Maritime Monday 204

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March 8, 2010

Welcome to This Week’s Edition of Maritime Monday

You can find last week’s edition here »

imageOne. Ugly. Ship. Yes, that’s a ship. It’s a specialized ship made to carry automobiles. I can’t say I’m overwhelmed by their grace and fine lines.  OneEighteen’s Flickr photostream »

image Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia. Rob Huntley’s Nova Scotia Set on Flickr »

imageCool Ulstein ship. View from new office at Umoe IKT. Hoff-Z’s Flickr photostream »

imageA view of the telegraph by night

Once on nights, always on nights. There is a tendency to end up on a run of nights for no other good reason than that’s just the way it goes, and no matter how much rest you get during the day, nothing beats a proper nights sleep. The engines are about to rumble to life, it’s 4.30 in the AM and I have a few minutes before the Rotterdam pilot boards for departure.

Anti-Piracy Tactics Used by Bulk Ships

image Somali pirates are likely to increasingly target ships taking coal and other commodities over the Indian Ocean because smaller bulk vessels are an easier target than large oil tankers and trade to Asia is booming.

South African coal shippers have installed a sonic device with a 3 kilometre range on a trial basis which has successfully halted attacks on tankers and naval ships off the African coast. The LRAD device, made by American Technology Corporation and costs $175,0000, can warn off pirates not responding to radio calls and disorient them preventing boarding but causes no permanent harm, shippers said.

Architecture: Shipping Container Home-Building

image Plans, designs and drawings are neat – but in action photographs is where we see the real wonder of shipping container home construction. Building becomes as easy as stacking giant modular metal LEGOs – prefabricated, pre-cut cargo containers already sized, scaled and structured to be transported.

Strangely enough, DIY used shipping container house plans have become so popular that there is a growing shortage in areas in terms of the used containers themselves – but for those able to find and buy them locally the actual building process is much cheaper and easier than most kinds of construction.

Book Review : Circling the World without  Wings Still has its Ups & imageDowns

Seth Stevenson has a book coming out this spring about his six-month journey around the world – all by land and sea.

In “Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World” (Riverhead Trade), Stevenson, 35, a Brookline, Mass. native and regular contributor to Slate magazine, describes the joys and frustrations of staying close to the ground, whether by rickshaw, cargo freighter, or on foot. In a recent e-mail interview with Globe reporter David Abel, he discussed the highs and lows of his trip.

Budget Crisis Stirs College Campuses to Decry Budget Cuts

image With one student strapped into a medical stretcher to symbolically show how the state budget crisis is hurting higher education, Vallejo’s California Maritime Academy students, faculty and workers lent their voices to a nationwide protest Thursday.

Marches, strikes, teach-ins and walkouts were planned in the March 4th National Day of Action for Public Education, organized to draw attention to the impact of state budget cuts on colleges and universities.

China Warming Up to be an Arctic Player

image China doesn’t own a single centimetre of Arctic coastline, nor does it belong to the Arctic Council that addresses Arctic issues. A groundbreaking study released Monday says China will seek a say in setting rules and regulations governing activities in the Arctic, to protect its national interests.

The new study, “China Prepares for an Ice-Free Arctic,” by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, says China stands to make significant gains from a seasonally ice-free Arctic: shorter, cheaper and more secure shipping routes; possible access to undiscovered oil and gas; and the prospect of collaborating with Arctic countries to extract resources from the ocean floor.

imageCoast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB 11)

Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star to be image Reactivated

SEATTLE — Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant, will announce the reactivation of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star on Wednesday March 10.  The Polar Star is a Coast Guard Heavy Icebreaker. Commissioned in 1976, the ship was built by Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company of Seattle, Washington along with her sister ship, Polar Sea.

The Polar Star has been in “Caretaker” status since June 30, 2006.  Caretaker status requires that the crew be reduced to 34 and that the ship be kept ready for reactivation and return to the ice.

At the reactivation press conference, Admiral Allen will discuss Arctic ice operations, Coast Guard polar operations and the future of the Polar Class icebreakers.  » CG News

Danes Sink Pirate Mothership

image A NATO destroyer has sunk a pirate mothership in the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast after allowing the crew to leave, the alliance said Monday.

Shona Lowe, an anti-piracy spokeswoman, said the HDMS Absalon – the Danish flagship of the three-vessel NATO flotilla in the region – disrupted a pirate operation by “scuttling” one of the large boats used by Somali gangs to transport attack teams to piracy hunting areas far off the coast.

