Maritime Monday 198

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January 24, 2010

Welcome to This Week’s Edition of Maritime Monday

You can find last week’s edition here »

imageTugboats in the Port of Castries, St. Lucia.  Photo by Joey Ciaramitaro

imageA diver explores the wreckage of a Japanese World War II fighter plane near the town of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. The waters around Rabaul, which was a Japanese stronghold during the war, are strewn with the broken remains of both Allied and Axis warships and aircraft.  National Geographic »

imageDestination: Bottom of the World – the port city of Ushuaia, Argentina; capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego. It is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Its population is estimated to be about 64,000. Originally founded as a prison colony for repeat offenders and serious criminals, its commercial pier is now a major port for Antarctic tourist and research traffic. Coordinates: 54°48′S 68°18′W

imagePaying Attention: Craig Newkirk doing the pilot thing on the tanker Montego. The Star Grindanger is inbound and the ITB Orion is on berth at left. Taken on the Houston Ship Channel. Photo by OneEighteen; My Office Window (Set) on Flickr. Great Maritime collection.

imageSTX ROSE 1: A ship that helps build other ships.  It’s a semi-submersible heavy lift carrier that is used to transfer ultra large vessel blocks for assembly afloat, and one of MarineLog’s Most Influential Ships of 2009.  photo from ShipSpotting

imageAmericas Cup: BMW ORACLE Racing: Making of BOR 90

Sail Dispute Could Delay America’s Cup

imageJanuary 19, 2010 / Associated Press – The America’s Cup challenger, BMW Oracle, began test sailing its giant trimaran in the waters off Valencia, Spain, for the first time Tuesday. But the chances of its match race starting on time against the Cup holder, Alinghi, seems remote as negotiations between the two teams broke down again.

The Golden Gate Yacht Club, where BMW Oracle is based, said Alinghi turned down another offer Sunday to settle a dispute over the Swiss team’s sails. The dispute threatens to delay the Feb. 8 start date. Alinghi had refused to sign an agreement following talks in Singapore witnessed by the International Sailing Federation.

The Golden Gate Yacht Club spokesman Tom Ehman said that Alinghi “again turned their backs on the agreement and the cup’s pre-eminent principle — mutual consent.” The American team has asked the New York Supreme Court to rule on the sails, which it says break match rules by being constructed outside the Swiss team’s home country.

Argentina: Antarctic Expedition Ship Damages Prop After image Hitting Rocks

Cruise ship Clelia II has been withdrawn from service this month for repairs following an accident that occurred over Christmas week. New York-based Travel Dynamics International, which operates the 100-passenger vessel, has cancelled the ship’s voyages following the incident, which damaged one of the ship’s propellers.

The Corinthian II, another expedition ship also operated by Travel Dynamics was only eight miles away; it arrived on the scene within an hour to assist. The Clelia II’s crew examined the vessel for further damage and the Corinthian II, and then escorted the damaged Clelia II across the Drake Passage back to its home port of Ushuaia, Argentina. The ships arrived in Ushuaia on Dec. 30.

It’s not uncommon for news of incidents on ships in Antarctica to take several days to reach the outside world due to the remote location. The Clelia II is famed as “One of the most elegant expedition ships operating in Antarctica.”

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators Statement:

“The five-deck ship had arrived at Antarctica’s famed Petermann Island on Dec. 26 for a passenger landing when a stronger-than-anticipated current pushed it toward the rocky shoreline. Efforts by the officer of the watch to correct the situation failed, and the starboard propeller struck some rocks. The impact … resulted in the shutdown of the starboard engine and the loss of electrical power aboard ship. The Clelia II’s port engine never lost power and was used to drive Clelia II off the rocks to a safe position about one mile from shore. At no time during this incident was there a threat to human life, the association says in its statement. A trace amount of oil leaked into the water but dissipated quickly”

Around the Americas is Also at the Bottom of the Worldimage

The Beagle ChannelDeep in the far, remote, southern reaches of the vast continent of South America is a winding, snakelike, 150-nautical mile waterway that links the Atlantic Ocean, to the east, with the Pacific Ocean, to the west.

The so-called Beagle Channel was named after the HMS Beagle during its first hydrographic survey of the coasts and islands of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego from 1826 to 1830. It was the Beagle‘s second voyage, however, that etched its name into the annals of history, science and exploration.

