Maritime Monday 211

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April 26, 2010

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In this aerial photo taken in the Gulf of Mexico more than 50 miles SE of Venice on Louisiana’s tip, an oil slick is seen as the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burns Wednesday, April 21, 2010. (AP Photo / Gerald Herbert)

imageTop Story:

PORT FOURCHON, La. – The oil rig that exploded, caught fire and then sank 36 hours later could lead to a major oil spill, officials said Thursday, and as a result a remotely operated vehicle is surveying the seas and assets ranging from aircraft to contain-ment booms are ready to be deployed.

At a press conference, the officials also said hope was running out for 11 workers still missing after the blast Tuesday night off the coast of Louisiana. The Coast Guard said its search would probably continue for another 12 hours or so.

Officials had previously said the environmental damage appeared minimal, but new challenges have arisen now that

the platform has sunk.

Officials said they were trying to stop the flow by using robot submarines to activate valves at the well head, but that would take 24 to 36 hours to complete. If that doesn’t work, crews are also planning to drill a relief well to cut off the flow – which could take several months.

What appeared to a manageable spill a couple of days ago after an oil rig exploded and sank off the Louisiana coast Tuesday, has now turned into a more serious environmental problem. The new leak was discovered Saturday, and as much as 1,000 barrels – or 42,000 gallons – of oil is leaking each day, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said.


Members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard storm an “attacked” naval vessel during exercises.  Thursday began a major three-day military exercise in Persian Gulf waters but preceded the manoeuvres by offering an olive branch to neighbouring Arab countries, many of whom are close American allies.


“The way a hatch (near where the ship split in two) had been thrown off its hinge indicates there had been a very strong external impact,” Yonhap quoted an unidentified military official as saying, adding weight to the torpedo theory.

Report: North Korea Torpedoed South’s Navy Ship

Reuters – South Korea’s military believes a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine sank its navy ship last month, based on intelligence gathered jointly with the United States, a news report said on Thursday.

imageThis new ship will run on old tennis shoes and baby diapers

We’ve seen multiple designs of late for  ferries, cargo and container ships, and yachts focused on lower fuel consumption.  What is driving these new designs?  Economics… pure and simple.

Abu Dhabi MAR Sails into Europe with Major Deals

image Abu Dhabi MAR, the new shipbuilding group, has sailed into the front ranks of Europe’s maritime sector after reaching a wide-ranging agreement with ThyssenKrupp of Germany.

The Musaffah-based shipbuilder will acquire ThyssenKrupp’s Blohm+Voss Shipyards yacht-building division, employees and production facilities for non-military vessels, as well as 80 per cent of two units that repair ships and make components, the two companies said yesterday.

Antwerp Reports Dramatic Recovery in Container Volumes

The port of Antwerp handled 42 million metric tonnes (mt) of freight in the first three months of this year, up 12.7% on the same period in 2009.

Figures released by the Port Authority on Thursday said container volumes were close to pre-recession levels of 2008. Antwerp’s first quarter (Q1) container volumes, in terms of tonnage, were up 20.1% to 24,333,081 mt. In terms of standard twenty-foot containers (TEUs), the number was 2,013,236 ,15.9% more than in Q1 2009.

“Antwerp once more confirms its position as the second-largest container port in Europe,” said a statement from the Port Authority.

Arcade Game Propaganda Posters

image MENTAL FLOSS – It seems that so many video games are about wars (be it intergalactic, historical or fantasy), it only makes sense to start recruiting for the cause. Fortunately, artist Steve Thomas has stepped in to help ensure that our coin-powered brethren get the support they need to help defeat those evil level bosses.

While there are quite a few retro-styled poster artworks hitting the market these days, Steve’s manage to stand out from the rest. Not only is his work exquisite and an accurate representation of periods past, the subject matter is also inspired and endearing. The end result is video game artwork I would be happy to hang on my wall.