  • The complete Seattle Times post by Slobodan Lekic is here »

Deep Water Writing Gets Some Simulation  imageStimulation

As per usual it’s been a busy first six weeks of vacation. I had the chance to spend five consecutive days in a 360-degree full mission bridge simulator. The course, designed for masters, is solely focused on ship handling and was both challenging and humbling. I was a little disappointed that my performance was far from flawless but having the chance to dock, undock, and maneuver multiple ship models in one of the worlds most sophisticated (And expensive) maritime simulators was incredible.

No matter how sophisticated the simulator it would have done little good for us without the instruction, feedback and criticism of a mariner who spent his career handling the worlds largest crude oil tankers afloat. After handling a 150,000 DWT VLCC in Long Beach harbor docking an 11,000 foot Maersk Container Ship in the port of Miami didn’t seem so difficult. Especially with the help of two very large tractor tugs and a 3000 horse power bow thruster.

Earthquake Research Vessel Reaches Haiti imageCoast

Scientists aboard the U.S. research vessel Endeavor and collaborators ashore have just arrived on the coast of Haiti to start a 20-day survey of that will assess the history and potential continued threat of earthquakes there.

Chief scientist Cecilia McHugh of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will be filing daily updates by email.

ECDIS Update March 2010

image The International Hydrographic Organization issued a Circular Letter on Feb. 24th 2010, warning that -in some cases- isolated shoals may not be displayed on ECDIS. The problem has been noticed due to some producers of Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs) misinterpreting some of the encoding rules for isolated shoal depths.

The result is that ECDIS may not display some isolated shoal depths when operating in “base or standard display” mode and route planning and monitoring alarms for these shoal depths may not always be activated, pending operator settings. The IHO is taking steps with its members to achieve corrective action on the ENCs which are affected.

End of the Line for America’s Flagship?

The SS United States is the fastest, sleekest ocean liner ever built, a giant gem of midcentury design and engineering, and in the brief time it spent on the high seas before the great liners were finally supplanted by jet flight, it truly became what its admirers now call it: “America’s flagship.” In its glory days it seemed hard to believe it would ever end like this: Moored permanently in a berth on the Philadelphia side of the Delaware River, cold and empty.

imageThe current owners, Genting Hong Kong, have begun to seriously solicit bids from scrappers. The SS United States Conservancy has mounted a last-ditch effort to raise public awareness about the dire straits in which this beautiful ship now finds itself. Take a look at the trailer for “SS United States: Lady In Waiting,” a documentary produced by SSUSC board member Mark Perry.     via Boing Boing


French Navy Captures Suspected Pirates Off imageSomalia

PARIS, France — France’s Defense Ministry says a French frigate has seized 35 pirates in three days off of Somalia,  claiming “the biggest seizure” so far in the vital shipping lane.

The Nivôse (F 732) first captured 11 people from a “mother boat” and two accompanying skiffs about 180 nautical miles east of Mogadishu by tracking them after they tried to attack a French oceanographic vessel. Hours later, the frigate “neutralized” three other suspected pirate boats about 90 nautical miles to the south. The ministry statement late Friday said the suspects were being held on board the Nivose.

image Visitors clamber aboard a small RIB to begin their voyage to the ships. Photo Gallery »

From Cargo Giant to TV Studio: A Ship on a Mission

Scotland: Behind-the-scenes look at Maersk vessel’s new role

SO it’s a hundred years into the future, right, and the world’s been taken over by these evil cybernetic robots… Except that there’s this one good guy left, called Caleb, whose job it is to try and overthrow the empire run by these nasty big lumps of metal. But he can’t do it himself, and so he goes back a hundred years into history – well, into his history at least – to imagefind some brave young recruits to help him do the job.

Following it all so far? Well, if not, don’t worry too much. Because all will (hopefully) become clear some time next month, when the opening episode of the brand new CBBC adventure game show, Mission: 2110, hits the TV screens for the very first time.

And the relevance of this to Bute is what, exactly? Well, you might already know this bit – and if you don’t, there’s a good chance the pictures accompanying this story will give you a clue – but just in case the penny has yet to drop, Mission: 2110 is being filmed on the massive Maersk container vessels currently sitting in cold lay-up in Loch Striven.

