Friday, May 28, 2010

TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS

SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2010.

FURTHER UPDATE: published May 30, 2010.

From the Sea Shepherds there is a reply to the announcement that the Government of Australia is finally taking an action against Japan over whaling.

"We need a definitive international judicial answer to this continuing controversy in the Southern Ocean. We trust that the international court will side with Australia to deliver a stern verdict ordering Japan to cease and desist with their unlawful slaughter of endangered and protected whales inside an internationally established whale sanctuary. We trust the court to understand just what the word 'sanctuary' means."

Considering the style of 'Wats-his-names' latest statements he has clearly tempered his tone. No doubt he is getting sound legal advice now that an internationally recognized warrant has been issued against him personally. Just about any bounty hunter could pick him up and present him to any Japanese Embassy or Consulate. One would point out to him that there is absolutely no guarantee that the International Court in The Hague/Den Haag, Netherlands will 'side' with Australia. Courts after all should 'rule' not 'side'. The Government of Australia already had a clear national duty under international maritime law to enforce the Australian Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. Regretfully it choose not to do so and any further legal rulings will merely maintain the 'Status Quo'. As 'Wats-his-name' knows all too well private groups taking the law into their own hands, such as he has done, resolves nothing and of course is illegal regardless of 'spin' which the Sea Shepherds always use.

NAUTICAL LOG would hope that the International Court would point out to the Sea Shepherds that their behaviour in the Southern Ocean is piracy and forbidden. One would further hope that the same International Court would point out to the Government of Australia it is their clear duty to enforce international law in their own territory. This filing of an action against Japan is merely grandstanding and trying to create an excuse under international law instead of exercising a national will.

Since the Sea Shepherd Pirate Group are already planning to return to the Southern Ocean in December 2010 for 'Operation No Compromise' it is clear that any ruling by the International Court in The Hague/Den Haag, Netherlands the nation who has registered their pirate fleet, means absolutely nothing to them and they have already chosen to ignore any 'definitive international judicial answer' regardless. Clearly unless they are physically stopped and treated like the Somalian pirates their nautical thuggery will continue next season.


UPDATE: published May 28, 2010.

According to a reader in Australia the Government of Australia announced Friday that it will take Japan to the International Court of Justice (The Hague, Netherlands) to argue that its annual Antarctic whale kill violates international obligations, in a major escalation of its campaign against the hunt. (Since Australia never actually did anything one wonders WHAT campaign?).

The decision to take legal action against Australia's important trading partner underlines the governments "committment to bring to an end Japan's program of so-called scientific whaling" in the southern seas, Australian officals said.


Opening up our Press Release folder, which never includes USCG PR's, two items caught our eye and surprise surprise both from the Sea Shepherd gang.

First is a report of an interview earlier this week with Scott West of Sea Shepherds. Mr. West is a retired investigator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and apparently knows British Petroleum (BP) quite well. Clearly he is quite concerned about them, as is NAUTICAL LOG.

BP in its adventures when drilling and pumping oil have managed to cause a leak in the Alaska North Slope costing them US$20 million. They also blew up a refinery section in Texas killing 15 workers, this cost them US$50 million. Now we have the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon rupture causing 11 deaths costing in expenditure to date US$800 million.

Now in Congressional Hearings a BP Executive in reply to a question about 'limitation of liability' under Maritime Law stated that 'the company will do the right thing'. NAUTICAL LOG does not doubt for a moment that BP will perform admirably - but for the general public, the US Government, and the several States involved or its shareholders. Under Maritime Law which applies fully to oil rigs BP can limit its liability to US $75 million, pay up, then walk away free and clear as it has done in the past incidents. BP have asked for a specific Judge to hear the cases it will be involved in, by any standard this is incredible.

NAUTICAL LOG has a particular understanding of limitation of liability due to a case of a collision in the 1950's between two British ships MV The Lady Gwendolen and MV Freshfield which set precedent in Admiralty cases to proceedings of limitation of liability.

The second part of the Press Release is a report of Mr. Bethune former operator of the Ady Gil. His trial in Japan began on May 27, 2010 following his arrest in March 2010 for acts of piracy. According to the Press Release he has a Japanese defense team. Two lawyers from Harris & Moure of Seattle will also attend, Dan Harris Esq. and Steve Dickinson Esq. Mr. Dickinson is fluent in Japanese and has practiced law in Japan with a Tokyo law firm. So Mr. Bethune seems quite well represented and his reported plea of 'guilty' is apparently not accurate.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NLIN #18 "M" NOTICES

The following "M" Notices are now available from www.mcga.gov.uk/. If need be the M-Notice Administrator can be contacted at 023-8032-9391.

