The Limits of Pacific Maritime Law

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Baby steps, baby steps. Last week, some twenty Pacific navies meeting at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in Qingdao agreed to what participants are styling as a Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES). CUES, like the Cold War-vintage INCSEA agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia, calls on mariners to forego provocative actions on the high seas and in international airspace, and to contact one another to clear up such misunderstandings as do arise. INCSEA is ironclad, as Russian forbearance toward the destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea proves. Right?

But still. Stupid things happen. Any American seafarer, and scurrilous ‘furriners as well, can relate a sea story or two about gobsmackingly dumb things he’s seen done while underway. Always by the other guy, mind you. One of mine: in the Persian Gulf many moons ago, a dhow skipper with a death wish decided it would be fun to pass fifty yards or thereabouts ahead of a 58,000-ton battleship that was traversing a narrow channel and couldn’t maneuver to avoid colliding. Imagine my relief when he reappeared on the other side of the ship after passing underneath the ship’s high bow. 1100 hours: Crunched small craft while exiting Abu Dhabi harbor is not a deck-log entry any naval officer wants to write. Some CUES guidelines would have been welcome about then. If, of course, that knucklehead abided by them.

 

Read more: http://thediplomat.com/2014/04/the-limits-of-pacific-maritime-law/

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