Maritime Monday 215

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May 23, 2010

 Welcome to this week’s installment of Maritime Mondayimage

“Wasn’t Me” — The Work and Such of Mr Mike Frodsham »

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Maritime Monday 215 a and Maritime Monday 215 b


Rep. Markey to post live video of massive Gulf oil spill  – BP has told US Representative Edward Markey that it will release a live feed of the gushing source of the oil spill that is fouling the Gulf of Mexico so that Markey can show it on his House committee’s website,, Markey said.

"This may be BP’s footage, but it’s America’s ocean. Now anyone will be able to see the real-time effects the BP spill is having on our ocean,” the Massachusetts congressman said in a statement released Wednesday. “This footage will aid analysis by independent scientists blocked by BP from coming to see the spill.”  More on Boston Globe »

imageGas from the damaged Deepwater Horizon wellhead is burned by the drill ship Discoverer Enterprise on Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast Louisiana. Photo: Patrick Kelley/U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images


Here Come th’ Sludge

After weeks of staying mostly at sea, the Gulf oil spill is now washing up on the state’s coasts—likely a devastating development, scientists say.

“It seems baffling that we don’t know how much oil is being spilled. It seems baffling that we don’t know where the oil is in the water column.”

-Oceanographer Sylvia Earle calls for more science on the Gulf spill.  NY Times »


1 Month Later, Numbers Just Get Worse for imageGulf Oil Disaster

Scope of Oil Spill Crisis Grows as Efforts to Contain it Become More Desperate

One month after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, officials from both the government and oil company British Petroleum continue to struggle to manage the crisis.

Heavy, sticky oil was starting to clog Louisiana marshes on the Gulf of Mexico as another edge of the partly submerged crude reached a powerful current that could take it to Florida and beyond.

BP is successfully siphoning off at least a portion of the oil spewing into the Gulf after hooking up a mile-long tube that connects the blown-out well to a tanker. Officials also are preparing an attempt to "kill" the well shooting a mixture known as drilling mud into it.

The Blame Game

Days after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank five miles to the ocean floor, oil wasn’t the only thing flowing toward the Gulf of Mexico.

imageBaton Rouge Business Report – Law firms from across the country took mere days to form associations with names like Louisiana Oil Spill Lawyers and Gulf Oil Spill Litigation Group and start seeking plaintiffs through websites with memorable URLs like and toll-free hotlines like 1-800-BIG-CASE.

As of press time, attorneys—including Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—had filed nearly 100 lawsuits on behalf of rig workers, their families, fishermen, shrimpers, seafood processors, property owners and tourism-related businesses, many claiming damages from the gushing oil beginning to foul the coastline.

The Transocean application to limit liability is predicated on a 159-year-old maritime law that limits liability to the salvage value of a vessel. The estimated value of the Deepwater Horizon, according to the application, is $27 million.

“Twenty seven million dollars to cover this mess is nothing,” says Arnold, an attorney with substantial experience in maritime law.


Terrance Castle of Houma, La., wipes off sweat while cleaning up the oil on a beach near ElmerÂs Island, La. BP hired workers to clean beaches in southern Louisiana, where oil is 2 inches thick in some places. (Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times / May 22, 2010)

BP Refuses EPA Order to Switch to Less-Toxic Oil Dispersant

imageBP has rebuffed demands from government officials and environmentalists to use a less-toxic dispersant to break up the oil from its massive offshore spill, saying that the chemical product it is now using continues to be "the best option for subsea application."

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the London-based company 72 hours to replace the dispersant Corexit 9500 or to describe in detail why other dispersants fail to meet environmental standards.

The agency on Saturday released a 12-page document from BP, representing only a portion of the company’s full response. Along with several dispersant manufacturers, BP claimed that releasing its full evaluation of alternatives would violate its legal right to keep confidential business information private.

Deepwater Horizon Sinking on Tape

May 20, 2010 – National Geographic Channel never-before-seen footage of the burning Deepwater Horizon rig slipping into the Gulf of Mexico with first-time eyewitness testimony from the U.S. Coast Guard.

imageLauren Morgans captain of the Kalmar Nyckel, belays a line on the boat, which will be featured in an upcoming documentary. (John King photo)

Delaware Ship to Make Film Debut

Kalmar Nyckel will depict 17th century vessel in National Geographic documentary

In an upcoming National Geographic documentary, the Kalmar Nyckel, also known as the Tall Ship of Delaware, will replicate a 17th-century Dutch cargo ship famously known for its revolutionary design.

