Maritime Monday 227: Is It Safe?

Monkey Fist
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August 16, 2010

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The Coast Is Not Clear

Though the BP oil spill’s impact is much less severe than feared, long-term threats like wetlands destruction & dead zones remain. They make the spill look almost minor

Visit the Gulf of Mexico today and you’d hardly recognize it as the scene of what President Barack Obama called "the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced." It’s as if scientists had conducted an insane experiment—dumping some 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean water—and discovered that its effect was in some ways negligible. Some 21 years after the Exxon Valdez disaster, you can still find globs of oil in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Yet the Gulf appears to be scrubbing itself: Sunshine is evaporating—and bacteria are rapidly digesting—the spilled oil. Less crude has infiltrated vulnerable wetlands than was widely feared. Documented fish and bird kills have been small, and most Gulf beaches remain pristine.

imageMV Sun Sea

Canada’s Options for Preventing Asylum Ships Limited


As hundreds of illegal Tamil immigrants stepped ashore for the first time in three months and requested asylum, many Canadians were asking: Why didn’t the government simply turn the boat back?

Instead, a navy vessel smoothly escorted the freighter to dock near Victoria on Friday, ushering passengers to shore for investigation and to assist them with their health and safety needs, even while Ottawa maintained some of them were "suspected human smugglers and terrorists." The next home for most of the 490 people will be in Vancouver-area detention centres to await scrutiny on their identities for national security reasons.


After 40 years, Ferries Thriving on San Francisco Bay

Sunday is a red-letter day on the blue-green waters of San Francisco Bay: the 40th anniversary of the first run of the Golden Gate Bridge district’s ferry fleet.

Now, more than 20 boats under various operators are in ferry service on the bay, with 11 routes and more planned. There are ferries to Alcatraz, Oakland, Larkspur, Vallejo, Tiburon, two routes to Alameda, two to Sausalito and two to Angel Island. "We can truly say the ferryboats have come back to San Francisco Bay," said Carney Campion, a former general manager of the Golden Gate Bridge district who presided over the christening of a couple of the district’s seven boats and the maiden voyage of another.

Video Captures Dramatic Escape From Sinking Plane

Lake Erie Ferry Passengers and Crew Assist in Rescue

Aug 14 — A home video shows the dramatic aftermath of a plane’s crash-landing into the waters go seeof Lake Erie with passengers scrambling for their lives. Four passengers are seen clinging to the side of the boat, which crashed into the lake Friday. Passengers on a nearby docked ferry at South Bass Island near Sandusky desperately scramble to throw safety rings and life-jackets to them.

Mark Neal, 61, owned and flew the plane, according to United Press International. He realized something was wrong as he approached a small airfield on South Bass Island, between Toledo and Cleveland.


Aug. 10, 1519: Magellan Sets Sail Into History

image Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, having sworn allegiance to Spain, sets sail from Seville for what will be the first successful circumnavigation of the Earth. Magellan, however, will not complete the voyage.

Like Columbus before him, Magellan’s primary objective was to open up a western trade route for Spain to Asia, since Spanish ships were barred by treaty with Portugal from using the route around Africa. Columbus’ discovery of a new continent presented Magellan with the additional challenge of finding a passage through the new world to the Southeast Asian kingdoms, then referred to as the Spice Islands.

Australia: Harbour Historians Find a Home Berth

imageTHEY are Sydney’s nautical nomads – a group of boat-loving historians who have wandered the Harbour for almost half a century in search of old vessels to restore to their former glory.

Now finally, the Sydney Heritage Fleet has found a permanent berth.

The fleet, which has restored some of Sydney’s best-loved vessels including the James Craig, has been given a 40-year lease at Pyrmont to continue its work for decades to come.

The SHF hopes to build a new wharf at the site to berth and display its collection of restored boats as well as house a workshop, museum and visitor centre. The plans also include a small park and allow for public access to the Harbour foreshore.


