Maritime Monday 217

Monkey Fist
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June 6, 2010


“I said put the greens on the table and pour the oil over the side”


WSJ: Tar Reaches Florida Coast slideshow  »


Containment Cap Offers Hope Even as Oil Spews On


The disaster, which began with an oil rig explosion in mid-April, will persist "well into the fall," Allen said.

AP / NEW ORLEANS — A device that’s now sucking up significant amounts of the oil spewing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico offered a measure of optimism Sunday even as the government’s point man on the spill warned problems would persist for months.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said on CBS’ "Face the Nation" that the spill, which is ravaging beaches and wildlife, will not be contained until the leak is fully plugged and that even afterward "there will be oil out there for months to come."


No Day at the Beach for the Workin’ Man – photo by Dave Martin; Associated Press 

Oil Cleanup Could Extend Into Fall

image "We’re making the right progress," Mr. Allen told CNN. But "I don’t think anybody should be pleased as long as there’s oil in the water."

Earlier Sunday, BP PLC Chief Executive Tony Hayward said a containment cap was now funneling off more than 10,000 barrels of oil a day from the blown-out well, which has been gushing out oil a mile beneath the ocean surface.

Mr. Allen said vents on the cap were slowly being turned off to keep additional oil from leaking. In a separate appearance on "Fox News Sunday," he said the "final fix" would be the drilling of a relief well, which was estimated to be completed by August.


Putting a Face on the Gulf Oil Leak

I have made an editorial decision not to include pictures of oil covered birds in MM 217.  If your week just isn’t complete without close-ups of goopy eyeballs, go see the photo spread on the NY Times photography blog »


Greasy birds, charts, graphs, Tony Hayward, blahblah blah: WSJ slideshow »

Coast Guard Log Details Early Hours of Spill

Late at night on April 20, an "undesignated distress" call came into the Coast Guard: The Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig was on fire. People were jumping into the water.

WALL STREET JOURNAL – That call, from another drilling rig 25 nautical miles away, set off a furious response from the Coast Guard and the companies involved in what would eventually become the worst oil spill in U.S. history, according to Coast Guard documents released late Thursday.


What, Me Worry?

BP chief won’t quit over Gulf of Mexico spill

LONDON (AP) — BP PLC Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward said Sunday he won’t step down over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and he predicted his company will recover from the disaster.

Mr. Hayward told BBC television’s "Andrew Marr Show" that he would not quit and that he had the "absolute intention of seeing this through to the end."

Bitter End: The Coast is Clear! Oops, never mind…

imageSociological Images is reporting:

Why Did BP Give Florida $25 M for Tourism Advertising?

In the aftermath of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil well, as oil began gushing into the Gulf, British Petroleum (BP) gave the State of Florida $25 million dollars to develop and distribute advertising with the slogan “The Coast is Clear.” 

Bowsprite Wants to Know: do you like your image TWIC card?

Evaluation time! How are you liking it?

good things about having a TWIC:

• you feel like VIP breezing past long lines to get into Fleet Week at PST pier 90. You get to keep your metal water canteen and knife. (if you do not have a TWIC, please do not bring nice water bottles or knives to see warships. The trash cans outside were full of caught contraband and it was a sad sight.

Coast Guard Medevacs Man from Supply Ship

The Coast Guard medevaced a man from a supply ship in Barataria Pass near Grand Isle, Saturday.

GRAND ISLE, La. –Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report at 5:10 p.m. that a 60-year-old man aboard the offshore supply vessel Rachel Kelly struck his head and was suffering neck pain and numbness in his left arm. Coast Guard Station Grand Isle launched a 41-foot response boat and crew to the scene.

The crew successfully transferred the man off the Rachel Kelly and transported him to awaiting emergency medical servces at Station Grand Isle.

The mans condition is unknown. (Coast Guard News) 

Deepwater Horizon, Transparency and ABC

image On June 3, ABC News accused the Coast Guard of acting in collusion with BP to minimize the estimate of oil being discharged from the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon. I learned about the report from a blog I visit regularly.

While there is much to talk about regarding ABC’s report, including how statements were taken out of context, whether initial estimates of the discharge rate would have any effect on the fines ultimately levied against BP; whether the inaccuracy of those estimates had in any way reduced the urgency of our response, whether this was about a cover up or simply a media outlet sulking because they were not given access to the best available video…

Deep Water Writing Muses Over Human Resources

imageI had just gotten my ass chewed out by the old man for having two charts on the chart table at once and now a surly hick from Maine was yelling at me over the phone for being an idiot third mate. I didn’t even bother defending myself against the daily heckling I received at coffee time and at meals. I might have been a green mate but I was ripe fruit for a seasoned crew’s picking entertainment.