We already knew about the filming plan when we visited the Maersk ‘raft’ for the first time back at the end of November. But now we are to have the chance to return to the vessels – and to take a behind-the-scenes peek at how one of the world’s most technologically-advanced cargo ships has been turned into one huge TV studio.

The Future of the Breakbulk Fleet

image Like container ship lines, breakbulk operators are adding capacity rapidly. Dynamar’s report, “Breakbulk: Operators, Fleets, Markets,” said vessels ordered by the 25 largest breakbulk operators are equivalent to 34 percent of their existing fleet. Including smaller operators, the order book is 25 percent of the existing fleet.

Perhaps the most notable change in the new ships is their increased heavy-lift capacity — a response to demand for shipments of large components for construction, expansion or refurbishment of power plants, refineries and other projects.

Jessica DuLong’s “River Chronicles” Wins 2010 ASJA Outstanding Book Award in  Memoir/Autobiography


When journalist Jessica DuLong ditched her dot-com job for the diesels of an antique fireboat, she found a taste of home she hadn’t realized she was missing. Running the engines of retired NYC fireboat John J. Harvey made her wonder what America is losing in our shift away from hands-on work, raising questions that crystallized after the boat got called back into service at Ground Zero, where DuLong and the rest of the boat’s civilian crew pumped water to fight blazes

Vivid and immediate, My River Chronicles: Rediscovering America on the Hudson is a journey with an extraordinary guide—a mechanic’s daughter and Stanford graduate who bridges blue-collar and white-collar worlds, turning a phrase as deftly as she does a wrench. As she searches for the meaning of work in America, DuLong shares her own experiences of learning to navigate a traditionally male world, masterfully interweaving unforgettable present-day characters with four centuries of Hudson River history.

Galveston: Falling Crane Boom from Museum Vessel Sinks Towboat

image A towboat sank at a pier in the Port of Galveston after being struck by a crane boom that fell from a museum-piece semisubmersible drilling rig. Jerry Picton went down in 40 feet of water alongside the Offshore Energy Center’s Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum at about 1545 Aug. 19. The towing vessel and crane were involved in a maintenance project on the rig.

“A crane boom from the Ocean Star failed while moving a skid pan to the towing vessel, apparently causing the boom to fall onto the towing vessel, sinking the towboat,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Renee C. Aiello. The crane was a permanent part of the Ocean Star Museum. The museum is a retired semisubmersible drilling rig located on Galveston Island that is a major tourist attraction for the Galveston area.

imagePhoto by Leslie Richter – Rockskipper Photography Blog

Got Wind? Power Up That Ferry!

A San Francisco Bay Area start-up has big plans to use the bay’s wind to help power a technologically advanced ferry to carry up to 400 passengers in the traffic-plagued metropolis of 7.4 million people.

“The San Francisco Bay is blessed with consistent, powerful winds, and the Bay Area has a reputation for embracing new technology and being at the forefront of change,” said Jay Gardner, co-founder of Wind+Wing Technologies, based in Napa, Calif.

He plans to build ferries with tall, solid sails, using the bay’s strong winds to help haul commuters across the waves. The sails are made of carbon composite materials and would resemble aircraft wings more than the standard rigging of sailing vessels. Gardner said he has signed up boating engineers Morrelli & Melvin Design & Engineering of Huntington Beach (Orange County) to work on the vessel’s design.  Building the “wind-assisted” ferry could cost between $3 million and $9 million, he said.


The Great White Fleet  image

imageIn the twilight of Roosevelt’s administration, the president dispatched sixteen US Navy ships of the Atlantic Fleet (4 battleships & their escorts), on a worldwide voyage of circumnavigation from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909.

With their hulls painted white except for the gilded scrollwork with a red, white, and blue banner on their bows, these ships would later come to be known as the Great White Fleet.

image The scope of such an operation was un-precedented in US history, as ships had to sail from all points of the compass to rendezvous points and proceed according to a carefully orchestrated, well-conceived plan. It would involve almost the entire operational capability of the US Navy. The voyage itself would eventually set a number of world records, including the sheer number of ships simul-taneously circumnavigating the earth.

Haiti in the Aftermath – Recycling a City?

image Greg Moro, operations manager for Independence Recycling of Florida (IRF) has been working on a plan to move two mobile crushing and screening plants to Port Au Prince to recycle earthquake debris for use in new construction.

