Maritime Monday for July 18th, 2016

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July 17, 2016

Plastic waste washed up on a beach in Ghana. Photograph: Christian Thompson/EPA
Plastic waste washed up on a beach in Ghana. Photograph: Christian Thompson/EPA 

Scientists call for better plastics design to protect marine life

Improved materials would encourage recycling and prevent single-use containers from entering the oceans

 “[It comes from] 60 years of being a throwaway society,” Thompson said. Most of the plastic litter comes from single-use items, which have been inadequately disposed of and not recycled. “They have a very short lifetime in use and last a very long time in the environment.” The consequences of that accumulation “are now becoming clear”.  more

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer berthed at the NOAA Ford Island facility located in the middle of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.

Mission to Mariana Trench Records Dozens of Crazy Deep Sea Creatures

The NOAAS Okeanos Explorer (R 337) is a former Navy surveillance ship (USS Capable, T-AGOS-16) that was transferred to NOAA in 2004 with the bipartisan support of Congress.

“Okeanos Explorer will break the mold for the way the nation conducts at-sea research in the future. We have better maps of Mars and the far side of the moon than of the deep and remote regions of Earth,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.

The ship will conduct research and discovery expeditions in support of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration. Using sophisticated ocean mapping, deepwater remote-operated vehicles, and real-time data transmission, the ship will unlock clues to the world’s oceans—of which 95 percent remains unexplored. (from)

photos NOAA

ctenophoreLive Streams: Okeanos Explorer Camera 1Okeanos Explorer Camera 2

diggerThis 250-tonne monster digger scours the ocean depths for gold

Forget scouring the sea floor for shipwrecks. Nautilus Minerals is after more abundant oceanic treasure – and it has three mammoth machines to help.

“Mineral deposits found on the sea floor – copper, nickel, cobalt, gold and zinc – tend to be present in much higher grades than on land,” explains Mike Johnston, CEO of the Toronto-based deep-sea mining company. Extracting them requires diving down into a high-pressure, pitch black, often volcanic environment, but for Johnston, the prize is worth the risk.  more on WIRED


Marine art really set sail during the Golden Age

Up and down the coast of England, scenes like this — of barges, ketches or sloops coming home to anchor in the evening sun — were endlessly replayed in the 19th century.

Small craft like these were mainstays of the domestic fishing industry and of transport on inland waterways. While they may have been hardworking vessels, keeping the economy of Britain growing in a time of great expansion, they also proved to be one of the most popular subjects for artists and never more so than in what is often called Golden Age of English watercolours, which began in the mid-18th century and continued until the late 1870s.  keep reading

Photo: Paul J. Thompson / LoveMeow

Maine Coon Cat Becomes Deaf Sailor’s Ears and Helps Him Navigate at Sea

“Without any training, Skatty has twigged that I don’t hear,” Paul told Adventure Cats.

“He lets me know if a boat comes alongside, people are at my door (ashore) and when my phone receives text messages.” Skatty places his paw on the phone to signal an incoming message. If they have visitors, the smart Maine Coon will lead his human by walking him to the door.

“Skatty has learnt to get my attention by coming and putting his paw on my knee and I’ve learnt to get up and follow him. keep reading

Smithsonian – Ballast from the first historically documented ship carrying enslaved Africans that wrecked off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa in December 1794. (NMAAHC)

Few Artifacts of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Still Exist

A profound symbol of the horrific conditions aboard a slave ship is the ballast used as a counterweight for human cargo

When the ship floundered off of Cape Town, South Africa in December of 1794, 212 of the captives drowned in about eight feet of turbulent water, so close to shore that they were able to shoot a cannon and signal for help. The Captain, crew and about half of the slaves were rescued. The surviving Mozambicans were sold back into slavery.

An international team of investigators, in a partnership including the African American History Museum, Iziko Museums of South Africa and George Washington University, has been working the dive site since 2010. The team is part of a broader global partnership, The Slave Wrecks Project (SWP), which includes the U.S. National Park Service, The South African Heritage Resource Agency, Diving with Purpose, and the African Center for Heritage Activities.  keep reading

Washington Post: Haunting relics from a slave ship headed for African American museum

Wreck of USS Maine – source

The Risks of Coercive Naval Diplomacy 

Douglas Peifer is a professor of history and strategy at the US Air War College. His forthcoming Choosing War: Presidential Decisions in the Maine, Lusitania, and Panay Incidents (NY: Oxford U. Press, 2016) explores the interaction between naval diplomacy and presidential crisis decision making.