Crews come in all shapes and sizes and they are always changing. Since those first days at sea I have now worked with hundreds of different mariners. When I left my first ship I crossed my fingers that my next old man and Chief Engineer would take it a little easier on me.

The cast of characters for this voyage is more colorful than ever.

image Did Dining on Seafood Help Early Humans Grow These Big Brains?

80 Beats/DISCOVER – Your brain is hungry. That big gray calculating machine in your head is an energy hog that needs lots of calories—more than the diet of fruits and plants that our distant hominin ancestors probably ate could provide. It’s a mystery, then, just how human ancestors like Homo erectus—who were around when our craniums started to expand in a hurry—ate enough to start growing big brains. But buried in Kenya, a two-million-year-old hint has emerged: Those hominins started eating seafood way back then, archaeologists say.


Giant underground oil storage area in Yeosu, South Korea

The Extreme Hardware of Oil and Gas

The fact that if a nuke is used to extinguish the Deepwater Horizon leak, it will be the 6th time this has been done speaks volumes of how extreme the technological requirements of our fossil fuel dependence. Oil and gas require a gargantuan infrastructure of superlative technology that permeates every level from extraction to dispatch, from hellish looking oil drill bits, drilling rigs that are the size of cities, storage tanks the size of cathedrals and pipelines that rival the Great Wall of China.

The extreme environments that this technology operates in require unsinkable boats, skyscraper sized structures in some of the world’s least inhabited places and firefighting tools that include large bombs and fighter jet engines.Pause for a moment and reflect on just how unusual these objects are.

GPS System “Close to Breakdown” Says  Guardian.UK

imageNetwork of satellites could begin to fail as early as 2010

It has become one of the staples of modern, hi-tech life: using satellite navigation tools built into your car or mobile phone to find your way from A to B. But experts have warned that the system may be close to breakdown.

US government officials are concerned that the quality of the Global Positioning System (GPS) could begin to deteriorate as early as next year, resulting in regular blackouts and failures – or even dishing out inaccurate directions to millions of people worldwide.



In Gulf, It Was Unclear Who Was in Charge of Oil Rig

NY TIMES via Kennebec Captain  / NEW ORLEANS — Over six days in May, far from the familiar choreography of Washington hearings, federal investigators grilled workers involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in a chilly, sterile conference room at a hotel near the airport here.

They pushed for more insight into an argument on the rig that day between a manager for BP, the well’s owner, and one for Transocean, the rig’s owner, and asked Curt R. Kuchta, the rig’s captain, how the crew knew who was in charge.


“It’s pretty well understood amongst the crew who’s in charge,” he said.

“How do they know that?” a Coast Guard investigator asked.

“I guess, I don’t know,” Captain Kuchta said. “But it’s pretty well — everyone knows.”

Israel Blames “Stowaway Mercenaries” for Violence on Gaza Aid Ship

image Israel deported 19 activists arrested on an Irish ship taking aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip and accused a previous aid convoy of harbouring mercenaries who had joined the flotilla by stealth and attacked Israeli forces.

Iran stoked tensions by offering its Revolutionary Guards to act as armed escorts for future aid convoys to Gaza.

Israeli naval forces intercepted the Irish-flagged MV Rachel Corrie on Saturday. It was the last ship of the Gaza aid flotilla, arriving five days after the storming of the first six ships, in which nine passengers were shot dead by Israeli commandos.

image Lessons Left Unlearnt From 2003 Gulf of Mexico Near-Spill

The Oil Drum – In May 2003, the Transocean drillship Discoverer Enterprise, under contract from BP, was getting ready to pull out of a nearly-completed development well for the Thunderhorse project in the Gulf of Mexico, about 40 miles south of the current (2010) spill at the Macondo prospect. For some reason, the ship was dragged off its position such that the riser reaching down 6000 feet to the well at the seafloor was snapped off in two places…

Miami’s Rosenstiel School Launches Oil Spill Info Web Page

image Marine Science Today – The University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science  has launched a new “Oil Spill” web page designed to share the science being conducted at the Rosenstiel School that is relevant to the issues emerging from the incident on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.

Designed for use by teachers, students and general audiences, the site focuses on the ocean environment.  Since the earliest days of the oil spill, researchers from disciplines across UM have been involved in monitoring the Gulf of Mexico and helping to prepare for the long-term consequences of this ecological disaster.

