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Re: Seafarer criminalization

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 1:29 am
by JK
Jailed man’s supporters seek help via email

Digby sailor in custody in Spain for 10 months

By BRIAN MEDEL Yarmouth Bureau

Friends and family members of a Digby sailor who has been in a Spanish jail for almost 10 months blitzed Prime Minister Stephen Harper and others with emails last week seeking immediate help.

Philip Halliday will turn 54 in December. He was arrested last year on the deck of a ship off the coast of Spain.

Halliday is a former scallop fisherman who worked aboard the Destiny Empress, a 45-metre freighter that was allegedly carrying 1.5 tonnes of cocaine when Spanish police boarded it Dec. 21, 2009, according to a news release from British police.

Police said the drugs were worth $626 million and were bound for London.

Halliday is innocent, said his wife Sheree, who waits in Digby.

He had absolutely no knowledge of any criminal activities aboard the ship, said family friend Teressa Faessler, who co-ordinated the email campaign.

"I’m feeling positive about it," said Sheree Halliday, who talks with her husband periodically by phone.

"I hope that it will get the government’s attention so that we can . . . get Philip well. He needs surgery."

She said he requires a gall bladder operation but has not been able to get much in the way of medical attention.

"He now displays some jaundice. . . . It’s actually a relatively minor surgery that he needs. It’s just to get him in a hospital to have it done."

The Canadian Embassy has helped, she said. Halliday has been X-rayed and has met with a surgeon but has been on a waiting list since December, she said.

In February 2009, the ship went from Shelburne to Antigua, said Sheree Halliday in an earlier interview outlining a sequence of events.

The ship arrived in Trinidad in July because someone there was supposed to lease the vessel, she said.

Philip Halliday was on board but flew home to Digby, where he worked as a carpenter. He returned to the ship in Trinidad in November. The rest of the crew had stayed behind to perform some repairs on the vessel.

They then sailed from Trinidad back to Antigua to refuel because it was cheaper, she said.

The Destiny Empress then continued on to a vacation in Saint Vincent in the Caribbean before departing for a 14-day crossing to Spain, said Sheree Halliday.

"That was the first time since last February that that ship was ever unattended. There was no one on it," she said about the vacation for the crew.

She was contacted by Spanish police after the Dec. 21 boarding.

Her husband has been in jail without an opportunity to prove his innocence, and a trial date has not even been set, say his supporters.

"The (email) campaign went well. We just haven’t had any response," said Faessler.

The effort involved people sending requests for action to MP Greg Kerr as well as Canada’s foreign affairs minister and prime minister. Faessler said she’s not sure how many people sent emails. Their Facebook group, Family and Friends of Philip Halliday, has 1,229 members.

"We don’t want any compensation. Kick him to the curb with his passport. We’ll pick him up. We just want him home," said Faessler.

Re: Seafarer criminalization

Posted: Tue May 03, 2011 7:46 am
by The Dieselduck
Rose George - ... ml?_r=1&hp

FOUR American yachters killed; a Danish family of five and two crew members kidnapped: these events in the space of a week early this year may finally fuel a consensus that something needs to be done about piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. And something should be done: in addition to the yachters, nearly 700 sailors, mostly Filipino, Bangladeshi and Russian, are being held hostage. Often forced to operate their captured ships at gunpoint, with little food or water, some of them have been prisoners for months.

But maritime lawlessness isn’t confined to pirates. Thanks to a system of ship registration called “flags of convenience,” it is all too easy for unscrupulous ship owners to get away with criminal behavior. They have evaded prosecution for environmental damage like oil spills, as well as poor labor conditions, forcing crews to work like slaves without adequate pay or rest. But unlike piracy, which seems intractable, the appalling conditions on some merchant ships could be stopped.

Ships used to fly the flags of their nation. They were floating pieces of their home country on ungovernable seas, with all the advantages and disadvantages of government oversight: if things went wrong, seafarers were protected by their governments. If they did wrong, they could be punished.

But in the early 20th century, this began to change. Panama, seeking to attract American ships avoiding Prohibition laws, allowed non-Panamanians to fly its flag, for a fee. Liberia and other countries followed suit. Today these “open registries” are used by over 60 percent of shippers, up from 4 percent in the 1950s.

