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

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...

Greece, Puerto Rico and the Jones Act

Puerto Rico, going down for the last time in a sea of debt, is blaming the Jones Act for its misfortunes. If you have read my previous blogs on the Jones Act, you know that my opinion (not necessarily WorkBoat’s) is contrary to most of you in the workboat industry. I want the act repealed or modernized. The nation didn’t pay much attention when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recently called for the repeal of the cabotage provisions of the Jones Act, and neither did his fellow...

Bitcoin for workboat operators

How about workboat companies using Bitcoin? Stripped of the technical mumbo-jumbo, Bitcoin, like all currencies, is an agreement among those who buy and sell it that it has a certain value — not a fixed value, but a determinable one set by the marketplace. Anyone can start a digital currency merely by announcing it, like issuing stock in a company with no assets. However, Bitcoin’s founding father, Satoshi Nakamoto, was the first to devise a workable, secure and equitable way to...

Workboats to head for Arctic waters

  In the Arctic, where there's rigs there are workboats. The oilfield industry and environmental news media were buzzing this week over the departure of the drilling rig Noble Discoverer from Seattle for Arctic waters. Although Shell’s first try at Arctic drilling in 2012 was fraught with mishaps, the U.S. approved the company's Chukchi Sea exploration plan in May. Shell has contracted two rigs to drill in the Chukchi Sea, both scheduled to arrive in time for the annual ice...

Anticipate the election, but don’t bank on results

A change in the administration in 2017 could bring more opportunities — and challenges — to OSV operators. In parliamentary countries, a change in the administration is called a new government. In the U.S. we can begin to see the possibility that 2016 may indeed bring us a new government as well, especially if the Republicans take the White House and hang onto Congress. Sweeping changes (read reductions) in regulations and a sea change in the government’s attitude toward private...

Unmanned vessels and new opportunities for workboats

Are we ready for unmanned vessel operations? In a DNV GL oil and gas division press release on Monday, CEO Elizabeth Tørstad touted that, by “changing the focus from maximum efficiency to maximum reliability, and selecting robust processing options with built-in redundancy, (DNV/GL O&G has developed) a solution that ensures production levels and boosts the economic viability of FLNG projects.” The press release coyly claimed that the design, called “Solitude,” is meant for a...

A new level of mariner comfort

It's never been more comfortable to go to sea.   Mariners may argue about pay rates, the burdens of licensing and regulatory compliance, and the right ways to do their difficult and demanding jobs, but there’s one thing they don’t argue about: the level of comfort found on today’s commercial vessels. I’m speaking from experience going back almost 50 years, from a deckhand on creaky old standby boats to master of creaky old ocean freighters, so I can write without fear of...