Maritime Monday 214

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May 16, 2010

BBC News at Post Time: US says BP move to curb oil leak is “no solution”

Responding to BP’s move to siphon oil from the leaking well head to a tanker on the surface, the US has said the success of a move by oil giant BP to curb a leak in the Gulf of Mexico is "not clear" and the technique provides "no solution".

A government statement said it would not rest until the leak was permanently sealed and the spill cleaned up. BP executive Kent Wells earlier said the siphoning process was "working extremely well".

imageThalassa of the Netherlands; by Adam Fleks

This week’s Flickr galleries:
Maritime Monday 214 a | Maritime Monday 214 b

imageCleaning Up Oil Spills with Mushrooms and Hair

12 Bizarre Oil Spill Cleanup Technologies

It seems like oil cleanup includes some of the most basic and advanced technologies, from literally hoovering it up, to skimming it and burning it, using oil eating bacteria and swarms of Roomba style oil cleanup bots.

Amports Lays Off 116 Workers at Port of image Baltimore

Hyundai, Kia pulling out

The layoffs will be effective July 1, according to a notice the port terminal operator made to the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Amports officials could not be immediately reached.

The decision to move the business was made last month, said Richard Scher, spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration. MPA is not directly involved in the automakers’ business with Amports but works with private terminal operators like Amports to attract business.



Bitter End Dips His Stick in an IOSA Oil Spill Exercise

We were called away just after the briefing to perform a rescue, Tim Flanagan of Navagear and Puget Sound Maritime was aboard Towline as was Capt. Fritz and Andrew D.

During the early stages of the exercise we hosted, KIRO-TV on Towline. They found out about the exercise as a result of reading BitterEnd. Tim has some additional pictures that we will post later in the week.


Brazil’s Shipbuilding Industry: Time for Revitalization

LATINO BUSINESS REVIEW – According to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a recent interview, Brazil was the second most important country in the world in ship production during the 1970s. This prestigious position in the world was lost through the years, but President Silva believes that this is an opportunity for Brazil to regain its lofty position within the shipbuilding industry.

Lula believes there are several benefits to revitalizing the shipbuilding industry, including the creation of jobs, the use of steel produced within the country and saving payments to foreign vessels by the Brazilian cargo transportation.

Cargo Ship Drifting off Orkney Islands Taken Under Tow

The Silver Fjord, with 10 people on board, is carrying a cargo of fruit and vegetables. Shetland Coastguard’s emergency towing vessel, the Anglian Sovereign, and its Sumburgh-based rescue helicopter were initially called into action.

A commercial tug, Orkney Towage’s Harald, took the Silver Fjord under tow and was heading for Kirkwall. Sea conditions were described as moderate and the Silver Fjord was not thought to have been in obvious danger.  (BBC NEWS)

Clay Maitland: Ingenuity Too Far?

image What on earth can you use a slightly elderly containership for, as the market continues slack and in any case favours the new, environmentally sound and fuel efficient units bursting out of the world’s shipyards?

Containerships are not the all-purpose, adaptable and flexible friends that their tween-decked predecessors were. Indeed, their owners have been spending their days gloomily studying the price of steel scrap as their earnest entreaties to their brokers remain unanswered.

It might show ingenuity, or perhaps even demonstrate the desperation of owners whose ships have gone from being in high demand to generating absolutely no commercial interest, in an alarmingly short space of time.


Cleaning Certificate a Must for Scrap Ship Import

Environment directorate to issue clearance for scrapped ship

BANGLADESH DAILY NEWS  – The environment directorate will issue environment clearance for ships imported for scrapping, the High Court has ruled. The exporting country will confirm if the ship is detoxified. The maritime transport directorate’s director general will give the clearance for the ships to enter Bangladesh waters after examining the detoxification and environmental certificates.


Jawaharlal Nehru Trust Port

Container Shipments Inundate Indian Port

image Just inside the gates of the Jawaharlal Nehru (JN) port in Navi Mumbai, off to the right, are rows upon rows of 20ft dull aluminum-grey containers. Some 13,000 of them have been waiting for at least a week to be transported from India’s largest container port by cargo traffic.

Container Corp. of India Ltd, or Concor, doesn’t have enough trains to move them. Concor is an arm of the Indian Railways that runs container trains between ports and inland container depots (ICDs).

The delay has thrown the manufacturing schedules of several firms out of gear and is causing shipping lines to fork out high detention charges and ground rents. Around 65-70% of these shipments are destined for ICD at Tughlakabad in Delhi, the busiest in the country.