Under the flags of convenience system, registries have been divorced from government oversight. North Korea has a thriving registry, as does landlocked Mongolia. Liberia’s registry, the second-largest in the world, flourished even during a dozen years of civil war. Some registries allow ship owners to change the flags they’re registered under within 48 hours; some require little more than a signature or an online form from an owner. Many don’t require owners to disclose their identities at all.

Such easy anonymity is dangerous.

In 1999, a oil tanker called the Erika ran aground off Brittany and polluted 250 miles of French coastline. The French government could not penetrate a chain of shell companies in seven countries that stood between the ship and its owner. The owner eventually came forward voluntarily and, when questioned by the BBC about the complex ownership arrangements, said, “That is standard practice in shipping.”

It shouldn’t be.

Many state registries lack the capacity or will to monitor the safety and working conditions on ships, or to investigate accidents. Instead, ship safety certificates are given out by private classification societies. Owners are allowed to choose which society they want — and the worst predictably choose the least demanding. This self-policing has been compared to registering a car in Bali so you can drive it in Australia with faulty brakes.

The human cost of this system is unacceptably high. Long hours and punishing port schedules rarely provide sailors with enough time to rest; some international regulations permit 98-hour work weeks.

Salaries often go unpaid: the International Transport Workers’ Federation, which represents seafarers, recovered $30 million in unpaid wages last year. When the Most Sky, a Turkish ship registered in Panama, docked at a British port last November, its crew had not been paid for months. They had to pool together enough money to buy bread and there was no light or heat in their cabin; they had been using a kebab grill to keep warm.

There are plenty of ships run by decent owners. But delinquency is too easy with open registries, when owners can slip away, unpunished and unaccountable.

The world of merchant shipping is undeniably complex. Nearly half of all crews today are made up of four or more nationalities. On a container ship I sailed on for five weeks last summer, I sat in the officers’ mess next to a Burmese engineer, opposite a Romanian and a Moldovan. The men at the table behind us were Chinese, Filipino and Scottish. The crew mess next door was entirely Filipino. We had a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the wall. They had better cookies and a microwave with two settings: Ramen for One and Ramen for Two.

But globalization is no reason that states can’t take responsibility for the ships they register. On paper, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea specifies there should be a “genuine link” between the ship and its flag. But debate continues over what that link should be. At the least, it should involve a state’s being able to carry out effective inspections and monitoring of its ships, rather than tolerating online application forms and no questions asked. Even if the United Nations defined a link, though, it’s not clear that its members would be willing or able to enforce it when flags of convenience are so profitable for both states and ship owners, who stand to save millions of dollars a year in wages and taxes.

A more immediate, if partial, solution would be for port authorities, which have the power to detain unsafe or abusive ships that dock in their harbors, to pay extra attention to ships registered under notoriously lax states, like the Comoros. To avoid this extra scrutiny and the possibility of detention fees, ships might pressure the registries to raise their standards.

Finally, public scrutiny can’t hurt. We boycott food produced by companies that mistreat their workers, but know little about the sometimes atrocious conditions on the ships that carry the food. A campaign called Save Our Seafarers, organized by unions and shippers to raise awareness about piracy, may also cast light on the industry’s own failings.

But the crew members on my ship, who lived in superior standards compared with many, didn’t have much hope. “No one cares about the merchant navy,” the captain said over dinner one night. “We are the scum of the earth. Always have been, always will be.” And with that, he returned to his soup.

Re: Seafarer criminalization

Posted: Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:07 am
by JK

This man has been in jail for 2 years in a foreign country. I posted about his case a year ago.

The ship was the ex-DFO ship Parizeau. She was sold as surplus and anchored at various locations on the NS coast, over several years. Because she was registered as a yacht she need minimal crew, ( really this hole has to be fixed. A large yacht does not fall under the Shipping Act. )
After a couple of years the ship was on the dock and brought back to Class and given a gut load of fuel, under a new owner. Since everything on the ship was due for survey, it was an expensive docking, plus a million dollar fuel bill.
You can bet the RCMP had been watching this ship for a long time.