Bathtub IV: The Video Artistry of Keith Loutit


Battleship + LEGOs = A More Interesting Strategy Experience

Until recently, the closest we ever got to construction in a board game was Mousetrap, but this year Hasbro announced that it would be making LEGOized alternate versions of some of its biggest board game commodities (without, of course, real LEGOs).  Wired‘s Geekdad blog has has the review of U-Build Battleship, which plays just like regular Battleship, albeit with a customizable twist.

The individual ships (aircraft carrier, submarine, etc) are constructed by players out of some basic gray pegs indicating turrets, radar, and other bits of naval fortifications.  However, each turn you choose a ship to fire from, and each ship can fire as many shots as it has turrets.  Each time a ship is hit, it loses a weapon.

BP Oil Spill May Result in Sea Change for Industry

Not long ago, federal officials were hailing the Gulf of Mexico as America’s best source of future crude oil and natural gas.

image LA Times – But the disastrous BP oil leak has complicated that view and may have a greater effect on the energy industry than any incident since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which led to the Environmental Protection Agency and a 27-year moratorium on most offshore drilling.

Experts predict that energy production will slow and regulation will increase along with the cost of drilling in deep water. Better technology will have to be developed. New projects may require rigorously tested emergency plans. Government oversight will be overhauled.

"The days of easy oil are over," said Michael Klare, program director at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. "Only the tough crude remains, in unfriendly parts of the world or in difficult places where the technology and the regulations have not caught up. There are bound to be greater risks."


image Retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, who’s been directing the federal response to the crisis, said Friday that drilling on the relief well must proceed.

"The relief well will be finished," he said at a news conference. "We will kill the well."


Gulf Oil Slick Shapes Agenda at Upcoming Energy Firms’ Gathering in Scotland

New technology to prevent a repeat of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be on the agenda this week as representatives from some of the world’s biggest energy companies gather in Aberdeen.

The devastating slick will be discussed at a board meeting of the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF), a research company owned by 25 operators and service companies, including BP, Shell and ExxonMobil. Since it was launched in 1999, the body has spawned 151 projects and pumped more than £50 million into research.

The Challenge of Shipping Biofuels

image 6th August 2010 – The production and use of biofuels for transport has increased dramatically in recent years and is set to continue, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and meeting growing consumer demand. As most biofuels will be transported by sea, the industry needs to take stock of its growing experience of what can go wrong aboard ship and develop safe and efficient shipping, loading, handling and storage practices.

Chittagong: 7 Ship Breakers Hurt in Fire

"Their faces are burnt. Three of them are in very serious condition."

imageChittagong, Aug 15  — Seven workers at a ship-breaking yard have been seriously burnt at Sitakunda in Chittagong when a cylinder exploded.

The accident took place at Z N Enterprise, a ship-breaking yard, owned by one Shawkat Ali Chowdhury, in Madam Bibirhat area of Sitakunda at 11am on Sunday.

According to some estimates, at least 400 ship breakers have died over the past 20 years in Sitakunda’s yards. Thirty percent of the world’s abandoned ships are recycled in Bangladesh, and the ship-breaking industry creates tens of thousands of jobs and provides three-quarters of the country’s demand iron — but at serious environmental cost.

The Coast Guard in World War II: Convoy Duty

image Produced in 1945 for the US Coast Guard by the US Navy, these videos include footage of a submarine attack and beach landings.

Read more about service aboard the Coast Guard frigates in Vice Admiral Sargent’s excellent account of his experience as commanding officer of the USS Sandusky.

imageThe Big E – Queen Elizabeth will sail to England in less than two months

Cunard’s New Queen Elizabeth Readies to Rule the Waves

The Mail – In less than two months the new superstar of the Cunard fleet  -  the Queen Elizabeth, perhaps destined to be the most famous ship in the world  -  will slip from her dock in the Gulf of Trieste, Italy, bound for her home port of Southampton.

The ship, which will have cost £365million, is 321 yards long and divided into 16 decks. she displaces 90,400 tons and has a top speed of 23.7 knots.

She can carry 2,092 passengers in 1,046 state rooms. The most expensive  -  complete with their own butler, Jacuzzi and handmade paneling  -  will be fitted out in the 1930’s style of her namesake, the first Queen Elizabeth.