Daily Updates on the Deepwater Horizon Incident

Unofficial Coast Guard Blog  – You’ll recall that this is our friendly oil oozing catalyst spawning an oil leak that’s been estimated to be gushing anywhere from 31,000 to 155,000+ gallons into the Gulf of Mexico each day. And if you’re like me you might not have time, nor get paid, to follow the time line of what’s transpired since 20 April 2010 in the aftermath of said oil thing (it’s not really a spill, more of a leak, but surely some type of oozing); and that were the official time line comes in.

Actually dubbed the Ongoing Response Timeline, and seemingly updated around 2000hrs (8:00pm) EST daily, you’re able to keep up with the progress of what’s being done in the gulf… just like the pros.

imageBattleships Versus the Pirates: The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) cruises through the Gulf of Aden.

Does America Need More Battleships?

NEW WARS – The US Navy currently has on order over 60 Arleigh Burke class Aegis destroyers, by their own description “the most powerful surface combatant ever put to sea.” This would seem to place them in the battleship category, along with their price tag of nearly $2 billion each and climbing. With the Navy at 280 ships and expected to decline further, despite being as busy at it ever was, yet even more of the world’s most powerful warships are planned.


Eastland Tragedy has Roots in Port Huron

imageIt has been nearly 95 years since the Eastland capsized at its dock on  the Chicago River, and yet the precise death toll remains unknown.

Most sources put the grim count at 844, although other estimates run as low as 812. Whatever the true number, it remains far and away the deadliest accident in Great Lakes maritime history, and all the more horrific in that hundreds of the victims were children.

Flag Ship Solves EU NAVFOR Main Task

The merchant vessels Rozen and Dream-H, sailing for UN World Food Programme with humanitarian aid to displaced persons in Somalia, are now safely delivered to Mogadishu after being escorted by EU NAVFOR Swedish flag ship HSwMS Carlskrona.

imageThe flag ship of EU NAVFOR is not only carrying the Force Headquarters, she is also an Ocean Patrol Vessel with a helicopter and a boarding team in addition to own armament. During her first month in the Operation Atalanta she has solved all the different tasks that are normally performed by the units in the force; escorts, patrolling the internationally recommended transit corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden, carrying out surveillance outside the Somali coast and boarding suspected vessels.

Last week, she escorted ships for World Food Programme (WFP) and AMISOM, the tasks that are the number one and two on the priority list for EU NAVFOR.

Four Dead, 3 Missing After Barge Capsizes in SW China

Four people were confirmed dead while three remained missing after a barge overturned Saturday in the Yangtze River in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, local maritime officials said Sunday.

Four bodies were retrieved as of Sunday noon after the gritstone-loaded steel-hulled barge, Haitian 448, overturned at 5 a.m. Saturday at the Zhongxian County section of the Yangtze River, said Chongqing Maritime Safety Bureau in a statement.

A rescuer spoke in anonymity that the barge overturned after colliding with another barge, but this has yet to be confirmed by the municipal maritime authorities. Rescuers are still searching for the three missing and an investigation is underway.  (CHINA DAILY)

imageWhen Art Imitates Art: Tristin Lowe’s Inflatable Fabric Whale – Tristin Lowe, an artist based in Philadelphia, unveiled a massive project earlier this summer that pushes the limits of its room in the Fabric Workshop and Museum. His full scale,  52-foot whale is made with basic fabric and sewing techniques, but is sure to marvel with the barnacle appliqués and inflated innards.

imageGrande Mocha Dick with a Side of Chile

OLD SALT BLOG – People are often surprised to hear that Herman Melville’s masterpiece, Moby Dick, was inspired, at least in part, by the sinking of the whale ship Essex by a sperm whale.  By all accounts the sinking of the Essex haunted Melville and unquestionably supplied him with ending of his novel.

This was not the only inspiration for Moby Dick, however. There was indeed a rogue white sperm whale, well know to whalers in the early 1800’s.  He was often seen near the island of Mocha, off southern Chile, and was nicknamed Mocha Dick.  Mocha Dick was said to have killed more than 30 men, and to have attacked and damaged 14 whaleboats and three whaling ships.

In May 1839 the Knickerbocker Magazine, a popular publication in New York City, published a lengthy article about Mocha Dick by Jeremiah N. Reynolds an American journalist and explorer.