The first part of their program is demolition and clean-up, providing saltwater desalinization and wind and solar energy. We fit into the early phase of this program and don’t know how long we would be there. They want us to demolish buildings and recycle them into whatever useable products we can make, for example aggregates to be used in new concrete for future development.”

Moving mobile crushers to Haiti and providing all the support logistics to keep them operational will be a large undertaking. Each mobile crusher requires between 9 and 11 heavy-haul loads to move from one location to another. A crusher will have to be moved from a Florida location to a port, loaded on a roll-on-roll-off vessel, off loaded in Port Au Prince and trucked to a work site. Typically, it takes about a day and half to set up a plant, but in Haiti it will undoubtedly take longer.

If Not Part of the DoD, Why is the Coast Guard Called a Military Service?

Simply put: ease and simplicity.

imageIt’s actually a great question and one I’ve been waiting to answer in light of some historical references. The month of March, as it pertains to Coast Guard history, is a busy one. However, I’d venture to say that one of the most pertinent pieces of our history, with regard to said question, happened today in 1799…

In Like a Lion: nytugmaster posts a video of Heavy Seas in the North Atlantic

[youtube width=”480″ height=”385″]

March 01, 2010 – The ATB Nicole L. Reinauer en route to New York from Portland, Maine –  via Electronic Captain »

Liverpool Tall Ship Plans Take Shape

image Jim Graves’ ambition to base a tall ship in Liverpool is a step closer with the setting up of MAST – the Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust charity.

Jim already has his eyes on the lovely brig Prince William which is laid-up for sale in Albert Dock, Hull, by its owner Tall Ship Youth Trust. Jim’s plan is to lease the brig on a quarterly basis from TSYT and homeport the ship in Canning Dock, whose owner British Waterways is supportive – a terrific, high-profile city berth, in full view of the Strand.

“During the Tall Ships Race 2008 I was involved in putting 200 young people on and off tall ships. We were so oversubscribed for places on the Stavros S Niarchos (which is Prince William’s sister ship) we used the Lord Nelson as well.

“Youngsters are crying out for this sort of adventure.”

Maersk Pulls Out of Taiwanese Port Kaohsiung

Maersk Line is pulling out of Taiwanese port of Kaohsiung, according to maritime news service Tradewinds. It has rented two docks in Kaohsiung harbour but will let the contract expire in May. Reports said it was re-focusing operations across the Taiwan Strait in the Chinese port of Xiamen, where APM Terminals, a business unit of Maersk Line’s parent company A.P. Moller-Maersk, is building a four-berth box terminal.

Maersk Asia has clarified that the move is not linked to investments in any other port. Maersk decision was a new blow to the Kaohsiung, which has seen its share of the regional container market shrink in recent years. Between 2006 and 2009, container numbers fell from 10.3 million TEUs a year to 8.5 million TEUs.

Malaria Arrives Early in Haiti

image MIAMI — The first feared cases of malaria have come to Haiti, weeks before the start of its next rainy season in May.

Eleven cases confirmed among emergency personnel and Haitian residents have officials worried for the more than 500,000 Haitians made homeless by the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck on Jan. 12.

“Displaced persons living outdoors or in temporary shelters and thousands of emergency responders in Haiti are at substantial risk for malaria,” said a report Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   via Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Maine Relief Ship Sea Hunter Arrives in Haiti

image The Sea Hunter arrived this morning off the Haitian port of Les Cayes, its primary destination on a humanitarian mission that began 30 days ago in Portland Harbor.

“I’m still apprehensive,” said ship owner Greg Brooks as the Sea Hunter approached the city’s harbor. “Until everything happens, I’m going to be skeptical about all of this.”

If all goes as planned, the Sea Hunter will spend the next few days offloading almost 200 tons of food, clothing, medicine and other relief supplies onto small vessels here.

imageMega-Lego News: Yachts of LuxuryI’m most familiar with Daniel Z from his epic castle creations, but I like that he’s branching out with this series of boats. More »

NTSB Puts SMS Requirement on “Most Wanted” List

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has placed a safety management system (SMS) requirement for domestic vessels on its list of ten most wanted transportation safety improvements, echoing a recommendation first made by the Safety Board in 2002.

The NTSB released its annual list of top-priority safety improvements on February 18, calling on the U.S. Coast Guard to require domestic vessel operators to develop, implement and maintain a systematic and documented SMS to improve their safety practices and minimize risk.

