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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Federal Court News

U.S. seizes 'sanction buster' North Korean Ship

The United States has for the first time seized a North Korean cargo ship it accused of illicit coal shipments in violation of U.S. and United Nations sanctions, the U.S. Justice Department announced on Thursday.The ship, known as the "Wise Honest," was first detained by Indonesia in April 2018. Under an unusual U.S. civil forfeiture action, the vessel is now in the possession of the United States and is currently approaching U.S. territorial waters heading toward American Samoa, U.S.

File Image: AdobeStock / © Renaschild

Shipping Firm Fined $4M for Pollution Violation

$1 Million Will Go to Projects that Support Cleanup of Marine Pollution, Preservation of Aquatic Life, and Restoration of Shorelines around Newark Bay.A shipping company based in Italy today admitted discharging oily waste and other pollutants into the sea and then lying about it, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark announced.The company, d’Amico Shipping Italia S.p.A., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court to an information charging it with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

© cascoly2 / Adobe Stock

US Women Dockworkers Accuse Shippers, Union of Discrimination

Four women dockworkers have filed federal discrimination claims against the shippers' association that runs 29 ports on the U.S. West Coast, saying they unfairly lost pay and seniority after becoming pregnant. Male dockworkers who temporarily left to serve in the armed forces got benefits denied to women on pregnancy leave, one of the workers, Tracy Plummer, said in an interview. Another woman with a complicated medical history said she tried to work during pregnancy for fear of losing seniority and suffered a miscarriage, according to her complaint.

© Standard Primitive / Adobe Stock

US Coal Firms Plead for West Coast Export Terminals

The ailing U.S. coal industry is ramping up its political and legal offensive to win approval for West Coast export terminals that could provide a lifeline to lucrative Asia markets. Coal producers filed two recent lawsuits against governments in Washington state and California challenging local decisions to block port projects on environmental grounds. The industry is also lobbying the Trump administration to override the local bans. The fight reflects the sector’s desperation to boost exports as U.S.

© Unkas Photo / Adobe Stock

Washington State Sued for Blocking Coal Exports to Asia

A company that planned to build a coal export terminal in the Pacific Northwest to ship western U.S. coal to Asian markets sued the state of Washington on Wednesday for blocking construction last year. Lighthouse Resources Inc filed a lawsuit in federal court against Washington Governor Jay Inslee and two state regulators for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause by denying permits to allow the company to ship coal mined in Wyoming, Montana and other western states through its proposed Millennium Bulk Terminal to clients in Japan and South Korea.

(File photo: NYK)

NYK to Pay $20 Mln for Cartel Conviction

Australia has fined and convicted Japanese shipping firm Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) for operating as a cartel in relation to the transport of vehicles into the country, its competition regulator said on Thursday. The charges relate to the transportation of motor vehicles to Australia between 2009 and 2012, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commision (ACCC) said in a statement. A new law in Australia criminalised cartel behaviour in 2009, although the activity had been going on since at least February 1997, the ACCC said. "The cartel ...

Tanker with Disputed Kurdish Oil Reappears off Malta

The Neverland tanker has reappeared off the coast of Malta after going off radar near Canada on June 30, when it was chartered by oil trader Vitol carrying Iraqi Kurdish crude oil, Reuters ship-tracking showed on Friday. The tanker had been heading to eastern Canada to discharge the cargo at the end of June when the Federal Court of Canada issued a seizure order for the cargo at the request of Iraq's oil ministry. Iraq alleges the cargo was unlawfully misappropriated by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and sold to Vitol.

Shipping Firms Pay $1.9 Mln for Pollution Cover-up

Two shipping companies based in Egypt and Singapore will pay $1.9 million in penalties after pleading guilty in federal court to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and obstruction of justice for covering up the illegal dumping of oil-contaminated bilge water and garbage into the sea. Defendants Egyptian Tanker Company and Thome Ship Management are the owner and operator of the offending vessel, the 57,920 gross ton, 809-foot long, oceangoing, oil tank ship called the M/T ETC Mena. The plea agreement was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H.

File photo: Workers clean the interior of a cargo hold aboard the LST-1166. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Pacific Strike Team)

Asbestos on Board

What happens when a solution to one or many obstacles ends up becoming an even larger problem? For seamen, one such problem is asbestos. Asbestos is a natural fiber that was mined for use in construction and household products. It became rapidly popular after others realized it has fire-resistant properties and durability. However, in the 1960s, researchers began to link exposure to this material with cancer, specifically mesothelioma, which can form in the lungs, abdomen or heart.