The Ghost Ship, a wooden vessel discovered at the bottom of the Baltic Sea in 2007, will be featured in the documentary as "The Ship that Changed the World."

Sweden’s Deep Sea Productions is recreating the story of the Ghost Ship and filmed a reenactment Monday aboard the Kalmar Nyckel as it was docked at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal and later as it drifted through the Delaware Bay.


Did Transocean Isolate Workers for 40+ Hours  to Sign Away Liability?

May 20, 2010 / FIREDOGLAKE – A disturbing account from another survivor of the Deepwater Horizon suggests that Transocean deliberately isolated the survivors from contact with the outside world for more than a day and a half in what the survivor suggested was an attempt to sign away liability.

By Davis’s estimate, it took 12-15 minutes to get from the rig to the work boat, but it would take another 36-40 hours before they were to return to shore – even though there were dozens of boats in the area and Coast Guard helicopters airlifting the most severely injured to hospital.

Some of the men were openly furious, while others, like Davis, were just numb. He says they were denied access to the onboard satellite phone or radio to call their families.



Earth and Fire: Patriot Service, port of registry New Orleans, pushes a light barge, most likely toward one of the refineries in the Kills. 


Engineering a solution to the oil spill – At BP’s Houston offices, hundreds of scientists are at work on the Gulf of Mexico spill. They have an unlimited budget, an international team of the sharpest minds in modern engineering — and they have no time.

  • LA Timesmore »

  • Wall St Journal – U.S. Was Not Ready For Major Oil Spill:

  • Some scientists researching the spill don’t have the right instruments to measure the spill or to study its impact. Maps that federal officials are using to identify priority areas to protect from spreading oil are outdated. And the Coast Guard says the country lacks enough plastic piping, or "boom," to keep the incoming oil away from the coast.

    "The national system did not contemplate you would have to do all that at once," Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen told a Senate committee last week, referring to laying boom across a coastline as big as the Gulf’s.


Gulf Oil Update: Good News for Florida, Bad News for Louisiana’s Wetlands

image80 Beats / Discover Mag – Will the Florida Keys catch a break with the loop current? Most observers are now in agreement that one of the biggest ecological worries about the BP oil spill—that it could reach the Gulf of Mexico’s loop current that flows to the Keys—has begun to occur. However, The New York Times reports today via Greenwire that eddies around the edge of the current are keeping much of the oil out of it.

Clear predictions are hard to come by because the oil continues to defy expectations about which direction it will go, and so does the loop current.

Harrowing Account of 40 Hours on a Gulf Coast Lifeboat

The guys who really hate Transocean and BP are rig workers who may have been silenced when questioning operation safety and who suffered imagea hellish ordeal after the Deepwater explosion.

Rig worker Stephen Davis told Guardian of a miserable 40 hours in a lifeboat:

By Davis’s estimate, it took 12-15 minutes to get from the rig to the work boat, but it would take another 36-40 hours before they were to return to shore – even though there were dozens of boats in the area and Coast Guard helicopters airlifting the most severely injured to hospital.

Inventors Say BP Ignoring Their Oil Spill Ideas

A suggestion box or publicity stunt?  BP has received thousands of ideas from the public on how to stop a blown oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, but some inventors are complaining that their efforts are getting ignored.

ASSOCIATED PRESS / NEW ORLEANS –Oil-eating bacteria, bombs and a device that resembles a giant shower curtain are among the 10,000 fixes people have proposed to counter the growing environmental threat. BP is taking a closer look at 700 of the ideas, but the oil company has yet to use any of them nearly a month after the deadly explosion that caused the leak.

"They’re clearly out of ideas, and there’s a whole world of people willing to do this free of charge," said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive Inc., which has created an online network of experts to solve problems.

Japan Port Contenders Bid to Challenge Asian Rivals

BUSINESSWEEK / May 17 (Bloomberg) — Port of Tokyo, with 13 percent of the annual container volume of Singapore, today competed with other Japanese cities for state funds as the government strives to create a harbor able to challenge the world’s busiest.

Tokyo, Japan’s biggest container port, teamed up with Kawasaki and Yokohama for its presentation to the committee that will pick as many as two groups to develop. Bids were also made by Nagoya-Yokkaichi, Osaka-Kobe and ports in northern Kyushu.

