Imagine a large ship is pulling into a port. The ship is acargo vessel that is transporting cargo from across the sea. It may be bringing goods from China and other parts in the Far East. It may be docking at a port on the West Coast; or perhaps it is docking at a port in Galveston, Texas. When the ship is close to the dock, a fire erupts. Due to the enormity of the ship, the fire is also large. The flames engulf both the ship and anything near it, including other ships and the dock. The operators of the docking station immediately inform emergency management and, in a short time, emergency personnel arrive at the scene to fight the fire and perform a rescue operation. The fire also harms personnel, including crew members, longshoreman, and cargo haulers.
Similarly, suppose an accident occurs at sea where ships collide or a ship in the Gulf of Mexico collides with an oil drilling platform and, due to the collision, a fire erupts. To combat the fire, administrative personnel inform emergency management, who send fire boats and other first responders to fight the fire and save lives.
In 1977, President Gerald R. Ford signed the International Navigation Rules Act, or Navigation Act, as a method to prevent such accidents. It is perhaps more relevant now that it ever has been due to the increasing amounts of international business and international shipping, coupled with the increasing amount of offshore oil drilling platforms found in places like the Gulf of Mexico.
Maritime Accident Statistics
A case study of Maritime accidents states that 95% of all accidents at sea are the result of either human error related to the collision and a breach of following the proper regulations. Accident-prevention regulation is an integral part of keeping maritime waters safe so that international business and other activities can flow interrupted throughout international waterways.
The Navigation Act is based on the United Nations Convention for the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea from 1972. Based on the Navigation Act, the United States Coast Guard, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, published numerous handbooks detailing navigation rules. These rules are similar to rules of highway driving where items such as safe driving speeds and safe driving distances are an integral part of keeping the highways safe and keep traffic moving.
The following are a few snippets from the August 2014 edition:
- Rule 6-keeping a safe speed;
- Rule 7-determing the risk of collision;
- Rule 8-action necessary to avoid impending collisions;
- Rule 10-traffic separation schemes
- Stay in lane of the general traffic flow
- Only fish when there is a separation zone
- Avoid anchoring in areas of high traffic
- Rule 14-rules governing head on situations and similar situations;
- Rule-Responsibility between Vessels.
If you or your company engages in the maritime business, partner with a law firm that has the knowledge and experience in maritime law that your company needs. Contact the Kolodny law firm, maritime attorneys.