Appeals court upholds U.S. Coast Guard ruling
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that the National Transportation Safety Board is required to defer to reasonable interpretations of the U.S. Coast Guard, “the agency charged with primary enforcement.”
The decision came in a case in which the Coast Guard had suspended the license of a U.S. mariner for misconduct in failing to sound a warning signal prior to a collision of two ships.
Official rules provide that such a signal must be sounded if one vessel is in doubt whether sufficient action is being taken by the other ship to avoid a collision.
“The Coast Guard interpreted the rule to include instances when one vessel thinks the other vessel is doing the wrong thing. On administration review, the NTSB ruled that, since the mariner was not in doubt about the sufficiency of the other ship’s action — he was certain a collision would occur — the rule did not apply, and no warning signal was necessary,” said Dennis Bryant, an admiralty attorney in Washington, D.C.
The appeals court reversed the NTSB’s ruling in “Collins v. National Transportation Safety Board,” No. 02-1298 (D.C. Circuit).