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CRS — Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (August 5, 2014)

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims in the East China (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS), particularly since late 2013, have heightened concerns among observers that ongoing disputes over these waters and some of the islands within them could lead to a crisis or conflict between China and a neighboring country such as Japan, the Philippines, or Vietnam, and that the United States could be drawn into such a crisis or conflict as a result of obligations the United States has under bilateral security treaties with Japan and the Philippines.

More broadly, China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and EEZ claims have led to increasing concerns among some observers that China may be seeking to dominate or gain control of its near-seas region, meaning the ECS, the SCS, and the Yellow Sea. Chinese domination over or control of this region, or Chinese actions that are perceived as being aimed at achieving such domination or control, could have major implications for the United States, including implications for U.S.-China relations, for interpreting China’s rise as a major world power, for the security structure of the Asia-Pacific region, for the long-standing U.S. strategic goal of preventing the emergence of a regional hegemon in one part of Eurasia or another, and for two key elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II—the non-use of force or coercion as a means of settling disputes between countries, and freedom of the seas.

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The Cruise Passenger’s Rights and Remedies 2014: The COSTA CONCORDIA Disaster: One Year Later, Many More Incidents Both on Board Megaships and During Risky Shore Excursions

July 11, 2014 Comments off

The Cruise Passenger’s Rights and Remedies 2014: The COSTA CONCORDIA Disaster: One Year Later, Many More Incidents Both on Board Megaships and During Risky Shore Excursions (PDF)
Source: Tulane Maritime Law Journal

Between January 2012 and May 2013, there were a series of disasters involving, inter alia, a megaship thought to be unsinkable that sank faster than the TITANIC, megaships thought to be fireproof that were not, and megaships thought to be secured by appropriate backup systems, both mechanical and electrical, that did not exist.

Modern cruise ships are best view ed as floating deluxe hotels that transport their guests from exotic port to exotic port where they stay a few hours for shopping, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing, parasailing, and touring. Although there are problems on board cruise ships, generally it is safer to be on board than on a shore excursion. However, shore excursions are highly promoted 11 by the cruise lines, generate substantial revenues, and cause an increasing number of reported deaths and serious injuries to cruise passengers. Examples of such injuries include quadriplegia after an unforgettable swim at Lover’s Beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; 13 quadriplegia after ta king a dive at Señor Frog’s Restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico; 14 being shot to death near Coki Beach in St. Thomas; 15 injury while riding an ATV in Acapulco, Mexico; 16 being struck by lightning during a catamaran ride in Montego Bay, Jamaica; 17 injury during a zip-line excursion in Jamaica; 18 assault and robbery during an excursion to Earth Village in Nassau; 19 slip and fall during a Laughton Glacier Hike Tour; 20 asphyxiation in a diving bell in Bermuda; 21 death while parasailing in Cozumel, Mexico; 22 death after being run over by a tour bus after re turning from the Ra in Forest Aerial Tram in Dominica; 23 and death after a tour bus ran off a mountain road in Chile.

From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean

June 30, 2014 Comments off

From Decline to Recovery: A Rescue Package for the Global Ocean (PDF)
Source: Global Ocean Commission
From Report Summary (PDF):

The compelling evidence of ocean decline, in the high seas and as a result of high seas resource extraction, has fired our conscience and concern. The Commission was determined to identify solutions that will directly and effectively put us on track to shifting from a vicious cycle of decline to a virtuous cycle of high seas recovery. Our drive to turn things round – our imagination and our commitment – has been fired by good and sometimes inspiring examples of sustainable and even rejuvenating practice. We are confident about and encouraged by the availability of viable solutions stemming from the huge advances in marine science and understanding; the growing awareness and engagement of global citizens in ocean issues; and the new focus on the ocean within the global climate change and UN post-2015 global development debates. We believe that the opportunity and time to address the threats facing the global ocean is now.

In the following pages we set out our proposals for reversing the cycle of decline. The eight proposals provide a carefully targeted rescue package for the high seas. The proposals form a coherent whole. They specifically address the weaknesses in governance, the lack of equity and sustainability regarding the use of high seas resources, and the new and emerging pressures that need to be pre-empted before undue harm is caused. In each case, we have seen what works and have been inspired by it.

There are clear economic incentives for both the public and private sectors to take their responsibilities in the high seas more seriously. Without stronger governance and regulation, uncertainty will continue to pervade ocean-related industries and reduce profits. Without globally agreed standards and guidelines in the emerging sectors such as offshore oil and gas and deep sea mineral extraction, the risks and liabilities will be hard to assess and control. Most of all, without urgent global action to prevent climate change, and efforts to build resilience against its impacts, the cost to the global economy will rise exponentially. We can continue to lay cables and ship containers across a dead ocean, but without paying attention to sustaining the life within it, we put our own lives and those of every living thing in peril.

