Maritime Monday 203: The Pacific Northwest

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You can find last week’s edition here »

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imageSteamboats at Colman Dock, Seattle, WA, circa 1912 – The Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet was a large number of private transportation companies running small passenger and freight boats around on Puget Sound, nearby waterways, and rivers. This large group of steamers and sternwheelers stopped at every waterfront dock. The historical peak of activity occurred between the first and second World Wars. Click image to see full size. 

imageSteamer Virginia V, last of Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet – now one of the historic fleet of NW Seaport, South Lake Union Park, Seattle, Washington, USA. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The boat has city landmark status.  Steamer Virginia V’s website »

image Cade Candiesboat being built at Dakota Creek Shipyard in Anacortes for the Otto Candies company of Des Allemands, LA. – from flickr 

imageThe Lightship Columbia (WLV-604) is a US National Historic Landmark in Astoria, Oregon. There are 17 Lightships that remain today, a number of which are Endangered »

image Then: Puget Sound Navy YardBattleship Nebraska (1902-1923) in dry dock. see larger »

imageAnd Now: Puget Sound Naval Shipyard – Shipyard workers use instruments to precisely align the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) as the ship enters Dry Dock 6. The hull must line up precisely with the blocks that will support the ship as water is pumped out. See full size »

Al Qaeda Urges Somali Groups to Choke Red Sea Entrance

image 27 Feb 2010 / Manu’s Scripts – Earlier this month, the Yemeni branch of the Al Qaeda has called on the Somali group Al Shabaab and others to wage a jihad and choke off the Red Sea to commercial shipping. Although the group wants to do this to cut off U.S. shipments to Israel, the commercial impact of the possibility of a disturbance, to put it mildly, in the narrow strip of water that feeds the Suez Canal is bound to be huge…

Another Incat Crowther Vessel for Offshore Unlimited

26 Feb 2010 / Offshore Shipping Online Incat Crowther has announced that it is designing a second utility catamaran for Offshore Unlimited.image

This vessel follows the success of Unlimited, a 24m utility catamaran designed by Incat Crowther for the same operator. The new vessel will be a 29m high speed catamaran work boat capable of carrying 50 tonnes of deadweight. The aft deck, with a cargo capacity of 24 tonnes, is configurable for multiple uses.

Bangladesh Ship Breakers Protest New Standards

image 23 Feb 2010 / Seafarer Blog – Bangladesh’s ship breaking yards ground to a halt Monday as some 30,000 workers protested a government decree aimed at improving environmental standards in the industry, police said. Under a government order issued in late January said, ships heading for breaking yards must now be certified as toxic chemical-free before they are imported and scrapped.

“Ship breakers are demanding the order be reversed and 30,000 ship breaking workers are protesting with a massive rally in the centre of Chittagong,” said local police chief Monirul Islam, referring to Bangladesh’s second-largest city.

The order comes after a boom year for ship breakers, with the number of yards growing to around 100 from just 40 in early 2009 and turnover hitting a record 700 million dollars.

Bills of Lading Waxes Romantic Over imagePimps and Firewires

Firewires (38mm in dia and about 120 m in length) are the crappiest piece of gear that is found on modern oil tankers. And we have our share of crappy gears. Everything about the fire wire from stowing, to deploying to adjusting it is a pain. All we ever got out of the fire wire was trips, bruises and a filthy mouth.

In 2007, OCIMF asked LR to carry out a risk assessment for fire wires in the industry and the results surprised even me. Apparently, fire wires have been deployed on tankers since 1967. And in that time they have not been used even once. Not once. On the other hand, fire wires have caused about seventeen hundred minor or major injuries in that period.

Black Pig Provides the Deep imageBackground:

 It’s All Kicking Off Again – An Englishman’s (biased) view of the Falkland Islands

So the Argentines’ want the Falkland Islands “back”. I use inverted commas because of course it’s well documented that they have rarely, if ever, actually lived there.

Black Sea Base Delivers Successful Salvage

image 25 Feb 2010 / Maritime Journal Multraship Salvage and SVITZER Salvage have refloated the Russian flag cargo ship Irtysh 1 after it had ran aground on the rocky coastline off the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near Bourgas.

The 2,913 dwt, 1996 built vessel ran aground near Cape Foros on 8 February after strong winds and waves reportedly broke its anchor and drove it towards the coast. At the time of the incident, the vessel, which operates between Greece and Romania, was sailing in ballast, with 35 tons of bunkers on board.

