Monday, January 16, 2017

OUT BUT NOT GONE

Well now here we are in the last couple of days of the 44th. Presidents term of Office and the end of his Administration.  One recalls his Inauguration speech full of hope about all people and races in the United States of America working together - hmm that didn't last a week before he was dividing the Nation by blaming the opposition  Party and previous Administration for the Nations ills.  So it continued whinging and whining for the next eight years with lowering standards and governmental stagnation.  The new 44th. President turned out to be quite unable to make timely decisions and develop an effective foreign policy. He continued to blame Congress and the Republican Party for being unable to get things done.  Of course it is hard to win support when you continually blame your mistakes on other people which he did.  Last week he made a farewell speech which referred to some imaginary country not the one he has attempted to administer these last eight difficult years.

This is something the incoming President and his Administration needs to get into its head also.  The President-Elect is another person who continually blames other people and insults them with childish immature comments on something called "Twitter®" which seems designed for immature thin-skinned persons to use for immature comments not  the professional communication that one expects from a President.-Elect or President. 

Various members of Congress of the Democratic Party the same Party as the departing President are also performing in front of Media cameras and making immature statements.  To any educated voter this indicates that these Members of Congress in turn are not suitable choices to represent We the People of these United States of America.

At Noon on Friday January 20, 2017 the President-Elect  becomes the 45th. President and whether one likes it or not has voted for him or not is quite immaterial.  All the egos that have been ignored, bruised, rattled, or trampled on should realize that the incoming person has the biggest most touchy ego of all - a true super-ego which will have to be dealt with regardless.

Meanwhile the former President instead of leaving Washington, D.C. as is usually done is just moving down the road from the White House, in the Clintons neighborhood, pathetically clinging to a position from where he no doubt will cause as much trouble as he can for the new Administration.

So the World watches and wonders just what path America is taking.

Good Watch.

Friday, January 13, 2017

FINALLY - ACT 3

Yesterday came the rather surprising news that President Obama, who leaves office next week, had cancelled the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that applied only to Cubans trying to get into the United States of America.

What on earth was this "wet foot, dry foot"?  First some background to understand this discriminatory policy.  Back in 1966 under a very different World political atmosphere the United States decided to create and pass into Federal Law the Cuban Adjustment Act which included the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program  it was signed into Federal Law by President Johnson that ultimate politician.  Act 1 was thus on stage.

This policy being unique to Cubans led to the influx of Cubans into Dade County Florida and in a very short time they had taken over the County in business, politics and language which led to the present state where 65% of the Miami-Dade County population now are Spanish speaking and indeed in business one is expected to speak Spanish and English (hopefully - English is not required in many area retail stores and businesses).  You may have noticed that the County name was changed from the historical Dade to Miami-Dade this was by a Cuban immigrant who was elected Mayor.  One could bet that very few of todays population of the now Miami-Dade County know how or why the County got its original and indeed proper name.

So it went on until in the age of bumper stickers one appeared saying "WILL THE LAST AMERICAN LEAVING DADE PLEASE TAKE THE FLAG" - pretty pathetic and sad.  Then we had the Mariel Boat Lift when thousands of Cubans arrived having not been stopped leaving Cuba by the Castro regime and ended up sleeping in the streets of Miami under highways and byways.  Eventually this led to a stadium being opened to them that turned it into something akin to the slums of Calcutta, India. This led to Act 2 coming on stage with President Clinton, another keen political animal, signing the "wet foot, dry foot" adjustment to the Cuban Adjustment Act.  So from then on if Cubans landed on the beach they could stay if they were picked up at sea they got sent back.  We know of course exactly how many dry foot persons there are but  an unknown number lost their lives as wet footers.  It was an unwise and foolish policy from Act 1 through Act 2 and led to discrimination to all other immigrants, those in the Caribbean Basin and particularly Haiti which suffered even more than Cuba leading to resentment against the Cubans.  It also led to a human smuggling business of huge proportions.

Now finally President Obama in his last few days in office wrote Act 3 rescinding both the CAA and CMPP Acts.  From yesterday all Cubans without a visa from the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba will be refused entry to the United States of America and those landing on the beach will be returned to Cuba.

