Two readers sent us e-mails questioning our report on the January grounding in Tampa Bay of Pollux, a Maltese-flag bulk carrier. The story, which appeared in the Maritime Casualties section of the April issue (PM #145), said that the ship was en route to Tampa Bay while carrying a load of fertilizer it had picked up in Galveston Bay, Texas, and that the ship unloaded its cargo before leaving the Tampa area following the accident.
Here, in part, is what one of our readers wrote:
"I read this item with some surprise. I know you are "only" reporting a casualty, BUT. Here we have a Japanese built ship, Malta flag and German operator sailing, it appears, in the U.S. Coastwise Trade. How could you let that pass without clearly noting the apparent violation of the Jones Act rules?"
We turned to the U.S. Coast Guard to help us set the facts straight. Lt. Christian J. Barger, chief of the investigations division, Sector St. Petersburg, said in an e-mail:
"This was an astute observation by your reader, however, in this case, based on available records within Coast Guard documentation, there was not a violation of the Jones Act because it did not discharge cargo from a U.S. port to a U.S. port. The M/V POLLUX sailed to Brownsville, TX from Mexico carrying steel, which was completely discharged in TX. It then loaded a partial load of fertilizer in Galveston, TX and sailed to Tampa… In Tampa the vessel loaded additional fertilizer cargo. It made a stop in Puerto Rico to take on fuel only and was then bound for Santos, Brazil."
So since the ship did not unload cargo in Tampa, there was no violation of the Jones Act.