Not a month goes by without another book or article addressing the challenge of accommodating a growing China and a truculent Russia within the international framework, with a great deal of hand wringing about the implications of expanding Chinese and Russian capabilities at sea, in the air, in space, and in cyberspace. Military experts warn that operating US ships and aircraft on and above disputed waters is becoming increasingly dangerous as new generations of long-range anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles becomes available to both first and second rate powers.

One senses a growing awareness that naval diplomacy is becoming more risky. 

keep reading

Justice towing the USNS William McLean T-AKE-12 into the drydock at Boston Ship Repair, Boston MA 7/16/16 – photo by jelpics

see also: 1 – – 2 – – 3 – – 4 – – 5 

Star Ferry Pier in Hong Kong


Asian nations seek historic items in bid to prove maritime rights

They are sketches by sailors and drawings by priests – lines on paper hundreds of years old that show islands and coastlines whose shapes often look decidedly different from their modern representation. But across Asia, those centuries-old maps have become objects of modern desire as countries look to the past for ammunition in a battle over ownership rights in waters vital to trade and defence.

“The notion that a map from 1825 that shows this island or that island belonging to China or to Japan or to Vietnam has any meaning whatsoever is utterly absurd…”

Behind the legal arguments before the arbitration tribunal, Asian nations have been engaged in a high-stakes bid to gather symbolic proof of rightful ownership, which has great value in the court of public opinion. To do that, they have turned to old maps, seeking confirmation from the fading scribblings of mariners, functionaries and scholars – and, in at least one case, a stone inscription nearly a millennium old – of who rightfully owns what.  keep reading

Update: International tribunal has ruled in favour of the Philippines in case over territorial control 

killsPort Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal
posted by Thomas Steinruck; Tug & Ship Spotting On The Kills (NYC)
click image to see full size


Saturday morning show from the 1970s get a reboot

Some of the most memorable Saturday morning kids’ shows in the 1970s came from the minds of producers Sid and Marty Krofft. The brothers were responsible for a wide variety of imaginative programs, including “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Land of the Lost,” and many more.

Sigmund and the Sea Monsters” is now available for streaming at Amazon Prime. It’s a half-hour pilot for a possible children’s series about two young brothers and their cousin who meet a friendly sea monster and help hide him from his overbearing brothers and a zealous fisherman (David Arquette) who wants to display him as a circus attraction. Like the original, it’s a live action series with people in plush costumes as the comical “monsters,” and the designs and voices stay very true to the original 1973-75 series. Johnny Whitaker, who played one of the brothers in the original, even has a small role as a rival sea captain. +

Sigmund & The Seamonsters opening on You Tube

Images via Film Movement

“Sea Fog” Movie Trailer Reveals Dark, Gripping Smuggling Thriller

Directed by South Korean Shim Sung-bo, the film tells of the doomed Captain Kang, who desperately takes on a dangerous smuggling job when he becomes strapped for money. Stowing a cadre of people in the hull of his boat, Kang runs into trouble from his crew, the coast guard, and the people below as well, all as he deals with the vagaries of weather and his ship.

A brief synopsis:

Kang, a long time captain of the Junjin, is disheartened to learn that his ship has been sold by its owner, leaving Kang’s entire crew in danger of losing their livelihood. Swallowing his pride, Kang pays a visit to Yeo, a human trafficking broker, and decides to take on the dangerous job of smuggling illegal migrants into South Korea. When the ship arrives at the pickup point, a violent storm stalls the vessel in open water, inevitably pitting Kang’s crew against the migrants. As tension and unrest spread throughout the passengers, a dense sea fog envelops the boat and tragedy unfolds…

more, including a video sneak-peek, on

Smithsonian Channel to Premiere New 6-Episode Series HELL BELOW

HellA new Smithsonian Channel series will chart the stealthy game of undersea warfare from the greatest submarine campaigns of World War II. The six-episode HELL BELOW premieres Sunday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

It profiles the strategic masterminds behind the brutal tactics of Nazi U-boats and reveals the extraordinary feats of Allied subs in the Atlantic and Pacific.

keep reading

This model of NRP Sagres is just one of many objects representing Portuguese maritime history housed in the Marine Museum’s collection

Maritime Significance of the Azores; Crossroads of the Atlantic

Marine Museum at Fall River – The Azores, part of Portugal, are group of nine volcanic islands located about 850 miles west of Europe. Throughout the Second World War, Portugal wished to stay neutral. Allied leaders, like British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, realized how important the islands, referred to by journalists as the “Crossroads of the Atlantic,” were to the defeat of Hitler and the Nazis and they went to great lengths to ensure that British and American forces could use the Azores as a base. 

