, the court ruled that this situation presented “special circumstances” that provide an exception to the COLREGS. The Appeals Court held that the plain language of the COLREGS precludes such a broad exception, and remanded for the district court to reconsider the relative liability of the parties consistent with this opinion.
Text of the Appeals Court opinion may be obtained by emailing request to: cibpubs@earthlink.net.

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