MIN 382 (M+F)
MIN 385 (M)
MIN 386 (M)
MIN 387 (M)
MIN 388 (F)
MSN 1735 (M+F)

Good Watch.

DUTCH COURAGE AND TREATS

Just now NAUTICAL LOG visitor 12,104 was from Friday Harbor, WA and that reminded me to open our Press Release folder, (which by-the-by never includes USCG PR's -wonder why). Readers may know that Friday Harbor, WA is the registered address of The Sea Shepherds. 'Wats-his-name' may have a home there or so one of my commenter's told me. Sure enough there was a Press Release from Sea Shepherds confirming that The Netherlands government had issued a Flag State Certificate/Zeebrievenwet, to the MS Bob Barker.

The Press Release goes on to say that;

"In the face of incredible political and economic pressure from Japan, the Netherlands has not only refused the Japanese demand to strike the Dutch flag from our ship the Steve Irwin they have now officially registered our ship the Bob Barker under the Dutch flag".

You know one really must, in fairness, admire The Netherlands for standing by their principles and putting both the Sea Shepherd Pirate Group ships under the Dutch flag. Perhaps there are Somalian pirate groups who might also wish to avail themselves of Zeebrievenwet from this generous Flag State. It should present an interesting legal situation when the Horn of Africa patrolling naval vessels stop a pirate ship and it is flying the Dutch flag. NAUTICAL LOG thinks that the maritime law conflicts are getting a little too complex, but really really fascinating for all that. At least this concentrates any legal action to one nation if the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ever gets the courage to proceed in Law.

The International Court of Justice is right there down the road in The Hague/Den Haag, Netherlands - most convenient. It is also the venue where five pirates, Somalian pirates not Sea Shepherd pirates, are standing trial for, of course, piracy. If one might think there was extraordinary discrimination at play here one could understand that conclusion being drawn. In fact NAUTICAL LOG thinks this affair is quite disgusting and so biased as to be the basis for releasing the Somalian pirates. Which when one thinks about it may be the ploy of The Netherlands government.

Of course any proceeding in Law is not going to happen under the present Secretary-General of the IMO but one can hope for a real seaman to replace him in the future. A real seaman, not a maritime scholar however brilliant, who is not afraid to bring charges against both The Netherlands as Flag State and the Sea Shepherd pirate group for violations of international maritime law. The present tactic of the current Secretary-General of IMO is to leave any action against vessels with violations, which includes the abandonment of crews an all too common practice, up to the International Transport Workers Federation (Seafarers) who in turn goad the respective Flag State or more usually the Port State in the abandonment of crew cases, to take some action. The recent case in Ireland of the MV Linda abandoned by Latvian owners comes to mind as an fairly typical example. The MV Linda is now the MV Rachel Corrie and is owned by the Free Gaza Campaign.

Good Watch.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PHISHING

The Mediterranean bluefin fishing season is now a week into its 2010 season, the quotas have been assigned and they have until June to make their catch. Of course the Sea Shepherds have their vessel MS Steve Irwin stationed off Cannes to - well now that is the question isn't it - to do what?

No one seems to know just what the MS Steve Irwin is going to do least of all the Sea Shepherds themselves. There are no Press Releases at present which is amazing as usually their fearless leader 'Wats-his-name' is flooding the Media with bombastic messages of plans for various 'deering-do'. Now silence to the point where one quite misses him - well in a sort-of-way. Of course he does have that Japanese international arrest warrant hanging over his head. Those can really spoil ones travel plans, never quite know where one stands on occasions.

Doubtless we shall see or hear something this coming week, unless the Med. fishermen really have scared him off. Imagine coming 12,000 nautical miles across several oceans and through the Panama Canal to just anchor off Cannes in the French Riviera. Mind you that's quite nice but it does get a little boring even there after a bit with no money since the Sea Shepherd crews do not get paid and maybe not much, if any, shore leave hmm that's not so great.

It looks to date as if Operation Blue Rage is going to be a repeat of Operation Waltzing Matilda and accomplish absolutely nothing. Perhaps finally the days of 'Wats-his-name' are over and the SS-PG plans to navigate under new leadership.

Should be interesting!

Good Watch.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE

Those of us who make our living from the sea are used to the Rules and Regulations of modern seagoing life. To a degree these now effect the recreational boater as well. We have the USCG, IMO, MCA, SOLAS, STCW, and MARPOL to learn about and follow. In addition we now have MLC 2006 - what you ask?

Lets begin at the beginning. Unfortunately all to many shipowners are hiring their crews from countries that have or enforce little or no fair labour practices. Once the crew is hired pays an exit tax to their government that government could care less what happens to them. When the voyage goes under it is usually left up to The Seaman's Church Institute and the International Transport Workers Federation to find out about them, support them and repatriate them home.

