Friday, December 31, 2010

PASSENGER SHIP SAFETY, ALERT (b) -10

Continuing our series with Alert 10(b) -10 Simple failures render CO2 system inoperative. However before doing so we should like to draw your attention to the Supplement Note from TSB Canada in the previous post of this series. It refers to another incident all too similar to the incident we are covering here.

On further investigation of the MS Carnival Splendor CO2 system the following points saw the light of day. Clearly for the first time by either the ships Safety Officers or the USCG Marine Safety Officers. We quote from Alert 10(b)-10:

"Numerous piping and hose connections leaked extensively. When the system was activated, on scene video taken by the firefighters showed numerous leakages into the CO2 room. Post casualty while the pressure was still on the system, some of the leaks continued even after the connections were tightened."

"The zone valve for the aft machinery space which admits CO2 from the bottle bank manifold to the space failed. Specifically the ball valve's opening actuating arm fell off the valve when the gas powered piston actuator attempted to move it. The ball valve actuating arm was held in place by a very small machine screw and washer. When firefighters attempted to open the valve manually using the provided hardware it could not be moved. the valve was only able to be moved after the gas pressure was relieved from the inlet side of the valve."

"Actuating arms to five of the six other zones valves were found loose. They were also attached by small machine screws."

"Hemp type pipe sealant was used extensively on pipe threads throughout the system and in some instances seems to have entered the system."

"Certain elements of the distribution manifold contained low points which allowed the accumulation of water within the piping that could not be drained. Such a circumstance could cause corrosion that could possibly negatively effect operation of other components."

"The CO2 system's pilot and co-pilot bottles did not appear to operate correctly according to the firefighters involved and thus had to be manually activated using valve handles located on top of the cylinders. Additionally, during the event, the bank bottles were similarly activated due to the uncertainty of their release. At least one pilot bottle activation hose was reported to have leaked."

"The system had been recently serviced and inspected by an authorized service provider."

Well now where does one begin. All the above should never have happened of course but it did. This would seem to NAUTICAL LOG to be the classic case of leaving things to other people, improper supervision of the work being done and/or inspecting the system prior to signing off on servicing. This is the clear duty of the ships Safety Officer - no excuses. The company has a serious problem which it must solve immediately or should have its US Passenger Certificate withdrawn as they could have lost 4000 lives.

The system had serious design flaws, the shipboard maintenance was slack and that 'service provider' one hopes has been fired. Clearly the service was not done at all or so carelessly done as to be useless - the result of this was a CO2 system that suffered catastrophic failure when needed. Repairs cannot usually be effected when a system is active under high pressure, one of the firefighters could very easily have been injured. NAUTICAL LOG was taught to line a system up first, check connections, then active it, so maybe manual activation is desirable. Reduce our increasing dependence on automation and increase our knowledge of how a system works.

The Investigation continues NAUTICAL LOG and indeed many others in the maritime industry, hopes the Carnival Group will have the courage to 'come clean' and reveal just what happened. In the meantime one would suggest the USCG proscribe all the Carnival vessels and initiate monthly inspections of all vessels. By going through the ships section by section and if things are not 'up-to-scratch' withdrawing the vessels US Passenger Ship Certificate until such time as they are corrected. Money talks and staying in port with the loss of a cruise has a marked effect on all concerned.

As to the USCG Marine Safety Officers involved over the two years of Quarterly Inspections all should receive a 'Letter of Reprimand'. They should further be detached for a full retraining course in Marine Inspection with particular emphasises on Passenger Carrying Vessels, at USCG HQ. They should then return to Marine Safety Offices as they will be the best Safety Inspectors one could find.

Good Watch.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

PASSENGER SHIP SAFETY, ALERT 10(a) -10

NZ ferry Superflyte - see Supplement Note below.


Continuing our Postings on passenger ship safety NAUTICAL LOG will address the two Marine Safety Alerts from USCG. We shall quote sections of them and then comment from our perspective as a former cruise line Safety Officer.

Alert 10(a) - 10 "Wrong directions: A recipe for failure" states that it is based on concerns uncovered during an abroad investigation in a passenger vessel after a machinery space fire. It is clear that the vessel involved is the MS Carnival Splendor though that vessel is never named in the Report. Frankly we are not sure why because there are considerable conversations and writings about that major event in the maritime industry. Perhaps the reason is that the Investigation is ongoing and the USCG has Port State control rather than Flag State control which is the responsibility of the Republic of Panama.

The first responders to the engineroom fire alarm were the vessels quick response team which fought the fire using portable equipment. The Master then decided to release the CO2 from the vessels fixed firefighting system. It failed!!