Books: Tales of the Seven Seas; The Escapades of Captain Dynamite Johnny O’Brien

Based on the actual journals of O’Brian, the stories are about tough times and hard men in distant places—and the history.

imagevia Maritime Compass – Captain Dynamite Johnny O’Brien sailed the seven seas for over 60 years, starting in the late 1860s in India and ending in the early 1930s on the U.S. West Coast. He sailed every type of ship imaginable, but this book is more than the story of this incredible, charismatic sea captain. It is a tale about what sailing over the oceans was really like from the 19th to the 20th centuries, when danger & adventure coexisted on a daily basis.

The story sweeps from his compassion in the Chinese trade in coolie labor for constructing the railroads to the rich living of kings and princesses in the Hawaiian Islands. It covers the Klondike Gold Rush, when sailors and their vessels sailed into the Artic Circle and the brutal gales of the Bering Sea. The reader sees the opening of the Pacific and Pacific Northwest through the eyes of Captain O’Brien.

Image, "Buster Keaton with Captain ‘Dynamite Johnny’ O’Brien aboard the SS Buford, 1924," Courtesy of Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, see their Digital Collections site for more information.

Burma to Privatize Ports

image 28 Feb 2010 / Hellenic Shipping News The state-run Myanmar [Burma] Port Authority (MPA) plans to privatize ports in Rangoon and offer port-building and other port-related projects in the former capital city to private companies, according to government sources.

Win Khant, a Ministry of Transport official in the new administrative capital, Naypyidaw, told The Irrawaddy that the MPA plans to sell its existing ports to the private sector and invite investors to build new ports under a build, operate and transfer (BOT) system.

Clay Maitland Adds Fuel to the Fire of Environmental Debate

image That law of unintended consequences continues to vex us, as the environmentalist said when a wind turbine blade came through his roof.

Marine fuel, once a relatively uncomplicated matter presided over by Chief Engineers in the quiet of their control rooms, is now a science in which industrial chemists and environmental regulators rule the roost. We have International Maritime Organisation requirements (which ought to be good enough for an international industry) thoroughly confused by directives emanating from Brussels, and made almost incomprehensible by Californians. It’s not ideal.

image SEATTLE — The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea, one of the world’s most powerful non-nuclear icebreakers, home-ported in Seattle, departs the week of Feb. 22 for a two-month deployment in support of the Bering Sea Ecosystem Study (BEST). (photo source)

Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea Departs for Bering Sea Cruise

24 Feb 2010 / KBKW News – The BEST cruise is part of a six year study of the Bering Sea ecosystem supported by the National Science Foundation and the North Pacific Research Board.

imageThe central focus of the scientific cruise is to examine the impacts of changing ice conditions on food web structure in the Bering Sea. A team of twenty-five scientists will study processes and collect data relating to food webs in the northern Bering Sea.

"We will be working at the ecological boundary where the Bering Sea shifts from a fish dominated system to one where more true arctic animals such as walruses, bearded seals and Spectacled Eiders use sea ice as a platform to take advantage of abundant foods on the sea floor," said Lee Cooper, chief scientist of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences.

CG Rescues Crew from Sinking Barge

Three-person crew pulled from a sinking barge on Monday night

image23 Feb 2010 / Three Sheets Northwest  The Coast Guard received a report of a dredge hung up on its anchor and taking on water shortly before 9 p.m., and sent two rescue boats to assist. By 9:30, the Coast Guard had taken all three people onboard the barge, Bar Fly, onto a 25-foot rescue boat. The rescued crew was taken to the Coast Guard’s station on Quillayute River and there were no injuries reported.

imageCoquille, Oregon, waterfront ca.1908-1914Coquille waterfront ca. 1908-1914 with the boats Wolverine, Favorite, and Wilhelmina at dock. The Wolverine was built in Coos Bay in 1908.  More: Steamboats of the Oregon Coast »

The Columbia River remains a major maritime highway in the Pacific Northwest for agricultural commodities, forest products and mineral bulks, allowing deepsea ships to sail 105 miles inland and barges another 360 miles, as far as the state of Idaho, for cargoes. image

The 465 mile navigation system offered by the Columbia and Snake rivers, along with a small portion of the Willamette river at Portland, is made possible by a series of hydro-electric dams featuring navigation locks, four on the Columbia and four on the Snake. Among these is the lock at John Day Dam, which has a lift of 110 feet, the highest in North America.