The 2010 “most wanted” list also reiterates the NTSB’s 1999 recommendation that the Coast Guard should set work hour limits for mariners based on fatigue research, circadian
rhythms, and sleep and rest requirements. The NTSB labeled the response of the Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration to this multi-modal recommendation “unacceptable.”

imageIn a mismatched tango, a tug prepares to escort the Methane Princess down the
Savannah River and out to sea. Photo by Ed Keating for Popular Mechanics.

On Board the World’s Most Powerful Tugboat

As ships get bigger, towing companies build more powerful and agile tugboats to guide the shipping behemoths in and out of port. Ride along on the 6500-hp Edward J Moran, tasked with escorting a liquefied natural gas tanker that some call a giant floating bomb.

The Methane Princess is inbound, and she’s not to be trifled with. She’s 909 feet long and 142 feet wide, draws 33 feet and is loaded with liquefied natural gas. The 94,000-ton vessel is perceived as a giant floating bomb, and at slow speeds, within the confines of crowded shipping channels and ports, there’s simply not enough water passing over her rudder to maintain steerage.

She might as well be adrift. Which is why, on this muggy, overcast September afternoon, the tractor tugboat Edward J. Moran is churning down the Savannah River, headed 8 miles into the Atlantic off the Georgia coast to meet the Princess and escort her to the Elba Island LNG terminal, 5 miles east of Savannah.

Passenger Missing from Ferryboat Dies in SF Bay

imageThe 28-year-old woman apparently boarded the 8:10 a.m. ferry at Jack London Square in Oakland and sailed aboard the boat to San Francisco. Crew members aboard the ferryboat Peralta noticed that the woman did not get off with other passengers when the boat landed in San Francisco at 8:40 a.m.

Instead, she stayed aboard for the run back to Oakland. She was one of only two passengers, according to Ernest Sanchez, manager of the Oakland-Alameda Ferry. When the boat landed in Oakland, only one passenger got off. The crew searched the boat for the woman, found no one aboard, and notified the Coast Guard of a possible person overboard.

Penn State Invited to Maritime Law Program

image Penn State was one of 10 universities invited to participate in a new program that aims to educate maritime law enforcement personnel.

Approved by the American Council on Education, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Maritime Law Enforcement College Partnership Program will allow Coast Guard law enforcement professionals to receive college credit for their training.

Perv Had Pics of Sex with Squid; British imageTabloid Reports

Andrew Dymond, 46, was netted when cops apparently found a haul of grossly offensive porn on his home computer.

Dymond is charged with possessing an image of someone “performing an act of intercourse with a dead animal, namely an octopus/squid, which was grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character”.

Profiting From Iran, and the U.S.

The New York Times identified 74 corporations that have done business both in Iran and with the United States government over the last decade, using corporate records filed with the Securities Exchange Commission, company Web sites, news accounts confirmed by interviews with company officials, and Congressional reports.

Wärtsilä OYJ – Finland: $95.4 million Federal Contracts: $95,387,248

image Wartsila Corporation, a Finnish manufacturer of ship engines, has built power plants in Iran and in 2002 supplied engines for Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) container ships. IRISL is a state-owned shipping company which was later blacklisted by the United States for facilitating the transfer of military cargo to Iran. Wartsila also has received federal contracts to provide, among others, engine parts to the Coast Guard.

Researchers in Chile Hit Hard by Quake

image Scientists at research universities in several Chilean cities are reeling from last week’s earthquake, which overturned microscopes, set fire to laboratories, washed years of research out to sea, and took the life of a young marine biologist. Aftershocks are still rattling the country.

A tsunami that followed the quake also wreaked havoc, killing a researcher involved in an ecology expedition to Robinson Crusoe Island off Chile’s coast. A team of five sent to the island scrambled uphill from their house near shore to avoid the wall of water. Paula Ayerdi, a 28-year-old research assistant in marine biology who had tagged along on the trip with her fiance, became separated. Her body was found along the shore the next day, says Palma.

The wave also damaged a marine research station operated by the University of Concepción in Dichato, a fishing town about 50 kilometers from the city, and left its research vessel stranded several blocks from shore.

Chile quake occurred in zone of ‘increased stress’ »

image The WHOI research vessel Atlantis was operating off the coast of northern Chile when the magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck on Saturday. WHOI confirmed that R/V Atlantis and all on board are safe. There were no ill effects to R/V Atlantis or those on board from the quake or the subsequent tsunami.