The USCG investigation which is ongoing found the following issues that may have contributed to the CO2 system failure. Here NAUTICAL LOG quotes from Alert 10(a) - 10:

Shipyard commissioning test procedures appear to differ from procedures documented in the vessel's Firefighting Instruction Manual (FIM). Commissioning procedures indicate that the discharge line selection to a specific protected zone should be made prior to releasing the gas contrary to the directions in the FIM.

The FIM refers extensively to a Control Panel that differs vastly from the one onboard the vessel.

The FIM states that the CO2 Release station is on the Starboard side of the vessel when in fact it is located on the Port side.

The FIM incorrectly uses the word "PULL" when it should read "TURN" in reference to the operation of the valves.

The FIM contains the following confusing language "Once the fire has been extinguished make sure the temperature has decreased before investigate the area same time is needed to wait hours".

The FIM references elements of an Emergency Shut Down (E.S.D) graphic on numerous occasions. However the graphic display was not found on the vessel.

The FIM contains photographs of the internals of the CO2 release stations that appear to differ from the actual CO2 release stations onboard the vessel.

The CO2 release stations installed on the vessel have instructional placards that refer to elements of a completely different control panel then the one used onboard the vessel.

Shipyard piping schematics and drawings do not appear to match the actual installation. The schematic shows the "A" valve for Aft Machinery Space in the centre position vice the bottom position as it is installed on the vessel.

Now it is excellent and highly necessary that USCG published these Marine Safety Alerts promptly. HOWEVER this is a 'butt covering' publication by USCG.

The MS Carnival Splendor was built at Fincantieri, Genoa, Italy, Yard # 6135, IMO # 9333163. She came into service July 02, 2008 so in the two years of operation she was inspected by the USCG Marine Safety Office every three months (quarterly inspections) for Port State Control and her US Passenger Safety Certificate. Also during those two years there was a designated Safety Officer whose duty it was to study, become completely familiar with ALL safety equipment installed, it's Operating Manuals and train the crew. It is absolutely incomprehensible to NAUTICAL LOG as a former Safety Officer how any and all of this was unknown to both the Cruise Line and USCG for the last two years.

The basic question for the serving Safety Officers during all that time is "How did you train your fire fighting teams to operate the CO2 system if the FIM and local instructions were clearly completely wrong?" To those of you concerned, both USCG and the Cruise Line personnel, you have been careless in the execution of your designated duties to the point of criminal neglect. NAUTICAL LOG is horrified with your behaviour as professional officers serving in a passenger carrying vessel and with the Marine Safety Officers who carried out those "quarterly inspections".

It is fortunate that there was not serious loss of life in which case you all would have been responsible for those deaths. All of you involved have some very serious thinking to do about your professional life as seafarers. It is not about just advancing your rank and career it is about executing your duties to the highest standard you can set for yourselves and then carrying it out every single day.

This series will continue with Marine Safety Alert 10(b) -10 "Simple failures render CO2 system inoperative".

Good Watch.

Supplement Note: This morning December 31, 2010 we received some data in an e-mail from Canada regarding Fire Smothering System failure. We quote:

" The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is aware of at least one other incident involving the in-service failure of a fixed smothering system on a passenger vessel. On August 22, 2004 the passenger ferry Superflyte was proceeding from Matiatia, Waiheke Island to Auckland, NZ with 6 crew and 311 passengers on board when a fire was discovered in the port engineroom. CO2 flooding was used in an attempt to extinguish the fire but this was unsuccessful due to an undetected fault in the distribution system. Canadian and International Regulations do not address requirements for ensuring the continuing structural integrity of the CO2 system, nor do Canadian regulations require safeguards to prevent inadvertent leakage or discharge. Even though the system is subjected to high pressure when it is discharging, there are no requirements for it to be subjected to pressure testing on a routine basis. Unlike the rigorous pressure testing applied to other single-use lifesaving appliances (liferafts, evacuation chutes, fire extinguishers), the accepted test procedures for fixed smothering systems involve merely 'blowing through' the pipework with compressed air to ensure that they are clear. Such testing does not ensure the structural adequacy of the system, which may have latent defects not readily detectable by visual inspection".

NAUTICAL LOG sincerely thanks the senders of this information and hopes it will be helpful to serving Safety Officers in the Maritime Industry.