Germany’s RWE Innogy Chooses Bremerhaven as Base

RWE Innogy, the renewable energies unit of German utility RWE AG is to use Bremer-haven container port as a base port for constructing its offshore Nordsee Ost wind farm, the company said Monday.

imageFRANKFURT – RWE has agreed a two year lease with Eurogate Container Terminal Bremerhaven GmbH on the use of areas in Bremerhaven container port. The lease agreements cover a 17 hectare area and a directly adjacent 400 meter quay.

From the base, 48 six-megawatt wind turbines will be pre-assembled, shipped and assembled at the wind farm site some 35 kilometers north of the island of Helgoland. (Frankfurt Bureau, Dow Jones Newswires)

Great Barrier Reef : Stricken Carrier to Offload Coal Cargo

Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Patrick Quirk said salvors had transferred more than 5200 tonnes of coal from Shen Neng 1 into the Clipper Mistral.

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD – About 19,000 tonnes of coal will be removed from the Chinese-registered Shen Neng 1 over the next three weeks, so that it can be towed back to China.  It was refloated on April 12 and towed to waters off Gladstone before being moved south to calmer waters off Hervey Bay on Tuesday for the salvage operation.

Great Lakes Water Levels Drop Worries imageBoaters, Shippers

The Detroit News – Each of the Great Lakes, as well as Lake St. Clair, will be lower this summer, and that means headaches for those who use the waters for work and play.

For waterfront homeowners, it will mean the retreat of the lakes from their property. For the beleaguered shipping industry, it will mean the loss of carrying capacity at a time when every ton of cargo counts. For the region’s boaters, it will mean a greater need for care entering and leaving their slips.

And in the western portion of Lake Erie, it’s likely to bring even more of the troublesome algae that has become an increasing problem along the shores of Michigan and Ohio.

How Sings the Gay Sardine?

No, it’s not the latest Off-Broadway production from the folks at PETA…image

Maritime Compass informs us:

The Wailing Octopus by John Blaine, "A Rick Brant Science-Adventure Story," has recently been released by Project Gutenberg.

Some of the chapter titles are irresistible: "The Fancy Frogmen," "Wreck of the ‘Maiden Hand,’" "How Sings the Gay Sardine?"

At the end of the eBook is a brief description of the hero:

Rick Brant is the boy who with his pal Scotty lives on an island called Spindrift and takes part in many thrilling adventures and baffling mysteries involving science & electronics.

See also: Boatswains and Bacteremia »


How to Sue an Oil Company: Tips for the Gulf from a Veteran of the Valdez Spill

image The Washington Post – By Brian O’Neill – For 21 years, my legal career was focused on a single episode of bad driving: In March 1989, captain Joseph Hazelwood ran the Exxon Valdez aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

As an attorney for 32,000 Alaskan fishermen and natives, I tried the initial case in 1994. My colleagues and I took testimony from more than 1,000 people, looked at 10 million pages of Exxon documents, argued 1,000 motions and went through 20 appeals. Along the way, I learned some things that might come in handy for the people of the Gulf Coast who are now dealing with BP and the ongoing oil spill.



Interior Ken Salazar talks to the media as he visits the Fort Jackson Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Buras, La. Saturday, May 15, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Huge Oil Plumes Found Under Gulf as BP Struggles

ROBERT, La. — Oil from a blown-out well is forming huge underwater plumes as much as 10 miles long below the visible slick in the Gulf of Mexico, scientists said as BP wrestled for a third day Sunday with its latest contraption for slowing the nearly month-old gusher.

A relief well, considered the permanent solution the leak, is still being drilled and is months away from completion. Until then, the company is also considering a smaller containment dome or trying to clog the leak with golf balls and rubber.

King River Class: Built for the Extreme Challenges of the Arctic

image SEATTLE, May 10, 2010 – Foss Maritime and Cruz Marine LLC have partnered to launch the first of the King River class of tug: a shallow draft vessel designed specifically for remote, extreme environments like the north slope of Alaska, the Canadian Arctic and the Russian Far east.  

Gary Faber, President and COO of Foss Maritime, lauded the Dana Cruz for reflecting both the core competencies and the core values of the Foss/Cruz partnership.  The Dana Cruz is the first of a new King River tug class.   Said Faber, "When our customers talk to us about what they need in places like Alaska or the Russian Far East, we listen.

Majestic and Mystifying: Ship Captains Set to Sail History

image Living history is sailing into Portsmouth soon

On Memorial Day weekend, the popular Tall Ships Portsmouth annual event will bring the HMS Bounty and the Lynx, "America’s Privateer," to the Commercial Fishermen’s Pier on Peirce Island. The time has changed from its usual summer weekend and the location has changed to the pier, but the sailing ships coming in are still throwbacks to a bygone era.