Legal Maneuvering May Situate Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Litigation in Houston

The 19th century maritime law that Transocean Ltd. cited in filing a lawsuit to limit its liability in the April 20 explosion of its Deepwater Horizon rig could also give the companies involved in the disaster an edge to move all the litigation surrounding the incident to Texas.

On May 13, Transocean filed a proceeding in Houston under an outmoded 1851 law known as the Limitation of Shipowner’s Liability Act to limit its legal exposure to $26.8 million, or the value of the sunken rig and whatever freight it was carrying. The limitation of liability act also allows a vessel owner to consolidate all litigation over a shipping accident to a venue of its choosing, and like a bankruptcy filing, halts all proceedings in other courts.

Louisiana  Shipyard Project Seeks $10 M in  Recovery Money

imageHOUMA — The Terrebonne Port Commission will apply for $10 million in hurricane-recovery money to help build a 400-foot dry dock as part of Edison Chouest Offshore’s LaShip project.

The application, expected to be officially filed in the coming weeks, seeks federal money designated for economic-development efforts in the wake of hurricanes Gustav and Ike. It’s the latest development in the commission’s quest, on behalf of LaShip, to find public money to help build the $26.5 million dry dock at the Port of Terrebonne in Houma.

Louisiana: State Begins Dredging to Stop Oil

image The state began a dredging project Friday to keep oil from a massive Gulf of Mexico leak out of the state’s wetlands — even though the federal government has not approved the project.

“We can’t afford to wait any longer,” Jindal said of waiting for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve an emergency permit for the project. “We know the oil is coming in.”

Jindal has been pleading for days with the corps to approve the state’s emergency permit application that would allow a fleet of dredges to build up the state’s barrier islands.

Maritime Protective Services Publishes New Blog: The Maritime Transportation Security News and Views

DELRAY BEACH, FL, May 20, 2010 — Maritime Protective Services, (MPS) announced today the official launch of Maritime Transportation Security News and Views (, a blog that is dedicated to delivering information that encompasses a broad spectrum of security issues that affect the maritime industry, while also delivering up-to-date information and addressing concerns involving the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, port security, maritime terrorism and sea piracy.

National Maritime Day Celebration Set for May 21 in Duluth-Superior

U.S. Merchant Marine veterans, modern-day seafarers, and maritime industry stakeholders will gather on Friday to celebrate National Maritime Day in the Port of Duluth-Superior. The program, sponsored locally by the Propeller Club of Duluth-Superior, gets underway at noon in the west lounge of the Kitchi Gammi Club in Duluth.

National Maritime Day commemorates the first steam vessel crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on May 22, 1819, when the SS Savannah sailed from her home port in Georgia bound for Liverpool, England. Established to recognize the value and importance of this nation’s maritime industry, it evolved into a day to honor merchant mariners for their legacy of service and sacrifice – having safeguarded our country and its trade corridors during World War II and other armed conflicts around the world.

National Science Foundation: NSF Awards Rapid Response Grant to Study Microbes’ Natural Degradation of Oil

To understand how the use of dispersants impacts the degradation of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a rapid response grant to scientist David Valentine of the University of California at Santa Barbara and colleagues.

The massive release of oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident on April 20, 2010, has led to an unprecedented use of oil dispersants, which include a mix of surfactant compounds designed to dissolve oil and to prevent slick formation.

"Dispersants are being sprayed aerially and added at the sea-floor, and the total usage is likely to exceed one million gallons before this is over," Valentine says.


NY Port Authority to Build Wind Farm

The Port Authority is planning on creating a wind farm on one of its shipping piers in New Jersey. The five windmills would help power the port’s cargo operations.

May 17, 2010  – A private company would build and maintain five 288-foot-high wind turbines. They’d be located on the New Jersey side of Upper New York Bay, about halfway between the Statue of Liberty and Staten Island. The windmills, about the height of a 30-story building, would be visible from Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront. Officials say the location shouldn’t be controversial because the area’s already industrial. Taken together, the turbines should generate electricity equivalent to the amount needed by 2,000 homes.  (

image NOAA Makes It Easier to Access nowCOAST Using Smart Phones

Via Facebook – The Office of Coast Survey recently unveiled a new Web service for nowCOAST, a map-based online gateway to ocean and weather observations and forecasts. With the new service, users can view nowCOAST’s ocean and weather information from a desktop computer, another mapping Web site, or even a smart phone such as an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Coast Survey has expanded public use of this Web product by enabling Web Map Service (WMS) access to the map layers of nowCOAST. This new service gives users the ability to combine background maps from other sources, such as Google Earth or Google Maps, with maps from nowCOAST to display present or future weather or ocean conditions.