Good Watch.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NOT TOO LONG

Looking through the various maritime blogs yesterday NAUTICAL LOG found in our favorite blog - other than our own!! - OLD SALT BLOG an article about the tragic 1963 Christmas fire in TSS Lakonia. As it happened that year we had a rare Christmas at home prior to going off on a two year voyage. In a comment made to the post NAUTICAL LOG stated that we would be addressing the safety issues in cruise ships in 2011. From contacts with serving Officers it appears there are serious issues to be addressed and judging from the perspective of a former cruise ship Safety Officer little reason for many of them. A major event usually results from a series of small incidents all leading up to the major event. One is reminded of the MS Carnival Splendor event this year which was supposed by Company spin to be all sorted out in a few days and now of course will take many months, a serious drydock, vast expense to repair or replace most of the engineroom concerned and the peripheral damages.

The Propaganda Department also known as Marketing in Cruise Lines is famous for grandiose statements called 'spin' these days. Many if not most do nothing for the Safety Officer's ulcer, they show little understanding of shipboard life or how passengers, who are referred to as 'Guests', live aboard during a cruise. It should be absolutely compulsory for everyone in Marketing to spent one month on board prior to writing an advertising blurb. Thereafter they should be required to take a cruise every three months to see things resulting from their advertising jargon at first hand. Please do not tell me 'oh this is already done' because many still refer to 'the front of and the back of the ship'. Numerous times NAUTICAL LOG is asked during consulting sessions 'what does that mean or why do they use that word instead of English? Which of course is reasonable enough before writing the advertising jargon but after it makes no real sense.

And so it is on picking up our morning paper this morning, the "Miami Herald" we see classic 'spin' from NCL. There in centre front page is "Showtime for big ships" and an article all about getting brand recognition from Today Show to Oprah and beyond to the phony world of "Real TV". The new, just two years in the cruise industry, CEO of NCL Kevin Sheehan goes 'undercover' doing various jobs with crew members. We are supposed to believe that this guy, being followed around by a camera team, is unknown to the ships crewmembers. Come on just because we are seafarers does not mean we are stupid!!

Passenger vessel companies used to be run by experienced shipowners with support staff ashore of equally experienced company Masters, Chief Engineers and Chief Pursers as Superintendents. Now it seems cruise lines recruit from the hotel industry which explains no doubt why passengers, a maritime legal term by the by, are referred to as guests, a term with no maritime legal status. Hmm now there's food of thought for the Cruise Line Legal Department - ah! but you see your cruise ticket says and defines one as a "passenger". Like we said seafarers are not stupid!!

There are concerns about the standard of crewmembers including Officers, the work being done or more to the point not being done on board in regard to repairs, maintenance and safety issues. Recently the United States Coast Guard (USCG) issued two Marine Safety Alert notices both clearly as a result of the major fire on board MS Carnival Splendor, these are "Wrong directions: a recipe for failure" and "Simple failures render CO2 system inoperative". In these MSA's the vessel is not actually named but the photos illustrating the MSA show the vessels Fire Suppression System Control Panel.


There is also an interesting post in "Cruise Law News", there is a link in our Link List. We would suggest to our readers they read that post in conjunction with our series.

NAUTICAL LOG will be addressing these MSA's in a second post continuing our coverage of this extremely important issue of "Passenger Ship Safety".

Good Watch.
.

Monday, December 27, 2010

DO YOU HEAR THERE!

SS Irish Elm 1953


Well here we are approaching the end of the year and the end of the Year of the Seafarer. Many times when looking at the NAUTICAL LOG list of visitors on SITEMETER we see maritime inquires. Please feel free to e-mail boucp@hotmail.com if you have questions pertaining to maritime affairs or think that NAUTICAL LOG may have the answer to your general questions.

December 29, 2010 will be the 57th. Anniversary of joining our first ship SS Irish Elm as a Deck Apprentice. We sailed until 2003 some 50 years later during that time having visted many countries, ports and places perhaps learning a few things along those courses steered. As in those past times we enjoy meeting new persons, exchanging viewpoints and look forward to hearing from y'all.

Good Watch.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

GOOD THINGS




When the Press Release folder brings in some good things about difficult people NAUTICAL LOG feels they should be posted as well as the non-good things - fair and balanced opinions. So it was that over the Christmas Holiday when SSCS reported that their ship MS Bob Barker while cruising in the Southern Ocean had come across fishing gear consisting of longlines supported by buoys. On examining them they found no markings or identification numbers on the buoys as required by international maritime laws. It is illegal to set buoys, lines or nets without being tagged with identification numbers or the vessels name. Nearby was a 70 metre fishing vessel which left the area as soon as she was called, some four times, on the VHF. Clearly this was a poacher targeting Patagonian toothfish sold as Chilean sea bass in your local supermarkets seafood section.

All told the MS Bob Barker recovered 12 orange buoys and several kilometers of relatively new line plus the entire net. Now this is something really worth while and it was done without conflict with the poaching vessel which remains unidentified at present.

