Thursday, March 31, 2011

TRISTAN DA CUNHA - IN BRIEF


MS Ivan Papanin
UPDATE:  Some news which landed on the NAUTICAL LOG desk this afternoon is that the Russian icebreaker MS Ivan Papanin is currently in Capetown, South Africa.  It has been chartered and is heading for Tristan da Cunha next week to aid in the cleanup from the grounding disaster she has a helicopter and large flight deck as can be seen from the photograph.  This is very good news and was something that is really needed to get to the remote areas of these remote Islands.

To get the full story readers can go to the T. da C. website - in brief the Smit tug MS Amandla has now left Tristan for Capetown, South Africa and the tug MS Singapore is due late Sunday or early Monday with supplies and equipment to continue the excellent work being done to protect wildlife.  Also at the website of  Agreement on Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels http://www.acap.aq/ which is based in Tasmania, Australia, there is an excellent report by Marina Burns the wife of Tristan's Administrator.

The website "Latest News" had in its daily report the first real criticism of the MV Oliva as to its navigation or lack thereof which caused this disaster for the Islanders, there is just a little edge to the report. The fishing is seriously impacted and lobsters are not being caught at present, this being the income for the Islanders it is quite understandable that they are unhappy being in this situation.  The report also said that another vessel from the MS Oliva company was going to call at the Island within the next few days to pick up the stranded crew and transport them off the Island.  This is definitely for the best and one hopes that the Master and crew of that vessel will navigate more carefully than the MS Oliva did and the transfer will be successful.  So Mom and Donna hopefully Marlon and Lester will be home soon.

The Island has received legal advice and has no comment other than the Investigation and Inquiry into the grounding continues and it will be some time before there is an Initial Report.

Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India to free them.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

HMS ATLANTIC ISLE

SA Agulhas
Rockhopper penguins, oiled
Settlement, the only one, of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas

Typical housing

Administrator Sean Burns and wife Marina

Administrators Flag
Until the grounding of the MS Oliva on Spinner Point, Nightingale Island, Tristan Group most people had probably never heard about these remote islands.  Between 1961-1963 the Islanders were evacuated due to volcanic eruption and the population brought to England.  At first they lived at Pendell Army Base, Merstham, Surrey, England later they moved to RAF Calshot, near Southampton, Hampshire.  It was there that NAUTICAL LOG came into contact with them by a chance meeting in the Post Office one day.  They spoke a patois-dialect of English and frankly between my Irish accented English and their accented English we did not really communicate very well!!  However it resulted in my taking an interest in the Islanders after they were able to return to Tristan da Cunha and restart their unique lives there once again.   Later on voyages from India-Ceylon-South Africa to Argentina we passed north of the Islands and that was the closest NAUTICAL LOG has ever been.  It is an interesting place and since their Website www.tristandc.com/ started up one can read all about what is going on.

The Island Group was first inhabited in 1812, on August 18, 1816 it became part of the British Dependence of Cape Colony, South Africa, on January 12, 1938 this changed to the British Dependency of St. Helena.  On September 01, 2009 they received the current Constitution.  There is an Administrator from the United Kingdom whose Residence is on Tristan and a Governor whose Residence is on St. Helena.  The Islanders agree on a Chief Islander of the 260 British Nationals.

During World War II the islands were used as a top secret  British Royal Navy weather and radio station codenamed HMS Atlantic Isle to monitor the German U-Boats and shipping movements in the South Atlantic.  The only currency in use there at that time was potatos and so the Islanders were paid with naval supplies of wood, paint, and tea (well it IS British)

But where are they ?  In the South Atlantic at position 37° 04' South latitude 12° 19' West longitude some 1550 nautical miles from South Africa and 2000 nautical miles from South America - very remote.

Visit the Tristan website for all the "Latest News" on what is going on but briefly they have rescued about 2500 penguins, which NAUTICAL LOG has a special affection for, of which sadly about 100 have died to date.  They rescued and are housing the crew of the MS Oliva and partly as a result of NAUTICAL LOG publishing their photo the families know they are safe and well.  Two have sent e-mails, Marlon's Mom and Lester's girlfriend Donna, both of whom expressed their thanks to the Islanders for their kindness - which indeed they have been.