R/V Atlantis has a scheduled port stop beginning on March 3, 2010, in Arica, Chile, which is on the northern coast of Chile. The WHOI Marine Operations Department is assessing the situation with their port agents to determine how or if that port stop will be affected.

Rulings Restrict Clean Water Act, Hampering EPA

image Thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are outside the Clean Water Act’s reach because the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by that law, according to interviews with regulators. As a result, some businesses are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. And pollution rates are rising.

“We are, in essence, shutting down our Clean Water programs in some states,” said Douglas F. Mundrick, an E.P.A. lawyer in Atlanta. “This is a huge step backward. When companies figure out the cops can’t operate, they start remembering how much cheaper it is to just dump stuff in a nearby creek.”

imageMarshal Shaposhnikov in port, Naval Base Guam; PatchAdams’ Flickr photostream »

Russia Deploys Anti-Piracy Fleet The Russian Forces Pacific Navy has deployed a warship detachment to participate in the UNO international campaign to fight piracy in the waters off the Horn of Africa. The ship group includes an Udaloy Class missile destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov with two on-board Ka-32 Class helicopters, the liquid carrier Pechenega and an ocean-going rescue tug.

RF Pacific Navy information and public relations service head Captain Roman Martov said the Russian detachment was going to keep combat watch in the Indian Ocean and convoy merchant ships from different countries.

During the deployment, the helicopters aboard the vessel will carry out the air reconnaissance every day and report to the group commander on the sea rovers’ position and course. This is the fourth RF Pacific Navy ship group to take part in the anti-pirate campaign in the Gulf of Aden.

The Russian Navy Blog recently translated and posted a Russian after-action report. The most interesting aspect of this report is that it spells out the differences between the way the French and Russians operate their vessels at sea with particular emphasis on quality (or lack) of life issues. These differences might be well known to many of you, but it is nice to see what the Russians themselves think.

Scrap Vessel, A Film by Jason Byrne

Scrap Vessel, made at CalArts in 2009, documents the last voyage of the Hari Funafuti (ex Bulk Promotor, ex Hupohai), from China to its image breaking in Bangladesh.

The filmmakers boarded in Singapore and joined the crew in exploring the ship and the mementos of its past that former crewmembers left behind, before filming its dismantling on the beach. The journey didn’t end there — they followed the pieces to the Ali Rolling Mill, where the scraps were melted down, bringing the story of the Hari Funafuti’s life as a vessel to an end.

Seattle: Bill Would Curtail Travel Money for Ferry Workers

imageLawmakers want to end a practice of paying some state ferry workers for their travel to and from terminals.Washington State Ferries paid nearly $6.4 million in reimbursements to 700 of its 1,700 workers last year.

One deckhand received $72,950 in travel reimbursements last year. That’s $13,000 more than his yearly salary. Twenty-five other employees collected more than $30,000 apiece. On Friday, the Washington House passed a bill that would give the governor a stronger hand in negotiating worker benefits. The aim is to move ferry worker benefits closer to what other state employee union contract provide.

Ships Stranded for Hours in Baltic Sea Ice Eventually Freed

image Dozens of ships that had been trapped for hours in heavy pack ice in the Baltic Sea, off the east coast of Sweden, have now been freed. A passenger ferry with nearly 1,000 people on board returned safely to the Stockholm harbour early on Friday after having broken free, officials said.

Dozens of other ships and boats had also been stuck as gale-force winds built up large ice masses along the Swedish coastline. Ice breakers helped release the ferry Amorella at the edge of an archipelago north of Stockholm. Rescue helicopters and military hovercraft had been placed on standby to evacuate passengers if needed. No one was injured.

Shipwrecked: Vancouver Island

image “Tastes just like chicken”

VICTORIA — A shipwrecked American sailor was plucked off the rugged shores of the west coast of Vancouver Island Wednesday, ending a five-day wilderness ordeal eating nothing but lichen.

Singapore Alerts Ships to “Imminent Piracy Threat”

SINGAPORE — Tankers and large cargo ships using the Malacca Strait should tighten on-board security after a warning by the Singapore navy.

image According to brief news reports, the navy has released little information other than to say that an unnamed group is believed to be planning attacks in the near future. The warning was issued by the navy’s Information Fusion Center, set up last April to coordinate data from several multinational organizations monitoring piracy.