Asian Glory – A Message to the "Experts"

Kennebec Captain is back from the far flung corners and he has a bone to pick with Lloyds list, "Naval experts baffled by recent hijackings"

image …the opportunistic hijack of a car carrier took most experts by surprise as they were previously thought to be too challenging for pirates to bother attacking given their high freeboard and relatively high speed…

Australia:Last minute pay deal averts strike at Esperance port

image ABC NewsA planned 48-hour strike at the Esperance Port has been called off. About 60 members of the Maritime Union of Australia were due to walk off the job yesterday over a pay dispute.

However, last minute negotiations has seen the union and the port’s management agree to a new, three year deal. The package includes an immediate 6 per cent pay rise for workers, backdated from November last year, and a 2.5 per cent incremental rise in July. The Port’s acting chief executive, Devinder Grewal says the package is worth more than $900,000. He says averting the strike has saved the Port and its customers $13 million.

Lloyd’s List Daily Commercial NewsEsperance workers cancel strike after wage win »

Baby Seal Found in British Garden 18 Miles from the Sea

“It looked like a huge, slimy cat…”   

Biloxi: Barbour Envisions South Mississippi as a Major Hub

image Jan. 17, 2010 / Sun Herald via  Gov. Haley Barbour supports creating a large transportation hub at Palmer’s Crossing to handle increased container traffic from a $1 billion expansion of the Port of Gulfport.

Barbour said the $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, which could be complete sometime around 2014, will create many new opportunities for the port, which could handle a large portion of container traffic, much of which is currently sent to the West Coast, and then shipped by rail to the rest of the country.

Bugatti That Spent 70 Years Underwater Could Fetch £80,000 at Auction »

image A 1925 Bugatti Brescia Type 22 Roadster, which has lain at the murky bottom of Lake Maggiore for the past 70 years, has been raised from the depths and is expected to sell for €70,000 – €90,000.

How and why the Bugatti made the 900 km journey from Paris to Ascona on the banks of Lake Maggiore is unknown. The story around Ascona holds that the taxes amounted to more than the Bugatti’s value so it was dumped, unceremoniously, in Lake Maggiore when Schmuklerski left town.

Bullish Forecast and Report from Panama Canal Authority

imageFaster transit times and more throughput were hallmarks of the latest report issued by the gateway’s governing body.

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) released first quarter (Q1) operational metrics today for fiscal year 2010. In Q1, Canal Waters Time (CWT), the average time it takes a vessel to transit the Canal (including waiting time for passage) significantly decreased. There also were increases in total transits and net tonnage. These metrics are based on operations from October through December 2009, the first quarter of the ACP’s 2010 fiscal year, and are compared with Q1 of fiscal year 2009.

Coast Guard Called “Absolutely Essential” by imageCommander of Joint Task Force Haiti


By Jim DolbowLast night, I participated in a Department of Defense’s  Bloggers Roundtable with Lieutenant General Ken Keen, commander of Joint Task Force Haiti. 

Collision Causes Oil Spill In Port Arthur, Texas

imageT/V Eagle Otome-Barge Collision – Port Arthur, TX 2010-Jan-23

At 0915 on 23JAN2010, NOAA Emergency Response Division was notified by the NWS Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Lake Charles, LA of a collision between a crude oil tanker (T/V Eagle Otome) and a barge in Port Arthur, TX. The contents of the barge are not currently known. USCG informed the NOAA SSC that they suspected H2S had been released. The tanker was reported to contain crude oil with a capacity of several hundred thousand barrels. According to local news reports, the collision occurred shortly before 10:00 AM local time. Local law enforcement informed the WFO that noxious fumes were coming from both vessels and that they have initiated evacuations of residents and workers in and around the Port of Port Arthur. The WFO has produced a dilution contour plume footprint using HYSPLIT. The Sabine-Neches Ship Channel and Intracoastal Waterway have been closed. Local Emergency Management will be conducting a helicopter over-flight to get photographs and video. Two NOAA SSC’s are en route.

