Maritime - Regulatory Compliance


“A regular and excellent service, which clients rely on for practical and well-considered advice.”

— Chambers USA 

Operating in the maritime industry is challenging given the high degree of regulation and potential for disputes. Businesses require skilled and experienced counsel to avoid the hazards and threat of investigations, enforcement actions, and the litigation that can follow incidents of noncompliance.

Worldwide, shipowners and operators, shippers, shipbuilders, waterfront facilities, and their in-house counsel trust us to guide them safely through the maze of U.S. and international regulations. Our maritime regulatory compliance team anticipates challenges and prepares businesses before problems arise. We advise clients on regulatory requirements, audit operations, and develop compliance and training programs that are essential for business operations and also will assist in mitigating the consequences of an incident or violation. 

Our maritime regulatory compliance attorneys provide advice for both U.S. and international maritime operations in all aspects of regulatory compliance, including ballast water management, coastwise trade, import/export issues, cargo preference, citizenship and crewing, deepwater ports licensing, environmental, vessel safety, maritime security matters, marine facility operations, offshore wind farms, outer continental shelf vessel compliance and exemptions, and more. We also train shoreside and shipboard employees to help ensure they understand requirements—and the potential legal pitfalls. Our services cover all types of vessels, including tankers, LNG carriers, cargo ships, bulk carriers, tugs/barges, fishing vessels, cruise ships, small passenger vessels and yachts, offshore construction and servicing vessels, among others, and remain at the forefront of the developing practice surrounding advanced technology and autonomy in maritime operations.

We routinely work with the U.S. Coast Guard, Maritime Administration, Federal Maritime Commission, Environmental Protection Agency (and state counterparts), U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Military Sealift Command, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, and State, the International Maritime Organization, and regional port authorities and trade associations around the world.

How We Can Help 

We can advise on international, federal, and state regulatory requirements, including, but not limited to:

  • Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships
  • Clean Water Act
  • Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act or “Superfund” (“CERCLA”)
  • International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (“MARPOL”)
  • International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (“COLREGS”)
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, including the ISM Code and the ISPS Code
  • Maritime Transportation and Security Act of 2002
  • Oil Pollution Act of 1990
  • Ports and Waterways Safety Act (“PWSA”) and Magnuson Act    
  • Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”)
    Shipping Act of 1984
  • Jones Act and other Coastwise Laws
  • Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (“STCW”)
  • Maritime Labor Convention (“MLC”)

What Sets Us Apart 

  • With nearly 40 shipping lawyers in New York, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Philadelphia, Blank Rome has the largest and most comprehensive maritime practice in the United States. 
  • Chambers Global 2023 recognized Blank Rome as a global leader in Shipping: Litigation — Global-wide.

    • “Blank Rome has a well-regarded shipping litigation practice, with considerable expertise in dealing with high-profile disputes, as well as maritime arbitration. It is respected both within the USA and internationally for its deep industry knowledge. The law firm offers:

      • Notable expertise in handling a wide range of issues, including casualties, charter party disputes, bankruptcy and environmental matters.

      • Experience acting for a mix of owners, operators, charterers, financial institutions and shipyards.

      • Additional strength advising on shipping issues as they intersect with environmental litigation.” 

    • Sources have said:

      • “One peer described the team as a ‘real quality outfit.’”

      • “A source particularly praised the firm’s skills in handling maritime transactions.”

      • “The firm has a fantastic reputation in the international shipping community.”

  • Chambers USA consistently ranks our Maritime practice group Band 1:

    • 2019–2023: ranked Blank Rome Band 1 for Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Litigation (New York) – Nationwide, Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Litigation (Outside New York) – Nationwide, and Transportation: Shipping/Maritime: Regulatory. Sources have said:

      • “It fields one of the most highly regarded regulatory teams in the USA alongside stellar litigation and transactional practices, and is also home to one of the premier governmental affairs groups…The firm has excellent resources to handle large, complex cases with serious consequences.”

      • “Clients value the firm’s ‘amazing array of subject matter experts across multiple disciplines and jurisdictions’”

      • “‘Their service is excellent and they are very responsive.’”

      • “‘They’re absolutely top of the line, no question at all.’”

      • “[T]he team has ‘a lot of very successful and talented lawyers’ and … [a] ‘truly international practice.’”

  • The Legal 500 United States 2024 ranked Blank Rome Top Tier in Transport: Shipping – Litigation and Regulation.
  • Recipient of the Lloyd’s List North American Maritime Legal Services Award 2015 and 2016.
  • 2013 U.S. News & World Report—Best Lawyers (Woodward/White, Inc.): designated “Law Firm of the Year” for Maritime & Admiralty Law.
  • Several of our maritime attorneys lecture at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s OPA 90 Qualified Individual Training Program on legal issues related to pollution incidents, and are often asked to serve as arbitrators and expert witnesses in foreign litigation and courts on issues of U.S. maritime law. 
  • Our attorneys include former U.S. Coast Guard and Navy officers, representatives and senior staff from Congressional committees, and high-level officials of government agencies, including the Department of Justice, Maritime Administration, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • Among our attorneys, we have a professor of maritime law at the New York University School of Law, an adjunct professor at Drexel University’s School of Law teaching admiralty law, and an adjunct professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology where she teaches Information Security & Law. Additionally we have several authors and editors of leading maritime treatises and textbooks, including Time Charters, Voyage Charters, The International Law of the Shipmaster, Maritime Security Handbook, the chapter “Maritime Cyber Security: The Unavoidable Wave of Change,” in Issues in Maritime Cyber Security and the Benedict on Admiralty volume relating to salvage.

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