Dawn of the Ocean; A National Geographic Channel Special

Alien life forms lurk in our oceans, yet more than 95 percent of their depths remain unexplored. In this documentary, we journey toward the ocean floor, where eternal darkness prevails. Oceanographers search for creatures that thrive in extreme conditions scientists once believed too toxic to support any life. Photorealistic animation brings to life primitive creatures such as the armored Dunkleosteus, a shark-devouring beast.

Diver Shortage A Concern for Offshore Wind Industry

image 12 Aug 2010 – More than 2,200 commercial divers will be needed to help build and develop Europe’s offshore wind sector as it rapidly expands over the next six years, according to leading industry analysts.

A new report commissioned by subsea training provider The Underwater Centre at Fort William in Scotland has studied the number of divers who will be needed to meet the renewable energy targets which have been set by governments across Europe. The study, which was carried out by energy business analysts Douglas Westwood, focuses on the installation and maintenance phases of offshore wind farm development over the next six years.

DOT Selects Brownsville-Port Manatee for National Program

imageAugust 12, 2010 – The Port of Brownsville’s “short-sea” shipping route with Port Manatee, Fla., has been designated part of the America’s Marine Highway Program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Transportation aimed at transferring a portion of U.S. cargo from overcrowded highways to waterborne vessels and America’s underused waterways.

The fledgling container-on-barge shipping operation the Port of Brownsville operates with Port Manatee, Fla., was chosen by the DOT’s Maritime Administration for inclusion in the four-month-old Marine Highway program. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made the announcement Wednesday morning.

Duty Aboard the Littoral Combat Ship: ‘Grueling but Manageable’

image Since it was conceived more than a decade ago, the LCS has survived a convoluted acquisition process and now appears to be on track to join the fleet. But these challenges pale in comparison to what it will take for sailors to make the transition from 200-crew frigates to an LCS that will be run by a crew of just 40.

“People ask me, ‘Is 40 the right number?’” says Cmdr. Kris Doyle, commanding officer of the USS Freedom’s Blue Crew. The Freedom is one of two competing designs. Following its maiden deployment earlier this year to South America and the Eastern Pacific, it has been at sea now for several months testing “operational concepts” for how the vessel could be used in the future.

Firefighters Save Connecticut River Museum

imageSusan Daniels of the CT River Museum: "It was just a sick feeling in your stomach."

NECN: Essex, Conn. – A treasure on the Connecticut River almost succumbed to flames last night. But thanks to the quick and efficient work by the Essex, Connecticut volunteer firefighters, the Connecticut River Museum isn’t a total loss.

There was an ominous glow in the sky over the Connecticut River in Essex shortly after 9:00 Wednesday night.  The CT River Museum was on fire and, as these photos taken by town residents show, it was raging.  Flames shooting up 50 feet at the front of the wood building. 

Hartlepool Celebrates Tall Ship Success

The Tall Ships event in Hartlepool has been hailed a "stunning success" with the town hoping to reap the benefits for years to come.

Initial estimates suggest that 970,000 people visited the celebrations between 6 and 10 August. Most had travelled in from outside the region. Civic leaders and local businesses described the impact on the local economy as "hugely positive".

They said it also raised the town’s profile nationally and internationally. There were 57 vessels in port during the event which also featured a programme of live music, street theatre, a folk festival and firework displays.

But the Tall Ship’s festival isn’t what got the biggest headline, or the most internet hits…


Squashed hedgehog painted with double yellow lines

This squashed hedgehog should be safe from the wheels of any more cars – after having a yellow line painted over it on a kerb. The ridiculous error was made by painters who plastered Hartlepool with double yellow lines, ahead of huge numbers arriving to watch the Tall Ships races.

