Cruise Law News : Maritime Lawyer & Attorney : James M. Walker : Walker & O’Neill Law Firm : Admiralty Law, Cruise Ship Accidents & Injuries

div class=”blogbody”> The Juneau Empire published an interesting article this morning about how the cruise industry routinely ignores a U.S. law requiring the use of U.S. longshore workers to perform certain duties, such as operating tender boats and handling cargo and luggage.   

The newspaper reports that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) plans to picket today over the practice of the cruise lines which refuse to utilize U.S. union workers when the foreign flagged cruise ships call on Juneau and other ports in Alaska.

The president of the local longshore union (Alaska Longshore Division Local 200 Unit 16) is quoted in the newspaper as saying that the cruise industry is in "blatant disregard" of the Immigration and Nationality Act - INA: ACT 258 (Limitations On Performance Of Longshore work By Alien Crewmen). 

A representative of the cruise industry responded to the longshore union’s complaints by stating that the cruise ships only recently began utilizing U.S. ship crew members for tender boat operations after the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol required the use of American employees.

The issue remains whether the cruise lines are violating the INA by not using union workers to perform the tender and other longshore operations. 

The union representative stated that the union employees intend to demonstrate in Juneau and later in Sitka and Ketchikan, but are not going to disrupt the cruise ship operations.

in addition to Alaska, the ILWU primarily represents dock workers on the West Coast of the U.S., Hawaii and British Columbia, Canada.  The union was established in 1937 after the 1934 "West Coast Waterfront Strike," a 3 month long strike that turned violent in California. 

This issue is just the latest dispute between the ILWU and the cruise industry.  Cruise ships routinely try and use their non-U.S. non-union crewmembers to perform shore-side longshore duties such cargo work, baggage handling, tender operations, and making electrical power connections when the cruise ships are in port.            

Tags: Flags of Convenience, alaska, cruise, ilwu, longshore, strike, union

Environmental Groups File Suit in California to Slow Ships Down in Order to Avoid Whale Strikes

Posted on June 6, 2011 by Jim Walker The Mercury News in San Jose California reports that four environmental groups filed a petition with the federal government today seeking to force cruise ships and other large vessels to slow down in waters between San Francisco and Los Angeles in order to reduce the chances of whale strikes.

A San Francisco environmental group, Pacific Environment, as well as Friends of the Earth, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Environmental Defense Center filed the petition.  They are seeking to apply a speed limit of 10 knots for all vessels larger than 65 feet while sailing through California’s four national marine sanctuaries.

The legal proceeding was filed against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA").  

The newspaper reports that nearly 50 large whales off California have been struck by ships in the last 10 years.  Around 3,500 cargo ships, oil tankers and cruise ships sail into San Francisco Bay every year, many are coming from or heading to Los Angeles, typically traveling between 13 and 25 knots.

Shipping company officials told the newspaper that they do neither support nor oppose such a speed limit, and will not commit to a position until more study is performed indicating that it can reduce collisions.

If NOAA fails to impose a speed limit, the environmental groups said that they will consider filing a lawsuit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and other laws.

In one of the most graphic photographs of a cruise ship / whale strike, in 2009 the Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess arrived in port in Vancouver, unaware that the cruise ship impaled a fin whale on the ship’s bow while in Alaskan waters (photo below).  The whale was a female fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus).  Princess claimed that the whale was already dead when the cruise ship hit her.  


Photo credits:

Top:  John Ford /

Bottom:  Rex Features / Telegraph U.K.

Tags: Collisions, cruise, cruise ship, speed limit, strike, whale

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