The 600 mile long Malacca Strait, shared by Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, is particularly prone to attacks because of the high volume of shipping. Around one-third of the world’s crude oil transported on the high seas passes through the area. However, most of the attacks are by pirate groups intent on grabbing money and high-value goods rather than making a political statement.

Soo Locks 2010 Shipping Season Will Open Early This Year

image At 7 a.m. March 21, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will open the Poe Lock, part of the Soo Locks, in Sault Ste. Marie. This event signals the beginning of the commercial shipping season, allowing Great Lakes freighters to pass around the falls in the St. Marys River 24 hours a day, seven days a week until next Jan. 15.

The locks are opening early after the Corps received several requests from the shipping community and their customers to open early due to “an improved business climate” and to replenish critically low iron ore and coal inventories.


Strange Geographies: The Fjords of New Zealand

For most people, the word “fjord” conjures up thoughts of Scandinavia and the majestic, frozen North. But New Zealand, unbeknownst to many, can boast some of the world’s best fjords — hemmed by towering cliffs, fantastically deep and stretching like long, crooked fingers from the Tasman Sea into some of New Zealand’s most lush and remote scenery.

Fjords are formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley by abrasion of the surrounding bedrock. Many such valleys were formed during the recent ice age. Glacial melting is accompanied by rebound of Earth’s crust as the ice load and eroded sediment is removed (also called isostasy or glacial rebound). In some cases this rebound is faster than sea level rise.

Most fjords are deeper than the adjacent sea; Sognefjord, Norway, reaches as much as 1,300 m (4,265 ft) below sea level. Fjords generally have a sill or rise at their mouth caused by the previous glacier’s terminal moraine, in many cases causing extreme currents and large saltwater rapids (see skookumchuck). Saltstraumen in Norway is often described as the worlds strongest tidal current. These characteristics distinguish fjords from rias (e.g. the Bay of Kotor), which are drowned valleys flooded by the rising sea.

Taipei: How Nuclear Equipment Reached Iran

image Early last year, a Chinese company placed an order with a Taiwanese agent for 108 nuclear-related pressure gauges. But something happened along the way. Paperwork was backdated. Plans were rerouted, orders reconfigured, shipping redirected. The gauges ended up in a very different place: Iran.

The story behind the gauges shows how Iran is finding its way around international sanctions meant to prevent it from getting equipment that can be used to make a nuclear bomb. At least half a dozen times in recent years, the Persian Gulf nation has tried to use third countries as transshipment points for obtaining controlled, nuclear-related equipment.

Tattoo-Removing Lasers Also Remove Grime  From Classic Works of Art

imageIt sounded like a good idea at the time: You’d had one too many at the pub, one thing led to another, and you ended with someone’s name tattooed on your back. When you rushed out as soon as possible for laser removal of the unfortunate ink, the practitioners were actually using the same techniques that some art restorers employ to remove dirt and grime from masterpieces.

According to a new study in the journal of the American Chemical Society, Accounts of Chemical Research, laser ablation is getting better and more widespread in the art world.

Art restoration has always been tricky, as conservationists try to remove buildup without damaging original material; it can be tough to separate the original layers from the gunk with a scalpel. Laser ablation, in which dirt and other materials crusting the surface are heated with the laser and vaporized, may avoid some of the problems associated with chemical treatments or other traditional restoration techniques.

Texas A&M Interested in Acquiring Naval Station Ingleside from Port of Corpus Christi

The port also has an offer from a Houston firm that proposes a shipbuilding operation. The company says it needs to move into the property by April 1 to meet requirements associated with a military contract, said U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi.image

Apex Group of Companies wants a 99-year lease and proposes a maritime fire and security training role for A&M and research and development for military branches, according to a memo circulating among local government officials.

Apex has a DoD contract to build Swift Boats, a class of Navy vessels used since the Vietnam era. The company is in line to get bigger contracts that would be associated with additional space and infrastructure that Apex is trying to acquire at Ingleside.

imageIllustration by Bowsprite: A New York Harbor Sketchbook

Thunder Up the Hudson

0300h – Lightning and thunder roared right by my ear, deafening claps of powerful electric eruption that then boomed with full might up North River, echoing, unstoppable, seemingly without end.