Mum-of-four Allison Hart, who took the snap, said: "It’s unbelievable, all they had to do is kick it to one side." Hartlepool council added: "This is an unfortunate incident, but it was the only one reported during the massive project."   (source)

Hawsepiper’s Long Hot Summer

image I look back on my first year aboard bunker barges (it’s been a year now), and I seem to remember struggling to complete jobs a lot more when I was first starting… I guess experience really does make a difference there… But the other day, that’s a different story.

We weren’t working, and I was sleeping fitfully. I had gone to bed at 0800, and it was about 1000. I woke up in a sweat. the AC was dead. We made our calls and learned that there was no way to get anyone to fix the thing until the next morning. We cursed, heavily and frequently. 96 degrees outside, and no AC and no fans to move the warming air. Plus, we’re in a steel box, with the water heater and ‘fridge pumping out more warm air. At least we didn’t have a job. We could sit on deck for the next 18 hours if we had to. A few moments later, while we were cursing and wailing, a tug bumped us…

How the Cheonan Really Sank: What Do the Koreas Do Now?

imageThe North Koreans have steadfastly denied the accusation and — thanks to support from China and Russia, both members of the U.N. Security Council — managed to successfully tamp down international outrage over the incident.

On July 9, the U.N. Security Council issued only a "presidential statement," a milquetoast declaration that condemned the attack on the Cheonan but failed to identify who the attacker might have been. Ever since, President Lee Myung Bak’s government in South Korea has vowed to release the full investigative report done by an international team (which brought in experts from the U.S., the U.K., Australia and Sweden). It is a document Seoul says will prove conclusively that, in the words of Kim Tae Hyo, Lee’s senior adviser on relations with Pyongyang, "there is no other plausible explanation" except that a North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan

India Tells Salvagers to Speed Removal of Containers Blocking Busiest Port

image India told salvagers to accelerate the removal of hundreds of containers ditched into the sea off Mumbai’s coast as the nation’s busiest cargo-box harbor remained closed for a third day.

“This work has to be speeded up,” Rakesh Srivastava, the joint secretary for ports at the Ministry of Shipping, said in an interview yesterday after a meeting to discuss recovery operations. Salvagers are retrieving four to six boxes a day of the 300 that are floating in the sea or submerged, he said.

“You cannot afford to have ports closed for a week,” R. Venkatesh, vice president of the Western India Shippers Association, which represents about 130 exporters and freight forwarders, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “The reaction should have been much speedier.”

Judgment or Experience?  Dodging the Question

imageI have been mulling over Mario Vitton’s post  at Weekly Leader – Experience Means Nothing – Judgment is Everything.

Kennebec Captain – I’ll take a stab at this. I would say that knowledge is the result of grinding experience  in the  mill of judgment. With regards to maintaining situational awareness, rather then juggle  terms  I think a more productive way to think about this is in terms mental models.

Maritime Diplomacy Necessary for Cyber image Security

In this age of digital information, shuttle diplomacy, and cyber warfare, talking about multinational maritime relationships might seem arcane. But recent events warrant a closer look into the U.S. actions in the South China Sea and Yellow Sea, because these interferences could be counterproductive to our national security, our commerce, and our information connectivity.

The U.S. Korean Sea military exercise, the State Department’s interjection of "national interest" into the South China Sea, and the undersea communications cables in these critical waters might turn these Asian seas into troubling waters.

Mumbai Ship Collision: Pilots Didn’t Follow Rulebook

imageAug 12 2010, 03:26 hrs

Indian Express News – Saturday’s collision between two ships off the Mumbai coast was caused by a clear violation of standard operating procedure prescribed for communication between ships as well as with port traffic controllers.

The Director-General of Shipping subsequently said the two ships were operating on different frequencies, Chitra on VHF 13 as it departed from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), and Khalijia on VHF 12 as it was approaching MbPT. The Vehicle Traffic Management System (VTMS), operated from a building in the MbPT area, also operates on VHF 12.

Namibia’s First Female Trawler Captain

imageSlight, pretty, sharp-eyed, and quietly firm about things – Johanna Kwedhi is Namibia’s first female trawler captain.

