Maritime Monday 225: Oily to Bed, Oily to Rise

Monkey Fist
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August 2, 2010

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The Latest: BP Prepares Operation to Seal Gulf of Mexico Oil Well


image BP could begin sealing its oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Monday night, three months after its rupture led to the worst oil spill in US history.

The US official overseeing the federal response said engineers were preparing to pump mud and cement into the well in a procedure known as a “static kill”.

Mud and cement would then be pumped in from a relief well below five to seven days later, Admiral Thad Allen said.   more »

Gulf Spill Triggers New Oil-Field Work

Cameron International Corp. could emerge as an unlikely beneficiary in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

Wall Street Journal – The company came under intense scrutiny in the first days after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and sparking the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Cameron built the rig’s blowout preventer, a critical safety device that failed to shut down the well. more »

40th Anniversary of Black Tot Day

image Old Salt Blog – One of the blackest days in the history of naval seamen – the ending of the rum tot – will be marked with a ceremony on the quay at HMS Victory, Portsmouth, on Friday 30 July.

The 40th anniversary of what is known as Black Tot Day will be marked with a re-enactment of Up Spirits, the serving of the rum tot to all Royal Navy sailors.

The final Up Spirits took place between 11am and 12 noon on July 31, 1970, when the last measure of Pusser’s rum was served to the crews of Royal Navy ships. It ended an enshrined 300-year tradition of a daily rum tot for each serving mariner.

Titanic II: Heading Straight to DVD at a Grocery Store Checkout Line Near You

When a film trailer is released online with an important message informing viewers ‘this is not a joke’, you know it’s going to be imagebad.

Why “Mockbuster”-makers The Asylum decided to wait so long to tip a creative hat to James Cameron’s Titanic is anyone’s guess. Judging by the trailer for their latest work, Titanic II, they probably weren’t waiting for technology to catch up with their creative vision, as Cameron did with Avatar.

Still, the modern day-set film does boast a couple of famous faces — Hey there, Bruce Davison! How’s it hanging, Brooke Burns? — and what appears to be a comparatively generous budget. (The comparison I’m making here is with Asylum’s previous output, rather than the original Titanic. I’m guessing the budget for Titanic II would barely have covered the amount Cameron spent on authentic-looking ship’s barf bags.)


imageNantucket Historical AssociationTony Sarg’s Sea Serpent in 1937 Flickr Photo Set »

100 Days of Oil: International Assistance

image In the 100 days since an April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drill rig unleashed a seemingly unstoppable torrent of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the eyes of the world have been focused on the disaster. Hundreds of millions of gallons of crude have been released, and billions of dollars have been allocated toward the clean up fund.

Which countries have contributed the most to Gulf relief efforts, and who has ignored us entirely?

140 Feared Dead After Ferry Capsizes in Congo

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (July 30) — A boat ferrying about 200 passengers to Congo’s capital capsized after hitting a mud bank. At least 80 people were confirmed dead, a government spokesman said yesterday, and news reports said as many as 60 more passengers were missing and feared dead.

imageThe boat, the HB Yedu, was heading to Kinshasa from the Kwilu district of Bandundu Province, on the western border of the country.

It was overloaded and sank outside the town of Mangutuka, about 74 miles east of Kinshasa, the capital, said Lambert Mende, the government information minister. He said the river was unusually low at the time the boat ran aground.

16,000 Feet Under the Sea: Deepest Hydrothermal Vent Discovered

image Want to know what early or extraterrestrial life might look like? You might try looking at Earth’s extremes: the coldest, highest, and deepest places on our planet. One unmanned research vehicle just tried the last of these strategies, and took samples from a hydrothermal vent plume 16,000 feet under the sea–about 2,000 feet deeper than the previous record-holding vent.

A research team led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and including scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory studied three hydrothermal vents, found along an underwater ridge in the Caribbean called the Mid-Cayman Rise. They published their findings yesterday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bacteria Chowing Down On Gulf Oil Spill

image It was expected that the Gulf oil spill would take months to clean up. A nightmare specter of stretches of dead ocean seemed to loom as a real possibility. But now it seems that help is coming from an unexpected quarter.

Bacteria have been eating away at the oil slicks, which have decreased in size, according to observers who have been monitoring the spill.

