|Topic Review (Newest First)|
|10-16-2008 01:23 AM|
I should first commend bubb2's yeoman work in publishing the Law of the Sea treaty from 1958. If I'd read it here first it would have saved me a fair bit of time in my old International Law textbook! I'd only add that the LOST is currently under debate for revision, a revision that threatens US economic interests, but that's another matter.
I'm aware that I probably did not address your specific question as to the French sailboat in international waters confronting a US warship commanding/advising the boat to change course or exit the area. I believe I've some information that may shed some light on the matter.
First off I should say that there is very little that I've found that addresses private yachts per se. Most of international law revolves around merchant vessels of one sort or another. And it involves vessels "flagged" by their country which implies documentation, something that may not apply to all boats. I doubt that fact detracts from the overall principle of international law though regarding how the vessels are treated on the high seas.
As noted in the LOST of 1958 post, a warship, any warship, has the right to "visit and search" any vessel that meets one of the following criteria:
1) suspected of committing piracy
2) suspected of engaging in slave trading
3) is of the same nationality as the warship
4) as may be authorized by treaty between the nation of the warship and the nation of the vessel.
Posse Comitatus technically does not apply on the high seas regarding US warships and US flagged vessels. That point is somewhat obscured and finessed by either using Coast Guard vessels or CG personnel on naval vessels. Regardless, there is nothing within international law that prohibits a warship from visiting and searching a vessel of the same flag.
Now, as to the specifics of your question re: the French sailboat and US warship.
It's not piracy even if the yacht is boarded or seized. See bubb2's post for definition of piracy on that.
I find no references to any requirement that the yacht must comply with any order given by a warship of another flag. I might add that I was struck anew by how much of international law is devoted to two predominate areas; maritime law and the conduct of war. Makes sense I suppose.
As to our poor French yachtsman confronted with the arrogant forces of either US or Russian naval power I believe the below quote from Law Among Nations, 1976, von Glahn, pretty much addresses the matter and makes plain his options or lack thereof:
"Again, most individuals lack the ability to assert their rights before an international tribunal. As long as this situation prevails, it must be doubted that international law grants real rights to individuals. Only their state can take up their cause, by bringing a suit or by filing a protest or claim with another state. This means that it is the state which possesses an international legal right, not the individual."
As I read it, you may do as you please when confronted with a request or order given by a foreign warship on the high seas subject only to your good sense and, lacking that, your faith that either your navy or your government will prevail in bailing your butt out. I hope the above sheds some light on the matter.
Having said all of that, I should mention that in twenty years at sea I never had issue with a warship of any nation nor heard of any other than the Pueblo or the Mayaguez. I've had countless interogatories as to identity via either flashing light or VHF, and I know of a few "Uniform" 's anecdotally. (Interco "U", "you are standing into danger") And that included a few visits to the former Soviet Union and Israel, two country's notoriously prickly about the formalities.
In my experience, to the extent that there is any interaction between naval vessels and other vessels there is a measure of comity common to all seafarers. I stand by my original post that the OP is merely politically grandstanding without benefit of the relevant facts. He presupposes that the US Navy has either the inclination or the time to just go about ordering vessels out of their "playpen" for no good reason. I've run all three coasts of the US and never encountered anything remotely like that...but then I also made it a practice to stay out of naval exercise areas! I suspect the OP would have been singing a different tune had his acquaintance had a submarine surface underneath him! Everybody knows how arrogant those sub drivers are! (g)
|10-14-2008 05:46 PM|
|bubb2||Cam, about a week after 911, I decided to take the boat down to New York harbor to see what was going on. Just south of GW I was face to face with a GC Cutter. He radioed me that I was to proceed no further. I turned around, but he had a deck gun pointed at me.|
|10-14-2008 05:08 PM|
HS....yep...probably a poor choice of words. I will listen closely for the next excercise ship communications and report back the exact phraseology used.