BBC Johanna captains the Kanus, one of the largest trawlers operating from Luderitz Harbour, an old port rebuilt for today’s fishing boats. It’s her responsibility not only to navigate a coastline infamous for shipwrecks, but to bring in a profitable catch.


New Jersey’s Tall Ship Sails from Cape May

imageUtsch’s Marina in Cape May will be the port of call for New Jersey’s tall ship, the authentically restored 1928 oyster schooner A.J. Meerwald, through Sept. 5.

The Meerwald offers unique sailing experiences for passengers of all ages. Visitors can join a pirate crew, sample some salty oysters, trawl for marine life, send the kids off for a day camp on the high seas, or take an evening cruise after a day on the beach.

The trips are organized by the Bayshore Discovery Project, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to motivate people to take care of the history, culture and environment of New Jersey’s bayshore region through education and preservation.

New Orleans Judge Picked to Handle Gulf Spill Suit

August 12, 2010 – A judicial panel has decided that the 300 plus lawsuits filed after the Deepwater Horizon blowout will be handled by a federal judge in New Orleans. The judicial panel said the federal court based in New Orleans is the best place for the litigation. Some attorneys had favored Houston or Gulfport, Miss.


New Research Delves Into Shark Smarts

Sharks are not the big, dumb, bullies of the sea that you might suspect. Over the last 20 years, research into shark behavior has gotten more sophisticated and it’s turned up some surprising findings about what’s going on in the brains of these "mindless death fish from hell".

"There’s a clear line between the higher and lower vertebrates in terms of brain-to-body weight," Gruber [Samuel Gruber from the University of Miami] explains. "Birds and mammals have a higher ratio; fish, amphibians and reptiles are lower. But sharks land above the line associated with these lower vertebrates. They’ve been independently evolving for half a billion years, and they have brains that are comparable to [those of] mammals in some ways."

imagePhoto by Kelvin Davies on Shipspotting »

NY-Bound Tanker May Have Been Diverted From Iran

NEW YORK, August 12, 2010 – A gasoline tanker, which shipping sources said was forbidden by its owner to carry gasoline from Turkey to Iran, was expected to arrive in New York on Aug. 16, according to sources and Reuters data on Thursday.

The impact of new international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear enrichment activities are seen having some impact on day-to-day business, possibly making some players more reluctant to deal with the Islamic Republic. The Lia, a 73,723 deadweight tonne tanker, was reported off the Portugal last week, according to Reuters Freight Views.

NTSB Ties Coast Guard Collisions to Cell-Phone Use

image The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said on Wednesday that two boating collisions last year involving U.S. Coast Guard vessels involved crew members who were using wireless devices while operating their boats.

Noting that a child died in one of the crashes, NTSB said its revelation is a reason that the Coast Guard and the maritime industry should create policies regarding the use of wireless devices on vessels.

NTSB said its investigation into last year’s accidents has not determined that cell-phone distractions caused the crashes. The investigation found that wireless devices were being used by crew members operating the vessels.


Ports Wary of Stunted Holiday Rush

Southern California’s twin ports enjoyed another burst of cargo traffic in July, but economists are concerned that the freight flurry won’t last as consumers take a vacation from spending and retailers trim orders to match reduced expectations.

July is usually the opening month of the busiest cargo shipping season of the year, when retailers begin to receive goods that they hope to sell during the end-of-the-year holidays. Import numbers tend to climb steadily through October, the month when cargo usually peaks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. But perhaps not this year.


The Secrets That Drowned with Kursk

Today marks 10 years since one of the most tragic catastrophes in Russia’s modern history. On August 12, nuclear submarine missile cruiser Kursk, with 118 crew members on board, perished in the Barents Sea during exercises of the Northern Fleet.

Just days after the newest submarine, with one of the best crews had sunk, multiple rumors and speculations began to appear regarding the reasons for the accident. Ten year later, the Western press, as well as the Russian, are once again addressing the loss of the nuclear ship and are once again questioning the results of the General Prosecution’s official investigation, in which no guilty party was found. And of course, the relatives of the deceased seamen could never come to terms with losing their husbands, fathers, and sons.