For the first time, Job said, the traditional cannon salute given to entering tall ships during the May 28 morning boat parade will be returned. The Bounty and Lynx are both outfitted with replica cannons, as the Lynx was a privateer capturing British ships during the War of 1812 and the Bounty explored uncharted islands during the late 1800s.

See also: Substructure Surveys Piscataqua Floor to Prepare for Tall Ships Festival

The past and present are colliding in Portsmouth, all with the aim of keeping a pair of historic ships from colliding with shoals in the Piscataqua River.

image Late last month, the crew of the high-tech Orion surveyed the river in their small, custom-built craft, attempting to identify trouble spots before the historic replicas of the HMS Bounty and Lynx arrive in the city for Memorial Day weekend.

After consulting with Port of New Hampshire Director Geno Marconi and Portsmouth Pilot P.J. Johnson, the crew of the 31-foot Portsmouth-based underwater survey vessel scanned the river from its mouth to beyond the Portsmouth Commercial Fishing Pier, where the tall ships will dock.

image Model Ship Building: Let Your Imagination Set Sail

IN the ancient world, ships were among the most technologically complex mechanisms with their ability for far-flung travels, igniting the imagination of every man, woman and child.

Tales of new worlds, magnificent beasts, rich treasures, strange languages, exotic flowers and even mysterious spices were yarned by journeymen after months, sometimes years, at sea.

Ship and boat models from Ancient Greece, Egypt and Phoenicia have been discovered throughout the Mediterranean, providing archaeologists with valuable information on seafaring technology and the sociological and economic importance of seafaring.



Ship’s crew being kept onboard while doctors examine a sick crew member in New Haven. Source:

Mystery Illness Aboard African-flagged Cargo Ship Triggers Quarantine in CT Harbor

image NEW HAVEN — The crew of an African-flagged cargo ship that last stopped in Europe was kept onboard as a precaution for several hours today after one crew member was reported to be ill with an undetermined gastrointestinal illness as the ship approached New Haven Harbor, city officials and sources said.

Prior to knowing the diagnosis, Kowalski said there was no truth to rumors and speculation that the crew member had Ebola — a highly contagious, highly lethal virus — or some sort of incurable flu-like illness, and there was no sign that anyone on the ship other than him was ill. 

The crew member was seen by to Yale-New Haven Hospital doctors on board the vessel, and then taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with appendicitis.

No Easy Villains May Mean No Easy Oil

imageTHE ATLANTIC – Where did that oil spill go? We’ve got millions of barrels of oil sloshing around off the most sensitive coastline on the continent, and for lack of oiled birds, the Deepwater Horizon Spill disappeared from the front pages today.

The iconography of eco-disasters (oiled birds) has a match in the narrative motifs of technological failure — normally we find a "bad part" (as with the faulty O-rings on the Challenger disaster),  or a villain (as in the supposedly drunk Captain Hazelwood of the Exxon Valdez Spill, who took it on the nose for a series of other unfortunate decisions made elsewhere).

These familiar motifs reassure us moderns that there are practical solutions to technological disasters — what’s wrong is the part (or the person) and not the whole damn undertaking.

Oil Spill Investigators Find Critical Problems in imageBlowout Preventer

A House energy panel investigation has found that the blowout preventer that failed to stop a huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had a dead battery in its control pod, leaks in its hydraulic system, a "useless" test version of a key component and a cutting tool that wasn’t strong enough to shear through steel joints in the well pipe and stop the flow of oil.

In a devastating review of the blowout preventer, which BP said was supposed to be "fail-safe," Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on oversight, said Wednesday that documents and interviews show that the device was anything but.

Opinion: When the Oil Spill is This Big, It Pays Not to be Crude

image Two weeks ago, when BP’s global CEO Tony Hayward was told about the fatal explosion aboard the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon and the blaze that had resulted, the first words out of his mouth were, “How the hell could this happen?” Most anyone in the crisis-PR field will tell you they’ve heard that same interrogative countless times. Of course, they’ll also tell you that the real question a panicked CEO should be asking is: “CNN’s on the phone—What the hell am I gonna say?”