The second piece of news was much more complicated as it turned out to involve diplomats. In the Galapagos Islands the Ecuadorian Environmental Police K-9 Unit while conducting a routine check of airport luggage had a reaction. The dogs alerted to a black bag which was found to contain 20 dead seahorses and 37 pieces of shark fins. The owner of the black bag held both a Republic of Hong Kong passport and a diplomatic visa. As a result the black bags contents were confiscated and the HK passport holder released. According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 diplomats have judicial immunity with certain exemptions. Ecuador is new to environmental enforcement and handled this incident quite well in a difficult situation. The next step is to find out who supplied this items to the HK passport holder in the first place.

Now NAUTICAL LOG being disgusted at this outrageous abuse of diplomatic status we believe the name of the HK passport holder should be published and the diplomatic visa cancelled. This so called diplomat should be PNG'd (Persona Non Grata) by which ever country he/she is assigned to and be listed at the United Nations as someone not deserving of further diplomatic status.

Good Watch.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

TO ALL HANDS

"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Francois Boucher 1703-1770
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011
BEANNACHTAI NA NOLLAG AGUS NA hATHHLIANA 2011
'N ARAB NADOLIG A'N DDEDWYDD 'N GRAI BLWYDDYN 2011
NADELIK LOWEN HA BLYDHEN NOWYDH DA 2011
JOYEAUX NOEL ET BONNE ANNEE 2011
NEDELEG LAOUEN HA BLOAVEZH MAT 2011
FELIZ NAVIDAD Y UN PROSPERO ANO NUEVO 2011
FELIZ NATAL E BOM ANO NOVO 2011
ZORIONAK ETA URTE BERRI ON 2011
BON NATAL I FELIC ANY NOV 2011
BUON NATALE E BUON ANNO NUEVO 2011
SRETAN BOZIC, SRETNA NOVA GODINA 2011
FROLICHES WEINACHTEN UND GUTES NEUES JAHR 2011
GOD JUL OCH GOTT NYTT AR 2011
MELE KALIKIMAKA HAU'OLI MAKAHIKI HOU 2011
MALIGAYANG PASKO, MANIGONG BAGONG TAON 2011
GESEENDE KERSFEES EN'N VOORSPOEDIGE NUWE JAAR 2011
SINIGWENELELA IKRISIMESI EMNANDI NONYAKA OMTSHA OZELE 2011
HAG MOLAD SAMEACH V' SHANAH TOVA 2011
NAYE SAL KI HARDIK SUBHKAMNAYEN 2011
SELAMAT HARI NATAL DAN TAHUN BARU 2011
Good Watch.
Greetings in English, Irish, Welsh, Cornish, French, Breton, Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Catalan, Italian, Croatian, German, Swedish, Hawaiian, Tagalog, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

IN HARM'S WAY


JCC Survey Ship HL 01 Shoyo



PL 62 Hakata (armed vessel)


PL 51 Hida (armed vessel)






Once again the Whale Wars violence has been declared this time it appears by both the Japanese Whaling Fleet and the Sea Shepherds. In an editorial on Tuesday December 14, 2010 there is a report that a journalist in Japan reported the Whaling Fleet fully intends to kill whales if necessary in front of the Sea Shepherds rather than follow the tactics of previous seasons. Instead of running from the Sea Shepherd vessels to kill whales away from them they will carry on whaling regardless of the presence of Sea Shepherd vessels. Fearless leader 'Wats-his-name' has stated in response:

"I would strongly advise the Japanese crewmembers to be very careful in implementing such a strategy-----I will not abide by a whale being killed in our presence------I would without hesitation place my ship in harm's way to save the life of a whale."

This is of course a clear and direct threat to the Japanese and is why the Japan Coast Guard personnel are on board their vessels to resist - which they will do. The editorial goes on to say that Sea Shepherd fully expects the Japanese whalers to be more hostile, aggressive and angry. They also feel the Japanese have been told they are cleared to act more violently as a result of the successful action against the Ady Gil and the New Zealander Bethune.

In spite of that diplomatic statement by the Foreign Minister of New Zealand it seems neither side is prepared to follow the Law of the Sea, armed Japan Coast Guard personnel are on board the whaling fleet vessels and most certainly they are not there to take those "research" photographs mentioned under the JARPA and JARPA II whale surveys in AREAS V and VI. Though it is a possibilty that Japan Coast Guard vessels could conduct this planned whale survey and then also be available to the Japanese Whaling Fleet if needed.