The weather there is very changeable and storms spring up making communication difficult and there is no airport or a place to build one.  We had hoped that the SA Agulhas which has a helicopter would be heading to them to bring assistance and remove the crew of the MS Oliva to South Africa, so far there is no news of that happening.   NAUTICAL LOG thinks that is important because it is a very difficult situation for the interaction between the Islanders and the crewmembers and stress levels will only increase the longer it goes on.  One does not need to be a psychiatrist to figure that out.  From public information sources and not from the Island website we are publishing some photos which complete a brief picture about these remote British Terrority Islands.

Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India to free them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BELUGA BUSINESS


Roger Lliffe
 The heavy-lift shipping operator Beluga is in serious financial difficulties and the CEO Niels Stolberg has stepped down.  Chief Restructuring Officer Roger Lliffe has taken over that position.  Regular readers will remember a series of Posts about the voyages of Beluga vessels from Asian Ports to Russia via the Northeast sea route across the top of the world.  During that time the Beluga Shipping Press Department was kind enough to copy NAUTICAL LOG on all the navigational reports coming into the company from the vessels. 

It was therefore somewhat of a surprise to find that while they had been very open about the Arctic voyages the business side was not quite so straightforward.  The company is 49.5% owned by Oaktree Capital Management.

NAUTICAL LOG has since received information that all the ships names have been changed with the 'Beluga' being removed or a complete renaming.


Niels Stolberg
  Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India to free them.

TERROR - A DIFFERENT SLANT


John Cleese
 From the United Kingdom comes a different viewpoint on the never ending terror threats.  Thanks to the famous British writer, actor and tall person John Cleese: 

ALERTS TO TERROR THREATS IN 2011 EUROPE - BY JOHN CLEESE

"The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from 'Miffed' to 'Peeved' or even 'A Bit Cross'.  The English have not been 'A Bit Cross' since the Blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.  Terrorists have been re-categorized from 'Tiresome' to 'A Bloody Nuisance'.  The last time the British issued a 'Bloody Nuisance' warning level was in 1588 when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from 'Pissed Off' to 'Let's get the Bastards' .  They don't have other threat levels.  This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from 'Run' to 'Hide'.  The only two higher levels in France are 'Collaborate' and 'Surrender'.  The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from 'Shout Loudly and Excitedly' to 'Elaborate Military Posturing'.  Two more levels remain 'Ineffective Combat Operations' and 'Change Sides'.

The Germans have increased their alert state from 'Disdainful Arrogance' to 'Dress in Uniforms and Sing Marching Songs'.  They also have two higher levels: 'Invade a Neighbor' and 'Lose'.

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy.  These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile has raised its security level from 'No worries' to 'She'll be alright, Mate'.  Two more escalation levels remain: 'Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend' and 'The barbie is canceled'.  So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level."  John Cleese.

Well what can one say, John Cleese gives it to everyone, starting out with his fellow Brits.  The truth is of course their is just a small element of truth in all this based on the non-decisions and wimpy behaviour of these Governments in recent years.

Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India to free them.

TRISTAN DA CUNHA NEWS



Tristan da Cunha Island, Settlement is on the right.

We have not heard back from Administrator Sean Burns yet NAUTICAL LOG expects he is just a little busy!  The weather there has delayed catching penguins for cleaning but it is reported the work continues and they are being fed freshly caught fish and after cleaning have a swimming pool to enjoy.  Under very difficult conditions and limited resources the Islanders seem to be doing an excellent job.

There is not much news of the crew of MS Oliva but Marlon De Oca's Mom wrote to NAUTICAL LOG from Manatal, Bulacan, Philippines.  She was very happy to see the photo of her son safe and well thanks to the people of Tristan da Cunha.  Her comment is published after the Post 'MS OLIVA', so Marlon if you read this please know your family are happy you are safe.  Mom's always worry a lot so we were glad to be able to give her some peace of mind.

In the near future we shall give a fuller account if we get to use the 'Latest News' from the Tristan Group.

Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work with India to free them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

INDIA DOES IT AGAIN - WELL DONE

INS Suvarna

ICGS Sangram

Indian Coast Guard ensign
Indian Naval ensign

Once again the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have combined to prevent a pirate attack and capture the pirates. It seems, supported by an Indian Government policy to seriously act against piracy, their maritime forces are highly effective. Should the European Governments finally get their collective act together it is quite possible their maritime forces could be equally effective. Also they can always get up to speed with training from the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard - now there's a switch.