Deepwater shipping makes use of a 40-foot-deep channel, currently being dredged to 43 feet, to travel as far eastward as Vancouver, Washington, while a shallower 14-foot-deep channel accommodates barge traffic all the way to Lewiston. Ocean-going vessels make some 2,000 port calls on the river each year, trans-porting an average $16 billion worth of freight, while ships and barges together move about 17 million tons of cargo annually.

from Pacific Maritime Magazine

imageSteamboat graveyardWhen steamboat service ended on the Coquille, at least three steamers, Myrtle, Telegraph, and Dora were all beached on the river near Bandon. Astoundingly, the Mary D. Hume, (above) built in 1881, is still largely intact, lying on the shore at Gold Beach, Oregon. The wreck itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by James Coffee; click here to see full size »

Corps’ Debris Picker-Upper Getting image $500K Facelift

Puget Sound Business JournalM/V Puget is getting its engines replaced and having additional work completed at Lake Union Drydock Co. in Seattle. The ship picks up about 14 tons a day of navigational hazards such as woody debris in the water, the Corps said. During the Puget’s repairs, a contracted ship, Seahorse, will respond to debris in the water.

The Corps said the Puget’s drydock work will be paid for by federal stimulus funds and involves replacing its diesel engines with cleaner and more fuel-efficient units.

Costa Deliziosa Inaugurated in Dubai 

image23 Feb 2010 / Business Intelligence/Middle East – Today sees the staging in Dubai of the inauguration ceremony for the Costa Deliziosa, the new diamond of the Costa Cruises fleet and the first cruise ship ever to be named in an Arab city:  a unique and quite extraordinary event which sets a new record and combines traditional Arabian enchantment, reminiscent of “A Thousand and One Nights”, with the unmistakable Italian style of Costa Cruises, the largest Italian travel group and Europe’s n.1 cruise line.

Together with her sister ship Costa Luminosa, the Costa Deliziosa represents the most exclusive and innovative member of the fleet; weighing in at 92,600 gross tonnage and with  total Guest capacity of 2,826, the new ship is an emblem of Italian-made excellence. 

Cruising with the Norovirus: 435 Reported Being Ill

image Celebrity postpones cruise out of Charleston after major outbreak of illness

27 Feb 2010 / NPR For those of us stuck in the wintry Northeast, a Caribbean cruise seems pretty appealing. But we have to admit the idea was a whole lot more enticing before we heard about a nasty viral outbreak that struck hundreds of passengers this week.

Early Friday morning, the cruise ship Celebrity Mercury returned to Charleston, South Carolina, with a little under a fifth of its passengers sick with gastroenteritis, euphemistically known as the stomach flu. Vomiting, cramping and diarrhea. It wasn’t a pretty picture…

Dredge Ruptures Pipeline in Gulf of Mexico

image 26 Feb 2010 / Coast Guard NewsMORGAN CITY, La. — The Coast Guard is investigating the circumstances surrounding a pipeline rupture near buoys five and six of the Atchafalaya Channel that occurred Wednesday morning.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City, La., received a report at 7:45 a.m., Wednesday, from Coast Guard Sector New Orleans reporting that the dredge G. D. Morgan, owned by Weeks Marine, Inc., had struck a gas pipeline, resulting in a fire and minor injuries.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City, La., responded with a team of investigators, inspectors and pollution personnel. The pipeline was identified as being owned by Contango Oil & Gas Company and was shut-in before 8 a.m., immediately following the rupture.

Dry-Shippers Sink as Quarterly Reports Show Revenue Declines

image 23 Feb 2010 / Wall Street Journal – Shares have been battered during the recession as the steep drop in demand has created a glut of ships crowding the seas. While the Baltic Dry Index, which charts demand, rose slightly Tuesday — its sixth straight day of gains according to Capital Link Shipping — the stocks were hit by the gloomy reports coming from OceanFreight Inc. (OCNF), Navios Maritime Holdings Inc. (NM) and Diana Shipping Inc. (DSX).

One of the biggest percentage drops on the day was seen in OceanFreight, a smaller Athens, Greece, shipper, which slumped 9.4% to 74 cents, nearing its all-time low of 70 cents, which it hit earlier this month. OceanFreight reported a 23% slump in its fourth-quarter time charter equivalent, a key metric that measures profit of each vessel’s voyage. Despite 99.5% fleet utilization, a decline in the number of days its ships were at sea helped push revenue down 25% and push the loss much wider.