imageThe characters "1 beon" (No. 1 in English) are seen marked on torpedo parts salvaged from the Yellow Sea during a news conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul, May 20, 2010. Photo: REUTERS

North Korea Says South Pushing Towards War

Reuters – North Korea said on Friday the peninsula was heading toward war and it was ready to tear up all agreements with the South after it accused the reclusive state of torpedoing a navy ship near their disputed border.

South Korea said on Thursday it had overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine had entered its waters in March and attacked the Cheonan corvette, killing 46 sailors.

Oil Gusher Webcam

image Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts has convinced BP to start streaming live video from the seabed oil gusher, he announced on his House Web site tonight.

NY TIMES / May 19, 2010 – In what clearly is a candidate for quote of the day, Markey said: “This may be BP’s footage, but it’s America’s ocean.”

Markey had sent letters to BP and the head of the Coast Guard seeking  a feed of video of the seabed oil leaks that one of BP’s submersibles is capturing — to allow independent scientists (and the public) to monitor and assess the flow. Markey’s office said the video feed should go live overnight on the global warming page at the Web site of the select committee that he leads.

Pacific NW: Cargo Ship Runs Aground Near Kalama

image A cargo ship ran aground in the Columbia River at Kalama Sunday afternoon near the iconic totem pole in Kalama Marine Park.

"We knew something was wrong," said Karyn Fess, who lives nearby and comes to the park regularly with her husband, Mike, to eat lunch and watch the ships go by. The Fesses, saw the whole thing, which happened shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday.

"It was coming the way they always come," Mike Fess said. "They usually turn … and then I said, ‘What’s going on?’ " The U.S. Coast Guard said "a steering casualty" caused the 197-meter-long Pacific Flores from Hong Kong to run aground.

Papua New Guinea: Many Still Missing in Boat Tragedy

Papua New Guinea’s National Maritime Safety Authority has continued a search for survivors of a vessel that capsized on Monday.  The are no confirmed figures but reports say between 20 to 40 people are missing, feared drowned.

Some reports say 60 people were believed to be on the MV Nara when it capsized off the Rai Coast which is known for very strong currents.  A Maritime Safety Authority Officer, Simon Tarak, says authorities suspect the boat was carrying more than double its capacity.

Mr Tarak says it’s callous that a captain and crew overloaded the boat in the first place.
“It’s just too way over, too way over. As to why they overloaded it? I have no clue whatsoever as to why they overloaded the boat. It’s just totally uncalled for.”  Simon Tarak says some survivors are recovering in hospital.   (RADIO NEW ZEALAND INTERNATIONAL )

Pascagoula Revives Maritime Tradition Despite Oil Worries

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – As the sun glistened off the water, nearly 50 boats filed into line.  Big and small, recreational and commercial, they each received a blessing for a prosperous summer at sea.

"We just felt like if we talk with the city, we’d be successful in bringing it back," said organizer William Odom. "And this being the first year, we think we have a big turnout this year."

"All this is about wishing the commercial fishermen a safe and prosperous season, which we certainly hope they do have," said participant John Lindgren. "So we add a little bit of fun to it."


Passage on the USNS General John Pope

Peter Knego’s Sea Treks; 3rd and final installment on Maritime Matters

Last Monday afternoon, just after I returned from following the scrap-bound GENERAL EDWIN D. PATRICK out to San Francisco’s Land’s End, my cell phone buzzed with a new voice mail message. “Peter, this is Bob Brown. Give me a call back about the GENERAL JOHN POPE when you get a chance. I’m doing her move from Suisuin to San Francisco on Wednesday, May 5. Would you like to work as a linesman for the day?”

imageReprieve for Filmmaker in Dispute With Chevron

A filmmaker fighting an oil company’s demand for more than 600 hours of unused footage got a reprieve from a federal appeals judge on Friday. Judge Denny Chin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered a hearing June 8 to consider a subpoena issued earlier this month by a federal district judge that ordered Joe Berlinger, the filmmaker, to turn all footage from the making of his film “Crude.”