I think that somewhere in Bubb's post above, I am advised that they can command me to do whatever the hell they want me to!
|10-14-2008 01:29 PM|
|RAGTIMEDON||Personally I would agree that the U S military, in all of its branches, is a very arrogant organization. However, I thank my lucky stars they are! Timidity did not win World War 1, compliance did not win World War 2, and this country would be vastly different as a subject of the English crown had the continental army of 1776 been Mr Nice Guy! There are too many people in this country who spend time and energy condemning our government, when they would be better served to thank God that we have a government and military which makes it possible to criticize them!|
|10-14-2008 01:23 PM|
Well the Navy ship could designate you as target #1, if you are refusing to move out of the area. Then as target #1 you could sail where you please...
|10-14-2008 12:30 PM|
"is advised that he MUST change course "
Perhaps that is a faulty premise? I mean, I've never had the big gray boats phone me up to discuss the time of day, much less the weather, but would a warship ADVISE ME TO CHANGE COURSE? Or, COMMAND ME to change course?
My recollection is that the warship would ADVISE me, and that means compliance is strongly suggested but in no way COMMANDED OR REQUIRED. (At least, not in your scenario, although IIRC there are currently some large "keep away" zones in effect for US ciitzens and US warships.)
You know, like the old tale of the lights seen in the storm, and the escalating conversation about which of them should change course? Where one stubborn skipper finally says they are an aircraft carrier, get out of the way, and the other one says that's all nice, but they are a LIGHTHOUSE and he really doesn't care what the carrier thinks?
|10-14-2008 11:33 AM|
Heres where the get the right to do as the please, Warships have immunity by the high sea act of the UN.
|10-14-2008 11:26 AM|
|sailingdog||Then there is also the fact that the naval warship has guns...and you don't...|
|10-12-2008 11:36 AM|
You can sue the government for the actions of merchant vessels that it owns or operates under the Suits in Admiralty statute of 1920. That statute was enlarged to allow you to sue against the actions of naval vessels of the government in the Public Vessels Act of 1925. Such suits are brought in Federal court only under Admiralty. There is no in rem principle involved with public owned vessels.
On the high seas you have a right to free passage and you may even have this right within the territorial waters of a nation if those waters involve a sea lane normally used for international passage-most notable in the waters of archipelagos.
You are not required to respond to the commands of a foreign naval vessel nor be boarded by the members of that vessel's complement when within international waters. There is a caveat to that law though. If the nations of the warship and your vessel's flag have an agreement allowing such actions your government has effectively waived such immunity. These agreements are more common than might be supposed.
There are any number of reasons to be diverted from a naval exercise area under various laws. The most common that is run into on the high seas is that you must give way due to the naval vessels being restricted in their ability to manoeuver under the Colregs.
If you are boarded or shepherded out of a naval exercise area against your will your options are limited to those against the flag nation of the warship and within your own country's courts/government. Assuming that there is no collateral agreement between the two flag nations you may be able to proceed at Admiralty but you are going to have to show a real loss, not just a potential loss. As to your being boarded by a foreign nation's armed forces you will have to rely on your own government to pursue such a case assuming you sustained no documented losses. Generally speaking, these types of situations occur when Greenpeace or some other group intentionally tries to interfere with a nuclear test or something and the country doing the testing removes them from the designated area. In the cases where the Greenpeace vessel was US flagged they've not had much success with the US pursuing their grievances against the boarding nation. There is a fairly strong presumption that such boardings or shepherding of vessels out of areas of naval operations is for the vessel's own safety.
The short answer to Cam's specific question is that there is no law, there may be a treaty, that allows the warship to so direct. To the best of my knowledge there is no French requirement, as there would be no US requirement, to obey the orders of the naval vessel. Of course, as a matter of practical consequences you are assuming all risk for your actions and it would be highly unlikely that your government would offer much in the way of support.
Outside of territorial waters you are free to ignore the entreaties of any naval vessel not of your flag. You're also free to bear the consequences and perhaps the unwillingness of your own government to make it into an international incident.
|10-12-2008 10:05 AM|
I don't know what has brought out the personal stuff here but a legitimate question has been asked and despite the number of words used in response, no one has answered the question.
Let's put it this way. If a FRENCH sailboat with French sailors is crossing the Atlantic and 200 miles out from shore is advised that he MUST change course as the US Navy is engaging in exercises...what LAW or TREATY gives the Navy the right to insist on his compliance?
It is one thing to advise that live fire excercises are being conducted and suggesting a change of course...it is another altogether to insist on a change of course. So where is the legal authority?
...and let's dispense with the personal attacks. Further ones will not be tolerated.
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