American microbiologists have isolated 2 oil eating strains of bacteria:

“To understand the process, American microbiologists have isolated the bacteria which can degrade the oil. John Coates and his team from the Southern Illinois University showed that two strains (RCB and JJ) break down the benzene molecules, and even need the pollutants perchlorate or nitrate to digest them.”

Book Reviews: The United States Coast Guard in World War II; A History of Domestic and Overseas Actions

imageIt is not often remembered that in time of war which, recently, has been most of the time, the US Coast Guard does not just guard the coast.

Baird Maritime – It ranges and has ranged far and wide around the world. Its activities in World War II were no different. While the Coast Guard had a substantial domestic task, it was just as much involved on the often distant battle front.

This extensively researched and well-written history has been produced by an insider, a USCG reservist and enthusiast, who is also a history teacher.

The Coast Guard, until recently, has been something of a “cinderella service” as far as military history is concerned. The facts are quite different. This fine book and a handful of other recent releases have done much to correct that erroneous image.

The BP Oil Spill and The Power of Negative Thinking

image SAFE SEAS – If you want a textbook example of how negative thinking can help prevent errors, look no further than the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. As an editorial in New York Times makes clear, “BP’s disjointed response suggested it had given little thought to the possibility of a blowout at 5,000 feet.”

And it’s not just BP that gave little thought to a blowout. The same could be said of many Wall Street firms. They, too, failed to give serious thought to the possibility of a blowout of the U.S. housing market.

Crews to Remove WTC Ship from Site

A ship found at the World Trade Center site is on the move again after spending the past 300 years underground.

imageIMAGE: A two-masted ship appears at the right in this detail from a 1790 view of New York, roughly the era of the ship at the trade center. (South Street Seaport Museum)

Archaeologists and workers are beginning to take apart the ship, which dates to the 1700s.
It was found by construction workers excavating for a parking garage at the World Trade Center site. The 32-foot ship will be taken to a lab in Maryland for research, but scientists say it was probably once used to deliver goods to merchants in the city.

On Thursday Warren Riess, an archaeologist specializing in marine history, speculated that the ship was  most likely a brigantine; the two-masted workhorse of the coastal trade.  “It’s one of the ships that helped build New York.”    It also now appears that work on  a concrete wall last year may have inadvertently destroyed the after section of the ship.

imageThis is the third recorded ship strike by a Princess cruise ship in the last decade.  The company previously faced criminal charges after another of its ships, the Dawn Princess, failed to operate at a slow, safe speed while near humpback whales and in 2001 hit and killed a  pregnant humpback whale.  In a 2007 plea bargain, Princess Cruises, owned by Carnival Corp., paid $750,000 in fines to settle the charges.  I hope the whale’s family was sufficiently placated.

Cruise Ship Returns to Seattle After Striking  Whale


Firm previously paid $750,000 to settle criminal charge over other dead whale

SEATTLE — The cruise ship that struck a whale during a voyage to Alaska returned to Seattle early Sunday. The whale was found dead on the bow of the Sapphire Princess cruise ship Wednesday as it prepared to dock in Juneau, Alaska.

The discovery forced the ship to delay docking in Juneau while a tugboat and divers worked to dislodge the whale carcass. It was towed to nearby Douglas Island so scientists could perform a necropsy.

imageThe Roseway is a wooden gaff-riggedschooner launched on November 24, 1925 in Essex, Massachusetts. Restored and listed as a National Historic Landmark, she is currently operated by World Ocean School, a non-profit educational organization based in Camden, Maine.

Dedication & Love of Sailing; Hallmarks of a  Tall Ship Captain

imageDuluth News Tribune – “Lot of people like the idea of sailing, but not sailing itself,” Dwight L. Deckelmann, captain of the historic Grand Banks fishing schooner Roseway said Thursday, standing at the ship’s helm as he waited on Lake Superior for the start of the Grand Parade of Sail. “If you don’t like sailing this would just be work, like any other job.”

The Roseway, 137 feet long with a beam of 25 feet — was solidly built of white oak in 1925. It served as a fishing boat until 1941, then as a pilot boat until 1973. One of only six Essex, Mass.-built Grand Banks fishing schooners still in existence, it is a national historic landmark.