(Photo: SCPA)

Happy Holidays from Hanjin

Barry Parker dissects one the most disruptive events ever to impact the intermodal supply chain. There is more pain to come, lessons to be learned – and corrections applied. The Hanjin Shipping debacle, brewing over time and seeing a full blown eruption in late August, is still ongoing. The company voluntarily opted to enter ‘receivership,’ followed by a Chapter 15 bankruptcy filing in the States, shortly after the initial bombshell. The move provided a template for Hanjin vessels to dock, and cargo to be discharged.

Italian Tanker Officer Receives 8-month Prison Sentence

A senior engineering officer employed by an Italian shipping company was sentenced to eight months in prison for deliberately concealing a vessel’s discharge of oily waste into the sea, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. Girolamo Curatolo of Custonaci, Sicily, the chief engineer of an oil tanker, the M/T Cielo di Milano, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to violate the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence November 21 in Newark federal court.

Walter J. Brudzinski (Photo: Chuck Fazio)

Insights: USCG Can Suspend and Revoke Merchant Mariner Credentials

A primer for mariners: U.S. To promote safety at sea, Congress authorized the U.S. Coast Guard to suspend or revoke Merchant Mariner Credentials for acts of incompetence, misconduct, negligence, violations of law or regulation, and use of dangerous drugs. The Coast Guard initiates 400-600 suspension and revocation (S&R) cases each year. Full understanding of the suspension and revocation (S&R) process should therefore be more than a casual requirement for the working professional mariner.

Australia Bans Bulk Carrier for 12 Months

Hong Kong flagged bulk carrier Five Stars Fujian has been banned from Australian ports for 12 months once it was discovered that the vessel lacked sufficient provisions for its intended voyage and the crew had not been paid in several months. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued the ban after detaining the vessel August 12. The vessel has been at anchor off Gladstone since July when it was arrested by the Federal Court over a commercial matter. “The crew of the Five Stars Fujian have been forsaken off the Australian coast for over two months…

Senior Officers Admit to Concealing Oily Waste Discharge

Two senior engineering officers employed by an Italian shipping company admitted they deliberately concealed their vessel’s discharge of oily waste into the sea, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. Girolamo Curatolo, 50, of Custonaci, Sicily, the chief engineer of an oil tanker, the M/T Cielo di Milano, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to violate the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

Pictured is the 735-foot bulk carrier Gallia Graeca while anchored near Lighthouse Park in Vancouver, Canada, Jan. 13, 2016. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

Greek Ship Owner, Operator Prosecuted in Pollution Case

The companies that own and operate a Greek shipping vessel and two engineers from the ship were convicted today in U.S. District Court in Seattle of 12 felony counts related to their dumping of oily waste at sea, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. The ship operator, Angelakos Hellas S.A., the ship owner, Gallia Graeca Shipping LTD, the chief engineer, Konstantinos Chrysovergis and the second engineer, Tryfon Angelou were found guilty of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships…

Cruise Ship Industry Sues Alaska Capital over Artificial Island

City leaders in Juneau, Alaska, have misspent millions in fees from cruise ship passengers to build an artificial island with a life-sized statue of a humpback whale, a passenger vessel association said in a lawsuit. The Cruise Lines International Association on Tuesday sued Alaska's capital city in federal court over the fees. "The entry fees are only allowed for very narrow uses and they really have to be tied to the ship that the passenger arrives on, not a whale statue a mile away from the dock," John Binkley, president of the Alaska chapter of the association, said in a phone interview.

Stavanger Blossom. Photo: DSD Shipping

DSD Shipping Fined $2.5m Over Oil Dumping

Norwegian shipping company DSD Shipping has been fined $2.5m in a US federal court for oil dumping from an aframax. DSD has been sentenced of its convictions in Mobile, Alabama, for obstructing justice, violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), tampering with witnesses and conspiring to commit these offenses. Three crew from the 104,000-dwt Stavanger Blossom (built 2007) were also convicted and sentenced to up to six months in jail. $500,000 of the $2.5 million…

(Photo: NTSB)

El Faro Captain's Pleas for Help Played at Hearing

The captain of the doomed El Faro warned that the "clock was ticking" as his cargo ship took on water in an Atlantic hurricane that would eventually sink the vessel, a U.S. Coast Guard panel heard on Saturday. Captain Michael Davidson pleaded for help as his ship, operated by Tote Services, sailed into the path of Hurricane Joaquin near the Bahamas, according to a recording of his final calls played at the hearing. He told an on-shore call center of a "maritime emergency," saying water breached the hull, entering three holds.

