Capt. Max HardbergerCapt. Max Hardberger
Max Hardberger is a maritime attorney, flight instructor, writer, and maritime repo man. He has been a correspondent for WorkBoat since 1995. His memoir, Seized: A Sea Captain’s Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World’s Most Troubled Waters, was published by Broadway Books in 2010. He’s appeared on FOX, The Learning Channel, National Public Radio and the BBC, and has been the subject of articles in Fairplay Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, Esquire (UK), and the London Sunday Guardian.

Blog Activity

What do Chinese shipyards have to do with the price of oil?

Don't ignore the link between oil prices and industrial production. Savvy oilfield investors around the world are keeping an eye on Chinese shipyards that produce most of the large (40,000-tons-plus) dry bulk freighters that carry the building blocks of modern civilization. This includes iron ore, fertilizer, copper sulfate, and thousands of other materials that sustain the world’s 7.5 billion consumers. Savvy manufacturers and refiners, when they see a downturn on the horizon, stop...

Understanding the right of innocent passage

What it is, and what it isn't. Recent events have highlighted the importance of the freedom of the seas, a right established in antiquity, but even more important today. The capture of U.S. sailors by Iranian naval vessels last month, and China’s installation of guided missile batteries on Woody Island in disputed waters of the South China Sea, have brought the issue to the headlines, but international law is settled in the matter. In the Iranian dust-up, the U.S. sailors had apparently...

When China sneezes ...

Recent world financial events give new meaning to the saying that when China sneezes, the world gets a cold. The saying goes that when China sneezes, the world gets a cold. In this case, the world gets pneumonia. The unprecedented two-day shutdown of the Chinese stock market last week to keep it from collapsing, and the resulting selloff on Wall Street — the worst beginning to a year in recorded history — have people and experts alike scratching their heads. After all, the...

Bollinger and the U.S. taxpayer

If anyone thinks the recent settlement punishes Bollinger or recompenses the U.S. taxpayer for wasted money, it’s important to keep things in perspective. According to a Dec. 9 WorkBoat.com article, the Justice Department announced that it had settled its $78 million lawsuit against Bollinger Shipyards for $8.5 million. If anyone thinks this punishes Bollinger for the conversions that doomed eight patrol boats, or recompenses the U.S. taxpayer for its wasted money, it’s important to...

Oil imports feed glut

U.S. oil glut is not helped by importing oil from Iraq. An article in Bloomberg Business on Nov. 11 illustrates the power of the global economy and the futility of trying to staunch its flow. According to the article, even as the U.S. rig count tumbles and workboat operators lay-up more boats, oil imports are soaring. Iraq, which according to the article is OPEC’s fastest-growing producer, has just loaded 19 million bbls. of crude into 10 ships destined for Gulf of Mexico ports,...

El Faro will speak for itself — in time

We don’t have all the facts on the apparent loss of the El Faro – but they will emerge. There is a principle in the law called res ipsa loquitur, or “the thing speaks for itself.” In raw practical terms, it means that when something bad happens, somebody has to pay. With good reason judges rarely rely on this principle, no matter how persuasively presented, and this same skepticism must apply when considering the few known facts surrounding the apparent loss of the El Faro. First is...

The curious case of the C-Retriever

Is there more than meets the eye in the C-Retriever case?   There seems to be more than meets the eye in the personal injury lawsuit by a Capt. Wren Thomas against the owners of the offshore supply vessel (OSV) C-Retriever. Capt. Thomas was kidnapped by pirates and held for 18 days after the C-Retriever was hijacked off Nigeria in 2013. The original petition was filed in a Houston state court in October 2013, then transferred to the US District Court there a month later, where it...

Anti-piracy: Mallet vs. mole

Worldwide anti-piracy efforts resemble a Whac-A-Mole game.   Waterborne piracy is as old as water transportation and unlikely to disappear any time soon, in spite of recent successes in the Indian Ocean, the world’s most-notorious pirate waters. Just as a combination of pacification ashore, armed guards onboard and the European Union Naval Force ATALANTA (EU NAVFOR) brought success in suppressing this threat (there have been no successful commercial vessel hijackings on the...

Rebuilding our national mariner corps

There's a canard that flag of convenience ships can't assist in a U.S. sealift, which makes no sense. One of the most common — and cogent — arguments for maintenance of restrictions on foreign crews on vessels engaged in U.S. cabotage is the national need for trained, experienced seafarers in case of armed conflict. The shortcomings in our national sealift readiness were apparent in the first Gulf War, and it does not appear that we are any more prepared now. In fact, the news has...

The Jones Act hornet’s nest

If the next administration and Congress bring new attitudes toward the federal government’s role in social engineering, Jones Act supporters may have to engage in a discussion on its merits. My recent blog about the Jones Act garnered the expected vituperative responses, including a lot of name-calling and chest beating. A few comments addressed substantive issues, to which I’ll respond here, but the majority consisted of rhetorical questions and ad hominem attacks that — other than...