Issue 184


1. New Turkish maritime court

A NEW maritime and admiralty court has been established in Turkey. The Ulgener Law Office in Istanbul says the new court will be competent to hear all disputes involving admiralty and maritime matters, including collision, grounding, salvage, cargo claims, charter party disputes, sale and purchase agreements, mortgages and liens. It will have jurisdiction over claims where the defendant is resident in the Istanbul district or where the dispute has arisen within the area covered by the court, including the port of Istanbul, Istanbul roads and anchorage area, the Bosporus Strait, and the dedicated shipbuilding area at Tuzla. All disputes currently in the commercial courts of Istanbul will be transferred to the new court. (Source: London P&I Club newsletter, December 2002)


2. Standard of care

JAMES Mercante of Rubin, Fiorella & Friedman in New York writes to us with news of a decision handed down yesterday by a judge in the Eastern District of New York.

The owner of a pleasure vessel who had been out on a fishing trip with two guests, one of whom was his adult son, filed a petition for exoneration from – or limitation of – liability pursuant to the US Limitation of Liability Act following a fatal accident. The boat owner was operating the vessel when it was struck by a rogue wave on the south shore of Long Island, ejecting the two guests overboard. He was sued by his daughter-in-law for $20m as a result of the death of her husband (the boat owner’s son) in the casualty.

After a four-day bench trial, a 22-page decision was issued by Judge Joanna Seybert exonerating the vessel owner and dismissing the claims of negligence against him. The court rejected the plaintiff’s efforts to impose on a fisherman/owner of a pleasure craft the ‘heightened’ standard of care applicable to a commercial vessel owner.

3.Dumping ground

THE chairman and ceo of Iowa-based Sabine Transportation Company has been convicted by a US federal jury in Miami for his role in the overboard dumping of part of an oil-contaminated grain cargo from the US-flag ‘Juneau’ into the South China Sea in February 1999.

Specifically, Rick Stickle was found guilty of engaging in a conspiracy to discharge the contaminated grain at sea, of obstructing a US Coast Guard proceeding by presenting false and misleading statements and records, and of defrauding the United States by hampering the USCG and Department of Agriculture. He will be sentenced in February 2005. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years, plus heavy fines.

4. Jones Act damages

THE US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that a Jones Act seaman or his survivors cannot recover non-pecuniary damages from a non-employer third party.
In a case reported on the Holland & Knight website, a seaman contracted (and eventually died from) silicosis while working as a sandblaster maintaining protective coatings on offshore oil platforms. The seaman worked on vessels owned by the defendant shipowner and wore allegedly defective hoods manufactured by defendant shoreside companies.

The trial court held that the seaman was not entitled to recover non-pecuniary damages in the wrongful death suit against the shoreside manufacturers. On appeal, it was held that a Jones Act seaman is not entitled to recover non-pecuniary damages in a general maritime action and that the uniformity principle dictates the same result in this situation.

5. Unfamiliar work

THE North of England P&I club says that unfamiliar tasks imposed on ships’ crews are leading to more onboard personal injury accidents.

“We have experienced a number of recent cases in which members of both the catering and the engineering departments have been working on deck, only to suffer serious accidents with tragic consequences,” says the club’s loss prevention executive Tony Baker. “If crew members from other departments are asked to carry out tasks normally performed by deck crew, this should only be allowed if they are properly qualified and have received the appropriate training.”

The club highlights the extra work generated by regulations such as the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code as one reason for employing unfamiliar crew members on deck. The code requires ships’ crews to carry out increased security patrolling and gangway watches.

6. Wreck clearance

A MULTINATIONAL consortium made up of Netherlands-based Multraship Salvage, US-based Titan Maritime and Deltacons, a Romanian river engineering company, has begun a three-month project to remove the wreck of the 4,497 gt ‘Rostok’ from the Romanian River Danube. The vessel sank in the Sulina Channel in 1991, blocking the fairway. Several partial attempts to remove the wreck have been made and partial navigation restored. Now, under a European Investment Bank-funded tender, the Rostok Wreck Removal Consortium will remove the wreck completely and fully reopen the waterway. Work began on November 1 and the bow section has already been lifted.

7. Arbitration Club on the Tyne

EVERSHEDS is to host the next Maritime Arbitration Club lunch, which is taking place in Newcastle on Friday January 21, 2005.

The lunch will take on a somewhat different format to the normal one. Attendees will meet at 10.30 for coffee/reception, and then ninety minutes will be set aside for discussion of topics of interest to those involved in maritime arbitration. Three topics will be covered. Then there will be a break for lunch, which will be a buffet to enable people to meet as many other guests as possible.

The local attendance is expected to be thirty-plus, including people from Eversheds, the North of England Club, and other solicitor firms.

London members have already expressed interest in attending. As always, there is a cap on numbers, so those wanting to go should contact Simon Everton as soon as possible.

8. Vintage class

TO HMS Wellington for the Bureau Veritas annual Beaujolais Nouveau party in London last week. Despite rain that was trying hard to turn into sleet, a good number of BV members, customers, friends and journalists turned out to celebrate another year of good results for the class society, and to sample the wine in quantities varying from tasting to glugging. A high tide and higher winds rendered conditions a little unstable, so a judicious amount of wine was needed to cancel out the swaying floor.

Gallantry rewarded

AILEEN Jones has been awarded the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s bronze medal for gallantry, for her part in the rescue of two fishermen in August this year. She is one of a very select few. The first woman to be awarded an RNLI medal was Grace Darling, who took the silver in 1838, and no medals have been awarded to women since 1888. Surely some mistake.

