On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon mobile offshore drilling unit exploded and sank approximately forty miles off the southern coast of Louisiana while working on the Macondo/MC252 oil well. According to federal government estimates, over the next eighty-seven days the well discharged over 200 million gallons of crude oil into the ecologically rich waters of the Gulf of Mexico. BP disputed this estimate as between twenty percent and fifty percent too high in comments submitted to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which was responsible for investigating the incident. As of this writing, the dispute between the federal government and BP persists over the amount of oil actually discharged into the Gulf of Mexico.
“In an honest service there are commonly low wages and hard labour: in piracy, satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power . . . . [A] merry life and a short one shall be my motto.”
— Captain Bartholomew Roberts, aka “Black Bart,” notorious pirate in the seventeenth century
Human beings, whether on land or at sea, have always had to choose between leading an honest, hardworking existence and leading a life of crime. Those who put to sea and choose the latter, we call pirates–and there have been no shortage of them. Pirates have long menaced the high seas, seeking harbors and ports to plunder and pillage for treasure. Although a 1696 trial at the Old Bailey deemed that “piracy is only a sea-term for robbery” that was “committed within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty,” it continues to emerge in new forms over time. As the twenty-first century unfolds, the world again confronts piracy. Rather than the romanticized “Black Bart” Roberts, today’s pirates are often found in small dhows off the coast of Somalia armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Some supply themselves with modern-age sextants, namely global positioning devices, and walkie-talkies. These new pirates have seized large tankers carrying oil or chemicals–cargoes valued up to $100 million–as far as several hundred miles off the coast of Somalia. In 2008, pirates attacked 141 vessels off the Horn of Africa; in 2010, the number increased to 160 vessel attacks, which resulted in the capture of 53 ships in the region; and in the first half of 2011, there were already 177 pirate attacks. These attacks continue today.
On behalf of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal members, our faculty
The Senior Board of Volume 38 of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal is very pleased to announce
Please join us for a presentation of selected works from Volume 38
Larry Kiern, a partner in Winston & Strawn’s Washington, D.C. office who concentrates his practice on maritime and admiralty law, has been named a “2012 Distinguished Legal Writing Award” recipient by the Burton Awards for Legal Achievement. This honor is dedicated to rewarding great achievements in law, with a special emphasis on writing and reform. […]
Last week USDC Judge Barbier issued the first set of rulings in the Deepwater Horizon Case. Judge Barbier dismissed a group of the claims against BP. The claims dismissed were mostly comprised of environmental groups who were not seeking monetary damages. The journal will be following the case and frequently posting tidbits as rulings come […]
A railroad employee filed a negligence action against his employer under FELA. The employee was injured while engaging in switching the rail carts, and claimed 1) his employer required him to utilize unsafe switching equipment, and 2) his employer failed to properly train him to use the equipment. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court […]
The Carnival Splendor (a 952-foot Panamanian-flagged ship carrying 3,299 guests and 1,167 crew members) is currently stranded 130 miles off the coast of Mexico after losing power. The vessel lost power at approximately 6:00 a.m. Monday, November 8, 2010, following a fire in its aft engine room. The blaze was extinguished without injury to passengers or […]
According to a letter Thursday from Fred Bartlit, Jr., the lead investigator for a federal probe of the Gulf oil disaster, BP and Halliburton knew of potential flaws in the cement slurry used to reinforce the oil well below the Deepwater Horizon rig before it exploded on April 20, 2010. The letter, to the National […]