All very interesting but what has this to do with we seafarers.  Well at sea there is the long tradition of stopping to help and rescue those in trouble on the water.  However thanks to this very ill advised Act the ships were caught between "a rock and a hard place".  In rescuing these Cubans from various types of floating contraptions we are then placed in the position of applying U.S. Federal Law without even in most cases being U.S. Citizens.  For the cruise ships outward bound from Florida Ports this means keeping the "rafters" as they are known on board for an entire cruise.  Then on the homeward passage handing them over to the USCG for return to Cuba.  In some cases this was actually done by some cruise ship masters but in most cases their position was just reported to the USCG and left to the U.S. Authorities to take action. 

NAUTICAL LOG experienced this several times over the years including being in a chartered vessel returning Haitians to their island one of the most heartbreaking experiences of 50 years as a professional seafarer.

So now it is over both the President and the Play leave the stage and everybody goes home.

Good Watch.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PROFITING ON TRAGEDY

It must be a slow time for writers.  Once again the tragedy of the R.M.S. TITANIC has been dragged up for profit.  The National Geographic Society has apparently made a "documentary" based on writings by an Irish author with supposedly "new evidence" pertaining to the loss of this Trans-Atlantic liner over 100 years ago.

It is not new evidence at all merely a repeat about the bunker coal fire in the forward starboard portion of the lowest decks where the coal trimmers work.  These bunker fires were all too common in steam powered ships using coal and caused by spontaneous combustion.  It was one of the jobs of the trimmers to keep these from spreading. Then in turn feed the burning coal down the coal shoots to the firemen below who in turn fed it into the boiler fires - nice job - in absolutely appalling conditions.

There were no doubt several parameters which caused the loss of this passenger ship these include a poor lookout being kept, placing the ship on a course through an area known for drifting ice instead of steering further south, the type of steel used in shipbuilding at that time which apparently became more brittle in extreme cold and possible damage to the plating due to the coal bunker fire.  However the sinking was not caused by the fire alone as some reports state, that is rubbish.  The miss-reporting is even more absurd here in the United States with the Media this morning stating that the ship was launched with the coal bunker already on fire.  Clearly neither the editors or writers have any idea about the subject they are writing about.

The fire is reported having started soon after the ship was coaled in Belfast, NI/UK for her passage to Southampton, UK to board her passengers for her maiden voyage to New York, NY via Queenstown, Ireland/UK, now known as Cobh, Ireland.  Sadly after departing from Queenstown/Cobh she never arrived in New York. 

After all this time to drag up this terrible event to make profit is callous and NAUTICAL LOG considers the project despicable and shoddy in the extreme.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A PATTERN CONTINUES

Here we are in a New Year 2017 and once again a pattern continues - that of Asian ferries catching fire, burning to the waterline with terrific loss of life.  Sadly this is a pattern which continues unabated in spite of lots of talk about inspections and safety from principally these same countries Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The latest is one of the interisland ferries in Indonesia when a ferry caught fire it appears in the engine-room and spread rapidly.  Its manifest listed 100 passengers but in fact there were at least 250 persons on board.  Belatedly the "captain" was arrested and we are told faces 10 years imprisonment.

When one reads the reports from both Media and occasionally the relative Government the sequence of events is repeated time and time again.  During the many years NAUTICAL LOG spent in cruise ships we had both Indonesian and Philippine crewmembers.  Later some Junior Officers from these countries were employed, all had to be carefully monitored when standing Watch most particularly Bridge Watch.  One might say that they had minimum training and many times false or improper documents pertaining to that training.  This has been noted by the Safety Agency of the European Union and facilities in the country of origin inspected and assessed by the EU as to quality which varies greatly from school to school.

It greatly concerns NAUTICAL LOG that their employment continues in United States based cruise ships for many cruise lines.  This in spite of the strict, supposedly, standards of the United States Coast Guard which has the responsibility for Inspections and enforcement at U.S. Ports of U.S. and IMO Rules and Regulations.  Sadly in fact as we have seen with the loss of the SS El Faro this standard is not always strictly enforced even in U.S. Registered vessels.  One could perhaps therefore wonder about vessels not Registered in the U.S. however they are inspected to nearly the point of harassment by USCG MSO.