With the necessary caveat that the Deepwater Horizon story is still unfolding as Brandweek goes to press, so far it seems that Hayward deserves good marks in terms of how he’s helmed his company through this patch of rough water. But the best way to evaluate most any performance is via comparison—so let’s. Twenty-one years ago, there was another oil-company CEO facing another environmental catastrophe half a world away. He was Lawrence Rawl of Exxon, whose 984-foot supertanker Valdez had run aground off the Alaskan coast and anointed Prince William Sound with 11 million gallons of crude. Two CEOs. Two oil spills. How did the men in charge do?

Thanks to the impressive array of corporate blunders we have to learn from, most PR experts have settled on the basic must-dos of crisis response, to wit: Act quickly…

Perception, Reality & Mooring Lines: The Not-So-Ordinary Practice of Good Seamanship

Light Summer Reading from Towmasters

image Perception and reality: they’re not necessarily the same thing. Perception’s in the eye, and mind, of the beholder. Reality is whatever it is, and it’s always non-negotiable. Here’s a “scenario.”

Scenario: a light barge is moored at a dock with significant overhang of the bow and, although weather conditions at the time are benign, winds gusting to 40-plus knots are forecast for later. The predicted direction for these winds is perpendicular to and off the dock. The barge has orders and is expecting to move to another dock for loading at some point, but no specific time has been decided upon by the terminal yet. The barge might be at its current location when the winds come, it might be at the loading berth, or somewhere in between. No one can say. For that matter, the forecast may or may not turn out to be correct. But in the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary it should be heeded.

Perception: The tankerman says, “we’ve got seven lines out, we’re fine.”

Pirates Hijack Greek Cargo Ship Off Oman Coast

imagePirates hijacked a Greek-owned cargo ship Wednesday morning off the coast of Oman, the European Union Naval Force Somalia said.

CNN News Blog  – The Liberian-flagged Eleni P, operated by Eurobulk, was carrying 26 crew members when pirates overpowered the ship, the EU naval force said. The crew — 23 Filipinos, two Romanians and one Indian — are reported to be safe, the force said.

imageChristopher Choy is haunted by the sound of explosions and the guilt of leaving men behind. Photo: Ben Sklar for NPR

Rig Blast Survivor: “I Thought I was Going to imageDie”

Christopher Choy was one of the youngest men on the crew of the Deepwater Horizon, the oil rig leased by BP and anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. He’d finished his 12-hour shift at 11:30 in the morning on April 20. He’d had a hard time getting to sleep later that afternoon, finally nodding off at about 6 in the evening. It was less than five hours before he’d have to get up again for his next shift.

But a loud noise woke him up a little before 10 p.m.

"It sounded like somebody pressure washing the outside of my room — like you take your car through an automatic car wash. And when the pressure washers hit your windows, just that buzz is what it — is exactly what it sounded like," Choy says. "I mean, just a loud buzzing."

Rockaway Beach Gets Sand

imageDREDGING TODAY -  Following months of being hit hard by storms, elected officials and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city Parks Department kicked off a sand replenishment project that will restore the peninsula’s battered shore in time for beach season.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) said up to six feet of sand was lost in Rockaway between Beach 3rd and Beach 149th streets after the peninsula was slammed by several storms, including a Nor’easter that caused some of the most extensive damage to Rockaway in more than a century.

St. Lawrence Seaway Reports Increase in imageShipping

Up 18% from 2009: Administrator says improvement a sign economies of U.S., Canada are recovering

After a horrible year for the marine shipping industry, customers are coming back to the St. Lawrence Seaway — a sign, the head of the Seaway Development Corp. said, that the U.S. and Canadian economies are rebounding from the recession.

Because opening days differ each year, an exact comparison isn’t available. But on Tuesday, the Seaway reported that from opening day March 25 through the end of April, 3.65 million tons of cargo were shipped. That’s up sharply from the 3.1 million tons shipped from last year’s opening day March 31 through April — an 18 percent increase in March and April cargo shipments compared with 2009. (image source)

Scientists Say Gulf Spill is Way Worse than Estimated. How’d We Get It So Wrong?image

Videos of the oil leak 5,000 feet down in the Gulf of Mexico are coming out, and according to some scientists, the news is even worse than we thought.

80 BEATS – If you remember back a few weeks to the outset of the BP oil spill, the official estimate was that 1,000 barrels of oil (42,000 gallons) was leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, the total wasn’t catastrophic compared to historic spills like the Exxon Valdez. Then, more than a week after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration did their own quick calculation and quintupled the estimate to 5,000 barrels per day.

Seven Atlantic Completes First Project

image Subsea 7’s new diving support vessel, Seven Atlantic has completed her first project for Shell in the southern sector of the UK North Sea.