Both Australia and New Zealand have now stated that they will not be sending their Navy ships to patrol in the Southern Ocean. If there is a conflict and personnel need rescuing or assistance however New Zealand is the country responsible to assist as they mann the Rescue Coordination Center under RCCNZ. Also it is very possible that Japan's Navy would respond if Japanese citizens are in need of assistance. Previously NAUTICAL LOG has shown all this and the vessels available in Posts because we were quite expecting this situation to develop as it has.

While 'Wats-his-name' seems to think that his crews will follow any instructions given them to proceed "In Harm's Way" this may not be the case. It is reported that after last season there were intense discussions about many aspects of his tactics. Particularly disturbing to those on board and indeed at least some of the officers, was leaving the small fast boats (RHIB's) behind to fend for themselves. It must be remembered that a Masters first duty is to the safety of his ship and her crew, it would seem there is quite an awareness of this duty after the behaviour of Bethune in the Ady Gil. In spite of the comments of 'Wats-his-name' about Bethune's cowboy tactics his actions were fully approved by 'Wats-his-name' as the person in overall command of the Sea Shepherd Fleet. and this is clearly stated in Maritime Law and Common Law precedent.

The Sea Shepherd Masters and Officers are all fully aware of the lack of honesty shall we say and the remarks made by 'Wats-his-name' after that event - there but for the grace of Neptune go I - is the thinking now.

Good Watch.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

KIWI PATROL





HMNZS Wellington

HMNZS Hawea

Today in the NAUTICAL LOG Press Release folder came news which confirmed private sources information received some months ago. At that time it was thought that the Japanese Whaling Fleet would be protected by an armed force during the 2010-2011 Southern Ocean whaling season. We were given to understand that a private maritime security company would be the most likely possibility. Today it was announced that armed Japan Coast Guard personnel would be aboard each vessel for the duration of whaling operations. As a result the Government of New Zealand is taking a particular interest and this may well result in New Zealand Naval patrols being in the area of responsibility of New Zealand. NAUTICAL LOG has shown this area in a previous Post.

To quote the Foreign Affairs Minister of NZ:

"Anyone who looks at what happened last year has got to be fearful that there will be loss of human life under those circumstances and again I take this opportunity of appealing to both parties to adhere to the law of the sea and to make sure they show the regard they're obliged to show for the safety of other human beings in the region."

Well NAUTICAL LOG is quite sure that in spite of this diplomatic speech, as required by Foreign Ministers on these occasions, the 'Wats-his-name' pirate group have never followed the Law of the Sea and always shown a complete disregard for it and the safety of their crews. This has been confirmed by NAUTICAL LOG sources aboard the vessels whom are greatly concerned with how the crews in the small fast boats are being treated. One remembers last season as shown on "Whale Wars" how the small boat crew was left behind as the MS Steve Irwin just kept going ahead and ignoring the concern on the Bridge for their fellow seafarers safety. Foreign Minister McCully also said that New Zealand, while staying out of the case against Japan filed by Australia, has still got Intervening Rights meaning in law that it can make oral and written submissions. This leaves New Zealand free to pursue diplomatic channels to end Southern Ocean whaling entirely, something all of us who take a serious interest each season desire. Australia because of suing Japan cannot under law now pursue diplomatic options. In fact Australia will very likely lose the case so the diplomatic solution is the better option.

Should the NZ government decide to sent its Navy on patrol there are two suitable classes of vessel available as shown above. Clearly the larger class vessel would be more desirable in that area of storms and heavy seas plus she has a helicopter deck which would greatly extend the patrol area.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

OVERKILL SECURITY - MAYBE







Looking around the maritime blogs this morning as usual NAUTICAL LOG came across a Post in BITTER END Blog. Rather amazed by its content we rushed to comment, which really is not always fair and balanced when one could write opinions in NAUTICAL LOG - so her goes!!

With the continuing urge to offer protection to its citizens our government is increasing security and frankly is making rather a mess of it. Many of us know that flying has become a most unpleasant experience. Most airlines could care less about the passengers, which is strange since we are the ones that pay them to take us from airport "A" to airport "B". No longer to they feed us, even if its just a stale bun and a piece of mystery meat, now they charge us a second airfare for our bags. So much so that one airline uses some reverse advertising to lure us into taking their airline by offering "free" baggage transport as if this was the manna from heaven that saved the Israelites. Which reminds NAUTICAL LOG if the TSA would learn about security from the Israelis the abusive system currently being called 'security' at our nations airports could be mostly avoided.