  • Cause of incident: Collision
  • Products of concern: Crude Oil, H2S
  • Total amount at risk of spill: 12000 barrels
  • Latitude (approximate): 29° 52.20′ N Longitude (approximate): 93° 55.80′ W
  • more photos »

imageConfident Captain/Ocean Pros Looking for Exposure Suits

Newport, RIConfident Captain/Ocean Pros is looking for exposure suits in decent condition to use for training courses (they do not have to pass inspection).  Credit for courses at Confident Captain will be given for each suit pending condition. 

Please email us at [email protected] if you have a suit or would like more information about this program.

Cunard Blog Assembles Media Package for Queen Elizabeth  Float-Out image

The folks at Cunard have assembled a bunch of videos and snaps of the big float out ceremony for the Queen Elizabeth, as well as some of the traditional ceremonies associated with a new build. The image to the right is the program cover.

Deep Water Writing is Finally Homeward Bound

image The fortnight that seemed it would never end is over and once again I am on a jet liner working against sun and sky towards cooler weather and familiar country. This last hitch ended on a positive note with a hefty payoff, an open invitation back to a permanent spot and an idle day before my flight to lounge around the pool at my friends flat on the Singapore River.

A few days after my 28th birthday I passed the hundred-day mark at sea and realized I was ready for a relief. Unfortunately the prospect of dropping a cool million dollars for the thruster repair meant we would be in a holding pattern for the next ten days as the company decided how to repair a cable ship loaded down to her marks…

Dept. of Defense: Africa, Partners Work for Maritime Security

image WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2010The international community is taking focused, collaborative action to remove maritime insecurities in Africa, the deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Africa said yesterday.

Navy Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. spoke to international reporters in a roundtable discussion at the State Department’s Foreign Press Center here. He talked about the complex situation in Africa and the multinational partnership committed to providing security there.

Maritime insecurities — such as illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, oil theft, piracy, illicit trade, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, illegal immigration and environmental degradation — put African development in jeopardy and affect the global community, Harris said.

Electric Ferry Land

image Bitter End reports: The Zero Emission Electric Propulsion Ship is a 100-foot, 800-person ferry that sucks no diesel. Instead, the boat operates from a huge bay of lithium ion batteries, all while looking vaguely like it’s going to kill you and your family.


French Navy “Operation Earthquake Haiti 2010” – Photos

image French Fry Inte… I mean Fred Fry InternationalUnder the emergency aid decided by France on behalf of victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti January 12, armed forces have launched Operation Earthquake Haiti 2010.

The priorities are to route emergency resources to locate missing persons, medical aid, to secure relief, repatriation of our nationals and preparing the organization of humanitarian aid. Some military and civilian chartered mobilized since January 13 to route emergency resources, personnel and cargo to Haiti and repatriate nationals.

gCaptain Keeps it Real with “Confined Space Entry Hazards – The Death of an Expert”

image Even experts can become casualties of hazards in confined spaces and you don’t have to be inside a confined space for the hazards to hurt you warns the latest podcast from Maritime Accident Casebook, The Case of the Forgotten Assassin. Confined space hazards and how to avoid them will be the focus of the web-based maritime safety resource for 2010.

Government of Canada Takes Action to Facilitate Shortsea Shipping

image Jan. 15, 2010 / Marketwire – Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced completion of the Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY) rail barge ramp, a shortsea shipping project at the marine rail terminal on Annacis Island in Delta. This project was made possible by $4.6 million in federal funding under the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.

This project includes a barge ramp and berth capable of handling railcars and truck trailers. The marine rail terminal connects with existing SRY tracks on Annacis Island providing Vancouver Island and Coastal BC industries with direct rail connections to Canadian National, Canadian Pacific, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific using existing SRY interchanges.

Haiti: Grasp in Port au Prince Harbor

imagePhoto sent by Justin. O. Vandenheuvel; USCGC Oakclick to see full size

Hawsepipe Wants a Soapbox

image There are tugboat companies out there who are sacrificing safety in an effort to remain competitive – reduced manning, increased work hours, whatever… these companies survive parasitically – obeying laws on paper with the full knowledge that reality is quite different. These are the examples, publicized or not, that argue for the existence and necessity of unions in the maritime world.

A couple of years ago, I took a job in New York harbor when I was home from my ship. Within 2 hours of stowing my bags on my tugboat, I found myself being strong-armed by a thug who told me that I had to join the union…

Houma: Plans Move Forward to Build Icebreaker

image Final assembly of a $150 million Arctic supply vessel for Edison Chouest Offshore is expected to take place in Houma, a project that will keep hundreds of local workers busy for more than two years, company officials said Thursday.

