The Federal Maritime Commissioners will soon have a full complement of five
commissioners for the first time in many years. On November 10, 1999 the US
Senate confirmed the appointments of Joseph E. Brennan and Antony M. Merck to
the Federal Maritime Commission. President Clinton made both appointments
earlier this year, but they required Senate confirmation.
Commissioner Brennan, former Governor of the State of Maine, was sworn
in on November 18, 1999 for a term that will expire June 30, 2003. He fills
appointed position open since the retirement of FMC Chairman William D. Hathaway,
who retired in 1996. Antony M. Merck, a maritime attorney from Charleston, South
Carolina, will begin his service on Jan. 1, 2000 for a term expiring on June 30, 2001.
Mr. Merck will replace Commissioner Ming Hsu, who will retire on December 31, 1999,
after 10 years of distinguished service at the agency.
Prior to his election as Governor of Maine in 1979, Commissioner Brennan
was elected to several important offices in the State of Maine, including
State’s Attorney General. After leaving the Governor’s office he served
in the U.S. House of Representatives until 1991, and then entered private
practice as an attorney in Washington, D.C. Commissioner Brennan is graduate
of Boston College, and holds a J.D. degree from the University of Maine School
FMC Chairman Harold J. Creel, Jr., praised Mr. Brennan in welcoming him to
the agency: “We all are extremely pleased that Joe Brennan is joining us as our
newest Commissioner. Joe brings a world of experience and knowledge to the
Commission, and he definitely will enrich our deliberations. I have been
very impressed with Joe’s pragmatic approach to things, as well as his keen
grasp of relevant issues. I am happy to have Joe as a colleague, and I look
forward to working with him.”
Antony M. Merck, is a respected maritime attorney who was recommended
for the appointment by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS). Mr. Merck,
54, is graduate of the University of Virginia, and received his law degree
from the University of South Carolina. He served in the US Marines and the
US Coast Guard. He is a member the Maritime Law Association of the United States,
the Propeller Club of the United States and the Maritime Association of the Port
of Charleston. Mr. Merck is a trustee and Treasurer of the Merck Family Fund,
a private foundation based in Milton, Massachusetts that supports non-profit
organizations dedicated to environmental and urban community issues. In 1998,
the Merck Family Fund awarded a total of more than USD 2 million in grants.
These two new Commissioners join FMC Chairman Hal Creel of South Carolina, Commissioner Delmond Won of Hawaii,
and Commissioner John Moran of Virginia. Chairman Creel and Commissioner Won are the longest serving, having been
appointed in 1994, and re-appointed in 1998 and 1999, respectively. By law not more than three of the
Commissioners may represent one political party. Commissioner Moran and Antony Merck are Republicans; the rest of
the Commissioners are Democrats.
Under the terms of a compromise agreement negotiated by the FMC Bureau of Enforcement and Expeditors International
Washington, Inc. the FMC’s formal investigation into allegations of violations of the Shipping Act by Expeditors has
been settled. In the settlement agreement Expeditors acknowledged “certain unintentional errors with respect to
the tariff filing requirements for the market rates charged for some shipments under its NVOCC tariff,” but it
denied that it engaged in any willful and knowing violations of the Shipping Act.” Expeditors indicated it has
place systems designed to prevent the practices alleged in Docket 99-11. In consideration of these statements, and
payment of USD 112,500 to the FMC, the settlement was approved and this FMC investigation was formally discontinued.
In this proceeding, the FMC Secretary assisted Global Transporte Oceanico S.A., a Brazilian vessel operator, in
filing a formal complaint against Coler Ocean Independent Lines Co., an NVOCC based in Miami, FL. According to
99-14, Coler failed to remit to Global Transporte full freight charges for a shipment carried by Global Transport
Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina in March 1999. Coler paid Global Transporte USD 15,783 of the USD 30,783 freight
for the shipment, and promised to pay the balance in timely installments, but failed to make such payments.
Global Transporte alleged that Coler violated Section10(a) (1) of the Shipping Act by “knowingly and
fraudulently misrepresenting that it would pay for the ocean freight and related charges in full and then refusing
remit full payment for same.” FMC Administrative Law Judge Norman D. Kline agreed with Global Transporte, and
ordered Coler to pay the USD 15,000 freight due, plus interest, and allowed Global Transporte to petition for an
of reasonable attorney’s fees.
The FMC continues to study the proposal for a new definition of Vessel Operating Common Carrier (VOCC). Docket
was listed as an agenda item for discussion by the FMC Commissioners at their meeting of Nov. 9, 1999, but it was
withdrawn shortly before the meeting to allow additional time to analyze the issues raised. In this controversial
docket, issued June 25, 1999, the FMC proposed to amend its regulations to clarify the definition of “ocean
common carrier” and make it more restrictive.
If Docket 99-10 were finalized, only ocean common carriers that operate vessels in at least one United States trade
would be allowed to register as VOCCs. Ocean carriers issuing bills of lading to or from the USA who do not operate
least one vessel making regularly scheduled direct calls at US ports would be subject to FMC regulations that apply
Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers, including licensing and bonding requirements. As NVOCCs these carriers would
longer enjoy the opportunity to enter into service contracts with their shippers, are would not be able to
in agreements with other VOCCs.
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