Times like this make me think of those days, of people high up in the rigging, perched precariously on wet footropes,  furling in heavy wet canvas on a pitching ship with other shipmates roused from sleep to climb the masts in driving rain. That would not happen today. But today, mariners are still out there, in heavy storms like this.

It is not easy to spot a ship in the dark. It is an inverse search–you look for lights on land that disappear, that get eaten by a big black shadow that moves. Once you’ve got the shadow, you look for those red & green dots that cease being traffic lights and become running lights…

imageSinking of the Lusitania – reverse painting on glass; anon. 1915. more »

Titanic vs. Lusitania: How People Behave in a Disaster

imageIt’s hard to remember your manners when you think you’re about to die.

The human species may have developed an elaborate social and behavioral code, but we drop it fast when we’re scared enough — as any stampeding mob reveals.

That primal push-pull is at work during wars, natural disasters and any other time our hides are on the line. It was perhaps never more poignantly played out than during the two greatest maritime disasters in history: the sinking of the Titanic and the Lusitania.

A team of behavioral economists from Switzerland and Australia have published a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that takes an imaginative new look at who survived and who perished aboard the two ships, and what the demographics of death say about how well social norms hold up in a crisis.

Vacations That You’ll Never Forget Part Deux: Passengers Killed as Giant Waves Slam into Mediterranean Cruise Ship

The 26ft (8m) high rogue waves hit the Genoa-bound, Cypriot-owned Louis Majesty off the north-east coast of Spain.

image“A wave broke the glass in the area of the saloon and water was taken on board,” said a spokesman for Spain’s coast guard.  The victims have been identified as a German and an Italian man. The ship was carrying 1,350 passengers and 580 crew. Six others were injured in the incident.

The ship is expected to resume its voyage to its final destination, Genoa, once the victims have been taken off the ship and the injured have received treatment. (BBC)

White House Announces Road Map for Coastal Restoration in Louisiana & Mississippi

image Thursday, a White House working group of Cabinet-level officials pledged to give coastal restoration the same priority as navigation and flood protection in future federal decision-making.

During the next 18 months, the group also pledged to speed the existing restoration process by identifying ways to improve the science used to design and build projects and increasing the use of sediment dredged from the Mississippi and other rivers to rebuild wetlands, among other new measures.

Words are Important: Stability, Lessons Learned, & Why We Need Better Stability Letters

Words matter. More specifically, the exact choice of words matter. English is a very complicated language, but one extremely rich in vocabulary, the benefit of which is that inter-personal communications (orders, requests, opinions, thoughts, recommendations or instructions) can be made very clear and precise if so desired. image

There’s usually no need for “kind of” or “sort of” when dealing with technical matters as long as you have a reasonable grasp of basic grammar and sufficient vocabulary at your command.

My vessel’s stability letter says very explicitly that I’m allowed “no more than one centerline tanks or P/S tank pair of potable water, fuel oil storage, lube oil, and ballast water may be partially filled at any one time.” It also says that “trim should be minimized.” Wonderful! Now I’d like some stability guru to explain exactly how this vessel can simultaneously be effectively operated  while also complying with such a letter.

imageSunrise – Tugboat Cheyenne in Claremont Terminal, NY Harbor. Pelican Passage »

imageRed Hook Grain Terminal – empty now but built in 1922. Dozens of conjoined silos once held grain shipped through the Erie Canal and down the Hudson to feed the New York brewing and distilling industries.  See Tugster for information about a watercolor by Naima Rauam being raffled off as a fund raiser for the Working Harbor Committee.

imageNight photo of two Military cargo ships docked in Tacoma, WA. View Full Size »

imageTall Ships and Turku at Night – This was a very nice and clear night at the time of the Tall Ship’s Races in Turku, Finland this summer. View Full Size »

imageVOC Prins Willem by night – In an old dock on an old shipyard lies a replica of a ship from the Dutch golden age. From klaash63’s Flickr photostream »

imageContainer ship; Le Havre sunsetRolye’s Flickr sitesee full sizeLe Havre (Set) »

Ships at Night Photo Galleries on Flickr:

Ships at NightShips at Night 2Ships at Night 3Ships at Night 4


Illustration by Marcellus Hall to accompany an upcoming exhibit on H. A. and Margaret Rey, the creators of Curious George. To be used on an interactive digital display to
tell the story of the Rey’s escape from the Nazis during WWII.
More »

See you next Monday!


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