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Showing posts from May, 2009

20th. CENTURY CE DEVELOPMENTS

During World War 1 (1914-1918 CE) the use of submarines and aircraft demonstrated the inadequacy of international law with respect to freedom of the seas. Virtually all laws and treaties relating to the subject were disregarded as Great Britain strove to blockade the European continent and the German Empire attempted to isolate the British from the rest of the world. Interference by the German Empire in American trade with Great Britain was one of the causes of the entry of the United States into the war in 1917 CE.

Again during World War 2 (1936-1945 CE) the rights of neutrals were largely disregarded by the belligerent powers. This was because of the desperate urgency of both sides to utilize every means of achieving victory and because of the global character of the war.

The Charter of the United Nations (1945 CE) included a provision, Article 42, empowering the Security Council to institute partial or total interruptions of sea communications . These included blockades when necessar…

FREEDOM OF THE SEAS

In international law the right of all nations to navigate, fly over, fish, and conduct scientific investigations freely on the High Seas without molestation by any nation in time of peace. This right is subject to the right of belligerents, in time of war, to search neutral vessels for contraband of war, non-neutral service and breaking blockade of enemy ports.

Some history of how all this came about. During the Middle Ages freedom of navigation on the High Seas was curtailed by maritime powers that asserted territorial sovereignty over various bodies of water. Challenges by other countries to such claims increased markedly during the 16th. and 17th. Century's CE largely because of the growth in world trade following discovery, exploration and colonization of new lands by European powers.

The legal basis for claims of territorial sovereignty over the 'High Seas' was dealt a severe blow by the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius who is regarded as the 'father' of International …

NAVIGATION ACTS

As our Maritime Law series continues we come to one of the causes of the American Revolution. Legislation was passed by the English Parliament in the 17th. and 18th. Century's CE to promote and protect English industry and commerce against foreign competition. These acts were sometimes called the Acts of Trade and Navigation. The Navigation Act of 1651 CE stipulated that goods imported or exported by English colonies in Africa, Asia or America be shipped on vessels constructed by English shipbuilders and sailed by crews that were 75% English. Goods imported from the colonies into England also had to arrive on English vessels. Goods from foreign countries were restricted to vessels from the exporting country or to English ships.

The term 'English' referred to individual nationality and not to place of residence and so colonists and colonial shipping were considered 'English'. The Act of 1660 CE specified certain articles, principally tobacco, rice, and indigo, that t…

THE SCOPE OF MARITIME LAW

INFORMATIONAL ONLY NOT LEGAL ADVICE
The maritime law of the United States and United Kingdom enforces liability for common-law wrongs. Maritime torts include all illegal acts or direct injuries arising in connection with commerce and the wrongful taking of property. The law permits recovery only for actual damages. Maritime law also recognizes and enforces contracts and awards damages for failure to fulfill them.

The adjustment of the rights of the parties to a maritime venture is in accordance with the principles of 'General Average'. This pertains to apportioning of loss of cargo and is an important function of maritime courts. The doctrines pertaining to general average are among the most important of maritime law. The Admiralty Court of the United Kingdom has acquired jurisdiction by statute over crimes committed on the High Seas outside the territorial waters of the United Kingdom. Similar jurisdiction has been conferred by Congress on the U.S. Federal Courts. International…

MARITIME LAW

Now that the boating season is in full swing after Memorial Day NAUTICAL LOG is starting a series on Maritime Law. Many seafarers, most particularly recreational boaters, do not actually have knowledge of maritime law. Learning can start out with a check from USCG or CBP and from there, unfortunately, can lead to quite some difficulties. As you read this series of Posts you may decide to talk with your Legal Counsel and discuss what you need to know pertaining to your vessel. INFORMATIONAL ONLY NOT LEGAL ADVICE
Maritime Law is that branch of Law relating to commerce and navigation on the High Seas and other Navigable Waters. Specifically the term refers to the body of customs, legislation, international treaties and court decisions pertaining to ownership and operation of vessels, transportation of passengers and cargo on them, the rights and obligations of their crews while in transit. Some history as to the origins of maritime law which goes back to antiquity and the trading of goods b…

NAVIGATION UNDER PILOTAGE, U.S. Credential

This is the new format of the 'passport' type and sized U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential. This is a Federal issued Document which U.S. Federal Licensed Pilots will have to carry. No doubt the State Licensed Pilots and Berthing Masters will have to carry a similar State issued Document.

Now in view of the MS "Cosco Busan" incident and the subsequent United States NTSB Report it may be a good practice for Pilots and Berthing Masters to present this Credential to Masters on boarding. Masters can then visually inspect and record the Credential details of Pilots and Berthing Masters into their Bridge Log. Thus regardless of any communication difficulties, expressed then or later, Masters will have a complete record in the Bridge Log. The documentation is compact and convenient to carry in a pocket or 'pilots bag'. Already the Port Authorities have the vessel's crewlist and details for several days prior to the vessels arrival in a United States port.

As we have …

NAVIGATION UNDER PILOTAGE

My first introduction to the complex relationship of a Master and Pilot was in October 1953 while attending Seamanship School in Europe. That was as a Cadet starting pre-sea training, now some 56 years later it is still as complex and clearly an unresolved issue. The basic problem is that all Pilotage Authorities want complete control without the final responsibility. This means that they can then 'opt out' when things go wrong, as sometimes they do. Masters know this and Pilots know this, though their Pilotage Authorities will argue this point 'ad infinitum'.
The exception is the Panama Canal where the Canal Transit Authority accepts full responsibility and has complete control for a vessel's transit. It is all properly documented thus everybody involved knows and understands exactly where they stand. Mostly in other ports the Pilot boards and things go off well, particularly given the difficulties of communication on occasions. Port Pilots are remarkably adaptive …