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

Electronic surveillance and the mariner

Because the professional lives of mariners are so tightly controlled by the Coast Guard, they may be even more closely monitored than ordinary citizens. The shocked reactions to today’s news that the Drug Enforcement Administration (and presumably every other government agency) is collecting data on the movements of millions of cars around the U.S. through the simple expedient of computer-monitored license-plate tracking are somewhat naive. With satellite and cellphone tracking and...

Mariners and marijuana: A moral perspective

Mariners continue to suffer more than the rest of the population from unfair and illogical Coast Guard drug enforcement policies.The federal government is going to have to do something about marijuana’s legal status. The same situation, involving alcohol, was resolved in the 1930s with the repeal of Prohibition (happily, marijuana prohibitionists never managed to pass a constitutional amendment). But while the Justice Department dithers and issues conflicting guidelines to federal...

Panama Canal PR department is working overtime

The Panama Canal Authority has made another seemingly worthless announcement.The Panama Canal Authority’s newly bloated publicity department has now cranked out another in its meaningless series of press releases meant to convey the impression of activity (see last week’s blog on the subject). Following on the heels of a press release about a non-Canal-related drayage business in Panama, the PCA announced on Jan. 8 that it had signed a “cooperation agreement” (whatever that is) with the...

When a canal is not a canal

Maritime blogging is usually a serious business but occasionally chucklers come along and a recent press release from the Panama Canal Board of Directors provides a few. Maritime blogging is usually a serious business but occasionally chucklers come along and a recent press release from the Panama Canal Board of Directors provides a few. The release boldly announced that the Panama Canal is expanding its capacities in spite of the contractual, technical and political difficulties plaguing...

Nicaragua canal revisited

The ennui with which the Nicaragua canal project has been greeted by political and shipping interests is remarkable.As a testament to the resiliency of the world’s strongest economy, the much-maligned and often-doubted Nicaragua canal is moving forward. Ground was broken on the canal last week, according to a number of international reports, but whether the project will result in a completed Atlantic-Pacific canal, much less by the projected completion date of 2020 — an almost-laughable...

Vessel operators and foreign corrupt practices

It can be easy to view corruption as just part of the cost of doing business. There is even a view that corruption is business friendly since it sometimes greases the wheels of obstructive bureaucracy.It can be easy to view corruption as just part of the cost of doing business. There is even a view that corruption is business friendly since it sometimes greases the wheels of obstructive bureaucracy.In any event, a workboat operator who wants to operate in Third World countries should be...

Hardcore heroes and WorkBoat writers

An episode of the “Hardcore Heroes” series on AHC will profile me. Of course, the “heroes” part, when applied to me, is rank puffery.A year ago, shortly after returning from Somalia, I taped some interviews with a Discovery Channel producer and gave the OK for an episode about me on the “Hardcore Heroes” series on AHC (formerly the Military Channel). The episode will air Aug. 20 (at 10:00 p.m. ET/9:00 p.m. CT) so I thought I would give it a review for my WorkBoat readers. The episode...

Criminal liability for onboard negligence

A basic tenet of our justice system is that non-intentional negligence should be a civil matter.WorkBoat.com online editor Leslie Taylor posed some important questions in her blog last week, “Captains in Court,” and the answers to these questions could ruin the life of every crewperson on every U.S.-flagged vessel. When a person who is just doing their job onboard makes a bad mistake and hurts somebody else, threatening them with prison could be a slippery slope toward universal...

Now you see it, now you don’t: The future of nav aids

The transition to ephemeral buoys and markers that exist only in the electronic universe seems a natural development.In the May 2014 issue of Workboat, Joel Milton wrote an incisive article about Automatic Identification System Aids to Navigation (AIS ATON) entitled “Disappearing nav aids.”  The lighthouse is a thing of the past — just like VOR navigation for airplanes — but now navigational buoys and markers could be made obsolete by the AIS ATON appearing on your ECDIS-equipped radar or...

Fairness and pilot immunity

Pilots should be responsible for their negligence.In one of my first blogs I wrote: “There was a time when vessel owners hired pilots in unfamiliar ports to help their masters navigate between sea passage and dock. Now pilotage is mandatory and hideously expensive, and it is certainly adding insult to injury when a pilot causes damage to a vessel or dock and walks away scot-free. When the pilot was merely an adviser, such exculpation could be supported. But now a pilot’s instructions...