Re: Seafarer criminalization

Posted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 3:17 am
by JK
Part of the article from today's Chronicle Herald regarding the 1st Mate held in a Spain jail.
Thinking about this, how would you ever prove you knew nothing of this cargo? The Judge would just roll his eyes at the fact that the crew was sent away for a week on a paid vacation down south because it was a rough trip. Given this man's health issues, he may not make it home and the Canadian Government doesn't seem to be too interested in his fate.

After two years spent in a jail near Madrid, a former scallop fisherman from Digby learned Friday that he will be held in custody for up to two more years before finally facing drug trafficking charges.
Philip Halliday, 55, was first mate on a freighter in December 2009 when he and the rest of the crew were arrested off the coast of Spain.
Police found 1,200 kilograms of cocaine aboard the Destiny Empress, but Halliday has maintained that he knew nothing of the hidden cache.
A panel of three judges ruled after a hearing on Nov. 28 to keep Halliday in prison — two voting to hold him, one voting against.
Under Spanish law, people facing charges can be held for four years before a trial date is set. In Halliday’s case, prosecutors argued they needed extra time because they will try him in a special court that deals only with terrorism and organized crime, Sheree Halliday, his wife, said Saturday.
"That’s their law," she said of the four-year allowance.

Re: Seafarer criminalization

Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 2:30 am
by JK
This guy deserved this, in fact he got off easy.

Captain Fined For Failing to Help Sinking Ship
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
According to a report in The Moscow Times, the captain of a vessel that passed by the sinking Bulgaria cruise ship without stopping to help rescue drowning passengers was fined $4,200, but avoided jail time, Interfax reported.
A district court in Tatarstan ruled that Yury Tuchin failed to provide help to victims of the July disaster on the Volga River, in which 122 people died when the 55-year-old Bulgaria foundered in a storm. Tuchin, skipper of the dry cargo ship, pleaded guilty, but claimed his actions were rooted in the fear that his ship would crush the lifeboats.
The prosecution reportedly sought a jail sentence of 14 months and a ban from working on ships for three years.
(Source: The Moscow Times)

US tug company (Young Bros) sues own employees

Posted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 3:52 pm
by The Dieselduck
As if mariners weren't under enough scrutiny and liability when performing their jobs, now we have to worry about being sued by our own companies carrying out their business, why the fu%$ would you hire in the first place?

This is sure to improve the image of shipping and get young blood flowing into the industry. These stories always make me wonder, what the hell is the end game....?


Young Bros. alleges first mate’s drunkenness led to groundings
Attorney says four crew members wrongly accused of refusing drug and alcohol testing

HONOLULU —A lawsuit filed by Young Bros. in U.S. District Court Wednesday alleges that a first mate was drunk when the barge Maka'ala broke free from the tugboat Moana Holo last year, causing both vessels to strike the breakwater at Nawiliwili Harbor.

According to the lawsuit, the captain of the barge knew the first mate was drunk, but still sailed out of the harbor. The incident happened on the evening of Oct. 31 and resulted in damage to Maka'ala's hull and the loss of one of its skegs. In addition, the Moana Holo suffered a breach to its hull, and both vessels were in danger of sinking.

Both of the men named in the lawsuit were fired, and the first mate has refused any help from the InlandBoatmen's Union of the Pacific to try and win back his job.

"He has declined to pursue a grievance in this matter with regard to his termination from employment," Charlie Khim, an attorney representing the union, said during a Friday news conference.

Lt. Pat Frain, a command duty officer with Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, confirmed that an investigation into the incident is ongoing, but he could not provide any details of the probe. A spokeswoman for Kauai County told KITV4 that the prosecutor's office has not received the case and neither man had been arrested in the two months following the groundings.

However, Khim alleges that the lawsuit is inaccurate and incomplete. He said four crew members not named in the Young Bros. lawsuit did submit to drug and alcohol testing, countering a claim that they had refused.

"These people are the victims of false accusations that they were intoxicated at the time the vessels sailed," Khim said. "They have not been employed since the incident."

The four crew members in question were tested for drugs and alcohol about 11 hours after the tug and barge struck the breakwater. Khim said that's because Young Bros. did not have a certified testing kit on hand and one had to be flown in from Oahu.