It had fallen on hard times before its previous owners donated it to the World Ocean School. It took two years, $1.2 million and untold hours of labor to return it to ship shape — in part a testament to Deckelmann’s skills as a carpenter and boat builder…

imageConfusion, chaos, and terror — that’s how people are describing Saturday night’s sudden fall from a collapsed gangway to the Bahia Belle in Mission Bay.

Gangplank Collapses as 100 Wait to Board Cruise

A gangplank in San Diego collapsed as about 100 people waited to board a Mississippi-style cruise ship, dropping many into the shallow water.

Battalion Chief Steve Ricci says the entire gangplank leading to the Bahia Belle buckled Saturday night. Firefighters searched the water in boats, and two people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries. Thirteen other refused medical treatment.

Ricci says people were very frightened at first, but then realized the water was only about 3 feet deep. The ship takes hotel guests from the popular Bahia Resort around Mission Bay. Witnesses say a baby in a stroller fell into the water but the baby was not hurt.

“By the looks of the bottom, it’s just the wood got old,”

The End of Ships? Empty Oceans Part 1

NEW WARS – An Iraq War veteran makes an astonishing claim in the National Defense University Press. Here is Lieutenant Colonel Thomas E. Shrader, USA, Chief of Media Operations for U.S. Forces–Iraq has this to say:

Just as manned aircraft suddenly rendered once-mighty battleships obsolete, we are now on the cusp of a new era in which all surface warfare ships will become obsolete. It has not happened yet, but the handwriting is clearly on the wall. Soon they will become indefensible. Why? Because ships are expensive and manned, while missiles are cheap and unmanned. Also, satellites are rapidly making every inch of the Earth viewable with the click of a mouse. In the near future, there will be literally nowhere to hide.

Explosion Rocks Japanese Oil Tanker, Cause Unclear

image A damaged Japanese oil tanker is headed back to the United Arab Emirates where officials hope to determine what caused an onboard explosion. Japan’s transport ministry said the M. Star was passing through the Strait of Hormuz early Wednesday with about two million barrels of crude oil when the crew reported a blast.

Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said that despite the explosion, the ship’s tanks did not rupture and that no oil is leaking.

Guam Transferred from the U.S. Navy to Department of Interior 60 years ago Today

August 1; US Naval Institute History Blog – Guam was not the Navy’s only experience with civil administration: at various times American Samoa, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the US Virgin Islands, and even the Alaska Territory were governed by naval officers. Not everybody thought this was a good idea: one congressman observed in 1900 that officers of the Navy were educated to fight, not perform civil duties. “In the performance of civil duties,” he said, “they are the most incompetent and the most expensive.”

image On 30 July 1945, while sailing from Guam to Leyte, Indianapolis was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-58.

The ship capsized and sank in twelve minutes. Survivors were spotted by a patrol aircraft on 2 August. All air and surface units capable of rescue operations were dispatched to the scene at once, and the surrounding waters were thoroughly searched for survivors. Upon completion of the day and night search on 8 August, 316 men were rescued out of the crew of 1,199.

Hot Political Summer as China Throttles Rare Metal Supply and Claims South China Sea

image The United States and Europe have been remarkably insouciant about supplies of rare earth minerals so crucial to frontier technologies, from hybrid engines to mobile phones, superconductors, radar and smart bombs.

Lack of strategic planning by the West has allowed China to acquire a world monopoly on this family of seventeen metals. Assumptions that Beijing would never risk its reputation as a global team player by abruptly strangling supply have proved naive.

An interim report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has laid bare just how delicate the situation has become:

“The US previously performed all stages of the rare earth material supply chain, but now most rare earth materials processing is performed in China, giving it a dominant position. In 2009, China produced about 97 percent of rare earth oxides. Rebuilding a U.S. rare earth supply chain may take up to 15 years,” it said.

IMO’s “Go to Sea!” Campaign

image “The global shortage of seafarers, especially officers, has already reached serious proportions, threatening the very future of the international shipping industry, which is the lifeblood of world trade. Recent reports have identified a current officer supply requirement of 498,000 in 2008, with an officer shortfall of 34,000. This figure is expected to rise to a projected officer shortfall in 2012 of 83,900″.

If this is true then why is it so difficult for a former navigating officer to find a job?