Gary Chouest, the company’s president, had previously said work on the ship would either take place at LaShip, the company’s new yard in Houma, or at its recently acquired facility in Tampa. The company announced the contract for the vessel, designed to support oil and gas drilling in Alaska for Shell, in July

Insights from the Shark Diver Blog: Sea Shepherd – Mastering Reality Disasters?

Old Salt Blog  The good folks at the Shark Diver Blog consider the recent sinking of the Ady Gil from a television production perspective.   It never occurred to me what a masterful stroke the staged sinking of the Ady Gil truly was.   Their insight is nothing less than brilliant. Thank you Shark Diver.

image“We would like to congratulate Sea Shepherd and Animal Planet on a fantastic staged event for television… perhaps one of the best staged disaster moments of 2010…”

also: The Sinking of the Ady Gil – How it may haunt the Sea Shepherds »

image Interpol Hunting Pirate Money

LYON, FranceInterpol has seen no proof so far that terror groups like al-Qaida are profiting from big-money ransoms paid out to pirates operating off eastern Africa, the international police group’s No. 2 said Tuesday.

Jean-Michel Louboutin spoke to The Associated Press as Interpol opened a closed-door, two-day conference at its Lyon headquarters on tackling the money trail in piracy.

“I Y’am What I Y’am”

imageLove him or hate him, one of the most known fictional sailors is Popeye. Starting as a character in the Thimble Theater comic strip in 1929, he later appeared in cartoons, films, books–and on the radio.

The Internet Archive has made many Popeye cartoons available–there is a media type limit available via a pull-down list to the right of the search box on their home page–you’ll find "Animation and cartoons" under the "Moving Images" type.

Judge Rules On "Ghost Fleet"

Capital Public Radio /Sacramento, CA – A Sacramento judge says a fleet of rotting warships anchored in Solano County’s Suisun Bay is violating federal and state pollution laws.

imageU.S. District Court Judge Garland Burrell ruled Thursday that the agency was breaking the law by continuing to allow paint from the obsolete vessels to flake off into the bay. Jason Flanders is with the environmental group Baykeeper which filed the lawsuit.

“We were incredibly thrilled although not surprised. These ships were clearly violating our clean water and hazardous waste laws for a decade. So we are looking forward to moving on now to getting these ships cleaned and disposed of.”

Even before the ruling, the Maritime Administration had started removing ships from the fleet. Flanders believes the suit helped break a years-long regulatory impasse that blocked any action. 

Making the Missouri Mightier: MoDOT and Others Hope to Tap into the Transportati

image A single barge – sometimes as many as 48 can be pushed at once by tandem towboats – can haul 1,500 tons of cargo, 15 times more than a one rail car and almost 60 times more than a single semi-trailer load, according to industry figures. Multiply that by the number of barges in a tow and the hauling capacity becomes even more impressive.

On the Mississippi, a 15-barge tow is typical north of St. Louis, but the numbers increase south of the city where the river is deeper and wider, transportation sources say. If the Missouri Department of Transportation and a consortium of other governmental and commercial interests are successful, high-volume barge traffic may soon find its way to the Missouri River.

Manila: PCG Urges Speedy Probe of Sea  Mishaps 

imageManilla Bulletin – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Sunday urged the Special Board of Marine Inquiry to hasten its investigation of two maritime disasters in Cavite and Batangas that caused significant loss of lives last month.

Tuason heads the SBMI in the collision and sinking of the M/V Catalyn-B off Limbones Island in Cavite last Christmas Eve while Chen leads the fact-finding board investigating the sinking of the Roll-on-Roll-off vessel M/V Baleno-9 near Verde Island in Batangas last December 26.

Maritime Museum in the Works for Port Canaveral

image FLORIDA TODAYThe Canaveral Port Authority on Wednesday gave the initial go-ahead to pursue plans for a state-of-the-art, multi-million dollar maritime museum and visitors center at the port that would highlight the history of the Sunshine State.

QuantcastThe plan would also feature an observation tower, possibly 300 feet or higher — that planners think could eventually become an icon for Brevard County.