"It is the company who violated federal law by being unable to immediately give the drug test," Khim said. "So this means it's the opposite. The members took the test once it was available."

The four crew members in question are still employed by Young Bros., but the company has not given them any work since the incident took place. Khim said the case is headed to binding arbitration next month in an effort to save the crew members' jobs. He said they've been earning money through accumulated time off earned through years of service with the company.

Young Bros. had no comment Friday about the lawsuit, but the company said it was glad that none if its crew members were injured in the grounding and no cargo was lost. The company refused to release the amount of damages it's seeking from the two defendants.

Chief Engineer has Oil Log Book Conviction Overturned

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2016 7:10 pm
by The Dieselduck
Chief Engineer has Oil Log Book Conviction Overturned
By MarEx 2016-03-15 17:45:18 ... overturned

On March 14, 2016, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction against the chief engineer of the Trident Navigator, Matthaios Fafalios.

Fafalios, a Greek seafarer, was wrongfully charged and convicted in December 2014 for the crime of “failing to maintain an oil record book aboard a foreign-flagged merchant sea vessel, in violation of 33 U.S.C. § 1908(a) and 33 C.F.R. § 151.25.”

At the close of the government’s evidence at trial, Fafalios moved for judgment of acquittal on the grounds that the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was the “master or other person in charge” of the vessel and therefore he was not legally required under the Coast Guard’s regulations to maintain the oil record book while in United States waters.

The District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana denied the motion for judgment of acquittal, and Fafalios sought appellate review of the conviction by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a decision that was openly critical of the government, the Fifth Circuit carefully reviewed the language contained in the applicable statutes and regulations, confirming that where the language is unambiguous, the Court should not look beyond the plain language of the statute or regulation. The Court stated unequivocally that “under the plain language of the regulations, only the ‘master or other person having charge of the ship’ is responsible for maintenance of the oil record book.”

Notwithstanding, the government attempted to offer several reasons for why the conviction should be upheld, all of which were addressed and rejected by the Fifth Circuit. First, the government challenged the applicability of Rule 29, arguing that Fafalios should have moved to dismiss the indictment before trial allowing the government an opportunity to correct any insufficiency. The Court disagreed.

In addition, the Fifth Circuit rejected the prosecutor’s argument that the chief engineer’s responsibility to sign and record bilge water operations in the oil record book was a “continuing obligation.” The Court held that any failure by Fafalios to make a required entry occurred while he (and the vessel) were still in international waters, and therefore the United States did not have jurisdiction over such an offense, as the “failure to sign an oil record book while in international waters, standing alone, is not a violation of either APPS or its attendant regulations.”

In addition to relying on its own past precedents, the Court concluded that the regulation's requirement for the record book to be signed "without delay" implied that the offense was committed as soon as the book was not signed, and that different language would have been used by the drafters if a continuing obligation was intended.

The Court further rejected the government's alternative argument that Fafalios was obligated, as the vessel's chief engineer, to comply with the regulations' requirement for the ship, itself, to "maintain" an oil record book, finding that such argument was "foreclosed by traditional rules of statutory construction, not to mention common sense." The Fifth Circuit criticized the government's "strained reasoning" as to why this duty should extend to chief engineers, finding that there was "no convincing explanation" as to why the ship's duty (to maintain an accurate oil record book in U.S. waters) should be delegated to a chief engineer.

Recognizing the lack of merit to the case, the government's argument that the Coast Guard had a well-known practice of enforcing oil record book regulations against chief engineers which was rejected out of hand by the Fifth Circuit as "being without merit." The Court of Appeals highlighted that the Coast Guard’s past practices did not provide a reason to deviate from the regulation's plain language.

Finally, in rejecting what it referred to as an "unusual" policy argument, the Fifth Circuit stated that it was unpersuaded by the government's concerns that reading the regulation to impose the duty to maintain the record book only on the vessel's master would cause chief engineers to falsify records and conceal their falsification from the master. In addition, the Fifth Circuit found the government's argument to be nothing more than a “contrived hypothetical.”

George M. Chalos, George A. Gaitas and Briton P. Sparkman represented Fafalios during his criminal trial in the Eastern District of Louisiana. George M. Chalos presented the oral argument to the panel for the Fifth Circuit on December 4, 2015.