As it is unlikely that these Asian countries will do very much to change an ingrained culture of being extremely casual about safety to the point of it being nonexistent passengers planning cruises should familiarize themselves about the type and quality of the crews now manning these cruise vessels in 2017.

Good Watch.

Friday, December 23, 2016

FINALLY FOUND

So as we thought here at NAUTICAL LOG the SSS OCEAN WARRIOR has started off Operation Nemesis in true Sea Shepherd style by violating Maritime Laws.  In this case she has been sailing in the Southern Ocean not transmitting on her AIS.   As a result claims to have found a vessel of the Japanese Whaling Fleet amongst the icebergs and ice floes of that area.

There are various Media reports of varying quality that reported this event and about half-a-dozen landed on the NAUTICAL LOG desk.  It seems that the Sea Shepherd vessels have been sailing "blacked out" as regards AIS and in ice and fog found one of the Japanese catcher ships.  With the speed of their new vessel they should be able to keep pace with her and no doubt find the rest of the fleet. 

Sea Shepherd reported that the catcher was hunting minke whales so this in turn could led the two SSS vessels to the factory ship.  In past years this has been the NISSHIN MARU  it is aboard this vessel that the whales are killed and processed - not a pretty picture - so the protest action is no doubt planned for when they find the factory ship.

Why the Australian Government does not send its vessels to prevent the Japanese whaling in the first place is clearly political.  The Australian Federal Court Ruled against the Japanese and declared a fine which has never been paid.  All calls to Australia to send an enforcement vessel of their own Rulings have been resisted so there is considerable sympathy for protest action taken by the Sea Shepherd's which in fact NAUTICAL LOG has a great deal of agreement with.  It is however the nature of these actions always violent under Paul Watson that NAUTICAL LOG strongly objected too. 

Now this new vessel Ocean Warrior has two powerful water cannon which have the capacity and ability too kill or seriously injure persons.  Should these be used and a Japanese whaler be killed or injured would be an extremely serious situation.  One can only hope that this "Captain" Adam Meyerson has the sense not to use them at all, unfortunately all these so called captains are followers of Watson so one has little confidence in them to act wisely.

Good Watch


Note to Adam Meyerson:

Mr. Meyerson in our research of your qualifications we learned that you are a U.S. Citizen.  In one of your photographs you are wearing the sleeve insignia of a Master Mariner of the British and Commonwealth Merchant Navy.  You are NOT entitled to wear this insignia which is for British and Commonwealth Officers in Command holding a Certificate of Competency as Master which you do not hold. 

NAUTICAL LOG would therefore request that as a courtesy to Masters of  the British and Commonwealth Merchant Navy you discontinue wearing their Merchant Navy insignia. 

Thank you.

Friday, December 16, 2016

SSS OCEAN WARRIOR MISSING ?

UPDATE December 22, 2016: 
According to MARINE TRAFFIC AIS the SSS OCEAN WARRIOR is in the same position, showing the same course and speed as she did on December 12, 2016.  According to the art of marine navigation this is clearly impossible on December 22, 2016.  So one has to believe that, in violation of Maritime Law, she is not transmitting her AIS.  Not that violating the Law is anything new for the Sea Shepherd Society. 

How proud Australians must be of having these vessels based in Australian Ports and in addition not having the RAN or Customs patrolling the Southern Ocean for pirate Japanese whalers under the guise of RESEARCH slaughtering yet more minke whales.  This in spite of Rulings by the Australian Court System regarding both the Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd Society whose Operation Nemesis is run by SSS Australia.


ORIGINAL POST December 16, 2016:
The last posted position of the Sea Shepherd's new vessel Ocean Warrior is at approximately 44° S. 147° E. that was on December 12, 2016 so it appears she has not been recorded for 4 days.  Under International Maritime Law she is required to transmit her position continuously when at sea usually electronically.  The above position is south of Tasmania, Australia an area of some but not particularly heavy marine traffic.

Possibly the vessel is trying to remain "hidden" while waiting for the Japanese Whaling Fleet to arrive in the Southern Ocean.  Possibly being a new vessel she is having teething problems and Sea Shepherd Australia who control Operation Nemesis is attempting to keep things quiet.