This behaviour resulted in another UN agency The International Labor Organization (ILO) getting involved in maritime affairs. The ILO sets working conditions and regulates labor standards by setting international conventions. The Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006 set by the ILO combined some 65 existing international labor standards. It seeks to make them fully applicable and enforceable universally to both privately and commercially owned registered vessels.

The MLC consists of two sections Part A sets the minimum standards which all MLC vessels must meet. Part B consists of guidelines which are intended to be informative and offer guidance to reflect national laws of those nations adopting MLC 2006. Once a country has ratified the MLC 2006, it is required to enforce the standards as Flag State. It is envisioned that MLC 2006 will be in full effect by 2012 in maritime nations.

An article published in the June 2010 edition of a "SHOWBOATS INTERNATIONAL" yachting magazine draws attention to MLC 2006 as it effects the yachting industry. There is concern that since the yachting industry did not organize itself to be fully represented at MLC 2006 there was no industry input. Now that the MLC 2006 is being ratified it will fully apply to yachts as it will to other vessels. Well better late than never NAUTICAL LOG supposes so there is movement afoot with the ILO to address the 'special' needs of the super yachts and the charter yacht industry. Their claim for 'exemptions' is that because of the nature of the industry it is not possible for them to meet requirements to satisfy MLC 2006. NAUTICAL LOG seems to remember something similar when MCA was setting the yachting standards.

It is somewhat disingenuous however to read the claims and then to turn over the magazine pages. One views magnificent vessels costing in one case $35,000,000 with owners suites covering entire decks. The builders comment on the difficulty of providing 75 square feet of cabin space for two crew which cannot include the footprint of the head. They must also have a desk and a 132 gallon cupboard - that's what it says - such an imposition on an owner of a super yacht like the one mentioned above.


Is it any wonder these UN Agencies get involved in maritime affairs and write labor standards such as MLC 2006?

Good Watch.

Monday, May 17, 2010

SO THEY HAVE ARRIVED

In a Press Release dated Sunday, May 16, 2010 the Sea Shepherds say they have arrived at anchor off Cannes, France. The passage across the Atlantic from New York some 3958 nautical miles took them from May 01, to May 16, or about 15 days so the MS Steve Irwin is certainly showing her age and lumbering along at 11 knots.

Now that she is in European waters and off Cannes her Port State is France. If not already underway the Gendarme Maritime should give this vessel a complete Port State Inspection as required by International Maritime laws. All her Maritime Certificates and those of her crew, if they have any, should be examined and verified before this vessel is allowed to proceed from her anchorage. It is one thing to allow her a trans-Atlantic passage quite another to have this vessel prowling loose in the relatively confined waters of the Mediterranean. The density of traffic both trans-Med from North Africa plus that going and coming up from the Suez Canal is of concern to seafarers. This vessel has a history of not following the 'Rules of the Road' and coming alongside other vessels in combative close quarters situations. All it needs is for her to get involved with say a LNG/LPG tanker and at night, to have a massive tragedy. In addition the MS Steve Irwin does not display on AIS which means the OOW's of other vessels will not have a full plot of her at all times. She is also painted black and who knows if she displays correct navigation lights.

After voyaging some 12,000 nautical miles from Tasmania it seems that the Sea Shepherds do not have a strategy worked out yet. The Press Release states

"The Sea Shepherd ship MS Steve Irwin is presently at Cannes in France awaiting orders to depart to engage poachers. Meanwhile, Sea Shepherd field agents are investigating and building up a case for intervention".

This is incredible nonsense just whom do these people think they are, their unbelievable arrogance is beyond the Pale but unfortunately in the Mediterranean. It is time that the elected Governments of the Mediterranean Sea nations shut these people down and stop this nonsense now before it even starts.

Good Watch.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

OOPS!! FAT FINGER


It now appears that the stock trading panic this afternoon was caused by, as one trader called it, a 'fat finger'. The trade was 16 million shares somehow recorded as 16 billion shares!! The decline was 1000 points - to be accurate 998 points - before the decline stopped and began a climb out of the hole closing at 348 loss.

In truth that is somewhat hard to believe but there it is an explanation by the Stock Exchange one has to live with. Let us see what tomorrow's trading brings, which may be indicative of the truthfulness of the NYSE Report.

Good Watch.

HOW ARE THINGS GOING ?

Just watching the volatile stock market 1000 point leap and the Greek riots all on FOX via split screen HD. Wonder where the MS Steve Irwin is now, since she does not track on AIS. From New York to the Mediterranean entrance is about nine or ten days depending on what speed she is making. This would put her nearly halfway and no doubt they are thinking about what is facing them in negative reaction. Getting a bit tense on board NAUTICAL LOG thinks maybe even some lack of resolve amongst part of the crew. Some second thoughts have set in such as "gee I could have been down in Louisiana making good money hauling boom being a real conservationist - well sort of anyway - but getting paid".