Seven Atlantic has been working in the southern sector for Shell as well as completing various inspection tasks in the Dutch sector of the North Sea, since commencing work on 26 March. The vessel has completed 80 saturation dives and 10 surface dives as part of its first workscope.


State of Readiness

Could a BP-style mega-spill happen closer to Texas shores, threatening the state’s fisheries and beaches? Of course.

TEXAS TRIBUNE – In fact, smaller spills happen all the time. Last year, 539 spills dumped more than 87,000 gallons of oil into state waterways, according to the General Land Office. That’s far less than the 200,000 gallons a day now spurting from BP’s well in the Gulf, but it’s enough to coat the occasional bird or beach.

Texas officials say that the amount of oil spilled has fallen dramatically in the past few decades. And they insist that Texas is better prepared than other states — without mentioning any names — to deal with spills. That’s because Texas reformed its process for dealing with spills two decades ago, after a few scares.

Sunken Halifax Dry Dock to be Raised

imageFederal officials are reviewing a plan to raise a dry-dock platform that sank last weekend in Halifax harbour.

The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard presented its plan to Environment Canada on Tuesday.

"It’s not an easy undertaking, but they are taking all the measures they can to make sure it’s safe," said Roger Percy, regional manager of environmental emergencies for Environment Canada.

imageStena Line fleet images »

Swedish Firm to Launch World’s Largest Ferry

Stena Line is to launch the world’s largest passenger ferry May 16, sailing between the Netherlands and Great Britain.

The Stena Hollandica, which carries 1376 beds, 230 cars and 300 freight vehicles, will sail regularly between the Hook of Holland and Harwich, a busy tourist and commercial sea passage. She will be joined by a sister ship, the Stena Brittanica, later this year.

Two North Korean Patrol Boats Violate Northern Limit Line

PLANET DATA – South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced Sunday that two North Korean patrol boats separately crossed over the Northern Limit Line (NLL) and into South Korean waters Saturday.

The first boat returned to the North’s territory after the South radioed a warning message, but the South Korean navy fired warning shots at the second one before it crossed back over the NLL.This is the first such incident since the sinking of the South Korean Navy’s Cheonan in March.

See also: Venezuelan Natural Gas Rig Sinks in Caribbean »

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez first announced this potential environmental disaster via his Twitter account.

Understanding the Initial Deepwater imageHorizon Fire

HAZMAT MGMT – As people read about the growing environmental disaster of a spreading oil slick from below the now-destroyed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, they may have lost track of the original story of the rig fire three weeks ago that burned for two days, causing the rig to sink in 5,000 feet of water and killing 11 men while injuring others.

Details about the fire and how drilling rigs like the Deepwater Horizon function and malfunction are important to understand and remember, apart from the unfolding story of the environmental impact.

imageHistory of the Panama Canal Print available on History Shots »

Washington DC: Smithsonian Launches  Exhibit on Panama Canal

image“Panamanian Passages” Navigating from Panama’s Past to the Present

Bold images and historic artifacts help illustrate Panama’s rich history and culture through the Smithsonian Institution’s “Panamanian Passages” exhibit. The bilingual showcase highlights important milestones in Panama’s history and present including Panama’s fight for freedom and its historic undertaking to expand the Panama Canal.

As visitors walk through the halls of the exhibit they are surrounded with Panamanian history dating back to the rise of the isthmus some three million years ago. The 55 objects on showcase have been pulled from Panama, Colombia, Spain and the United States and offer visitors an opportunity to visualize and better understand how science, history and culture have shaped Panama and its Canal.

THE CANAL BUILDERS: Making America’s Empire at the Panama Canal

(Penguin, $18)  Julie Greene recreates the lives of the 60,000 people who actually built the canal — the unskilled laborers from Jamaica and Barbados who did the dirty, dangerous jobs, and the Americans in segregated neighborhoods who found themselves “as comfortable here as in Illinois,” in one visitor’s words.

Historic Wackiness of the Week:

imageclick to see full size 

The SS Christopher Columbus was an American excursion liner on the Great Lakes, in service between 1893 and 1933. She was the only whaleback ship ever built for passenger service. The ship was designed by Alexander McDougall, the developer and promoter of the whaleback design.[1]

Columbus was built between 1892 and 1893 at Superior, Wisconsin, by the American Steel Barge Company. Initially, she ferried passengers to and from the World’s Columbian Exposition. Later, she provided general transportation and excursion services to various ports around the lakes.


Whoopsie: accident damage (June 30, 1917) from the Wisconsin Historical Society

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