Egypt: 3 Crew Members Die in Cruise Liner Accident

"We sadly have to confirm the deaths of 3 crew members," the company said in a statement. "The ship is now safely docked in port."

image 26 Feb 2010 / MSNBCAL-ARISH: Luxury cruise liner Costa Europa, carrying nearly 1,500 passengers slammed into the pier as it docked Friday at an Egyptian Red Sea resort in fierce winds, leaving three crew members dead, officials said.

The ship’s owner, Costa Crociera, said the vessel sprung a leak on the right side after banging into the dock at about 4:45 a.m.

Eleven Ocean Photographers You Should Know

image Deep Sea News – I was very excited when Pelfusion posted 35 Underwater Photographs That Stand Out. Unfortunately most of the photographs feature models underwater in flowing dresses or pseudo-charismatic large cats.  Far less than half of the photographs contain the actual denizens of the sea. What’s up with that?

So without further delay, DSN introduces our ten favorite underwater photographers and favorite photographs from each one.

Everything Old is New Again

image From time to time sailing ships get mentioned as one technology that will serve in post petroleum scenarios but some readers may not know that there are already hundreds in service worldwide, maintaining a tradition of moving goods and people across water that goes back 400 centuries. By contrast, our recent epoch of fossil fueled ships stands out as a brief and brilliant blip in a continuum of what may turn out to be humankind’s most enduring form of transport.

Seen mostly as majestic relics of a bygone era today’s tall ships are nevertheless essential transitional platforms for change as we begin the move toward sustainable transportation over water. Since most Americans still happen to live near major water transportation routes it is likely that we will continue to use boats of some sort to move goods and people around. Building and sailing ships to meet our future needs will most likely involve examining our long unbroken maritime traditions which are alive and well around the world in today’s modern tall ships.

IMO Begins Hydrographic Survey of Malacca Straits

Planet Data – The International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced on Monday that "a key hydrographic survey within the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore" has begun. The purpose of this action, which is part of the Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) Demonstration Project, is to produce an updated electronic navigation chart of the vital waterway.

From IMO: "The demonstration project will link shore-based marine information and communication infrastructure with the corresponding navigational and communication facilities aboard transiting ships, while also being capable of incorporating marine environmental management systems."

Increasing Opposition to Coast Guard Budget Cutsimage

24 Feb 2010 / Homeland Security Today – As Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano entered two intense days of hearings on the Obama administration’s fiscal 2011 budget proposal for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), objections to the White House cuts at the US Coast Guard (USCG) continue to grow.

Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), chair and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, hold the first hearing on the budget Wednesday morning. The senators became the latest lawmakers to object to underfunding the US Coast Guard with a joint statement Monday.

Ireland: New Deepwater Port May be Moved North to Avoid Tombs

Port developers anxious to avoid “very significant” Neolithic complex

image23 Feb 2010 / Irish Times – A proposed deepwater container port at Bremore in north Co Dublin may be moved farther north to Gormanston, Co Meath, to avoid encroaching on a neolithic complex of passage tombs.

A spokesman for Treasury Holdings, which is planning to develop the new facility in partnership with Drogheda Port, confirmed yesterday that one of the options now being considered was to “shift it off Bremore headland” for archaeological reasons.

He said it had become clear at an early stage that the neolithic complex at Bremore was “very significant”, and the developers would be anxious to avoid it by examining alternative locations, such as Gormanston.

Illustration by Bowsprite

Jake Harris, Son of “Deadliest Catch” Star Phil Harris, Jailed in Seattle After DUI Arrest

image 21 Feb 2010 / NYDailyNews – Over a week after his father died following a stroke, ‘Deadliest Catch’ star Jake Harris is dealing with a new set of problems. Harris is currently in a Seattle jail on drunk driving charges after crashing his car late Thursday, People.com reports.

The 24-year-old was charged with drunk driving, a hit and run – he reportedly rear-ended another vehicle before the crash – and driving with a suspended license.

Thom Beers, the executive producer of the popular reality show recently revealed that when Phil Harris came out of his medically induced coma, the late captain asked the production to continue with the filming as the story would need a great finish. With the amount of interest that the upcoming season is generating, it is sure to be a huge hit among all Phil Harris fans.

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The Kalakala Ferry in her Heyday

The MV Kalakala was the ferry that operated on Puget Sound from 1935 until her retirement in 1967

imageKalakala was notable for her unique streamlined superstructure, art deco styling, and luxurious amenities. The vessel was a popular attraction for locals and tourists, and was voted second only to the Space Needle in popularity among visitors to Seattle during the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The ship was known as the world’s first streamlined vessel.