One wonders !!

Good Watch

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

SS EL FARO VDR TRANSCRIPT

NAUTICAL LOG has published Posts about this tragic ship sinking since the very first report of her loss.  Today the NTSB has released her VDR data in particular the Navigation Bridge voice recorder - it is not good.  This Post is compiled from multiple Media sources.

On October 01, 2015 the SS El Faro a freighter sank with all hands, 33 crewmembers lost their lives and no bodies were ever recovered though one was sighted by the USCG in a survival suit but not picked-up.  By an extraordinary search, resumed at the insistence of a U.S. Senator from the State of Florida, the VDR was found  and now after months of investigation some results have been released. 

The ship left Jacksonville, Fl. bound for San Juan, PR and sailed directly into the eye of a Category 4 hurricane named Joaquin.  Why the ship was where it was in the first place is a question yet to be fully answered but it seems that the Master was more focused on fuel consumption than plotting the path of the hurricane Joaquin and changing course to avoid the worst affect.  This in spite of the Officers pointing out that the ship had closed to just 22 nautical miles from the hurricane's centre.  Then at 0615 the vessel lost power, listed severely and at around 0730 sank with the loss of all hands.  It seems extraordinary that apparently twice before her sinking while he still had power to do so the Master had declined to alter course based it appears on his consideration of an extra 160 nautical miles the additional fuel it would consume and getting permission from the Company to alter course.  This is not good vessel management it is not even good sense.  Since the transcript is 510 pages long one would have to read it in its entirety to learn all that happened however several points have been extracted by the Media.  From these it is evident that navigation was done with an over-dependency on electronics using a system called BVS, which NAUTICAL LOG is not familiar with, and that this system seemed to fail or be inaccurate as were the reports from the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fl.  All one can say as to that latter statement is that having lived in South Florida for 40 years one has considerable faith in the NHC professional work.  From their own recorded words in the transcript the Master and Officers did not appear to have the professional knowledge to make their own assessment of the situation as a whole or if they did have it the ability to apply that professional knowledge.  By and large reading the transcript extracts quoting the Navigation Bridge staff conversations gives an impression of persons who have no experience of being in Command or standing Watch in a ship whatsoever.

The U.S. Merchant Marine is completely bound by Unions, the Officers have one and the Seamen a separate one.  This seems to restrict the actions the Master and Officers can or are willing to take and adding this to a Company's policies removes the actual decision-making from the Master limiting the range and ability to make decisions.  Reading the transcript is a very sobering affair considering the actual results of this Master's actions or lack thereof and the somewhat flippant remarks made by him in the hearing of the Officers and crew on the Bridge.   This is never a good or wise thing to do in front of one's crew and clearly, again from the conversations recorded, caused considerable distress to several of those crewmembers.

Good Watch.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

QUO VADIS SSS OCEAN WARRIOR ?

NAUTICAL LOG understood that the Sea Shepherd vessel Ocean Warrior had sailed for the Southern Ocean however we have seen no news of her passage southwards.  Since she is a new vessel and in waters which are renowned for storms building up quite rapidly we wonder if all is well.  One suspects that is not due to the rampant publication of events by the SSS people on every occasion that they accomplish even the slightest act which they consider positive to their aims.

Marine Traffic status:  43° 37'45 S.  147° 25' E.  course 257° @ 11 knots.  This position is south of Tasmania, Australia.

So it would be nice to know if Operation Nemesis is underway or has already become an SSS nemesis.  Continued safe passage and

Good Watch.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

NOTES ON COMMENTING

After a very polarizing General Election to choose a new President and others throughout the United States of America it seems commenting has reached the depths of rudeness.  Many commenters in their rush to publish do not read and understand the post then think about the wording of their comment.  It is clear that many deliberately ignore the post and the previous comments content to spout forth their own political opinion.  They do not seem to realize that by doing so makes their comment largely valueless and portrays them as uneducated persons worth little or no attention.  This of course is the common trend of most if not all of the so called "liberal" population which by their continued display of ignorance of the subject matter become more and more ignored and indeed laughed at.  The current Green Party U.S. candidate is a typical example making a fuss after obtaining barely 1% of the vote.  Asking for recount nay rather demanding recounts is not just pointless but an unjustified expense and waste of public servants time adding to the burden on the Governments of various States and Counties.