A More Detailed Look at the Law of the Sea and the Gaza Flotilla Incident

MODERN DAY PIRATE TALES – As discussions and comments about the Gaza Flotilla Incident continue, the legal issues involved have been bandied around in ways that, at times, leave much to be desired. Advocates on both sides have tried to invoke elements of international law to bolster their opinions, to the consternation of some well-informed, objective observers.

In response to things, I recommend reading a piece in today’s issue of The Globe & Mail written by Ed Morgan, a professor of international law at the University of Toronto. In it, Prof. Morgan outlines the various laws and regulations about the Law of the Sea and rules of engagement pertaining to naval warfare…


Sea fans and other gorgonians near a shallow water wreck in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Located off the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, the sanctuary protects the most extensive living coral reef in the United States is adjacent to the 126 mile island chain of the Florida Keys. The 2,800 square nautical mile sanctuary includes the productive waters of Florida Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean.

National Ocean Service: Protecting Gulf Resources

image via Facebook – With multiple sanctuaries located in the Gulf of Mexico region, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) has been on hand to support NOAA’s oil spill response efforts since the first days following the Deepwater Horizon incident. Personnel from across the National Marine Sanctuary System have been deployed to the command posts in Louisiana and Washington, DC, where they are assisting with shoreline cleanup and assessment, geographic information system support, environmental monitoring, and media relations.

Staff from the Flower Garden Banks and the Florida Keys national marine sanctuaries — both located in areas that could potentially be affected by the spill — and ONMS headquarters in Silver Spring are also supporting natural resource damage assessment for sensitive ecosystems like coral reefs, seagrass beds, and shoreline habitats, as well as water quality and cultural resources. They are working with state, federal, and tribal trustees to determine how best to measure impacts from the oil spill to those resources. 


Now Showing: Successful Installation of the LMRP Cap

LMRP Containment Operation Deployed – BP announced today that oil and gas is being received onboard the Discoverer Enterprise following the successful placement of a containment cap on top of the Deepwater Horizon’s failed blow-out preventer (BOP). This follows the cutting and removal of the riser pipe from the top of the BOP’s lower marine riser package (LMRP).

NSF Awards Rapid Response Grant to Study Impact of Oil and Methane on Microbes

Scientists investigate oil and methane gas introduced by spill into deep, cold waters of Gulf of Mexico

image June 2, 2010- To examine the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on microbes in the waters and sediments near the spill site, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a rapid response grant to marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia (UGA) and colleagues.

The team is aboard the research vessel F.G. Walton Smith in the Gulf of Mexico on an oceanographic research cruise that will return to port this coming weekend.

The grant is one of many such Gulf oil spill-related rapid response grants NSF has awarded to date, and will make in the near future.


President Obama Fails to Show Appropriate Rage During Beatle Visit

June 3, 2010 — Once again, President Obama refused to display the appropriate amount of rage after listening to popular music with one of those shaggy-haired hippies who, in an attempt to curry favor with the President, wrote and sang a song about the President’s wife.  Obama displayed his legendary cool head over the ex-Beatle’s obvious attempted seduction of his wife and took Sir Paul McCartney aside for a private chat.  (source)

Red Right Returning: Out of Gas Brings $2M Towboat to the “Rescue”

Oh, boy. Don’t get me started…

imageHere is a story that might bite the USCG boys in NYC right in the transom. Gee, having some press tag along to promote these brand new (yawn… same twin jet technology I’ve been driving for 8 years) $2 million boats seemed like such a good idea. Yeah, give the taxpayers an idea of where all their money is going. Too bad they couldn’t find a real emergency for the reporters, so a boat out of gas had to be the “distress” call for this story.

Somali Troops Storm Cargo Ship, Pirates Kill Captain

The MV QSM Dubai was taken by Somali pirates about 5am on Wednesday in a shipping corridor near the notorious Gulf of Aden.

imageSomalia (Reuters) -The cargo ship, which is owned by Dubai firm Qawareb Ship Management, had 24 crewmen on board and was sailing towards Somalia.

Soldiers from Somalia’s Puntland region stormed the Panama-flagged cargo vessel held by pirates, but gang members killed the captain in the operation, a minister said on Thursday.