Kalalaka was well known for a heavy shaking vibration that ran throughout the vessel when in operation. This was probably due to poor alignment of the engines in the original construction of the vessel.

Although the company wished the vessel to be known as the Silver Swan, the vessel soon attracted other, less complementary nicknames, including the Silver Slug, Silver Beetle, Galloping Ghost of the Pacific Coast, and, among Seattle’s Scandanavian community, Kackerlacka, which means "cockroach".

image Inside the Kalakala April 2001 A Tribute to a Queen on TacomaScene.com

The vessel was sold in 2004 to a private investor, who moved her to an anchorage in Neah Bay provided by the Makah Tribe. Soon after arriving at Neah Bay the Kalakala was evicted by the Makah, who also brought a lawsuit against the owners. The vessel has since been relocated to Tacoma, Washington.

In February 2008, Kalakala owner Steve Rodrigues announced his intention to acquire additional vintage ferry vessels and to restore them and the Kalakala as either ferries powered by wind and solar technologies or as museums. The Kalakala is currently scheduled for work on its hull and superstructure in dry dock in 2010.

image The Kalakala today

Keystone-Port Townsend Ferry Naming Hits Rough Waters

The Chetzemoka, the first of two new ferries being built for the Keystone-Port Townsend ferry route, is being built at Todd Pacific Shipyards in Seattle

image 24 Feb 2010 / Whidbey Examiner Local efforts to name a new  ferry after a 19th century tribal leader appeared to have been derailed after Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen proposed legislation that would have made it unlikely the vessel could be named in honor of a person.

Senate Bill 6700, which proposed that the Washington Transportation Commission should avoid using the names of individuals when naming state-owned ferries, failed to pass out of committee earlier this month.

Lukoil Discovers Hydrocarbons Offshore Ghana

image27 Feb 2010 / JoyOnline – A consortium, LUKOIL Overseas, (56.66%), US Vanco (28.34%) and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC (15%), has discovered a significant hydrocarbon accumulation in the Dzata structure of the Cape Three Points Deep Water Block in the Gulf of Guinea offshore the Republic of Ghana, Lukoil said in a press release.

The total area of the block is about 5,200 square kilometers, while the water depth within the block ranges from 200 meters to 3,000 meters. The Dzata-1 structure lies at a depth of almost 2 kilometers.

Manila: New Law Lets Coast Guard Stop imageShips from Sailing

22 Feb 2010 / Global Nation – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has signed a new law giving the Philippine Coast Guard increased law enforcement powers, including the authority to detain and prevent from sailing substandard passenger and cargo vessels plying the country’s waters.

Known as the “Philippine Coast Guard Act of 2009” or Republic Act 9993, the new law aims to further enhance maritime safety and prevent sea tragedies.

Moody’s: Stable Outlook for Global Shipping Industry, Recovery Hampered by Oversupply

image 25 Feb 2010 / The fundamental credit outlook for the global  shipping industry is stable, reflecting the fact that conditions are unlikely to deteriorate further in the sector, says Moody’s Investors Service in a new Industry Outlook. However, the rating agency cautions that some segments, especially containers, will continue to under-perform throughout 2010.

"While the stable outlook is based on the belief that the main industry drivers are not likely to deteriorate further, we do not anticipate a full recovery of the main players to start until the end of 2011," says Marco Vetulli, a Moody’s Vice President-Senior Credit Officer and author of the report.

"Furthermore, we believe the landscape of the industry may be quite different on the other side of the recovery."

imageMV Coho: Engine telegraph on the Bridge Wing. Photo by Shawn J. Dake c.2009

M.V. Coho: 50 Years of Reliable Service

Maritime Matters For an ocean-going vessel to reach the age of  fifty is quite an accomplishment. To span a career of over five decades under the same name, ownership and on the original service it was designed for is almost unheard of, yet  that is exactly what image the M.V. COHO has managed to do. It is a ship perfectly suited to the daily ferry service it provides between Port Angeles, Washington and Victoria, British Columbia. In over 50 years, it has never missed a sailing and is as reliable today as it was at the time of it’s maiden voyage in 1959.

