MAINBRACE: March 2022


Note from the Editor

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr.

It seems that every time I write one of these notes, it is against the backdrop of some new global upheaval—the latest, of course, being the war in Ukraine. I am of a certain generation whose memory of World War II was through our parents, but not so distant that we were not regularly exposed to people with first-hand experiences with the horrors of that war. How many times have we said never again, only to be proved wrong?

The world currently hangs between the terrible tragedy that has already unfolded and the terrifying unknown of just how much worse things could still get. And yet, through this all, I have been repeatedly inspired by our Ukrainian friends who have shown the world the true meaning of the term “soldier on,” both in simultaneously defending their homeland and continuing to work and care for their families and friends. Their experience certainly puts our own “problems” in perspective.

Apart from the human tragedy, this war has imposed new complications and challenges on the global economy and, particularly, in shipping. As with the pandemic, the true impacts of this global disruption will be felt for months and years to come in ways we can only now imagine. And yet, as always, with great disruption comes great opportunity, and we have no doubt that our clients and friends are already hard at work looking for new ways to proactively harness this rapidly changing business environment. In today’s age, it seems, rapid change is “business as usual.”

In this issue of Mainbrace, we address the impact of the war on maritime commerce as well as some of the “business as usual” stories that are always relevant to players in the shipping field. We hope you enjoy these articles. As always, we welcome suggestions for topics for future issues of Mainbrace.

Peace to all.

Thomas H. Belknap, Jr., Editor


The Russian-Ukrainian War’s Impact on Maritime Commerce
By Keith B. Letourneau

Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has triggered significant reactions in the world of maritime commerce. In a matter of days since the beginning of Russia’s main offensive, the price of bunker fuel used for vessel propulsion systems has skyrocketed as have tanker charter-hire rates and war-risk premiums for vessels transiting to or from regions impacted by the conflict, including the Baltic and Black Seas, which have been designated as “listed areas” by the insurance industry’s War Risk Council. Read More »

Agreements to Arbitrate Seaman’s Personal Injury Suits Are Valid and Enforceable
By William R. Bennett III

Advanced Wage Agreements offer to pay “advanced wages” to an injured seaman, in addition to the legal obligations to pay maintenance and cure, in exchange for the seaman agreeing to arbitrate his personal injury claim if and when he decides to seek redress for his injury. Advanced Wage Agreements define advanced wages as “compensation for wages that a seaman has lost as a consequence of his/her injury.” Read More »

U.S. DOJ and FMC Increase Focus on Antitrust Enforcement
By William E. Lawler III and Kierstan L. Carlson

The Biden administration recently announced a renewed enforcement focus on consolidation and alliances in the maritime industry that may hinder competition and increase prices. While federal agencies historically have worked together to target anti-competitive conduct and shipping companies have been targeted in cases alleging cartel activity (e.g., price fixing, market allocation, and bid rigging), companies should heed the recent warnings and must be vigilant in ensuring compliance with competition laws now more than ever. Read More »

Developing Issues with Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships
By Alan M. Weigel

The development of large autonomous merchant vessels, also known as Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (“MASS”), has progressed at a significant pace with new vessels entering operation every year. Almost every maritime nation is engaged in developing autonomous vessel technologies, and several countries have designated parts of their national waters as test sites for MASS. Read More »

Carriage of Cargo on Deck: Carriers Be Aware
By Noe S. Hamra

Carriage of cargo on deck has always been problematic for vessel owners and operators. In addition to the typical risks associated with carrying cargo on deck, such as exposure to the elements and lashing and stability issues, carriers are also exposed to uncertainties regarding their potential liability for damages to such cargo. Read More »

EPA Ramps-Up VGP Inspections and Enforcement
By Jeanne M. Grasso and Kierstan L. Carlson

We are just over one year into the Biden administration and environmental enforcement is on the rise. Although enforcement dropped dramatically under the Trump administration, the current administration has been clear about its intent to use environmental enforcement tools to “encourage and incentivize compliance by private sector entities,” quoting Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, head of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. Read More »

Boffo Offshore Wind Sale Moves Biden Closer to Goal—But Tough Currents Remain
By Joan M. Bondareff

This article summarizes the latest developments in the U.S. offshore wind market and then reviews some of the troubling waters ahead. On February 25, 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the results of its mega offshore wind sale of six leases totaling over 488,000 acres in the New York Bight. Read More »

What Is the Insured’s Duty under a Marine Insurance Policy? It Depends…
By Thomas H. Belknap Jr.

