Kent Roberts helps maritime and transportation businesses in the Pacific Northwest structure transactions, resolve disputes and control risks for successful projects. Over his 35 years of practice, he has earned a well-deserved reputation as Oregon’s business lawyer to the maritime industry.
Kent has handled some of the region’s most complex and high profile projects in transportation and shipping, marine terminals, shipyards, and marine casualties, including sale of the largest drydock in North America, and the construction and shipping of its replacement 15 years later.
With trial experience in dozens of federal courts and before administrative agencies, Kent can help clients anticipate and avoid problems in a wide variety of transportation projects and transactions. He advises maritime transportation companies, shipyards, ports, insurers and service providers on business and regulatory matters that are crucial to their success.
Kent’s deep knowledge of the maritime industry springs from his 11-year association with his mentor, Alex Parks, a worldwide authority on maritime law. Kent helped research and edit Mr. Parks’ leading treatise, The Law of Tug, Tow & Pilotage, and Marine Insurance. For many years, Kent taught Admiralty Law at Willamette University College of Law. He has given dozens of presentations to industry leaders on challenging transportation, port and shipyard issues.
- Has represented multiple tug and barge companies on hundreds of towing contracts, time charters, bareboat charters, and vessel sales.
- Represents transportation clients and lenders on vessel construction financing and fleet financing.
- Represented a barge owner in successfully defeating maritime and state lien claims following shipyard default.
- Serves as outside general counsel to the Pacific Northwest’s leading tankship operator, Alaska Tanker Company, LLC
- Represented a non U.S.-owned cement supplier in forming a Jones Act compliant barge company under the "Bowaters Amendment."
- Represented tug company and its insurers in litigation following Washington State’s largest oil spill.
- Represented international terminal operator in entering 25-year lease with the Port of Portland.
- Represented Oregon coastal port in litigation following an oil spill from a Port-owned marine terminal constructed from WWII-era cargo ship hulls.
- Represented Port of Kalama in successfully recovering all damages resulting from major ship casualty at Port’s import steel terminal.
- Represented maritime operator and port in defeating “Act of God” defense and recovered damages when multiple ships dragged anchor in a 50-year windstorm, damaging four Columbia River docks.
- Obtained Coast Guard approval for foreign construction of non-integrated cargo tanks installed in U.S.-built barges while maintaining Jones Act compliance.
- Represented Vigor Industrial in contracting for construction and heavy lift transport from China of a new build 960’ drydock.
- Represented Gunderson Marine in contracting for construction of 540’ ATB tank barge.
Memberships & Awards
- Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA), Proctor member
- Maritime Law Association, Board of Directors (2007-2010)
- MLA Committee on Inland Waters and Towing, Chairman (2016-present)
- MLA Standing Committees on Marine Finance, Inland Waters and Towing, and Stevedores, Marine Terminals, and Vessel Services, Member
- MLA Nominating Committee (2011- 2017), MLA Proctor Admission Committee (2015-present)
- Propeller Club of the United States, Port of the Columbia River (Maritime Commerce Club), Member and Past President
- Association of Average Adjusters, Associate Member
- Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year for Admiralty and Maritime Law (2016, 2018)
- Oregon Super Lawyers, (2006-present)
- St. Mary's Academy, Mother Marie-Rose Service Award (2017)
- Best Lawyers in America Award, Admiralty and Maritime Law (2006-2023)
- Best Lawyers in America Award, Recognized as Portland’s “Maritime Lawyer of the Year” (2011)
Resources & Ideas
Seminars & Speaking Engagements
- Maritime Law of Allision and Wake Damage: Port of Kalama Ship Wake IncidentWashington Public Ports AssociationDecember 1, 2020
- May 12, 2020
- Red Lion Hotel on the River, 909 N Hayden Island Dr., Portland, OR 97217, April 25, 2018
- Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, 1211 SW 5th Ave., Suite 1900, Portland, OR 97204, October 19, 2016
- Maritime Law Association of the United States (MLA), Annual MeetingNew York, NY, May 5, 2015
Safety Management Systems – Discovery in Litigation- MLA In-house Counsel Committee, 2015
Subchapter M Compliance and Statutory Liability Issues – MLA Committee on Ecology and Government Relations, 2015
Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida. What is a Vessel? MLA Committee on Recreational Boating, 2014; Pacific Coast Congress of Harbormaster and Port Managers
“Subchapter M for Lawyers and Insurers: Legal Implications and Effects of Subchapter M Towing Vessel Inspection Regulation,” Pacific Admiralty Law Institute, 2014
- January 27, 2021
"Subchapter M for Lawyers and Insurers: Legal Implications and Effects of Subchapter M Towing Vessel Inspection Regulation,” University of San Francisco Maritime Law Journal, Vol 28, No 1, 2015 – 2016
"Marine Casualty reporting - U.S. Coast Guard Guidance and Selected Cases"; Maritime Law Association Proceedings Reports, Fall 2015
"Towing Vessel Inspection - Potential for Application of Statutory Fault Doctrines," Benedict's Maritime Bulletin, Vol 7, No 4, 2009
"Trends in Towing Contracting: The New Bisso End Runs," Benedict's Maritime Bulletin, Vol. 4, No 2, 20016
- St. Mary’s Academy, Board of Directors (2009-present), Chairman (2015-present), Member of Executive and Finance Committees
- College level men’s lacrosse referee and a former youth lacrosse coach
- Named Girl's Youth Lacrosse Coach of the Year in 2003 by the U.S. Lacrosse Association
- Served on the Oregon Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse (2004–2007)
- Inducted in U.S. Lacrosse Oregon Chapter, Lacrosse Hall of Fame (2016)
- Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark CollegeJuris Doctor degree (1979)
- University of North Carolina, Chapel HillBachelor of Arts degree (1976)
Oregon State Courts
United States District Court, District of Oregon
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
United States Supreme Court
Outside The Office
- Officiating college, post-collegiate and high school lacrosse.