In addition to beautiful scenery, the waters of Puget Sound are famous for a magnificent silver salmon. In 1959, Black Ball Transport, Inc. began building an auto and passenger ferry named after this prized fish, the COHO. The ship is 341.6 feet long, with a width of 72.2 feet. The original propulsion plant consisted of two Cooper-Bessemer diesel engines with a total output of 4,160 BHP, driving the eight foot diameter twin screws, for a cruising speed of 15 knots.

image "Today, the Black Ball Ferry Line continues its tradition and is proud to be a reliable leader in our tourism and transportation industry. In our 50 years of service, we have transported over 21 million passengers and 6 million vehicles. We plan to continue the tradition and deliver prompt, reliable service to our passengers."   Photo by Shawn J. Dake c.2009

image The exterior is sleek and pleasing to the eye, looking much more like a miniature passenger liner than a typical ferry. A raked tripod mast just forward of the single squat funnel enhanced her low profile. Plenty of glass windows for viewing the passing scenery offset the austerity of metal bulkheads and stainless steel rails. Built at a cost of $3 million, the M.V. COHO was the most expensive, privately-funded ferry ever built in North America up to that time. The flag of the United States flies over the stern and the ship is registered in Seattle.

Navy Ship Charles Drew Christened in  San Diego

image27 Feb 2010 / LA Times – Sylvia Drew Ivie has seen schools and a medical college named after her late father, Charles Drew, a black surgeon whose pioneering work in the science of blood preservation was key to the development of large-scale blood banks.

The Navy’s christening and launching of the 689-foot-long Charles Drew cargo ship from a San Diego shipyard early Saturday may have been the most unusual "edifice" named after him.

The ship was christened by Drew’s eldest daughter, Bebe Drew Price, who broke a bottle of champagne against the bow under rainy skies before more than 1,300 people. The Charles Drew is so large that there are generally only two days a month when the tide is high enough for the Navy to safely slide the ship into San Diego Bay.

On Second Thought, Let’s Not Go to Georgetown, it is a Silty Place

South Carolina Port Turning Away Work for Want of Dredge

24 Feb 2010 / SCSunNews – The director at the port of Georgetown said the dredging situation there is now imagebad enough that the port turns away cargo and diverts it to Charleston.

Such actions could continue to prove costly for the local area unless federal lawmakers allocate about $8 million to remove the silt at the bottom of the port’s waterway and restore its depth to 27 feet, according to a recent study.

Every 500,000 tons of cargo that passes annually through the port of Georgetown brings in about 42 new jobs for the area, $1.3 million in new local household income and $4.4 million in local economic output, according to a study by a research economist from Coastal Carolina University.

Oregon Lawmakers Defend NOAA Base in Newport

image 19 Feb 2010 / The Oregonian – In an escalating war of words over a plan to station NOAA research ships in Newport, Oregon lawmakers Friday accused their colleagues from Washington state of “political interference” in an attempt to reverse the surprise decision to base the fleet in Oregon.

The Washington delegation’s letter comes on the heels of the NOAA’s announcement last month that it will review its decision to select Newport as the next home port for its Pacific fleet, as recommended by the GAO. NOAA agreed to do that after the GAO upheld a protest by the Port of Bellingham, which argued that the Port of Newport is in a flood plain.

Bellingham also hoped to wrest the base from Seattle, but lost to Newport. The NOAA ships are currently based in Seattle and would move to Newport when construction of the new facilities is complete.

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Pentagon Announces End of Ban on Women on Subs

23 Feb 2010 / Navy Times – The Pentagon on Monday notified Congress that women will be able to join submarine crews within 30 legislative working days, making good on the wishes of top Navy commanders announced last fall.

As required by law, Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent a letter to legislative leaders announcing the Navy’s plan to lift its ban on female submariners, giving the House and Senate time to absorb the decision and, if members want, to take action. Congress can pass a law forbidding integration, requiring the Navy to wait or perform a study. If it does nothing, as expected, the ban will expire around the end of April.

Philippine Bureau of Customs Seizes 12 Mis-declared Cargo Containers

Items ranging from high-end electronics to tiles & frozen chicken

image 26 Feb 2010 / Philippine Daily Inquirer – The shipments from Singapore were intercepted as they were being taken out of the Port of Manila and Manila International Container Port (MICP), Customs Commissioner Napoleon L. Morales told reporters Thursday.

The biggest among the haul was a 40-foot container filled with plasma and LCD television sets, cameras, Sony Portable PlayStations (PSPs), Sony PlayStation3 cordless controllers, computer processors, JVC DVD receivers with monitors and other high-end electronic gadgets.

image Innovative material replaces aging wood pilings in pilot program.

Port of Seattle Uses New Plastic Pilings

17 Feb 2010 / Puget Sound Maritime – Part of a pilot program, the new low-maintenance pilings are made of recycled materials that are impervious to marine borers, and resistant to corrosion.