This attitude has now seeped into the maritime blogs with a very popular maritime blog continually getting rude replies and putdowns to comments on its posts.  Since all are published without clarification it would seem that the blog itself approves of this type of comments but more likely is considerate of "free speech" rights.  This is a pity because once the New Administration is in place from January 2017 changes will take place and there will be a change of perspective by the Citizenship of our Nation.  A study of the changes now slowly taking place in the European Union may show you what can happen.  That change will in turn create a different viewpoint and various blogs will become less followed which in the case of some maritime blogs would be a loss of good posts but rude comments.

Good Watch.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

WELL HERE WE GO AGAIN

It has been quite some time since NAUTICAL LOG addressed the activities of the Sea Shepherd Society.  One does not hear much about or from CAPT. Paul Watson one of its founders and the "attack master" of the Japanese Whaling Fleet in the Southern Ocean with several vessels in various conditions, usually not very good, manned by crews of little or no experience.

Largely by guess and by god and with overworked guardian angels they pretty much survived, learnt and those that stayed with it became competent seamen.  One must really respect them for that and some were then appointed by and within the Sea Shepherd Society as "Captains".  * The title is in quotes because it is given as a courtesy to Masters of civilian vessels that hold Masters papers from a recognized maritime Nation.  The Sea Shepherd Society has never to our knowledge published the Masters Certificates or Licences of its appointed "Captains" *.  Well never mind so far they have brought home - with one dramatic exception - their vessels and crews.

Now they are off again. The news came out of "Downunder"  namely the Australian ports of Melbourne and Hobart that two SSS vessels had sailed this past week.  One is the Steve Irwin an old British Government ship already in service and a bright new Damen built patrol vessel named Ocean Warrior.  The money for this expensive vessel built by one of the best European Union shipbuilders was raised from three published sources,  Dutch Postcode Lottery, the British People's Postcode Lottery, and Svenska Postkod Lotteriet.  Of course with the planned departure of the British from the European Union we do not know how they feel about their money being spent in this fashion but it is too late now!!

The International Court of Justice in The Hague declared the Japanese whaling programme in Antarctica not scientific.  The Japanese were also found in contempt of an Australian Federal Court Ruling.  They took time off from whaling to assess these Court Rulings but have now decided to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean in 2016/2017.   As a result the attack vessels from Sea Shepherd are foaming at the mouth ready for action.  NAUTICAL LOG used foaming because they have fitted water cannon on deck to do just that. What happens if SSS injure or kill Japanese crewmembers is anyone's guess but it would not be good.

"Sea Shepherd's 11th. Southern Ocean Whale Defense Campaign is named Operation Nemesis after the Greek goddess of inescapable justice"  so stated "Captain" Peter Hammarstedt, Chairman of Sea Shepherd Australia which now runs the Society's affairs.

Perhaps he has not read history but the same name Operation Nemesis was used by the Armenians in the 1920's for a programme of assassination, revolt and revenge for the Armenian Massacre by the Ottoman Empire during the First World War of 1914 - 1918.  Interestingly the Ocean Warrior was built at the Damen Yard in Turkey and yes sailors are quite superstitious.  

Hmmm - we shall have to wait and see whose nemesis this operation becomes.

As news trickles on to our desk we shall assess it and no doubt write a post or two.  In the meantime safe sailing in a dangerous Ocean to the SSS ships and we shall be watching with interest how Ocean Warrior holds up.

* With reference to the point about "Captains" NAUTICAL LOG received information this evening that "Captain" Paul Watson is not and never has been in fact a Certificated or Licensed Master.  His appointment as a "Captain" came from himself.  He is apparently not currently in favour with the Sea Shepherd Society and hence no doubt the note NAUTICAL LOG received.  Well after all this time it is not really that important.  Sadly his poor or bad influence on all these young crew persons lives is important and one hopes their is someone around who can guide them better into the future.

Good Watch.