Under attack by Somali pirates the MS Maersk Kensington transmitted a distress signal. Responding vessels were INS Suvarna and ICG Sangram.   On the near approach of the Indian Coast Guard vessel the pirates opened fire. As a result the pirate mothership, an Iranian trawler (Morteza?), came under return fire and a three hour gun battle ensued in the Arabian Sea. During the battle the pirate mothership caught fire and the pirates were captured also 16 hostages, 12 Iranians and 4 Pakistanis were freed. All were taken to Mumbai and the pirates turned over to the Mumbai Police for prosecution. The hostages will have to establish their credentials and will then be turned over to their Embassy officials.


Now if the Indian Government can do all this, how come we get that load of absolute drivel from the British spoksperson that we reported on previously. The Indian maritime forces have captured 120 pirates mostly from Somalia and none have been released. Both the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard are doing an outstanding job and deserve the recognition and thanks of all seafarers - well done.


Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - lets work with India to free them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A DAY OF PEACE

This is not really a nautical Post, yet in a way one supposes it is. With all the news of fighting in North Africa and the Middle East NAUTICAL LOG got into one of those introspective moods which persons of 75 tend to get into at times giving a sigh and saying 'here we go once again'. One of my children or grandchildren asked "when was there peace ?". Going into 'Google' to research NAUTICAL LOG tried to look for a 'Day of Peace' in my lifetime from birth in 1936 until today 2011. This is what was found:

Starting in 1936:

Italy's Invasion of Ethiopia
Stalin's Purges in Soviet Union.
Spanish Civil War. (Our family involved)
Japanese invasion of China.
WORLD WAR II 1939-1945. (Our family directly involved)
Chinese Civil War.
Greek Civil War.
French Vietnam War. (Our family involved)
Partition of India and formation of Pakistan.
Taiwan uprising against the Kuomintang.
Colombian Civil War.
Arab-Israeli Wars 1948-1973.
Indian Muslims-Hindus.
Mainland China-Tibet.
KOREAN WAR 1950-1953.
Kenya's Mau-Mau insurrection.
French Algerian War 1954-1962. (Our family directly involved)
Mao's "Great Leap Forward" massacre.
South Africa-South African National Congress 1960-1990.
Guatemala Civil War.
Indonesia-West Papua/Irian.
Kurds-Iraq.
Mozambique Frelimo vs Portugal.
USA-VIETNAM 1964-1973. (Our family involved)
Second India-Pakistan War over Kashmir.
Indonesian Civil War.
Nigeria-Biafra Civil War. (Our family involved)
Rhodesia Civil War.
Philippines-New Peoples Army.
Idi Amin Uganda.
IRA-Northern Ireland Civil War. (no comment on this one)
Francisco Macias Nguema, Equatorial Guinea.
Pakistan-Bangladesh Civil War.
Philippines-Moro Islamic Liberation Front and others.
Burundi Civil War Rhodesia/Zimbabwe Civil War.
Menghitsu, Ethopia.
Khmer Rouge, Cambodia massacre.
Lebanon Civil War.
Laos Civil War.
Angolan Civil War.
Argentina Military Regime massacres & Falklands War. (Our family involved)
Mozambique Civil War.
Indonesia-Aceh (GAM) Civil War.
Vietnam-China War.
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Iraq-Iran War. (Our family directly involved)
Sendero Luminoso-Peru Civil War. (Our family involved)
Kurds-Turkey.
Nicaragua-Contras.
Hissene Habre, Chad.
Sri-Lanka Civil War.
Sudanese Civil War.
Indian Kashmir Civil War.
Palestinian Intifada.
Afghanistan Civil War.
Somalia Civil War.
Liberian Civil Wa.r (Our family directly involved)
Uganda-Lords Resistance Army.
GULF WAR Coalition-Iraq to liberate Kuwait.
Congo Civil War.
Sierra Leone Civil War (Our family directly involved)
Russia-Chechnya Civil War.
Armenia-Azerbaijan War.
Tajikistan Civil War.
Yugoslavian Wars. (Our family directly involved)
Algerian Civil War.
Congo Brazzaville Civil War.
Burundi Civil War.
Rwanda Civil War.
Pakistani Sunnis-Shiites.
Maoist rebellion in Nepal.
Congo/Zaire War, Rwanda & Uganda-Zimbabwe, Angola & Namibia.
Ethiopia-Eritrea War.
Kosovo Liberation War, NATO-Serbia.
Afghanistan Liberation War USA & UK-Taliban.
Cote d'Ivoire Civil War.
Second Iraq War-SA & UK & later Australia-Saddam Hussein.
Sudan-SPLM& Eritrea.
Yemen-Shiite Muslims.
Thailand-Muslim separatists.