Miniature Titanic Ready to Take to the Seas

imageA remote-controlled model of the Titanic cruise-liner has gone on sale

The 1:150 scale replica is true to the original 882ft vessel, which sank on April 14, 1912, in every detail. The 6ft design, on sale for £1,500, is made from over 300 handcrafted pieces and has a gentle cruising speed of 5mph on calm water.

It is powered by rechargeable batteries, which drive each of the three propellers, and can run for three hours. The plastic used for the railings, windows, doors and funnels was laser-cut for precision and the cedar, mahogany and white maple wood used for the decking and to cover the hull were all handcrafted.

New Drydock for Derecktor in 2010

image Derecktor Shipyards of Connecticut has announced that this Spring will see the first commercial operations of its newly expanded dry dock to work. Designed to allow the yard to work on vessels up to 400ft (122m) in length, 4000 long tons, 82ft (25m) in beam and 20ft (6m) draft. According to Derecktor, the expanded dry dock will also provide a better method of moving these large vessels from the water onto the repair apron or into the yard’s main building via the dock and a system of air casters.

The company are confident that with this new addition to the yard their capacity for repair and refit of multiple vessels during peak periods will be greatly increased.

Nigeria Needs 50,000 Sailors; $40m Cabotage Fund Lies Fallow

imageThe Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has decried the manpower gap in the nation’s maritime sector, disclosing that no fewer than 50,000 seafarers  are needed  for the shipping industry to realise its full potential and stimulate  the desired economic growth in Nigeria.

But the  manpower  requirement appears to be only a tip of the iceberg among  the challenges in the sector  as  $40 million accruing to the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) has remained inaccessible  to indigenous  businessmen  desirous of establishing shipping lines.

Director General of NIMASA, Mr Temisan Omatseye said the   manpower gap has led to a situation where the shipping industry in Nigeria has become dominated by foreigners while the few indigenous shipping firms have witnessed declining fortunes.

NOAA: The National Ocean Service Releases its Annual Report for 2009

image Over the past year, we responded to survey requests in some of our nation’s busiest ports, expanded the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System, studied how changes in the warming Arctic will impact shipping, adopted a system that will revolutionize how we produce nautical charts, and more—all aimed at ensuring that marine transportation is safe, efficient, and environmentally sound.

No Props for You: Wärtsilä Sheds European Jobs as Market imageSlows

21 Jan 2010 / Maritime JournalFinnish marine engines and propulsion systems manufacturer Wärtsilä announced on Tuesday that in response to fundamental changes in the market it will reduce its manufacturing capacity in Europe.

Wärtsilä plans to move the majority of its propeller production and auxiliary engine production to China, close to the main marine markets. The current propeller manufacturing in Drunen, and the component manufacturing DTS in Zwolle, both in the Netherlands, are planned to be closed.

Ocean Warming Extends Range of Wreck Eating Shipworms

image DISCOVER MagazineAt the bottom of the Baltic Sea, history sits largely intact. Because shipworms don’t care for these cold, low-salt waters, shipwrecks can endure for centuries without great decay. The Vasa, a famous Swedish warship that sank in Stockholm harbor in 1628, was in terrific condition when engineers raised it from the depths more than 300 years later. But, scientists now warn, those conditions could be coming to an end due to global warming.

Shipworms, which can obliterate a wreck in ten years, have already attacked about a hundred sunken vessels dating back to the 13th century in Baltic waters off Germany, Denmark, and Sweden, reported study co-author Christin Appelqvist (National Geographic News). Now, Appelqvist says, their range is beginning to extend beyond those areas into the northern part of the Baltic. That could threaten close to 100,000 shipwrecks scattered across the bottom of the sea.

Online Stories can Make You (or Break You): The Deep Cygnus effect

image 59° 56′ NMarketers and PR managers take note: Good (or bad) stories in the mainstream or maritime trade press have a short shelf-life – at least, in print. Stories online stick around, with permanent references to your company or product. It’s an idea that was hammered home in a recent chat with gCaptain’s John Konrad, and I can attest to from my own experience.

Overseas Trade Endangered Unless New Zealand Has A Maritime Strategy

image The Maritime Union of New Zealand says that New Zealand’s overseas trade could be in jeopardy unless the Government has a plan for ports and the maritime sector.