In Boise, (of all places) Lawyers Squabble Over BP Spill Claims Lawsuits

“This must be the biggest thing to hit Idaho since ‘Napoleon Dynamite,’ ”

image BOISE, Idaho — This city, more than 1,500 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, may seem like an unlikely place for lawyers to gather to argue about the fate of hundreds of federal lawsuits related to the oil spill.

Boise is where the federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation was scheduled to meet this month — it gathers in different locations around the country throughout the year — and so this is where lawyers had to fly to make their case about where all the oil spill lawsuits should be consolidated.

iPhone Game Review: Plunderland

image You play as a pirate of the seas, complete with pillaging, plundering, looting and upgrading your ship in Plunderland.

Of course, not everyone loves pirates so you’ll have plenty of enemies including island natives and the British army ready to take you out at every turn if you’re not careful.

The gameplay is much like Angry Birds, you must fire cannonballs at your enemies and topple their towers using physics. You can tilt your iPhone to swish your boat and hold=tap and release to launch cannons. Slidetoplay reviewed the game and said its “shortcomings are forgotten in the thrill of sending yet another British vessel down into the drink. And when you set eyes on the smooth graphics and their adorable ragdoll physics, you’ll be hooked.” Rating: 4 out of 4. Price: $2.99.

Jellyfish: Pretty from a Distance

imageA link from one of readers pointed us to a story on MSNBC about a very large Lion’s Mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) that broke apart and stung up to 100 people on a New Hampshire beach last Wednesday.

DEEP SEA NEWS – Lion’s Manes can get very big, their bell can be over 3 feet. Their tentacles though are another story and quite intimidating! A small Lion’s Mane can have a tentacle trail 10 feet long. A much larger one may have over 150 tentacles trailing over 30 feet behind it!

Michigan Governor Warns of Oil Spill Threat

image BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm expressed growing worry on Wednesday that an oil spill, believed to be among the largest ever in the Midwest, might reach Lake Michigan if efforts to contain the oil were not strengthened.

“It would be a tragedy of historic proportions if this reached Lake Michigan,” Ms. Granholm said.

More than 800,000 gallons of oil spilled Monday into the Kalamazoo River, a major waterway that flows into Lake Michigan, about 60 miles away. The leak came from a 30-inch pipeline that carries millions of gallons of oil each day from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario.

Obama Signs Cruise Ship Safety Bill

image July 28, 2010 / Los Angeles Times – In response to a series of high-profile assaults and disappearances on cruise ships in recent years, President Obama signed into law Tuesday tougher new rules for reporting crimes at sea, improving ship safety and training ship staff on collecting assault evidence.

The $40-billion cruise line industry has long been condemned by critics who say cruise ships registered in foreign countries have taken advantage of murky lines of jurisdiction to ignore the responsibility for misdeeds that occur on ships in international waters.

The bill, written by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento, requires cruise lines to install peepholes on passenger stateroom doors and crew members’ quarters as well as add on-deck surveillance cameras, among other safety improvements.

On Work: Characteristics of Modern Technique

image No Tech Magazine – “The type of work which modern technology is most successful in reducing or even eliminating is skilful, productive work of human hands, in touch with real materials of one kind or another. In an advanced industrial society, such work has become exceedingly rare, and to make a decent living by doing such work has become virtually impossible. A great part of modern neurosis may be due to this very fact; for the human being, defined by Thomas Aquinas as a being with brains and hands, enjoys nothing more than to be creatively, usefully, productively engaged with both his hands and his brains.”

“Modern technology has deprived man of the kind of work that he enjoys most, and given him plenty of work of a fragmented kind, most of which he does not enjoy at all.”


Puget Sound Maritime: Sea Trials Reveal Problem on New Ferry Chetzemoka

EVERETT, Washington — A safety concern discovered during sea trials this week off Everett could delay the maiden launch of the state’s newest ferry.

The $76.5 million Chetzemoka is scheduled to make its inaugural sail Aug. 29 and begin its first full day of service between Port Townsend and Keystone Harbor on Whidbey Island the following day.

Officials from the state Department of Transportation said Friday that they have discovered excessive vibrations in the driveline of the vessel. The vibrations increase with acceleration and could affect the captain’s ability to maneuver the ferry.

Sea-Fever – Weekly Leader Podcast 60:  image

Captain John Konrad, on the Deepwater Horizon Sinking

This week Peter invited his old maritime podcast partner, Captain John Konrad of to talk about his life as a drill rig captain and the BP oil spill.

