MAINBRACE: March 2024

Note from the Editor

William R. Bennett III

What an amazing news cycle for shipping during the past two years, starting with the March 2021 EVER GIVEN grounding in the Suez Canal and running through the ongoing disruptions in shipping resulting from the Houthi attacks on vessels transiting the Red Sea. Add in sanctions, the dark fleet, cruise ship mishaps…well you get the picture. The point is the general public certainly has—or should have—become more aware of the impact global international shipping has on their daily lives.

But is that really the story of today’s global shipping industry? In the short term, yes, but in the long term, no. The story of today’s global shipping industry is what the maritime industry is presently doing that goes unnoticed by the public but will certainly shape the maritime industry in the future. For the foreseeable future, fossil fuels will continue to be the primary source of vessel propulsion. Nevertheless, significant investment of money and human capital is being made on issues involving the use of alternative fuels and the design of future vessels, sustainability, carbon reduction, wind as a vessel propulsion source, and offshore wind as a viable alternative source of energy (at least for the United States). And, although not every alternative fuel currently being considered for vessel propulsion will become a cost-effective and efficient workable solution, and while the full-scale installation of offshore wind along the U.S. East Coast may still be a few years away, the maritime industry has proven it is open to investing in solutions leading to “clean propulsion” and “clean energy.” Consequently—being the eternal optimist—finding an alternative fuel that is a cost-effective and efficient source of vessel propulsion is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.”

— William R. Bennett III, Editor


MARPOL SOS—It’s Time for the U.S. Coast Guard to Protect Seafarers
By Kierstan L. Carlson, Jeanne M. Grasso, and Gregory F. Linsin

The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (“APPS”) is the U.S. law that implements the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (“MARPOL”). Since a policy shift in 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard’s (“USCG”) approach to enforcing APPS has trapped hundreds of foreign seafarers in a legal limbo in the United States that has deprived them of their liberty, commonly for a year or more; impaired their maritime careers; and exacted serious emotional and psychological tolls on the seafarers and their families. Read More »

The Legacy of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990
By Keith B. Letourneau

In 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef, Alaska resulting in the spill of more than 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. The resulting ecological disaster galvanized Congress to enact the Oil Pollution Act the next year. This legislation has had far-reaching implications for the carriage of oil by ship, enforcement actions against responsible parties, funding to respond to spills nationwide, and the protection of the U.S. marine environment. Read More »

Enforcing Foreign Arbitral Awards in the United States
By Thomas H. Belknap Jr.

Sometimes, once an arbitration award is issued, the losing party accepts its lumps and pays the award, promptly and in full. At times, however, it is not so simple. The losing party may consider that the award is unfair or wrongly decided, or it may simply refuse or be unable to pay. In such cases, each party has decisions to make. For the prevailing party, the question is where and how to attempt to turn the arbitration award into money. Read More »

EPA Issues Supplemental Notice of Proposed Ruling to Implement the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act—Finally!
By Jeanne M. Grasso and Dana S. Merkel

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) published a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“SNPR”) on October 18, 2023, modifying its initial proposed rule from three years ago on performance standards for vessel incidental discharges. The SNPR addressed only three limited areas—ballast water, hulls and associated niche areas, and graywater—and did not make any sweeping changes to the October 26, 2020, proposal. This action lays the groundwork for the finalization of EPA’s final standards for the incidental discharges from vessels—finally. Read More »

Red Sea Readiness: Navigating Risk Mitigation Measures for Safe Passage
By William R. Bennett III and Holli B. Packer

Since late 2023, the Yemen-based, Iran-backed Houthi rebel group has attacked dozens of commercial ships in the Red Sea, with no signs of slowing down. The unrest in the region threatens to impact supply chains and increase consumer prices. As activities in the Red Sea develop, appropriate precautions should be made to anticipate the instability in the region. Read More »

Summary of Impact of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships
By R. Anthony Salgado and Natalie M. Radabaugh

Many Mainbrace readers are likely aware that the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 (the “HKC”), is set to enter into force on June 26, 2025, following its ratification by Liberia and Bangladesh last June. Since then, Pakistan, a major ship recycler, and the Marshall Islands, a major flag state, have also ratified the HKC, thereby amplifying its importance to the shipping industry. Read More »

A Tale of Two Canals
By Keith B. Letourneau

Ordinarily, over 36,000 merchant ships pass through the Suez and Panama Canals each year representing about 30 percent of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage. This year, both canals face extraordinary events beyond their control, which are affecting vessel transits and arrivals across the globe. Following Hamas’ attack on Israeli citizens and Israel’s retaliatory response, Houthi rebels in Yemen funded by Iran have launched missile and drone attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden (“Gulf”) as they enter and depart the Red Sea. Read More »


Blank Rome Highly Ranked in U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2024 “Best Law Firms”

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that our firm was ranked nationally in 31 practice areas and regionally in 96 practice areas in the 2024 “Best Law Firms” survey by U.S. News & World Report – Best Lawyers®. Read More »

Blank Rome Attorneys Recognized in 2024 Best Lawyers in America®

Earlier this year, Blank Rome was recognized in the 2024 Best Lawyers in America survey, which ranked 200 firm attorneys in the annual categories of “Lawyers of the Year,” “Ones to Watch,” and “Best Lawyers” in 50 practice groups across 12 regions. Read More »

The BR Derivatives Report

Our new BR Derivatives Report blog, authored by Blank Rome’s seasoned Finance and Investment Management attorneys, sheds light on the ever-shifting regulatory landscape and developments affecting the negotiation of transactions in this dynamic sector of the financial markets. Our goal is to make the derivatives market accessible and understandable, and to provide valuable updates and observations that inform business and regulatory decisions. You can receive new content as it publishes by subscribing. Read More »

The BR Privacy & Security Download

We invite you to read our March 2024 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 February 2024 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 hurricanes, wildfires, mudslides, snowstorms, earthquakes, and tornadoes. We are ready to assist those in the path of storms and other severe weather events. Read More »

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 »

© 2024 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.