At that time, airplanes did not have the ability to travel non-stop between England and the United States. As a result, nearly all war supplies headed to Europe and Africa were transported across the Atlantic on steamships. Thankfully, Churchill found the Anglo-Portuguese treaty of 1373, an ancient treaty of friendship between England and Portugal that allowed Allies access to the Azores. keep reading

Texas artist Kurt Dyrhaug poses with “Rolling Keel” after the sculpture was assembled at the 2016 Sculpture Walk Peoria in Illinois.

Lamar art professor featured in 2016 Sculpture Walk Peoria

Dyrhaug’s 9-foot tall sculpture, which is made from cast iron, steel and cedar wood, captures influences from the Southeast Texas region, he said.
“When I lived in Minnesota, agricultural machinery was my inspiration,” said Dyrhaug. “My influences shifted to nautical when I moved to Beaumont.”

“Rolling Keel,” has been displayed in four other exhibits around the country – two Texas exhibits, one in Mississippi and one in Missouri. more

Antikythera team members Nikolas Giannoulakis, Theotokis Theodoulou, and Brendan Foley inspect small finds from the shipwreck, while decompressing after a dive of 165 feet beneath the surface of the Mediterranean Sea in Greece. Brett Seymour/EUA/WHOI/ARGO

Ancient Shipwreck Off Greek Island Yields A Different Sort Of Treasure

A team of archaeologists diving near the Greek island of Antikythera have reported a startling new discovery from a previously explored 2,000-year-old shipwreck. The find — a very heavy, metal cylinder — offers new insights into the maritime warfare of ancient times, the scientists say.

In 1900, marble and bronze statues brought up by the sponge divers who discovered the ship stunned the world. Even more amazing was the Antikythera mechanism, a mysterious metal device the size of a wall clock. It turned out to be a sort of clockwork computer that predicted planetary movements and seasons with remarkable accuracy.

Recently the scientists found something in the sediment that was definitely not a luxury item. At first, they thought the torpedo-shaped cylinder was ceramic.
Excavation at the Sant’Omobono site in central Rome has provided evidence of early Romans’ efforts to transform the landscape of their city.

“But then we tried to move it,” Foley says, “and it was unbelievably heavy.” 

keep reading


Scripps Oceanography formally took control of R/V Sally Ride, the newest ship in the American research fleet

July 1st – Representatives of R/V Sally Ride’s owner, the U.S. Navy, Scripps Oceanography, and the manufacturer of the vessel, Dakota Creek Industries, were on hand for the signing at the Anacortes, Wash. shipyard where the vessel has been under construction since 2012.

The vessel’s inaugural crew is now outfitting it with equipment and preparing it for initial test cruises along the West Coast. more

The 238-foot Sally Ride can sail on cruises as long as 40 days and accommodate both a 20-person crew and up to 24 scientists. The vessel has multibeam bottom-mapping and ocean current profiling sonars, advanced meteorological sensors and satellite data transmission systems. It also features the latest navigation and ship-positioning systems and a specially designed hull that improves sonar acoustic performance.  more

slideshow on CNET

The fabulous flying boats of the Solent Sky museum

In a small, simple building near the water in Southampton, England stands the Solent Sky museum. Dedicated to flying boats and other aircraft built in the Southampton and Solent area, like the Supermarine Spitfire and the razor-thin Supermarine S.6 seaplane racer, it’s a unique slice of aviation/nautical history.

The highlight, a Short Sandringham (the civilian version of the military Short Sunderland), is a step back in time to a golden age of flying boats — fixed-wing seaplanes with a hull, allowing them to land on water.  more

marine algae

From Ocean to Ornament:
A Most Extraordinary Victorian Seaweed Scrapbook

seaweedThe Victorian period had a particular flourish for domesticating the wildness out of nature. From taxidermy animals contorted into a controlled version of ferocity to pressing flowers into collectible objects, there was both a mix of fascination with flora and fauna as well as a desire to form the natural world into a vision of refinement. Yet, while some young ladies delighted in clipping flowers and pressing them in books, others scraped up seaweed and kept the specimens in elegant scrapbooks.

Harvard Library has a detailed description of seaweed scrapbooking from A. B. Hervey’s 19th century Sea Mosses: A Collector’s Guide and an Introduction to the Study of Marine Algae, with the process involving washing, arranging, pressing, and then adhering the seaweed to paper in its pristine state. keep reading


Circa 1900: Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway ore docks, Ashtabula, Ohio. 8×10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Tugboat Binghampton 1895
Tugboat Binghampton 1895; click to see full size – via Tug Boating on Facebook


photo by gnilrig – location unknown – click to see full size
Surfers Paradise, Australia

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