See also: Give Me a Sign: The Stories Behind 5 Hand Gestures »

image The Shaka Sign: The oldest origin story goes back to the days when Spanish sailors first landed on the Hawaiian Islands. Unable to speak the native tongue, but trying to be friendly, the Spaniards offered to share a drink by mimicking a bottle with their hand with the gesture and tilting back their head. This became such a common greeting that the natives simply believed that’s how the Spanish said hello, so they started using the sign whenever the two groups encountered one another.

imagePort Newark and Port Elizabeth container complex in New Jersey – Keith Meyers/ NY Times

Is Bayonne Negotiating for a Container Port?

HUDSON REPORTER – Reports from several prominent officials in Hudson County and in Bayonne suggest that city officials are seeking offers to build a container port on the former Military Ocean Terminal site in a blockbuster deal that could help the city retire its entire debt. Reports suggest that the Landing, Loft and Point development districts may be up for sale or rent, as part of an effort to provide a port for the supersized cargo vessels that Port Newark cannot yet accommodate.

image Betting on Change

Last year, Beluga Shipping discovered that there’s money in global warming.

THE ATLANTIC – Beluga is a German firm that specializes in “super heavy lift” transport. Its vessels are equipped with massive cranes, allowing it to load and unload massive objects, like multi-ton propeller blades for wind turbines. It is an enormously expensive business, but last summer, Beluga executives hit upon an interesting way to save money: Shipping freight over a melting Arctic.


Boing Boing: Bring Back Blimps!

The New York Times asked me and three other people the following question: “The Icelandic volcano that disrupted global air travel last week raised a concern: should we be thinking of alternative ways to move masses of people and goods?” My answer: bring back blimps (and dirigibles).

Their large surface area and inherent buoyancy mean they can be run with solar-powered motors, making them eco-friendly. They can take off and land without a runway, which means they can load and unload passengers almost anywhere (no more airports!).

imagephoto of the Sds Rain by wassermann –

Cargo Ship Held for Dumping Fuel in Mediterranean

MARSEILLE, France – French maritime authorities say an Italian ship illegally dumped fuel products in the Mediterranean and is under investigation.

Officials said the dumped fuel produced a slick 22 kilometers (14 miles) long and 20 meters (65 feet) wide in waters between Marseille and Toulon. The maritime authority in Marseille said in a statement Friday that a customs plane spotted dumping by the SDS Rain about 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Marseille.

Caution: Wet Behind the Ears

imageDeep Water Writing – Allow me paint a picture for you. It’s zero six hundred in the morning and the sun is slow to rise. As the sun rises and my weariness begins to give way to the caffeine I ask the new AB, a Yemeni from Dearborn, Michigan to take care of his sanitary duties on the bridge.

With an emphatic “Yes Sir!” he takes up a push broom and in five minutes I’m almost doubled over from laughter in the corner where he can’t see me.

imagePuerto Williams and Dentistas: from Peter Smith’s 7-page Patagonian Travel Journal »

Chilean Patagonia: New Opportunities Abound

BAIRD MARITIME – Chilean Patagonia, on the southwest coast of South America, is one of the most spectacular and remotest places on earth. It is an intricate maze of 3,000 islands, steep-sided fiords, stunning blue-tinted glaciers, protected waterways, remote anchorages, active volcanoes, virgin jungles, fish-laden rivers and an incredible abundance of sea life from penguins to blue whales. At Patagonia’s southern extreme lies barren, windswept Cape Horn and, just beyond, frigid Antarctica.

Despite benefiting from an impressive seven percent annual increase in tourism, Chilean Patagonia’s marine infrastructure is unable to fully utilize the region’s marine ecotourism potential. To address this, the Chilean Government is offering excellent financial incentives to encourage foreign investment and partnerships. I recently spent ten days exploring the coast of Chile with a group of commercial marine and tourism operators. We were invited by CORFO, the country’s economic development arm, to look at the many investment opportunities.

Colombia Port Proposal Sparks Concerns

image CALI, Colombia – A proposal to build a container port in a pristine bay on Colombia’s coast frequented by humpback whales has raised an outcry among environmentalists who say the project would put the giant mammals at risk.

Malaga Bay is one of the whales’ primary northern stops on their long migratory journey from the Antarctic to as far as Costa Rica. The bay’s relative isolation and natural conditions make it an appealing place for the animals to mate and give birth. As many as 1,000 humpbacks are believed to arrive there from June to August.