Now it was too much to hope that there would not be 'bleed over' to the maritime industry and the USCG have come up with a gallant new plan. From Seattle KOMO-TV comes news and we quote:

"The Coast Guard is adopting a new method for warning boaters away from the security zones in Puget Sound that's sure to grab anyone's attention - firing a flash-bang projectile that emits a burst of light and a loud sound. Coast Guard officials announced Monday that the projectiles will be used to warn "non-compliant boaters" that they are about to enter a security zone like those set up around Navy ships, state ferries and cruise ships---------If boaters see or hear a flash-bang round, they should slow down, establish voice communications with the Coast Guard Patrol, Commander on VHF channel 16 and follow the direction of the Coast Guard."

This is the same Seattle Coast Guard that does a "Stability Test" and passes a listing ferry so one is not inspired to read of their latest venture. How does all this apply to the "Rules of the Road -Inland and International." We are now Channel 16, which is where we should have been in the first place to receive a polite advisory to keep outside the security zone and perhaps a suggested heading which will accomplish that. NAUTICAL LOG has received full US military security training and was in charge of shipboard security and safety in cruise ships. This seems to be an extremely heavy-handed approach to a relatively simple task of redirecting a straying boater. It is the same heavy-handed approach as the TSA takes in airports, a better approach is that taken by Israeli airport security. It is effective, relatively unobtrusive and works with the public to make mutually safe travelling.

Our country is becoming more and more divided by the "them and us" approach and at least as far as NAUTICAL LOG is concerned it is causing resentment. Rather than reporting anomalies to the authorities one tends to just pass by and let things slide - dangerous, poor citizenship, but in many cases happens because of the overly aggressive approach by the authorities themselves. We are the UNITED States so lets ease up this macho attitude, find a better system that is truly effective, identifies and targets the terrorist not a boater with too much beer sloshing around or who could use a good boaters course.

Flashbangs - you have GOT to be kidding me.

Good Watch.

Friday, December 10, 2010

ROSS SEA WHALING






This year the Southern Ocean whaling season has got off to a slower start usually they leave around the middle of November however this year they left in December. The Japanese Whaling Fleet are reported to have left Japan about a week ago and will be in the Southern Ocean in about another three weeks. On making inquires about the apparent delay NAUTICAL LOG was referred to a Japanese report by the National Research Institute of Far Seas Fisheries, Yokohama, Japan. The abstract translated from Japanese to English as received:

"A systematic cetacean sighting survey for abundance estimation is planed in the Antarctic in the 2010/2011 season as a part of the Japanese Whale Research Program under special permit in the Antarctic (JARPA II). The research area is south of 60S in the Antarctic Areas V and western part of VI, between 130E and 145W including the Ross Sea during December 2010 and February 2011. Two dedicated sighting vessels, Shonan-maru No.2 and Yushin-maru No.3 will be used based on the survey procedures of "the International Whaling Commission/Southern Ocean Whale and Ecosystem Research (IWC/SOWER)" using both closing (NSC) and Passing with the Independent Observer (IO) survey modes. Distance and angle estimation training as well as some experiments will be conducted. Abundance of Antarctic minke whales will be estimated using data and recent analysis methods of the Scientific Committee (SC). Biopsy skin sampling of blue, fin, humpback, southern right, and sperm whales will be opportunistically collected for assessing stock structure. Photographs for photo-identification studies of large cetaceans such as blue, southern right and humpback whales will also taken. The cruise report will be prepared by researchers and submitted to the 63rd, IWC/SC meeting"

Now it seems to NAUTICAL LOG that the Japanese have just declared an 'open-season' on any whale that exists in the area they declared and to give a rather false impression of marine science studies they will take some photographs. In addition the two vessels mentioned are the same vessels engaged in finding, tracking, and slaughtering the whales in previous seasons.

Research schedule

  • November 2010 Vessels leave Japan
  • Late December 2010 Vessels start survey in the research area
  • (approximately 80 days in the Antarctic)
  • Early March 2011 Vessels end survey in the research area
  • April 2011 Vessels return to Japan
Research Area

This survey will be conducted south of 60S in the IWC management area V (130E-170W) and the western part of Area VI (170W-145W) in a longitudinal span of 85 on the eastern side of the JARPA II research area including the Ross Sea in this season. The research area is divided into a northern strata and a southern strata in each Area.
Two Japanese researchers will be on board each vessel (personnel not determined). These researchers must have considerable experience conducting line transect surveys, biopsy's and photo-id experiments in the Antarctic through the IWC/IDCR-SOWER and JARPA and JARPA II Programs.

Clearly the Japanese Whaling Fleet is concentrating its whaling operations in Areas V, VI and the waters of the Ross Sea Dependency. Since the British largely lost interest in the Dependency it has fallen on New Zealand to take and show an interest.

The Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand (RCCNZ) is responsible for the Ross Sea. Recently the New Zealand Government stated that it would monitor and observe all whaling activities in its area of responsibility. We may therefore reasonably expect to see the vessels of the New Zealand Navy patrolling the Ross Sea as a result of this NZ Government statement. The charts shown at the beginning of this Post should clarify all this. How this will affect the activities of anti-whaling groups such as Sea Shepherds is an open question. No doubt they will join the Japanese Whaling Fleet and conduct anti-whaling tactics. What those tactics will be with the presence of the NZ Navy one will have to wait and see. If the NZ Navy does not patrol their Area of Responsibility, in spite of their Government's statements then one supposes the usual violence will occur. However this season there will be that Australian Government vessel MS Gojira involved. Unless granted a Privateer Commission under "Letter of Marque" by the New Zealand Government to operate in New Zealand Territorial Waters it will be without any legal authority under International Maritime Law.

NAUTICAL LOG believes it can easily be seen from all this that the naval and diplomatic complexities are becoming more and more involved. If one thinks about it, firstly the Japanese had a conference of interested nations in Japan, secondly they very cleverly developed a scientific programme in the Area that brought in the New Zealand Government one of whose citizens, namely Bethune, was detained at sea, charged, tried, found guilty and punished in the Japan Court System this year. The Japanese handled things very skillfully and have gained considerable 'face' by these actions, which is so important in Asian countries.
Good Watch.

JUST TO CLARIFY






There are three principal flags, known as Ensigns, hoisted by Australian registered vessels. They are as seen above, the Australian White Ensign flown by the Australian Navy vessels, the Australian Blue Ensign flown by Australian Government vessels which are not entitled to hoist the Australian White Ensign, and the Australian Red Ensign flown by merchant navy vessels, non-government vessels and private craft such as yachts.

Australian vessels may be allowed to hoist the Australian Blue Ensign while under Australian Government Orders which would be issued in writing, known as a Warrant, to an individual ship. Individual Masters may also hoist the Australian Blue Ensign if they have been issued an individual Warrant by the Australian Government for the period of their command of that individual vessel. On that Masters departure from the vessel that vessel would resume flying the Australian Red Ensign. These differences are important at sea because the vessels status may be instantly seen from the Ensign hoisted.

Finally the Australian Blue Ensign is the National Flag of Australia and is flown in the superior position to any other flags hoisted in Australia either at sea or ashore.

Good Watch.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PIRACY TRIALS




After several centuries there have been trials for piracy. The Maritime Law that covers piracy is written as "Robbery on the High Seas" and has not been applied for hundreds of years in some European countries. In should be noted that in those days decapitation was the sentence for piracy in the Hanseatic Port of Hamburg.

In 2010 there were or are three trials, The Netherlands had convictions on June 18, 2010, the United States convicted on November 24, 2010 and Germany opened its trial on November 23, 2010, the first in hundreds of years. The last previous trial for piracy in the United States was during the War Between the States 1861-1865, also known as the Civil War after the Cessation of the Southern States to form The Confederacy. Under United States Code Title 18-1651 the last conviction for Piracy was in 1819.

This year by November 2010 there have been 164 piracy incidents, 37 hijackings, 700 people taken hostage and 12 killed or injured. There are reports now of mercenaries going into action from the anti-piracy patrols and taking "force reaction with extreme prejudice" to the armed pirate gangs.

The talk, patrols, action and trials have been against the Somalis off the Horn of Africa. But how about those others pirates committing nautical thuggery. Of course who springs to mind firstly are the so called 'Sea Shepherds'. How do these trials affect their activities which include ramming, firing weapons, boarding on the High Seas, and trailing lines to foul propellers of vessels. Now the Sea Shepherds have vessels engaged in anti-whaling and anti-tuna fishing operations. Of these vessels two the MS Steve Irwin and MS Bob Barker are under The Netherlands Flag State. This is the country that has just obtained a Piracy conviction in its Court System. That resulting case law could be applied to the two Sea Shepherd vessels if they conduct nautical thuggery this coming 2010-2011 Whaling Season in the Southern Ocean which has been the pattern of their behaviour in the last six seasons.

The third vessel is an Australian Government vessel MS Gojira that sails under the Australian Blue Ensign - the National Ensign - not the Australian Red Ensign of the Australian Merchant Navy. Should this vessel engage in counter-whaling activities it would mean that under International Maritime Law it is engaging in Australian Government approved actions against a Japanese merchant vessel or vessels sailing as a fleet. If such action is not approved by the Australian Government under a Privateering Commission by "Letter of Marque" then it is an act of Piracy under International Maritime Law. In turn any such action could be considered an Act of War by Australia against Japan. Such a very dangerous action would release the Japanese Self Defence Force Navy to take armed counter-measures against Australia and Australian vessels.