Well the Greeks certainly can be quite worked up with "when in danger or in doubt run in circles scream and shout" an old seafarers saying. In the troubled European Union socialism is backfiring with a vengeance and Italy, Spain and Portugal could well be next. Oh! wait a minute isn't that were the SS-PG are heading to prevent the fishermen exercising their fishing skills and right to earn money to support their government's socialist programmes and families under their European Union laws. Somehow with life being as difficult as it is in these countries at present NAUTICAL LOG would suggest extreme caution in messing about with fishermen. As has been shown in Greece not much patience is being exercised out there and phony conservationists may expect none at all.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CAVEAT EMPTOR 'SEA CHANGE'

This Post was triggered by an article in the Business section under "Yachting Industry" of a South Florida newspaper entitled "Angry buyer wins suit against brokerage". It is fairly unusual to have a yacht brokerage sued much less have it ruled against them we read on. Since NAUTICAL LOG is not a newspaper so we shall not post the names of those involved just the story.

A Fort Lauderdale brokerage was found liable in a suit for damages by a Rhode Island man who filed the suit claiming the yacht he bought was "unseaworthy". The yacht buyer's attorney said "In the yachting industry it's an important decision - a 'sea change' if you will. Very few people take on the yachting industry."

It is not often realised that while a brokerage house may by knowledgeable about the yachts many of its sales personnel are not. Visit any showroom or boat show and one will quickly see that they are hired for their ability to make deals in high-end goods. Whether it be real estate, aircraft, luxury cars or yachts - it is apparent that personal attractiveness and charm is also a plus!! During many visits over the years to boat shows NAUTICAL LOG has been told and overheard some quite amazing sales lines about yachts.

In the case which went to court sludge was found leaking from the fuel tanks, the hull was flexing above accepted norms, the 'sea trials' were a run in sheltered waters not out in the Atlantic to truly work the vessel, core samples of the hull were actually from another vessel. It is clear that there were many 'red flags' in this deal that a knowledgeable buyer would have noted and not gone ahead with a purchase. However the yacht brokerage and others involved had a clear duty not to misrepresent the vessel to make the sale, this is how they got into trouble and later lost the case brought against them.

Now NAUTICAL LOG is not currently a boat owner - which might explain a few things - however should that change the key is preparation and boating knowledge. Depending on your current level of knowledge it will take one to two years minimum. Learn all you can, read boating magazines, take an online State boating course, visit boat shows, figure out the size of boat and its equipment, learn about financing. Get out on friends boats - if you have friends who have boats - join a yacht club, join the USCG Auxiliary for more advanced training including boat construction and engineering. Visit boatyards and boat builders to see vessels being built and repaired, get to know at least one naval architect. Once you feel you are ready visit the dealers, when you select one make sure the salesperson assigned has a boating license State or USCG and can actually handle a boat. Take a test run and on the second test run have your own nautical surveyor on board with you. Afterwards go and look at some more boats at other dealers and follow the same procedure. Remember you and the boat have to bond and feel right together, after all she will be your mistress!!

Good Watch.

Monday, May 3, 2010

GOING ALOFT




TS Royalist

Today's Press Release folder brought the news report of a shipboard death. It is always sad too read of such things and most particularly when it is a young trainee in our trade and industry. A 14 year old Sea Cadet fell from aloft in Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hampshire. The vessel TS Royalist was at anchor and he was climbing the rigging to furl sail. He was rescued from the water immediately by the vessel's crew and transported to hospital by Solent Coastguard helo. Unfortunately he was DOA at Queen Alexandria Hospital in Portsmouth. An Investigation is of course underway by The Marine Accident Investigation Unit and the Hampshire Constabulary. This is TS Royalist's first accident since being commissioned in 1971.

In a career at sea we have been aloft hundreds of times, it is always a risky business and though NAUTICAL LOG foolishly never used one, a safety rig must be used. In a power driven vessel it is even more important as there is no rigging at all. In a sailing vessel there are many handholds in the rigging which is basically designed to go aloft. However the hands and feet can slip particularly when it is a young cadet in training - or an old guy of 74.

It is not easy to design a safety rig when one has to handle sail and not get caught up in the rigging. However it can and must be done. On my last visit to the USCGC Eagle, the United States Coast Guard sail training vessel, there was such a rig in place and all hands went aloft with that 'second chance' rig on in case they lost their grip.

We express our condolences to the Cadet's family and were honoured to have him for a shipmate in the time he was with us.

Good Watch.