According to Rodrigo Velasco, regional chief of Colombia’s largest business organization, known as ANDI, the port, which would be the closest in the hemisphere to Asia and the Panama Canal, would give Colombia a leg up on other Latin American countries in becoming an Asian trade hub.

image CommoditiesStolt Perseverence, a parcel tanker built in Croatia in 2001, delivers assorted chemicals, escorted by James Turecamo and Marie J Turecamo

Cruising and Conservation: Cruise Lines Commemorate Earth Day

EARTH TIMESCruise Lines International Association (CLIA) today marked Earth Day 2010, the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, by taking note of the industry’s continued environmental progress and innovation.

imageFrom simple actions passengers might notice, such as energy efficient LED light bulbs and high-efficiency appliances that reduce energy consumption, to more complex steps that are largely behind-the-scenes, such as plugging into shore-based power and installing solar panels that sustainably power on-board amenities, the cruise line industry is demonstrating its commitment to sound environmental stewardship.

imageA tugboat sits alongside the Shen Neng I on a reef near Great Keppel Island on April 6, 2010. (Maritime Safety Queensland)

Damaged Chinese Coal Ship Won’t Enter Port Until May

Bloomberg — The Chinese coal carrier pulled off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef after running aground won’t enter the port of Gladstone for repairs until next month after poor weather prevented its entry today.

Shen Neng 1 will be moved to a safe anchorage where it will remain until the next favorable high tide on or about May 3, Maritime Safety Queensland General Manager Patrick Quirk said in a statement. The ship was towed from Barren Island overnight.

Deep Sea News: Mysterious Sounds from the  Deep

imageThe NOAA Vents program of the Pacific Marine Environmental lab in Oregon has released some haunting sounds picked up by their underwater autonomous hydrophone array. Save the “Upsweep” sound for last for maximum spookiness!

Makes one wonder how much we really know is going on down there. Some of these must be sounds produced by the Earth as it groans its way through the tectonics.

Europe Under the Ash

Eyjafjallajokull, that unpronounceable volcano, prompted inevitable chatter about nature’s awesome fury and the inadequacy of human imageinvention to deal with it.

NY TIMES Few Europeans had even heard of the volcano before, and they marveled at, but mostly grumbled about, how such widespread havoc could be caused by such teensy particles of ash, adrift from Iceland.

On the whole, Europeans tend to forget about Iceland until some fresh calamity compels their attention. The last was the banking implosion, and a line making the rounds in Europe has it that Iceland’s final wish after its economy kicked the bucket was to spread its ashes across Europe. Other jokes were even worse…

The Geometry of Rope

image MARITIME COMPASS – Ever wonder about the physical rules behind a good rope? Intrigued by the phrase, “zero-twist point?” Then you would enjoy Alexandra Witze’s article in ScienceNews, Physicists untangle the geometry of rope.

Her article gives a basic, brief overview of the mathematics behind the process of turning strands into rope, as revealed in Jakob Bohr & Kasper Olsen’s article, The ancient art of laying rope.

How did the researchers come to work on rope winding? From their work on DNA, of course!

Greek Cargo Ship Seized by Somali Pirates

A Greek cargo ship, with 21 Filippinos on board as crew members, was hijacked by Somali pirates on Wednesday, while sailing near the Gulf of Aden, Greek authorities announced.

People’s Daily Online (China) – Greek officials confirmed that Panama-flagged “Voc Daisy” was seized at a distance of about 190 nautical miles southeast off Oman, while was sailing to Morocco from the United Arab Emirates.


How a Vatican Forest Failed to Reduce Global Warming

From a scheme to create an algae bloom in the South Pacific to a Vatican forest in the plains of Hungary – how one carbon offset developer’s ideas failed to reduce global warming.

Budapest, Hungary – Russ George described himself as a man of vision. He certainly envisioned making money. The San Francisco promoter saw the profit of promising to remove carbon dioxide from the air, and selling that promise as carbon offsets to polluters, a plan he touted in interviews, press releases, and even to a congressional committee.

imageHe just needed seed money. Nelson Skalbania, a high-profile Canadian real estate trader who had spent a year wearing a court-supervised electronic bracelet for a conviction in Canada of misappropriating $100,000 in investor funds, was just the kind of “green angel” – as Mr. George called him – who would put up the money.