Shrimp Boat Captain Worn Out From Long Days Of Putting Human Face On Crisis

link to Bowsprite VENICE, LA — Fourth-generation shrimp boat captain Buford Comeaux said Wednesday that he was wiped out from a 14-hour day spent personifying the human toll of the BP oil spill in the media. "They get me out of bed at the crack of dawn, and they make me do interviews all morning," said Comeaux, 49, who acknowledged he had lost track of how many times he had uttered the phrase ‘shrimping is all I know’ since the disaster began in April.

image"Then the rest of the day they take pictures of me staring at my empty trawl, holding my wife’s hand on the living-room sofa, or gazing out at the Gulf from the deck of my boat. God, I could just collapse right here." Comeaux reportedly slept heavily for four hours before waking at sunrise so CNN could shoot some B-roll of him walking forlornly down a pier.


US Firm Awarded $110m for Salvaging Titanic Artifacts

A judge has awarded a US exhibition company $110m for salvaging artefacts from the wreck of the RMS Titanic.

imageBBC News -The US federal judge ruled that RMS Titanic Inc, which displays the artifacts in museums across the world, is entitled to their full market value. The court will decide whether to grant the company ownership of the objects or sell them and give it the proceeds.

RMS Titanic Inc, a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions Inc, has undertaken seven expeditions to the wreck site 2.5 miles (4km) below the north Atlantic, and has retrieved more than 5,500 artifacts. A US court granted the company salvage rights to the vessel in 1994 but explicitly stated it did not grant ownership of the wreck or the artifacts. The company has displayed the artifacts in museums across the world.

  • more »
  • Expedition Titanic website: neato-keen animation of Alvin exploring the hulk as it rests on the bottom, clickable bits of history and science-nerd yumminess about the latest expedition to explore the wreck site.

Beginning August 18th, RMS Titanic Inc., in partnership with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Waitt Institute, and other leading experts, will embark on what is arguably the most technologically advanced scientific expedition to Titanic ever organized.  RMS Titanic, Inc. has brought together a team of the world’s leading archaeologists, oceanographers, and scientists to execute this mission of firsts. Together, we will create the most detailed portrait of Titanic’s wreck site to date.

Vietnam’s Vinashin Sells 4 Ships Worth $110 Million

image Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Group sold four newly-built ships worth almost $110 million, as the government tries to restructure and stabilize the state-owned company that almost went bankrupt due to losses.

The shipbuilder, also known as Vinashin, is trying to complete ongoing ship-building projects, according to a statement on the government’s website Friday.

Vietnamese leaders requested the company to focus on finishing projects after orders valued at about $700 million this year faced a threat of cancellation, according to a statement on Aug. 4.’s Latest Webinar Series

Spill-o-nomics: The Economic Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill on the Workboat Industryimage

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 -1:00pm EDT / 12:00 noon CDT

In this series of 3 free webinars moderated by WorkBoat magazine editors, thought-leaders representing government and business will speak about the catastrophic disaster in the Gulf and its impact on the workboat market.

Join WorkBoat editors for a panel discussion about the economic impact on the workboat industry in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  You will learn: 

  • The impact of the spill & moratorium on offshore service vessel operators
  • Whether OSV operators are idling vessels and crews
  • The effect on contractors and whether they are moving their rigs overseas
  •  more »


YouSwear Teaches You to Swear in Any Language

Web site YouSwear teaches you to swear in over 200 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish to Firefly.

Bill Gates predicts that the best education will come from the web in five years, but YouSwear demonstrates how nearly everything worth learning is already available on the internet anyway. Click on any language in the site’s sidebar to browse through user-submitted swears (the accuracy of which is also user-vetted through familiar thumbs up/down buttons), search for a specific swear (which will get you to a page titled, for example, "How to say shit in any language"), or choose from the quick list of common curses. There’s not much more to it than that.

imagePaintings by Carrie Marrill


image11711[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 & Tumblr. (NEW!)
Submit story ideas, news links, photographs, or items of interest to her at
[email protected].  She can also out-belch any man.

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