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Towboatlaw – Towboat & Barge Lawyer, Admiralty & Maritime Law on the Rivers

  • Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Murder, Attempted Murder, and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon Aboard Scallop Boat

    The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced on March 9, 2022, a crewman aboard a scallop boat has pled guilty in Boston federal court to one count of murder in the second degree, one count of attempted murder, and one count of assault with a dangerous weapon.  Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez, 31, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs on June 28, 2022.

    The rampage occurred on September 23, 2018, aboard the F/V CAPTAIN BILLY HAVER while about 55 miles offshore Nantucket.  Meave Vazquez allegedly struck one fellow crewman on the head with a hammer, then stabbed another several times with a long fillet knife, before striking a third crewman as he climbed a ladder out of the ice hold.  He then struggled with the captain before climbing the boat’s rigging, at which point the captain made this dramatic distress call using the boat’s VHF radio – recording courtesy of Maritime Reporter TV and the U.S. Coast Guard: https://youtu.be/8uPHqK0gIGs

    It appears the captain at first could not hear the Coast Guard and nearby vessels, including a Maersk container ship, answering his distress call.

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  • National Academy of Public Administration Report Critical of U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

    A fascinating, comprehensive, critical, at times alarming, official report on the state of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and by implication our nation’s merchant marine readiness in the event of war, has just been released by the National Academy of Public Administration. It is entitled, “Organizational Assessment of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy: A Path Forward,” and linked here:

    https://s3.us-west-2.amazonaws.com/napa-2021/NAPA-Panel-Report-FINAL.pdf

    The report addresses, among other things, crumbling infrastructure, lack of oversight by the Department of Transportation, overworked and over stressed faculty and midshipmen, a white male culture, and systemic shortcomings on campus and during commercial shipboard training in the realm of prevention of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The report includes throughout its 274 pages many concrete, actionable, no-holds-barred, recommendations for the Academy, located at King’s Point, New York.

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  • U.S. Coast Guard: “Sexual assault has no place in the maritime profession”

    In its blog, “Coast Guard Maritime Commons – The Coast Guard Blog for Maritime Professionals,” a recent post describes the federal agency’s zero tolerance for sexual assault in the U.S. maritime industry. The post states, “The Coast Guard stands ready to investigate each report or tip alleging that a credentialed mariner committed a sexual assault. The Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) will initiate an investigation and gather additional information for all reports of sexual assault, or other crimes at sea. Coast Guard investigators work alongside Coast Guard attorneys to ensure they gather sufficient evidence to refer the case to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution.  Moreover, the Coast Guard has the authority to investigate and take enforcement action against the mariner’s credential to preclude the mariner from serving as a Coast Guard-credentialed commercial mariner.”

    The post includes information on the Coast Guard’s anonymous sexual assault reporting website and its mobile app called CGIS Tips.

    You can find the Coast Guard blog post here:

    https://mariners.coastguard.blog/2021/12/07/sexual-assault-has-no-place-in-the-maritime-profession-offenders-will-be-held-accountable-for-their-actions/

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  • National Academies of Science, Engineering, & Medicine Release Report on Improving Safety of Duck Boats

    The report, per its summary, makes recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, “starting with the use of risk assessment for DUKW operations and then providing specific recommendations to mitigate the hazards discussed in the chapters on flooding, operating areas, canopies, life jackets, and safety operations. All recommendations are specific to WWII DUKWs, Stretch Ducks, and Truck Ducks.”

    The report can be downloaded here:

    https://www.nap.edu/read/26447/chapter/1

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  • New Coast Guard Fire Safety Reg’s for Small Passenger Vessels

    The U.S. Coast Guard is issuing interim regulations to implement new statutorily mandated requirements for fire safety on certain small passenger vessels. This follows the overnight fire on the dive boat CONCEPTION off the coast of California on September 2, 2019, during which 33 passengers and one crewman died. Per the below-linked notice appearing in the Federal Register on December 27, 2021, “This interim rule adds additional fire safety requirements for small passenger vessels, including fire detection and suppression systems, avenues of escape, egress drills, crew firefighting training, watchmen monitoring devices, and the handling of flammable items such as rechargeable batteries.”

    You can view the new regulation here:

    https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-12-27/pdf/2021-27549.pdf

     

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