To listen to the oral argument, click ... 4-2015.mp3

To read a copy of the Fifth Circuit's Opinion, click ... 4a66f275b1

Re: Seafarer criminalization

Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2016 4:31 pm
by JK
Amazing. Are they rewriting their rules to a simpler language to allow this after so many years?

Officer Sentenced to Jail for Fatal Collision

Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:40 am
by The Dieselduck
Officer Sentenced to Jail for Fatal Collision
Scottish Viking (file image courtesy Stena Lines)

By MarEx 2016-04-25 21:07:46

On Monday, the former second mate of the ferry Scottish Viking was sentenced to jail for his role in the August 2010 collision with the fishing vessel Homeland, which resulted in the death of a young fisherman.

Pasquale Miccio, 48, had been on watch on the Viking as it approached a group of small fishing boats off St. Abb's Head, Scotland. Both he and the AB acting as lookout had sighted the boats, but the Marine Accident Investigation Branch found that Miccio "did not make a full appraisal of the situation or of the risk of collision." Miccio did not use ARPA, radar or visual bearings to appraise the risk, preferring instead to watch the approaching boats with binoculars. The Viking was the stand-on vessel, and Miccio continued to close without changing course, despite repeated warnings of the risk from his AB. As a close quarters situation developed, he chose not to alter course to starboard, instead ordering incremental changes to port. He sounded a warning signal about 18 seconds before striking the Homeland.

Homeland crewmember Daniel McNeil, 16, was killed in the collision.

Miccio was charged with culpable homicide for his failure to take timely and effective action. He pled instead to a breach of the 1995 Merchant Shipping Act last month, with sentencing scheduled for April 25.

His attorney, Dorothy Bain, argued for a fine without jail time, citing her client’s contrition. "He is struggling to come to terms with what has happened. It is difficult to convey the level of remorse and sadness that he feels as a consequence of his actions,” she said.

High Court judge Lord Bannatyne concluded Monday that "a custodial sentence is the only option;" the maximum available sentence would be for two years.

"The collision was most certainly avoidable," said Coast Guard officer Allan Marsh, who led the investigation into the accident. "We're never going to know why this happened because Mr. Miccio never gave an account explaining his actions."

Industry Unites for Prestige Captain Mangouras

Posted: Wed May 04, 2016 7:40 am
by The Dieselduck
Industry Unites for Prestige Captain Mangouras
By MarEx 2016-05-03 20:36:40

In a show of solidarity, the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) and the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) have united to condemn the recent sentencing of Prestige master Apostolos Mangouras.

Spain's Supreme Court sentenced the captain of the Prestige oil tanker, which sank off Spain's northwestern coast in 2002, covering thousands of kilometers of coastline in fuel oil, to two years in prison in January. Mangouras was convicted of recklessness resulting in catastrophic environmental damage, according to a statement by the court, overturning a previous sentence which cleared him of criminal responsibility.

The two organizations have stated that they stand ready to show their full support for Mangouras and are willing to travel to Greece to meet with him and make it publicly clear they remain determined to stand firm against the trend in criminalization of seafarers.

The European Social Partners in Maritime Transport – ETF and ECSA – are extremely concerned about the recent court decision in the Prestige case as it unexpectedly overturned the judgment by the Provincial Court of La Coruña (Galicia) which had yet cleared both the master and the chief engineer of criminal responsibility.

Judges have now convicted Mangouras of gross negligence for his decisions during the voyage and his actions as events unfolded. But this decision is nothing less than a further proof – one time too many – of the ill-treatment of seafarers that began as early at the time of accident and which, in the case of Mangouras, has continued for an agonizing period of fourteen long and stressful years of judicial harassment, says the Social Partners.

The Provincial Court judgment found Mangouras innocent for the simple reason that he bravely fulfilled his professional duty in attempting to save his ship. Confronted with a refusal by the Spanish authorities to give the damaged ship a place of refuge (where an oil spill could have been contained), not only the master but also the chief engineer and the chief officer remained on board the vessel, whilst the hull was breached and the risk of capsize was dramatically increasing.

Under pressure from the Spanish authorities, the master had to take a series of actions against his will that resulted in the damaged tanker being forced to remain out at sea in dreadful conditions, where it eventually broke in two and sank off the coast of Galicia.