El Faro (File photo: TOTE)

Widow of El Faro Crewman Seeks Stronger Oversight of Ships

The widow of one of the 33 crew members killed when the El Faro sank in a hurricane last fall called on Friday for stricter oversight of decisions by shipping companies and their captains to sail in adverse weather. Rochelle Hamm's husband, 49-year-old Frank Hamm of Baltimore, died on Oct. 1 when the El Faro went down off the Bahamas in the worst cargo shipping disaster involving a U.S.-flagged vessel in more than three decades. The U.S. Coast Guard began hearings this week to investigate the sinking.

Turkish Ship Management Company, 2 Employees Plead Guilty

Ciner Gemi Acente Isletni Sanayi Ve Ticaret S.A., a ship management company in Turkey, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Ron J. Rosenstein for the District of Maryland. Ciner operated the M/V Artvin, a 44,635 ton bulk carrier ship that transported cargo to and from ports around the world, including the Port of Baltimore.

El Faro (File photo: TOTE)

US Navy Salvage Team Seeks to Confirm El Faro Wreckage

A U.S. Navy salvage team prepared on Sunday to launch a remotely operated submersible to confirm that wreckage discovered near the Bahamas was that of the cargo ship El Faro, lost in a hurricane last month along with its 33 crew members. The team's mission is to document the shipwreck and any debris field, and to retrieve the sunken vessel's voyage data recorder - similar to an airplane's black box - as part of an investigation into its loss, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

courtesy Hutchison Port Holdings Limited

HPA Clarifies Stand on Industrial Dispute, Communications to Staff

Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) says it remains committed to negotiating a resolution to the current industrial dispute with workers in Brisbane and Sydney. HPA also wishes to clarify some of the reporting to date, including the financial challenges being faced by HPA and the process around the text message and emailing communications to staff on August 6. The company issued redundancies to 87 staff only after careful consideration of the current business conditions and following extensive consultation.

Image: Hutchison Ports Australia

Port Botany Workers Sacked via Text Message

Infuriated workers have formed picket line at Hutchison Ports in Botany, NSW after 97 employees from Sydney and Brisbane were sacked by email. Hutchison Ports Australia operates as Brisbane Container Terminals in Queensland. Brisbane port workers woke Friday morning to discover they had been sacked overnight, with Hutchison Ports Australia alerting them to the news via text message. The sent out a message to more than 40 workers just before midnight, stating the worker had been sacked and there would be "no redeployment opportunities".

Brazil Convicts First Engineering Exec in Petrobras Scandal

Three executives of Brazil's Camargo Correa group were convicted on money laundering, corruption and other charges on Monday, the first construction-industry executives to be sentenced in a giant price fixing and bribery scandal involving state-run oil company Petrobras. The convictions were handed down by Judge Sergio Moro of Brazil's Federal Court in Curitiba, Brazil, the court said in its ruling. The convicted included Dalton dos Santos Avancini, chief executive officer of Camargo Correa Construções e Participações SA…

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U.S. Court Finds WesternGeco Patents Valid

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed the 2014 judgment that ION Geophysical Corp. infringed four seminal WesternGeco LLP patents covering streamer steering technology for marine seismic surveys, and that WesternGeco is the rightful owner of the pioneering technology. In 2009, WesternGeco filed suit for patent infringement against ION's DigiFIN streamer steering system in U.S. federal court in Houston, Texas. ION was found to infringe one patent on summary judgment…

Senator James E. Risch

ICTSI Efforts to Labor Slowdowns

The Preventing Labor Union Slowdowns Act of 2015 (PLUS Act) was introduced last Thursday in the United States Senate to help prevent the type of maritime labor slowdowns at the Port of Portland and 28 other West Coast ports that disrupted domestic and international trade and nearly brought the U.S. economy to a standstill earlier this year. The PLUS Act, which was introduced by Idaho Senator James Risch, was the result of efforts by ICTSI Oregon, Inc., the terminal operating company for the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6…