With Mr. Skalbania’s backing, George bought the 152-foot research vessel Weatherbird II, repainted it with his new company name – Planktos – and hired a crew to sail for the Galapagos Islands in summer 2007.

His plan was to enlist one of nature’s carbon sponges, algae. He’d scatter a fertilizer of iron dust on 2.4 million acres of the South Pacific, he announced. In three weeks, it would produce a massive bloom of phytoplankton algae, which would inhale carbon dioxide, then sink with the carbon.

imageRight whale mother and calf near island waters. NOAA/NEFSC

Huge Group of Rare Whales Off Martha’s Vineyard

An extraordinary group of right whales — some 95 living specimens of the rarest of all large whale species — was feeding in the waters between Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island this week, while two mother and calf right whale pairs were spotted even closer to the Island.

The Steamship Authority is running extra lookouts on its ferries between Hyannis and Nantucket after right whales were spotted south of that island, general manager Wayne Lamson said yesterday, but the other sightings have not affected its services to the Vineyard.

Indian Workers Attacked in Indonesian Dry Dock

image BATAM (INDONESIA) – Angry at being dubbed as “stupid” by their Indian supervisor, some 10,000 local workers at a dry dock in Indonesia on Thursday went on the rampage attacking their Indian colleagues injuring four of them and torching vehicles.

A total of 41 Indians employed at the PT Drydock World Graha docks on Batam, an island just south of Singapore, were evacuated by a boat in a special seaport following the attack. The four injured were among those evacuated under tight police protection, Antara news agency reported, adding no fatality was reported during the incident.

image Air, land, and naval forces of the Revolutionary Guards will take part in the war games.

Iran Ups the Ante in the Strait of Hormuz

Iranian Revolutionary Guards searched French and Italian vessels during Iranian military exercises that commenced on April 22. An Iranian marine patrol unit searched the vessels on April 23 to determine “whether the two were following environmental regulations, “during the war games conducted by Iran in the vital Strait of Hormuz, according to official sources.

US warships also present in the Persian Gulf were not similarly searched or harassed. The French and Italian ships were allowed to continue their course , following the Iranian interdiction. In 2008, Iranian patrol vessels approached a U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf but finally did not engage in hostile action.

Maine Maritime Academy Students Plan to Power Boat with Waste Heat

image CASTINE, Maine — There is a lot of waste energy at the exhaust end of an internal combustion engine, and some students at Maine Maritime Academy are hoping to show that they can capture that energy and use it to power a hybrid test boat.

The experiment is part of a research project at the college that began last year when students used a thermoelectric generator to convert the heat from the engine exhaust on the MMA research vessel Friendship to electricity to power a panel of lights on the boat.

This year, the students have converted a 20-foot enclosed lifeboat into a test platform in order to see whether the system they have developed can be transferred to a larger platform that could be used to increase the efficiency of the boat’s power plant. If it works on the lifeboat, he said, it would show that the technology is sound and could be scaled up to be used on a full-size ship.

Marinette Marine Wins $73.6 Million Federal Contract

image Marinette Marine won a contract to build a research vessel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with a price tag of $73.6 million.

The research vessel will survey fish, marine mammals, and turtles off the west coast of North America and the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. McCreary says Marinette Marine aggressively pursued this contract, beating another shipbuilder that previously built this type of vessel. The contract will help stabilize the Marinette Marine workforce, which now sits at 950 employees.

Maritime Race Kicks Off Series of Activities for Singapore Maritime Week

Some 800 people took part in a four-hour race around Singapore on Sunday, where they experienced the island’s unique maritime heritage and learnt about the industry as well.

image CHANNELNEWSASIA – The Amazing Maritime Race is the first of many activities lined up as part of the Singapore Maritime Week – to be held from April 25 to 30 – which will also feature conferences and seminars.