New From the GAO

June 24, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Maritime Security: Ongoing U.S. Counterpiracy Efforts Would Benefit From Agency Assessments. GAO-14-422, June 19.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-422
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664269.pdf

2. Combating Terrorism: U.S. Efforts in Northwest Africa Would Be Strengthened by Enhanced Program Management. GAO-14-518, June 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-518
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664335.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664322

3. Private Health Insurance: The Range of Average Annual Premiums in the Small Group Market by State in Early 2013. GAO-14-524R, May 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-524R

4. Public Transportation: Federal Role Key to Rural and Tribal Transit. GAO-14-589, June 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-589
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664339.pdf

5. Prepositioned Stocks: DOD’s Strategic Policy and Implementation Plan. GAO-14-659R, June 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-659R

6. Transportation Security Information Sharing: Stakeholder Satisfaction Varies; TSA Could Take Additional Actions to Strengthen Efforts. GAO-14-506, June 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-506
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664349.pdf

Related Product

Transportation Security Information Sharing: Results of GAO’s Survey of Stakeholder Satisfaction with TSA Products and Mechanisms (GAO-14-488SP, June 2014), an E-supplement to GAO-14-506. GAO-14-488SP, June 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-488SP

Testimony

1. Explosives Detection Canines: TSA Has Taken Steps to Analyze Canine Team Data and Assess the Effectiveness of Passenger Screening Canines, by Jennifer Grover, acting director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Transportation Security, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-14-659T, June 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-695T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664330.pdf

CRS — Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress

June 17, 2014 Comments off

Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Coast Guard’s FY2013 budget initiated a new project for the design and construction of a new polar icebreaker. The project received $7.609 million in FY2013 and $2.0 million in FY2014. The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2015 budget requests $6 million to continue initial acquisition activities for the ship.

Coast Guard polar icebreakers perform a variety of missions supporting U.S. interests in polar regions. The Coast Guard’s two existing heavy polar icebreakers—Polar Star and Polar Sea— have exceeded their originally intended 30-year service lives. Polar Star was placed in caretaker status on July 1, 2006. Congress in FY2009 and FY2010 provided funding to repair it and return it to service for an additional 7 to 10 years of service; the repair work was completed and the ship was reactivated on December 14, 2012. On June 25, 2010, the Coast Guard announced that Polar Sea had suffered an unexpected engine casualty; the ship was unavailable for operation after that. The Coast Guard placed Polar Sea in commissioned, inactive status on October 14, 2011.

The Coast Guard’s third polar icebreaker—Healy—entered service in 2000. Compared to Polar Star and Polar Sea, Healy has less icebreaking capability (it is considered a medium polar icebreaker), but more capability for supporting scientific research. The ship is used primarily for supporting scientific research in the Arctic.

See also: Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)

U.S. Coast Guard releases report of investigation of the sinking of the tall ship Bounty

June 15, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Coast Guard releases report of investigation of the sinking of the tall ship Bounty
Source: U.S. Coast Guard

Today the U.S. Coast Guard released its report of investigation of the October 2012 sinking of the tall ship Bounty, during which one crewmember died and another remains missing and is presumed dead, off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C.

The findings in the report conclude that a combination of faulty management and crew risk assessment procedures contributed to the sinking. Specifically, choosing to navigate a vessel in insufficient material condition in close proximity to an approaching hurricane with an inexperienced crew was highlighted.

CRS –Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress

June 12, 2014 Comments off

Navy Ship Names: Background for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Names for Navy ships traditionally have been chosen and announced by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President and in accordance with rules prescribed by Congress. Rules for giving certain types of names to certain types of Navy ships have evolved over time. There have been exceptions to the Navy’s ship-naming rules, particularly for the purpose of naming a ship for a person when the rule for that type of ship would have called for it to be named for something else. Some observers in recent years have perceived a breakdown in, or corruption of, the rules for naming Navy ships. On July 13, 2012, the Navy submitted to Congress a 73-page report on the Navy’s policies and practices for naming ships. The report, which was submitted in response to Section 1014 of the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1540/P.L. 112-81 of December 31, 2011), states: “Current ship naming policies and practices fall well within the historic spectrum of policies and practices for naming vessels of the Navy, and are altogether consistent with ship naming customs and traditions.”

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