From statements by the person in command of this Australian Government vessel a Mr. Locky MacLean it could be that advice has been given him by the Australian Government on this position under International Maritime Law. Of course one has to wonder why Mr. MacLean has not been instructed by the Australian Government to hoist the Australian Merchant Navy Red Ensign thus avoiding a very serious naval and diplomatic situation on the High Seas. On arrival in Hobart,TAS the MS Gojira still had the Australian Blue Ensign hoisted, this time superior to the Sea Shepherd flag. So once again this indicated the vessel is an Australian Government vessel on a week long passage between the Australian ports of Fremantle,WA and Hobart,TAS.

This is just the sort of situation 'Wats-his-name' thoroughly enjoys as it gives him fund raising fodder. Also the pro-wikileaks types are frothing at the mouth with excitment at the prospect of governments continuing to make fools of themselves.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A DAY OF INFAMY


On December 07, 1941 at 0755 Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawai'i was attacked by aerial bombardment by the Naval Forces of the Empire of Japan. A "Day that shall live in Infamy" and while it is noble and honourable to forgive we should not equate that with forgetting.

NAUTICAL LOG has visited both USS Arizona BB 39 and USS Missouri BB 63 Memorials when in Hawai'i. It is an extremely moving experience to see after all this time the tiny droplets of oil coming up to the surface from the sunken USS Arizona. It is interesting to note that some of the most respectful visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial are the older Japanese men.
Good Watch.

Monday, December 6, 2010

TOPSY TURVY


Crikey!! Now this is an interesting photo which arrived on the NAUTICAL LOG desk this morning. It shows the Australian National Ensign being flown inferior to the Sea Shepherd Society Flag.

Now NAUTICAL LOG knows that the Australians live upside down near the bottom of the World and one makes allowances for the blood rushing to their heads but really this is overly topsy-turvy even for them - mate.

It is considered an act of conquest and capture when vessels hoist flags in this manner. Which on second thoughts of course may be correct since the SSCS seems to be able to do as it likes in Australia having captured the ports of Fremantle,WA and Hobart,TAS.

Good Watch.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

THE STAGE AWAITS




Now the Players must arrive to play their parts once again in the annual Southern Ocean drama of man and mammal. On Thursday from ports in Japan came the departure of the Japanese Whaling Fleet. On Thursday from ports in Australia came the departure of the Sea Shepherds. But it seems that this year there may be some differences in the drama.

The leader of the Greens in Australia says a court injunction should be taken against the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. In June 2010 Australia filed a complaint against the Japanese Whaling Fleet in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. The case and any possible decision will not be addressed until 2013, two Southern Ocean whaling seasons in the future.

The differences referred to above are, on the Japanese side, a possibly reduced whaling fleet since their supply ship will have to be replaced. However as NAUTICAL LOG mentioned in a previous Post the Japanese are understood to have made some arrangements for security and supply. But we shall have to see what transpires - no "wikileak" reveals here.

On the other side, that of the SSCS, they again have three vessels and maybe also a change of behavioural attitude. In addition to their two Netherlands Flag State vessels, MS Steve Irwin with Mr. Watson in command and MS Bob Barker with Mr. Cornelissen in command, they now have an official Australian Government vessel accompanying them.

The photo in the SSCS Press Release shows the Australia Flag State MS Gojira with the Australian Blue Ensign - the National Flag - hoisted. This Ensign being indicative of an Australian Government vessel. If she was an Australian Merchant Navy vessel she would have the Australian Red Ensign hoisted. The person commanding this Australian Government vessel is Australian Mr. Locky MacLean who it is understood has an all Australian crew aboard. Mr. MacLean in his departure statement said that there is no way he is going to be ramming steel ships with his composite MS Gojira and that there will be "no cowboy tactics this year".

Altogether with the Shepherdess Michelle possibly missing her place onstage the Japanese Whaling Fleet must be breathing sighs of relief - really. The Australian Government is also no doubt quite pleased that their Government ship is not going to be used as an expensive battering ram.

So now the 2010-2011 drama 'Operation No Compromise' gets underway and we await the players onstage. At NAUTICAL LOG we understand that in those Japanese movies Gojira/Godzilla always ends up being defeated this being so - ah whatever.

Good Watch.
UPDATE NOTE: NAUTICAL LOG has been informed from an Australian correspondent that Shepherdess Michelle will NOT be serving as back-up pilot to Mr. Aultman in spite of the skills she showed in "Avatar". So once again Pilot Chris is on his own - sorry mate.