American Construction Company of Tacoma is driving these innovative plastic and fiberglass fender piles into the ship canal, replacing the aging creosote treated wood piles currently there. Once driven as much as 20 feet into the ground, the pilings will be connected to the dock. These piles will act as a buffer between a ship or barge and the wooden docks, protecting and lengthening the useful life of the dock.

Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca imageBecome the  Salish Sea

In March 2008, the Chemainus First Nation proposed renaming the strait the Salish Sea.  Changing  the name officially required a formal application to the Geographical Names Board of Canada. A parallel American movement promoting the name had a different definition, combining of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound as well as the Strait of Georgia and related waters under the single name Salish Sea.

In October 2009, the Washington state Board of Geographic Names approved the the Salish Sea toponym, not to replace the names of the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound, and Strait of Juan de Fuca, but instead as a collective term for all three. The United States Board on Geographic Names approved the name change on November 12, 2009.

Russia: New Arctic Supertanker Starts Commercial Operation

image 28 Feb 2010 / Itar Tass The Mikhail Ulyanov Arctic supertanker built at the Admiralty Shipyards to Sovcomflot‘s order has been supplied to the Russian commercial fleet.

The tanker goes on its first voyage on Sunday. It will carry several tens of thousands of petroleum products from the Primorsk seaport in the Leningrad region to West European terminals. It has the deadweight of 70,000 tonnes, the length of 257 meters and the width of 34 meters, Admiralty Shipyards General Director Vladimir Alexandrov told Itar-Tass.

The construction of similar high-tech tankers will continue, in particular, for developers of circumpolar shelf deposits. The Admiralty Shipyards has orders for the next two or three years within the framework of the Russian shipbuilding program for the period until 2020.

image SEATTLE: Todd was founded in 1916 by a boilermaker from Brooklyn, William H. Todd. The company has had its ups and downs but remains vibrant — employing around 800 workers on Harbor Island, at Everett and in Bremerton.  Seattle Times Slideshow »

Seattle’s Todd Pacific Shipyards Stays Afloat in a Sinking Industry

Its burly piers jutting into the chill waters off Seattle’s Harbor Island, the 28acre Todd Pacific Shipyards offers plenty for locals to be proud of. With nearly a hundred years of history on the waterfront, it’s part of our maritime culture. And while shipyards around the country are closing as the shipbuilding and repair industry dwindles, Todd is an anomaly. It continues to thrive.

Some Serious Earthmoving Equipment: Backhoe Dredger "Postnik Yakovlev"

imageThe Art of Dredging – This vessel is a self-propelled backhoe dredger, from a series of three identical vessels for Jan De Nul, the two other named Vitruvius and Mimar Sinan. This vessel consists of a pontoon with twin azimuth propulsion thrusters, each 500 kW.

While in excavating mode, the pontoon is positioned by three spuds, hoisted with steel wires and winches. The crane is a  "Backacter type 1100" hydraulic crane, and comes with a range of buckets up to 40 m3 volume. The choice of buckets and chisels or pickpoints depends on soil conditions…

South Africa Seizes N Korean Ship

image 26 Feb 2010 / Press TV – The South African government has notified the UN of the seizure of a North Korean cargo ship carrying tank parts to the Republic of Congo.

The export of military equipment to Congo is in violation of UN Resolution 1906, adopted unanimously on December 23, 2009. It seeks to "support the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) operations against illegal foreign and Congolese armed groups provided they comply with international humanitarian law…"

imageColumbia River, OregonSteamers Dalles City and another sternwheeler (possibly the Harvest Queen) in the Cascade Locks

Steamboat Races on the Columbia River

imageAlthough steamboat racing was technically illegal, operators of steamboats often tried to "do their best" when a rival steamboat was on the river. Spencer, as a prestige boat was frequently raced against other top vessels of the day, including Bailey Gatzert and T.J. Potter. Races against the Bailey Gatzert happened almost every day when the two vessels ran against each other on the Portland-Dalles route.

On 12 July 1904, Spencer was racing the Dalles City  about 15 miles upstream from Hood River. The winds were high, and blowing east against the steamers as they moved downstream, and the waves were choppy. The Spencer’s main steam pipe broke, which forced the pilot to steer for the river bank to beach the vessel. Spencer hit rocks 25 feet from shore, and sank. Fortunately there were no casualties among those aboard, and the Spencer was later refloated and repaired.

imageOn 31 May 1905, a collision during one of these races between Dalles City and the Spencer generated substantial litigation. Dalles City was struck by the Charles R. Spencer while the Spencer was trying to overtake. As a result, Dalles City suffered serious and disabling mechanical damage.