Jeremy Wood is a multidiscipline artist and map maker whose diverse work offers people and places a playground of space and time. In October 2000 he began to explore GPS satellite technology as a tool for digital mark making on water, over land, and in the air. He makes drawings and maps of his movements by recording all his daily journeys with GPS to create a personal cartography.

Ship Lost for More than 150 Years is Recovered

image TORONTO – Canadian archeologists have found a ship abandoned more than 150 years ago in the quest for the fabled Northwest Passage and which was lost in the search for the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin, the head of the team said Wednesday.

Marc-Andre Bernier, Parks Canada’s head of underwater archaeology, said the HMS Investigator, abandoned in the ice in 1853, was found in shallow water in Mercy Bay along the northern coast of Banks Island in Canada’s western Arctic.

“The ship is standing upright in very good condition. It’s standing in about 11 meters (36 feet) of water,” he said. “This is definitely of the utmost importance. This is the ship that sailed the last leg of the Northwest Passage.”

A Tug on the Imagination

image Now’s the time to set your coordinates for Haifa and sail to the fascinating new exhibition of model ships at the National Maritime Museum.

The new show features a wide range of model ships, from miniature 17th-century English and French flagships, to warships, fishing boats and simple tugs. Regardless of scale, Zemer says, most of the display items are state-of-the-art offerings. “Model-shipbuilding is a very serious and very competitive field,” he states. “Some of the Russian-born Israeli model-builders are nautical engineers and studied at Soviet naval academies before they moved here.”

Tug’s Pilot Keeping Silent About Duck Boat Crash

A lawyer for the pilot of the tug pushing a barge that sank a duck boat in Philadelphia fears his client could face federal felony charges over the deadly crash.image

PHILADELPHIA — “The reason he hasn’t said anything up to this point is, you’re always concerned about criminal charges,” lawyer Frank DeSimone said. “I have to err on the side of caution.”

Two Hungarian students, ages 16 and 20, died in the July 7 crash, which plunged 35 passengers and two crew members aboard the stalled duck boat into the swift Delaware River. The tug pilot, a mate, has not been identified either by authorities or DeSimone. The mate was piloting the tug while the captain was on break, the Coast Guard has said.

Tugster Sees Alligators


William M (ex-Max, 1905) is an alligator tug, aka warping tug.  It could crawl on its belly along portages if needed.   In water, William M‘s 20 hp could tow at 5 knots; on land, it could crawl 1 – 2 miles a day, winching itself forward.

Notice the geared rod to the left.  It could level the boiler in overland crawls up to a 20 degree incline or decline. West & Peachey of Simcoe, ON built this one for less than $3000 in 1905 dollars.  The machinery in this tug is all original (1 of 3 survivors).  West & Peachey built 200 such tugs for Canadian, US, and South American concerns between 1889 and 1934.


imageSwimming With White Whales – In the White Sea Nature Reserve for white whales one can swim with these wonderful creatures or even touch them. The White Sea is a real reserve for these mammals. From many zoo- and water parks white whales are brought here to be released. They breed well, here are lots of calves. Diving with white whales is rather popular because they are friendly. When you are about to dive they look out of the water to hurry you as if they are tired of waiting.  More too-cute-by-half photos on English Russia »

imagePhoto by Nadav Kander »

image3 Days Cure for Men: Washington, D.C., circa 1920. “U.S. Public Health Service.” Dubious nostrums for, um, down there. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size on Shorpy’s Photo Archive »  (see alsoEasy Women of 1920)

imageErrol Flynn publicity shot (source)


image117[1] Monkey Fist is a smack-talking, potty mouthed, Yankee hating, Red Sox fan from Portland, Maine.  In addition to compiling Maritime Monday, she blogs about nautical history, marine science, art, current events, and coastal New England life on Casco Bay Boaters blog.
Submit story ideas, news links, photographs, or items of interest to her at
[email protected].  She can also out-belch any man.

Maritime Monday Archives »

This week’s Maritime Monday is dedicated to my father, Martin Konigmacher, who died at approx. 7 pm, ET on Sunday, August 1st, 2010. He was the engine room chief on the USS Hamilton DD141/DMS 18 a WWII Minesweeper.  He was 89.

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