Maritime Union General Secretary Joe Fleetwood, responding to comments from the Minister of Transport Hon. Stephen Joyce, says it is not good enough for the Government to leave it to chance when 99% of New Zealand’s imports and exports are shipped.

Puget Sound Maritime: Sink the Kalakala!

Raucous meeting with Kalakala owner, who rejects dive park idea

PORT ANGELESAfter a Wednesday lunch meeting with ferry Kalakala owner Steve Rodrigues that several participants described as chaotic, a new proposal emerged for the imageage-battered vessel: Sink it.

That way, it could be the main attraction in an underwater dive park proposed off Ediz Hook about a mile from the entrance west of downtown, participants said after the nearly two-hour, invitation-only meeting at Smuggler’s Landing restaurant in Port Angeles.

But Rodrigues will not consider that option, which would require expensive sandblasting and complete detoxification of the vessel.

Resting Dinghies Gone Wild

image 70.8%Tim Robison is, among other things, a sailor and a photographer. Rather a good photographer, I’d say. His website, Pergrine Sea, named after his boat Peregrina, has several galleries, one of which is sampled here. It’s called ‘Resting Dinghies’, a collection of photographs taken at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, Washington.

Sailors for the Sea

image Scientists aboard Ocean Watch continue to work with the NASA CERES S’COOL Project, to research changes in clouds patterns. Two satellites circumnavigate the earth collecting data that is compared to the observations made by researchers including those on Ocean Watch. Research has shown that  some clouds cool the earth, while others heat it up.

  • See also: an article by Dr. R. Michael Reynolds (AtA scientist) and Dr. Lin Chambers (Director of the NASA CERES S’COOL Project.)

St. Lawrence Seaway Concludes 50th Anniversary Season

image January 12, 2010 / MarineLink – The Welland Canal, which has been in operation since 1932, remained open to navigation until December 30, as the CSL Tadoussac transited Lock 1 at 3:04 p.m. and cleared Port Weller entering Lake Ontario at 3:22 p.m.

Total Seaway cargo volume for 2009 is estimated to amount to 30.5 million tonnes, the lowest volume witnessed since the early 1960’s.  The 25% decrease in cargo volume compared to 2008 can be attributed to the depth of the recession, which sharply curtailed movements of iron ore and steel on the waterway.

The Salty Barrister Wonders What’s Wrong with Them?

Admiralty attorney John Fulweiler shares some insights into the "Law of the Sea". He grew up as a RI Boater, and spent several of his collegiate summers as a Safe/Sea Captain.image

I grew up around folks that tended toward self-sufficiency. A spare something was generally on hand. You didn’t come into the dock too hot because rudders and clutches could be ornery. You checked the depth gauge against your plotted position to make sure things looked about the same. You didn’t run your fuel tanks down, rely on a radar, or run off your entire battery bank. You get the drill, and that approach has faired me well. So what with the wisdom of my increasing years, I’m damn unhappy about the Loran-C system being unplugged.

Everyone from the commercial fisherman to the weekend warrior is bombing around the coast on the wings of a GPS signal. Cut that signal and my money says you’re going to have big problems…

image On the Flipside: LORAN – Nice knowing you. RIP

Bills of LadingI find myself being the devil’s advocate in this particular argument. I hate it when new kids become too reliant on one technology. I hate it when duty officers don’t even know where the sextant is kept. I hate it that when I ask the chap to tell me the range to a ship, he checks the AIS instead of the RADAR. I hate it all.

The USCG, which is responsible for the upkeep of the system, claims that it is no longer required. I believe they are right. Those guys have been getting a lot of flak on the net since they announced the closure in Nov last year, and I am writing this so that at least they have one blog post they can show to the next congressman that bangs on their door…

imageSeventies’ Child Nerd Moment

If you’re like me and grew up during the Ford and Carter administrations, this clip will certainly hit on all cylinders.

  • For fellow fans of Star Trek and Monty Python, you have indeed reached your Holy Grail of Geekdom: a mashup of the two »

Steel Exports Fall in November

image Exports of U.S. steel fell off nearly 5 percent from October to November, according to the American Institute for International Steel, or to 935,335 tons from 983,218 tons. Comparing November 2009 to November 2008, however, total exports of this typical breakbulk cargo were up 1.5 percent.