The law governing marine insurance in the United States has long been a source of considerable confusion. And if there was once a clear set of principles applicable in such cases, the Supreme Court long ago muddied the waters with their infamous ruling in Wilburn Boat Co. v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., 348 U.S. 310 (1955). Read More »

Sensor Ships: Managing Big Data Generated in the Maritime World
By Vanessa C. DiDomenico, Karen H. Shin, and Sharon R. Klein

Big data is not a “trend” or fad; big data is a concept of gathering, deciphering, and analyzing massive quantities of information to ultimately reveal patterns and associations, and it is here to stay. Companies have proven how useful it can be to interpret performance trends to expose areas of vulnerability or underperformance within a company. Read More »

Must Foreign Debtors Have U.S. Property to be Eligible for Relief under Chapter 15?
By Rick Antonoff and Evan Jason Zucker

Chapter 15 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code provides a streamlined process for recognition (a form of comity) of a foreign insolvency proceeding. However, courts are divided as to whether a foreign debtor must satisfy the general definition of “debtor” as that term is used in section 109(a) of the Bankruptcy Code, which requires a debtor seeking bankruptcy relief to reside or have a domicile, a place of business, or property in the United States. Read More »


Chambers Global 2022 Ranks Blank Rome Attorneys and Shipping and Energy Practices

Our firm's attorneys were highly recognized for their industry knowledge and leading practices, and Blank Rome LLP was ranked as a global leader in “Shipping: Litigation” and USA leader in “Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory & Litigation).” Read More »

Blank Rome Earns Perfect Score in 2022 Corporate Equality Index

Our firm received a perfect score of 100 percent on the 2022 Corporate Equality Index, the nation’s foremost benchmarking survey and report measuring corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. With this score, Blank Rome has been designated for the seventh year in a row as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.” Read More »

Blank Rome Announces 2022 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow and Pathfinders

The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (“LCLD”) has selected attorneys in our firm to join the 2022 LCLD Fellows Program and Pathfinder Program. These hallmark programs are dedicated to producing a generation of attorneys with strong leadership and relationship skills who are committed to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within their individual institutions and throughout the legal industry. Read More »

The BR Privacy & Security Download

We invite you to read our March 2022 edition of The BR Privacy & Security Download, the monthly digital newsletter of Blank Rome’s Privacy, Security & Data Protection practice, which covers current trends and updates in the areas of state, local, and federal laws and regulations, U.S. litigation and enforcement, and international laws and regulations, as well as the group’s recent events and webinars, media activity, and news. Read More »

The BR State + Local Tax Spotlight

Welcome to the March 2022 edition of The BR State + Local Tax Spotlight, our monthly newsletter from Blank Rome’s State + Local Tax team that highlights important State + Local Tax developments across numerous jurisdictions and provides updates on significant legislative developments and judicial decisions that could impact business operations. Read More »


Severe Weather Emergency Recovery Team (“SWERT”)

SWERT is an interdisciplinary group of Blank Rome attorneys and government relations professionals with decades of experience helping companies and individuals recover from severe weather events, including recent hurricanes, wildfires, and mudslides across the United States. We are ready to assist those in the path of storms and other severe weather events. Read More »

Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force

From supply chain disruption, government-ordered closures, and event cancellations to employee safety concerns, vaccine requirements, and social distancing recommendations, every company is facing its own unique challenges surrounding this ongoing global pandemic. Blank Rome’s Coronavirus (“COVID-19”) Task Force is monitoring this ever-changing situation and is here to help.

Safe Passage Blog

We invite our readers to dive into our archive of Mainbrace newsletters and maritime development advisories, as well as keep abeam with all of our current and upcoming analyses on trending maritime topics and legislation, in our Safe Passage blog. Read More »

Blank Rome’s Maritime Industry Team

Our maritime industry team is composed of practice-focused subcommittees from across many of our firm’s offices, with attorneys who have extensive capabilities and experience in the maritime industry and beyond, effectively complementing Blank Rome Maritime’s client cases and transactions. Read More »

© 2022 Blank Rome LLP. All rights reserved. Please contact Blank Rome for permission to reprint. Notice: The purpose of this update is to identify select developments that may be of interest to readers. The information contained herein is abridged and summarized from various sources, the accuracy and completeness of which cannot be assured. This update should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.