Deaths total 160 million persons but this is only an estimate, it is most likely well in excess of that number.

March 26, 2011:

Fighting continues in Iraq and Afghanistan, terrorist acts in Israel and Palestine, civil disturbances throughout North Africa and the Middle East, in Libya a "No-Fly Zone" is being enforced (ongoing).

Altogether a pretty sobering list is it not.

Between the overlaps of the various conflicts several still on-going and the major Wars plus worldwide acts of terrorism NAUTICAL LOG could not find a single 'Day of Peace' in a lifetime of 75 years to date. However we are still hopeful !!

Good Watch.

Please remember the seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work for their freedom

Friday, March 25, 2011

A FRIDAY REPORT

Once again it is Friday and once again comes a Report from our European correspondent about piracy. The Asian Shippers Council (ASC) is concerned about the continuation of piracy with little or nothing being done about the problem. The ASC now believes that the Somalian pirates are being encouraged and supplied by al-Qaeda agents operating in the area.

Many navies have found it difficult to prosecute captured pirates and unless called to assist tend to keep a low profile, the clear exception being the Indian Navy and Coastguard. NATO navies have captured and then released some 700 pirates in six months of 2010. The ASC suggests treating the pirates as terrorists and solving the legal situation.

It seems nobody thought to at least exchange these pirates for the 800 seafarers captive off Somalia. The current figure is 28 vessels and 587 hostages are still detained off Somalia.

Good Watch.

Please remember these seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work for their freedom.

MS OLIVA CREW

Under their new flag of Tristan da Cunha



The crew of MS Oliva

This is a photograph taken on Tristan da Cunha of the crewmembers of the MS Oliva that grounded on Spinner Point, Nightingale Island. Most of the clothing they are wearing has been donated to them by the Islanders. Normally the Island population is 263 now with the addition of this crew it is 285, those are extra mouths to feed so the crew are helping the Islanders with Settlement work and the potato Patches.

NAUTICAL LOG has contacted Tristan da Cunha Administrator Sean Burns for permission to quote in full the Islanders reports and photographs. While we await formal permission, since it was so important for their families to see the crewmembers safe and well, we have gone ahead and published this photograph only.

Good Watch.

Please remember the 800 seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work to free them.

DERELICTION OF JUSTICE - MAYBE

On March 22, 2011 the Petty Officer at the helm of a USCG patrol boat when it crashed into a 24 foot civilian pleasure boat killing an eight (8) year-old boy and injuring five (5) other persons on San Diego Bay in 2009 was found NOT GUILTY of involuntary manslaughter and three other serious charges by a General Court-Martial jury. This surprising verdict, to NAUTICAL LOG and we believe many other seafarers, needs further review and possible action.

Quoting from "the log" California's Boating & Fishing News:

" The seven member jury found Petty Officer 3rd. Class Paul Ramos guilty of the lesser charge - dereliction of duty for failure to conduct a risk assessment. Ramos 22 was sentenced to three months confinement a reduction in rank from paygrade E-4 to E-3 and forfeiture of $1300 from his pay for three months. Ramos has the right to appeal."

The boy's father Mr. Alan DeWeese appeared stunned, his wife and he are naturally devastated that someone could run over and kill his son and receive a 'slap-on-the-wrist'. We at NAUTICAL LOG express our deepest sympathy to the family. The prosecution said that Ramos (22) in responding to a callout was going too fast and failed to follow safety procedures when he crashed into the 24 foot boat operated by Mr. DeWeese. Ramos pleaded not guilty to the charges of involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, aggravated assault, hazarding a vessel and dereliction of duty. He faced a possible sentence of 10 years in the brig.

Besides Ramos there were three other crewmembers;
Petty Officer Brittany N. Rasmussen who pleaded guilty of dereliction of duty as a lookout and received a letter of reprimand.
Petty Officer Lavelle M. Teague charge of dereliction of duty dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
Petty Officer Ian M. Howell the highest ranking member of the patrol boat is to face Court-Martial in May 2011 and is charged of negligent homicide, assault, negligence with a boat and dereliction of duty.

However even though the Courts-Martial have been completed or are schedueled the internal investigations by both the USCG and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are ongoing. WHY ?