Tonight’s Menu: Icelandic Holiday Surprise, Putrefied Skate!

image Putrefied skate is selling like hot cakes before the traditional Thorláksmessa skate dinner parties held all over Iceland. The popularity of putrefied skate has been increasing steadily according to Finnbogason.

The skate is produced domestically and has not increased in price like many other foodstuffs. “On the whole we have sold more this year than in 2007 which was our best year,” said Finnbogason.

For the unacquainted putrefied skate smells like really strong cheese and could be recognized as rotten fish. It has a strong odour of ammonia which many people dislike profoundly. But once people overcome the smell the taste is extremely good.

Towmasters Wonders When is it a Tug, When is it an ATB, &  What About the TOAR? – Part I

imageIt sounds like a simple question: when is a tug a tug? Since the ATB unit has come on the scene the answer isn’t quite so simple anymore, and it has brought new challenges to the training and licensing of deck officers as well as the manning of the vessels.

I’ve no doubt that there are a number of mariners out there who’ll dispute my definition of what is and is not a towing vessel, but it seems that the debate has at least gotten started and at least one old-school type who had previously disagreed with me has since come around to the idea that this is an area that needs to be addressed.

Tuffy and Nate Prepare to Offload a Pile of Lobster Gear

imageGloucester, MassachusettsHere the boys are getting ready to offload a pile of lobster traps.  The cold water temperature has made the lobstering activity slow down to a crawl and the time will be better spent fixing broken gear and making repairs than going out to catch very few lobsters this time of year.  When the last load of traps comes in it is a big relief for lobstermen.  It’s the end of another season and hopefully they’ve made enough to carry them through the winter.

Twenty One Years After Spill, Exxon Valdez Oil is *Still* Stuck in Alaska’s Beaches

image DISCOVER Magazine  – More than two decades have passed since the Exxon Valdez spilled 38,000 tons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, but despite cleanup efforts and time, thousands of gallons of oil remain stuck in the region’s beaches. A new Nature Geoscience study offers an explanation for why the oil has been so slow to disperse: it’s the composition of the beaches themselves.

According to study leader Michel C. Boufadel, natural forces have created beaches in Prince William Sound with two distinct layers, and water moves 1,000 times slower through the bottom layer than the top. Once the oil entered the lower level, conditions were right to keep it there, he said. Tidal forces worked to compact the finer-grained gravel even more, creating a nearly oxygen-free environment with low nutrient levels that slowed the ability of the oil to biodegrade (AP).

UglyShips has a Decidedly Un-Ugly Ship, the Cap San Diegoimage

Build : 1962 by Deutsche Werft – Hamburg in Germany, nr 785

I usually don’t have much sympathy for people trying desperately to save what is (in their eyes) an iconic vessel. I see ships as a tool to do the job and when the tool is worn out you should replace it and throw the old one away.

Just before she was to be scrapped in 1986 she was rescued by the The Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg who bought her to be preserved as a maritime monument. Nowadays she spends her life tied up to a quay as a floating museum and exhibition and congress center. You can actually spend the night on her if you fancy that.

Undersea Cables Could Detect Tsunamis’ Electric Signatures Before They Strike

image DISCOVER Magazine – NOAA’s Manoj Nair has devised a new possible method of detecting a deadly tsunami long before the wave crests to dangerous heights. And, in a bit of good news, much of it is already in place.

In a new study in next month’s Earth, Planets, and Space, Nair modeled the massive 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean and found that a tsunami picking up steam as it moves across the ocean emits a tiny electromagnetic signature of of about 500 millivolts. That’s enough to have an effect on the communication cables that stretch across the ocean floor, carrying internet messages and phone calls…

US Container Traffic Signals Retail Optimism

image The volume of container traffic going into big North American ports in December showed its first year-on-year rise since the US started sliding into recession 2½ years ago, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation.

The year-on-year increase is the first since mid-2007. Jonathan Gold, who follows supply chain issues for the NRF, said the numbers “are a clear sign that retailers are optimistic about 2010”, despite continuing caution about rebuilding their inventory levels.

“We wouldn’t see these increases in imports if stores weren’t expecting sales to improve … so this is definitely good news.”

Welder making boilers for a ship

imageCombustion Engineering Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer June, 1942. click to see full size The Library of Congress’ photostream »

imageHuge Slimy Dogs: Harbor seals on the Maine coast; nelights’ photostream »


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