Also in the line-up are the Maritime Technology Conference and Exhibition (MARTECH) 2010, organized by the Singapore Maritime Academy and co-organized by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA); the Seatrade Asia Awards 2010 and Seatrade Tanker Industry Conference organized by Seatrade; and the Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2010 jointly organized by BIMCO and ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre.

Pirate Suspects to be Brought to Norfolk

image WASHINGTON — At least five pirate suspects will be brought to Norfolk, Va., by the end of the week to stand trial in the United States, a federal law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The suspects will be tried in the U.S. court system because the African nation of Kenya began refusing to take piracy suspects earlier this month. The Kenyans say the trials of alleged pirates from the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean were straining its courts.

“This is where all countries have to step up just as we are doing and take responsibility for pirates who have attacked their ships and prosecute them to the fullest extent of national law,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.

Polarcus Asima Named at Drydocks World Dubai

imageHydro International – In 2008, the offshore shipowner Polarcus ordered six seismic vessels of Ulstein-design. Polarcus Nadia and Polarcus Naila were the first two, named together on 24 November 2009, and delivered in the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010.

Polarcus Asima is an ULSTEIN SX134 type, a seismic research vessel and the third Ulstein designed vessel for Polarcus, built at Drydocks World Dubai. The vessel measures 92.2 metres long and 21 metres wide.

Politico – Forging 21st Century Ocean Policy

image Decisions in recent years to ban fishing for salmon along the West Coast got the attention of fish eaters everywhere. Who knew salmon were threatened?

Wal-Mart’s CEO also sent a troubling signal when he explained his company’s rationale for requiring that future fish suppliers must certify that they have been harvesting sustainably. He was alarmed, he explained, that, otherwise, in the near future, there might not be fish to sell.

Ports of Jacksonville & Alabama Sign First Panama Canal Agreements

PANAMA CITY, Panama (WALA) – Wednesday, Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Administrator & CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta and Alabama State Port Authority (ASPA) Director & CEO James K. Lyons signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly help foster commercial activity between the two entities.

The MOU will increase cooperation, such as joint marketing and coordination on modernization and expansion projects, and help boost trade along the increasingly important “All-Water Route,” the route from Asia to the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts via the Panama Canal. This arrangement is renewable on a two-year basis.

The Rising Tide of Ro-Ro; Europe

image BAIRD MARITIME – Ro-Ros are popular within the European trade routes. The Ro-Ro fleet allows for carrying out intermodal transportation from any point in western Europe to eastern Europe and the Middle East at the highest optimization level of the transport procedure, low prices and in a comparatively short time.

Ship Consortium Sails Full Steam Ahead Toward 15-25% Fuel Reduction

image Environmental Leader – A consortium of shipping industry entities is pursuing an end-goal of reducing operational fuel consumption by 15-25 percent.

The consortium, led by Ricardo, aims to pre-emptively achieve emissions reductions that are being sought by international jurisdictions, including the European Union and the United Nations.

imageState-of-the-art cutter suction dredger AL SAKAB. MORE »

Ship Makes Port Call in Jeddah to Deliver Dredger

Transported aboard a semi-submersible heavy-lift ship, the world’s biggest in class cutter suction dredger, Al-Sakab arrived off Jeddah port on Thursday.

The dredger was due to be offloaded on Thursday, but sea conditions prevented it. A second attempt will be made on Friday if conditions improve.

Commissioned in 2007 by the Saudi Huta Group, Al-Sakab’s keel was laid in December 2008 and was launched in October 2009 in Rotterdam. Since then she has been fitted with the huge cutter-suction unit that will give her the capability to cut into bedrock to a depth of 25 meters.

Staten Island: St. George Ferry Terminal Ramp Facelift Funded with Stimulus Dollars

The city’s largest stimulus project will give Staten Island commuters a safer, more inviting, and more efficient gateway to the borough.

The rehabilitation of the St. George Ferry Terminal’s aging bus ramps, parking lot and access roads and walkways will begin next month. The ramps where riders wait for buses still bear their 30-plus-year-old dingy brick facades, but the structures will get new lighting, better seating, and an overall improved look.


Towmasters: Question of the Month

Isn’t there some rule about going to three watches on tugs if the trip is 600 miles long?

Simple Answer: Yes, sometimes. It depends.

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