The Social Partners cannot accept that seafarers should have to pay such a heavy price whilst the Maritime Authority, who had been exempted from any liability, ordered the vessel away from any port of refuge, with well-known catastrophic effects upon the natural environment.

It is beyond dispute that seafarers are too often used as easy scapegoats upon whom to shift all the responsibility for possible environmental damages, and unfairly sued - sometimes in flagrant breach of their fundamental rights, say the Social Partners.

In addition, the Social Partners fear that such a ruling will impact negatively on the attractiveness of a seafaring career and hence on the future recruitment of young competent seafarers. At a time when ECSA and ETF – together with the European Commission – are looking to promote the European maritime profession and render it attractive to young Europeans, the Supreme Court’s judgement sends entirely the wrong signal.

Against this background, it is the industry’s duty to condemn and rebut in the strongest terms the Supreme Court’s judgement. It criminalizes seafarers with no evidence and makes it clearer than ever that there is a strong case for securing the supervision and implementation of the IMO/ILO Guidelines on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident of June 12, 2006, and the new E.U. Operational Guidelines on Places of Refuge of November 13, 2015. The latter have been developed jointly with the shipping industry, with the specific aim of avoiding a repetition of the mistakes made during the Prestige and MSC Flaminia incidents. It is therefore ironic that this judgment just comes at a time when the proper implementation of these guidelines could have prevented the worst from happening.

ETF and ECSA sincerely hope that this wholly unjustified sentence will not be served, as logic suggests a man who is past 80 and deeply marked by injustice cannot again be pointlessly sent to jail.

At a meeting of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPCF) last week, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) also strongly criticized the judgement of the Spanish Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court’s decision was extremely surprising in that it overturned a lower court’s acquittal of the master, in his absence, and without hearing any new evidence as to his knowledge about the condition of the ship. This raises fundamental questions as to whether it was a fair trial,” said the ICS statement.

ICS says that the actions by the Spanish government to pursue its claims against the shipowner, for what are expected to be enormous amounts in excess of the shipowner’s limits of liability, could seriously undermine the system of shared liability that has been agreed under the CLC/Fund liability and compensation regime.

CE and Second on Greek bulker guilty of MarPol violation in Seatle

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 3:37 am
by The Dieselduck
Company and Crew Convicted on MARPOL Charges
By MarEx 2016-06-21 15:33:47

The owner and operator of the bulker Gallia Graeca and two of her engineers were convicted Monday of 12 felony counts related to MARPOL oily waste violations, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

The government alleged and the jury concurred that the Graeca's crew had bypassed the vessel's oil water separator and discharged some 5,000 gallons of oily bilge water over the side. Upon a Coast Guard port state control inspection, the crew attempted to conceal the act by making false statements and tampering with the vessel's oil record book. Inspectors asked the engineers to show them a test run of the separator during their visit aboard, and the engineers attempted to operate the equipment in a manner suggesting that it was functioning; in actuality it was inoperable. Coast Guard personnel found that the separator's filters were clogged, and logs showed it had no record of service for months prior to the inspection. A further search found oil residue in overboard discharge piping.

Prosecutors argued that the engineers made the effort in order to avoid the ship's detention in Seattle, which would have commercial implications for her operator. Further, the Coast Guard found that company executives had been in contact with the ship's engineers about how to present the oil record logbook for the port state control visit.

The ship’s operator, Angelakos Hellas, the shipowner, Gallia Graeca Shipping, the chief engineer, Konstantinos Chrysovergis and the second engineer, Tryfon Angelou were found guilty of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, falsification of records and engaging in a scheme to defraud the government. The jury deliberated for three days following an eight-day jury trial.

"The detection, investigation and prosecution of the illegal discharge of oil was truly a team effort," said Cmdr. Matt Edwards, chief of prevention at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. "While the vast majority of vessel owners run a safe and environmentally conscious operation, this case demonstrates our willingness to hold people and organizations accountable for willfully violating U.S. laws and regulations."

Sentencing is scheduled for this September. The falsification of records charge is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment; violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (the U.S. implementation of MARPOL) with up to six years; and scheming to defraud the United States with up to five years. Each count of conviction could also result in a $500,000 fine against each corporation and $250,000 against each crewmember.