The film focuses on a lawsuit by Ecuadorians against Chevron over pollution in the Amazon said to have been caused by Texaco before Chevron bought it. The subpoena will be stayed until the hearing, Judge Chin wrote in the one-page order.

Royal Navy Wrestles Cyclone to Save 23 From Ocean

imageThe commanding officer of a Royal Navy warship on anti-piracy operations has told how his men carried out a daring rescue of the crew of a merchant vessel after it was caught in a tropical cyclone off the Somalian coast.

Commander Simon Huntington of the frigate HMS Chatham described how his crew battled 26ft waves and 65 knot winds in order to save the 23 men on board the cargo ship MV Dubai Moon.

Early yesterday morning, less than 10 hours after its multi-national crew had been winched to safety by HMS Chatham’s Royal Navy helicopter, the Panamanian-registered merchant vessel sank.

San Diego’s Working Waterfront is Poised for image Growth

SAN DIEGO NEWS NETWORK -Thursday, May 20, 2010 – San Diego business and civic leaders used the occasion of National Maritime Day to release a new report on the multi-billion dollar economic impact and long-term growth potential of the region’s working waterfront.

The report by the World Trade Center found that San Diego’s cluster of maritime industries employs 28,000 people and contributes more than $7 billion annually to the local economy. That’s exclusive of the Navy and Marines, which together add more than twice as much, or $15 billion each year, to the local economy.

Scientist: BP’s Oil Spill Estimates Improbable

image“What I get is 25,000 barrels a day coming out of that tiny hole, that’s a 1.2-inch hole.”

Steve Wereley of Purdue University says BP’s estimates of 5,000 barrels a day leaking from the Deepwater Horizon accident site are probably wrong. He can’t see “any possibility, any scenario under which their number is accurate”

Wereley went from being a respected but little known engineering professor at Purdue University to being the center of attention last week after he produced a startling new estimate of the size of the spill. Using a well-established scientific technique to measure flow from the biggest of three leaks near the seafloor, he determined that the flow coming out of the end of the pipe could be 10 times the size of the official figure.

  • more »

Somali Pirate Pleads Guilty to Seizing US Ship


NEW YORK, May 19 (UPI) — A young Somali pirate has pleaded guilty in New York in a rare U.S. prosecution of a high-seas hijacker.

Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court Tuesday to charges he helped commandeer the American-flagged cargo ship Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia last year and took its captain hostage

  • more  »

Sources Say Container Port Deal Imminent for Bayonne

BAYONNE — Several sources in Bayonne municipal government confirmed this week that discussions are underway to turn a large portion of the former Military Ocean Terminal base into a container port. The base is also being developed residentially.

The new facility would accommodate the next generation of container ships that are too large to fit under the Bayonne Bridge, and the development in Bayonne would be expected to generate numerous jobs.

imageThey don’t make ’em like this anymore.  Hawsepiper posts some photos »


Towing Assembly Inspections: When Do You Pull The Pin?

Towmasters Wear and tear, and corrosion, they get everything eventually. That is why the regulations require equipment inspections, especially of critical items whose failure could be catastrophic.

My regularly-scheduled inspection of the towing assembly of the barge we normally tow, as opposed to and conducted apart from the required pre-voyage inspections, revealed a level of wear on some of the components that had reached the point that it warranted their replacement, so out came the cutting torch and the sledge hammers…


USS Olympia to be Sunk as Artificial Reef?

Extremely disturbing news.   The scandal-plagued museum appears to want to get rid of the historic ship Olympia any way that it can.

Historic warship’s future may be sunk


The old warship has been part of Philadelphia’s waterfront for 50 years and left lasting impressions on thousands of visitors who heard gripping stories of its role in the Spanish-American War.

Now the Olympia – the last surviving vessel from that 1898 conflict – could face an ignoble end as an artificial reef off Cape May if a new benefactor cannot be found. 

WTF of the Week: Panama Set to Sue Costa Rica Online News Website

The Panamanian Secretaría de Comunicación del Estado said in Wednesday that it has hired a group of lawyers to prepare to file a legal suit against the Costa Rican online news website, El País.

The government agency said they are taking legal actions against those responsible for defaming Panama. The anger of Panamas government follows a report by Carlos Salazar of the online website,, alleged that the Panama Canal is controlled by the Israelis.

imageFlying, Shipping and Selling – Painting by Carrie Marrill
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