Statement Regarding the Uncontrolled Flow of Oil in the Gulf of Mexico from WHOI President and Director Susan K. Avery

image May 26, 2010 / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution The Deep-water Horizon oil rig disaster and subsequent oil spill and plumes in the Gulf of Mexico continue to be a focus of national attention and of special concern and interest for the ocean science community.  In response to numerous requests from government, industry and academic research organizations for scientific and technical guidance and assistance related to this environmental catastrophe, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is collaborating to provide a multi-disciplinary suite of scientific and technological capabilities based on four decades of experience in oil spill research.

Because its independence allows much latitude, WHOI can offer leadership and counsel through partnerships with all parties, including academic colleagues and experts in the immediately affected Gulf states.  Our goal is to make our expertise available in an impartial and transparent manner to build a strong research response capable of supplying the highest quality scientific data collection, processing, and analysis to guide current mitigation efforts and to help prevent such events in the future…


Stranded Ship Explodes Off South Africa

There were explosions and a massive fire aboard a stranded bulk carrier off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa on Thursday.

South Africa — The Turkish-owned Seli 1 ran aground back in September 2009, and since all attempts to refloat the vessel have failed, the South Africa Maritime Association decided to take it apart piece by piece.

According to various reports, gas cylinders the salvage crew was using were involved in causing the latest troubles for the doomed Seli 1. Thankfully, the fire is now out and no one was injured. For some vivid photographs of the fire, click thru for the link on Planet Data »

imageDinosaur in action: the Zachery Reinauer, built in 1971 at the Matton Shipyard as the Mobil No. 1 (hull #339) Photo of the Week on Towmasters »

Towmasters: Knives!? We Don’t Need No  Stinking Knives!

imageThis is one of those “stop the madness” moments that comes along periodically, so I have to take advantage of it. Starting last fall I ran a 3-part series on the numerous types of knives that may be useful to working mariners, along with various sharpening implements to keep them sharp and functional.

Knives are one of the oldest known tools invented by humans, and have been carried and used by seafarers for as long as we’ve been putting to sea. We need knives, and they must be kept sharp because a dull knife is ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. Everyone should know this by now…


Tugster: Summertime, and the Fishing is Easy

6th Borough Catch of the Day: Superb Specimens of Detritus rectangulus aluminumensis. Thanks to the Corps of Engineers for their efforts in many domains.


Unofficial CG Blog: Visually understand the Deepwater Horizon incident & efforts (humor)

There’s been a lot of new, and some made-up, phrases and words thrown around since the Gulf oil debacle begun over 45 days ago. For example: “top kill,” “successful insertion tube,” “relief well,” etc. As most I hadn’t a clue of what these were… that is until I happened across some visual representations of what exactly they were. Thanks to Cory of The Art of Cory I, and you too, now know what these things mean.


Whistle Blast Recalls 75th Anniversary of SS Normandie’s Maiden Voyage

Con Edison connected the 600-pound brass whistle to a steam pipe on Fulton Street to make it sound once again

LOWER MANHATTAN — The penetrating blare of a foghorn reverberated through the South Street Seaport Thursday afternoon to mark the 75th anniversary of the SS Normandie’s arrival in New York Harbor.

The sound came from the original brass steam whistle once mounted on the Normandie, a luxury Art Deco ocean liner that boasted famous passengers including Ernest Hemingway. On June 3, 1935, thousands of New Yorkers greeted the Normandie at the end of its record-breaking maiden voyage from France.

To celebrate the anniversary, Con Edison connected the 600-pound whistle to below-ground steam pipes on Fulton Street to enable it to sound its warning once again.

“Be ready to cover your ears, because it’s going to be very loud,” said Ed Foppiano, chief mechanical engineer with Con Edison.

image White House Sends BP $69 M Bill

NEW YORK ( – The Obama administration has sent a $69 million bill to BP for the U.S. government’s efforts to help deal with the energy company’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The current $69 million bill accounts for 75% of what BP owes to date, and the company has until July 1 to pay the full amount, an administration official said Thursday.

The Obama administration will bill BP regularly for costs related to the spill, according to the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command, which is the government and industry task force managing the spill response.

Women Sweep Top-Sailor Honors in US Navy

image OLD SALT BLOG – For the first time, the Navy’s four sailors of the year are women, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced Thursday. Roughead noted the achievement as part of a number of milestones for women in the fleet at the 23rd annual Women’s Leadership Symposium.


Gobs; 1896

Shorpy Photo Archive – Aboard the U.S.S. New York circa 1896. "Group of sailors." 8×10 inch dry plate glass negative by Edward Hart, Detroit Publishing Company.  View full size »


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