Re: Seafarer criminalization

Posted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 6:13 am
by JollyJack
Proper thing!

Company who "disciplined" master, gets disciplined itself - Whistleblower

Posted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:20 pm
by The Dieselduck
Whistleblowing: Ship Master Wins Large Settlement In US Court
July 19, 2016 - Charlie Goetsch

A United States court has awarded over $1 Million in damages to former Horizon Lines master John Loftus. Captain Loftus filed suit after he was abruptly removed as Master in 2013 due to his reporting of safety violations to the U.S. Coast Guard and its delegated inspection agency, the American Bureau of Shipping.

Under the Seaman’s Protection Act (SPA), merchant marine seamen enjoy the same protection against retaliation that railroad workers enjoy under the Federal Rail Safety Act. But due to the shipping industry’s pervasive culture of retaliation against seamen who report safety hazards to outside enforcement agencies, hardly any SPA cases have been brought. Now comes a landmark million dollar SPA award exposing that culture of intimidation and declaring it no longer will be tolerated.

The case is John Loftus v. Horizon Lines, Inc. and Matson Alaska, Inc. In 2013 Captain Loftus was Master of the Horizon Trader, an 813 foot long container ship operating on the eastern seaboard between New York, Jacksonville, and San Juan Puerto Rico. Despite his 20 year unblemished record as a Captain, in June 2013 he was abruptly removed as Master due to his reporting of safety violations to the U.S. Coast Guard and its delegated inspection agency, the American Bureau of Shipping.

The purpose of the SPA is to augment the Coast Guard’s limited enforcement resources by encouraging seamen to report possible violations of safety regulations. It does so by prohibiting retaliation against seamen who report possible regulatory violations to the USCG or ABS. The world of American Mariners is small and everyone knows everyone else. By removing Loftus as Captain for specious reasons, Horizon sent a chilling message throughout the industry that safety complaints will be punished. John Loftus filed a SPA case not only to clear his name but more importantly to remedy the profoundly unsafe effect of that message.

After a three day trial, United States DOL Administrative Law Judge Jonathan C. Calianos issued a detailed 48 page Decision that is a complete vindication of John’s character as a man and as a Captain. It is a landmark SPA decision that will encourage seamen to report safety violations and discourage management from retaliating when they do.

Judge Calianos found “Captain Loftus was the most safety conscientious Master in the entire Horizon Lines fleet” with “an unusually strong commitment to the safety of his vessel and crew.” But Captain Loftus’s insistence on calling Horizon’s attention to serious safety hazards was met with indifference and inaction. As a result, “Loftus resorted to reporting safety concerns to the regulatory agencies because of Horizon’s consistent failure to correct hazardous conditions aboard the Trader. Loftus was clearly a thorn in Horizon’s side.”

In removing Loftus as Master, the Judge found “Horizon’s conduct was reprehensible” because it engaged in “machinations,” “smoke and mirrors,” and “fabrication” to mask “the real reasons” for its removal of Loftus as Master, “namely to discipline Loftus for his protected activity.” In addition to awarding full back wages and emotional distress, the Judge found such reprehensible conduct required the imposition of punitive damages close to the statutory maximum, explaining:

the need to deter others from engaging in similar conduct is uniquely critical in the SPA whistleblower context given such claims involved public safety, and an adverse action may have a chilling effect on the willingness of other seamen to report a violation. This is especially true considering how small the marine industry is, and how quickly word travels within it. Horizon’s retaliation against Loftus is exceptionally troublesome considering his reputation for being an exemplar of safety, which is exactly what the SPA is designed to promote.

The damages resulting from Horizon’s retaliation totals over $1 million: $655,000 in back wages with a high rate of interest compounded on a daily basis; $225,000 in punitive damages; $10,000 for emotional distress; and over $200,000 in attorney’s fee and expenses.

Charles Goetsch is a lawyer with over 30 years’ experience helping injured workers recover under the FELA and protecting employees who blow the whistle on safety or fraud in the workplace. In Full Disclosure, Charles Goetsch represented Captain Loftus in the above mentioned case.