In November 1905, the Spencer, Dalles City, and Telephone all cast off lines at once in Portland, and headed downriver for Astoria. As each vessel raced down the Willamette at high speed, they threw up a wake which rocked and damaged large ships moored alongside piers, which resulted in the captains of the steamboats each being fined $50, a considerable sum for the time. (source)

Suing Ronald Reagan: My First Maritime Case

image 21 Feb 2010 / Washington Free Press – “Sue the government for shutting down the old Marine Hospital,” my new boss ordered. He was referring to the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital on Seattle’s Beacon Hill, now the headquarters for Amazon.com.  We were in my office at his law firm, on the top floor of the Seattle Trade Center, overlooking Elliott Bay.

“OK,” I eagerly replied.  “What legal theory should we use for a cause of action against the government?”  I was a brand-new lawyer, having taken the bar exam a week earlier. 

“I don’t know—think of something.  Seamen have used the Marine Hospitals for 200 years.  Reagan can’t just shut them down.”  My boss left my desk and went into his own office.  He closed his door, leaving me to stare out the window and wonder how to start this project.  It was August 1982.

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imageTugboat Arthur Foss is the only known wood-hulled 19th century tugboat still afloat  and in operating condition in the U.S. Built as the Wallowa, she began her career towing lumber and grain-laden square-rigged ships across the treacherous Columbia River bar.  From 1904 to 1929 she towed log rafts around Puget Sound and the Washington coast.

She remained in continuous service with the Foss Company until 1970, except for duty in the U.S. Navy during World War II. While with the Navy, she was the last vessel to escape from Wake Island in January 1942  

She was transferred to Northwest Seaport in 1970, and restored to operating condition 1981. There is much more at the Historic South Lake Union Ships collection at the Peregrine Sea Gallery. Historic Ships at South Lake Union »

see more photos by Tim Robison; The Peregrine Sea blog »

USS Nicholas Conducts Africa Partnership Station Live At-Sea Drill

U.S. Naval Forces Europe, 6th Fleet Public Affairs

image 26 Feb 2010 / DvidsPORT LOUIS, Mauritius – Africa Partnership Station East platform USS Nicholas recently trained with the Mauritius Group and Intervention Police Force on basic visit, board, search and seizure methods, which culminated in a live at-sea exercise held Feb. 25.

In-port training, which lasted for a period of three days, gave students education and practice on proper boarding and searching techniques, along with instruction on how to investigate suspicious personnel and handle weapons. Additional courses taught firefighting and damage control, search and rescue procedures, and force protection measures.

The training was a vital part of the APS East mission to bolster maritime safety and security, by providing Mauritian maritime professionals with the enhanced skills to help counter against illegal trafficking and piracy and to protect precious resources – part of an ongoing endeavor to keep international waters safe.

"From the very first day we came aboard the ship, we were given many scenarios which we had to run through and perfect," said Pvt. Andy Eddy, one of the trainees. "The VBSS course was great because it was filled with important tactical knowledge and taught us how to properly search, question and maneuver an intruder."

imageVancouver Olympics Security USCG MH-65C Dolphin helicopter on the flight deck of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Algonquin, while at sea in the approaches to Vancouver Harbour during Operation Podium. Operation Podium is the Canadian Forces contribution to the overall security of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in support of the RCMP-led Integrated Security Unit. Pacific Northwest USCG 2010 Vancouver Olympics security (Set) on flicker »

WorkBoat.com: Everyone Wants to Go  to Heaven…

image19 Feb 2010 / by Bruce Buls – At this month’s Seattle Propeller Club luncheon, Matt Mullett, president of boat builder All American Marine in Bellingham, Wash., gave a presentation about an exciting new boat his company is building for Kitsap [County] Transit. If the new aluminum/composite passenger ferry is successful – as all parties expect it to be – it should establish a new standard for low-wake fast ferries.

Because the new ferry will transit the notorious Rich Passage, home of many disgruntled waterfront property owners, it’s the low-wake signature that is driving the design and construction of this boat.

In fact, the $5.3 million boat is mostly being paid for by federal grants for wake-wash research…

image Pier 3: Galbraith Dock, Seattle WA circa 1912Vashonian in center, Norwood at right

image Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Washington state –  USS Ohio (SSGN 726) is in dry dock undergoing a conversion from a Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) to a Guided Missile Submarine (SSGN) designation. source 

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