Aileen braved gale force winds, rough seas and a three-metre swell to help rescue a fishing vessel, the ‘Gower Pride’, which suffered engine failure. The skipper and an injured fisherman were on board. She richly deserves her recognition.

Your editor didn’t even know that women could SWIM.

Know your place

IT comes as no surprise to learn that geography is the worst-taught subject in our schools. (That sentence works equally well without the hyphen). The subject has apparently become neglected, with 5,000 fewer pupils sitting their geography exams in the UK in 2004 compared with last year, not least because a number of them got lost on their way to the classroom.

You editor has never had any trouble with geography. Set him down on a bald man’s head, and he could find his way to anywhere. Some of his peers, however, have been challenged in the geographical stakes. A former school classmate, when asked to pinpoint New Delhi on the map, zoned in instead on Haverford West railway station. He got nought in the exam, having spelt his name wrongly at the top of the paper.

Over the years, a number of countries have managed to worm their way into the world. But the great advantage of a classical education is that you never learn what you haven’t been taught to know better. Thus, Holland is below sea-level, Switzerland is utterly avuncular, the main imports of Italy are hannibal, vegetable and mineral, Chile is the long thin one, Canada is completely made up of snow, Russia is inscrutable, and South Africa is full of gold.

More about rejuvenated peneplains next week.

Number crunching

A MAN has set a world record for mentally calculating the thirteenth root of a hundred-digit number in 11.8 seconds. Few thought the existing time could be bettered, but the mathematical genius, after cheating death in a car crash, sliced off sixty seconds and the driver’s side of a Volvo. The latter is arguably the greater achievement.

The Guinness Book of Records may not accept the new time. Its spokesman argues, “Some numbers are easier to root than others”. You can say that again. Some numbers are easier to root than others. But Gert Mittring, the mathematical genius, says, “When I’m given a number, I just think of an elegant problem-solving algorithm and the result comes straight away.” Your editor is similarly gifted, but not interested in records. Dr Mittring is German, and wears a cardigan.

Coming out

IT was confirmed this week that Sardinia’s most famous bandit has been granted a pardon by the country’s president, after forty years in prison. Forty years is a long time. But think of the advantages. Here is a man who has never had to listen to rap or house or garage or techno, has never heard of the Hamburg Rules, has never had to shop in Wilkinson’s, has never had to defrag or reboot his computer, or worry about his mobile phone being unfashionable, and who remembers the great Spurs double-winning team of the sixties. Welcome to the modern world, my friend. You have missed very little.

The write stuff

THE deadline for this year’s Annual Seahorse Journalist Awards will pass your editor by. His prose efforts will rightly go unrewarded for yet another year, despite the fact that he can satisfy the relevant criteria – a “maximum of three artciles can be submitted”, “articles can be of any length” (an open invitation to anybody with ambitions to write for either gain or glory), and “articles must have been published in an overseas or UK publication during the last year.”

Although several of his friends have been journalists of the year in several years and are rightly proud of it, your editor has never won a journalism award. One of the reasons for this is the fact that he has never entered a competition for one. Another reason is the fact that, having no ambition whatever to discover the truth about ANYTHING, he makes a poor sort of journalist. His last scoop was the exclusive revelation that the Hague Rules are different things to different people, and nothing at all to others, especially everybody.

Phobia watch

THERE seem to be many more things for people to be afraid of these days than ever there were before. Some of them, it has to be said, are hard to understand. One can just about understand why somebody might be afraid of bridges (gephyrophobia). One might even make out a case for coulrophobia, on the basis that clowns are not a laughing matter for everybody. But geniophobia? Who on earth is afraid of CHINS?

Sometimes, it seems, we are not even sure by what name we should call our fears. In your editor’s newspaper this week there was a story about a man who, when asked by the quizmaster in his local pub what a taphophobiac might suffer from, replied that it was a morbid fear of Welshmen. It is, in fact, a dread of being buried alive. Now THERE’S a phobia guaranteed to stop anybody worrying about chins.


Send in the Clowns
Isn’t it rich, are we a pair?
Me here at last on the ground,
You in mid-air.
Send in the clowns.
Isn’t it bliss, don’t you approve?
One who keeps tearing around,
One who can’t move.
Where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns.
Just when I’d stopped opening doors,
Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours,
Making my entrance again with my usual flair,
Sure of my lines,
No-one is there.
Don’t you love farce?
My fault I fear,
I thought that you’d want what I want,
Sorry my dear,
But where are the clowns?
Send in the clowns,
Don’t bother, they’re here.
Isn’t it rich, isn’t it queer
Losing my timing this late in my career,
But where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns,
Well, maybe next year.
(Stephen Sondheim)

Seasonal Phobia of the Week

Santa Claustrophobia

Ban of the Week

THE word ‘brainstorming’ has been banned by Merthyr Tydfil borough council because it could offend people with head injuries. (The Sunday Times, London)

Best Headline of the Week

Germany obeys law (Lloyd’s List)

Best Cooking Headline of the Week

US firm poaches hot shot lawyer (Tradewinds)

Least Surprising Headline of the Week

Shares bought (Insurance Day)

Best Question-and-Answer Sessions of the Week

Q: Which term for an element of a hairstyle also goes after ‘lunatic’ to describe an unstable element of society?

A: Asylum

Q: The word ‘volcano’ derives its name from which Roman god?

A: Zeus

Q: The world-famous Inca fortress city and area of natural beauty in Peru is the Machu WHAT?

A: Nana

Q: What ‘C’ replaced a length of tape in 1875 to form part of a modern set of goalposts?

A: Crutch

(BBC TV, ‘The Weakest Link’)