While one does not like to see young people go to jail for long periods of time these verdicts do not appear to win much respect for the USCG Justice System which acts as law enforcement, judge, jury and is possibly covering for it own persons. While NAUTICAL LOG has not seen or heard the evidence hopefully a civil court action has been filed and all evidence reviewed. In similar cases brought by USCG/NTSB civilian seafarers have been found guilty and punished for the more serious charges.

When one considers that these young people are authorised to throw flashbangs to stop NAUTICAL LOG when operating a vessel with 60 years of seafaring experience of which 50 is professional deepsea from Cadet to Master while holding Ocean Unlimited Master issued by five (5) nations, something is clearly very very wrong. One hopes the various U.S. Seafaring Unions initiate inquiries and demand serious action. Most certainly there are grounds for a Congressional Hearing which NAUTICAL LOG has addressed by contacting our Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, 18th. District of Florida and requesting that she follow up on these verdicts.


Good Watch

Please remember the 800 seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work to free them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CONVOLUTED LOGIC


The Press Releases of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) always need some careful review before using them when researching a Post. The most recent ones are no exception to the rule both in choice of words, the thinking of Paul Watson and thus the resulting convoluted logic.

On March 21, 2011 the Japan Whaling Fleet (JWF) arrived back in Tokyo Bay rather earlier than other years by about a month. The reason for this was because of a decision by the Japanese Fishing Authority to cut the season short and have the vessels return home. Naturally the SSCS claimed that it was as a result of their anti-whaling efforts that the JWF left the Antarctic early and returned to Japan. This may well have been the reason and without doubt it influenced the instructions to return to Japan.

Applying their logic the SSCS claim that they have actually provided humanitarian assistance to the Japanese earthquake/tsunami victims. On the return of MS Nisshin Maru it was chartered by the Japanese Government to take supplies of fuel and foodstuffs to the Northeast coastal area of devastation. This was a good choice of vessel because she has extensive built in wash down equipment and can flush the vessel with seawater after any exposure to radioactive material. Of course when readers will read the SSCS PR's somewhat different terminology is used, as always they show the JWF in the worst possible light.

As a result of the disasters in Japan it will be very tempting for them to now increase whaling in both the Northern Pacific and again next season in Antarctica. With the destruction of the Taiji dolphin pens at Otsuchi, a town which no longer exists, income and food sources will be at a premium. Politically the Japanese Government will not be very open to fishing negotiations, in fact we could well see an increase in whaling expeditions regardless of world viewpoints.

The SSCS PR also goes on about the siting of the Japanese nuclear reactor plants and how the United States warned Japan about their coastal plants. SSCS and Watson should visit Florida where the Florida Power and Light (FPL) nuclear plants are on the coast. There is one at St. Lucie, FL which FPL proudly states is 20 feet above sea level and another at Turkey Point, FL which FPL proudly states is again 20 feet above sea level. While not in an earthquake prone area we are smack in the middle of the hurricane belt and 20 feet is a joke with a high tide and a hurricane tidal surge. In fact the FPL Nuclear Power Plant at Turkey Point, Homestead, FL is right on Biscayne Bay National Park and supplies, amongst many many others, the City of Coral Gables, FL and thus NAUTICAL LOG with our electric power. We just had FPL and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Media explanations and Miami-Dade Fire Dept. drills this week.
Well Watson and SSCS which is it? your ignorance, your poor research, or just a case of the-pot-calling-the-kettle-black to make trouble and add to the Japanese problems. Cheap shots to a hurting nation from cheap persons, just for once if you cannot put-up then shut-up - that includes your forthcoming lecture circuit.

Good Watch.

Please remember the 800 seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work to free them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TRISTAN UPDATE

South African tug Amandla

At the risk of disturbing the privacy of the Tristan Islanders NAUTICAL LOG is turning to their website for the "Latest News" of the MS Oliva crew. They are the only source of news about the 22 crewmembers of the vessel. The Greek Master and his 21 Filipino crewmembers are now all ashore on Tristan da Cunha Island. The Master had remained on board the MV Edinburgh for several days it is reported by Ms. Geraldine Repetto. the South African tug Amandla is now at the Islands and assisting in clean-up and other duties as needed.

There are no hotels in the Tristan Island Group and the Islanders have accommodated the crewmembers in guest houses and private homes. Readers will appreciate that these Islanders are living in one of the most remote places on Earth. Their view of non-islanders is somewhat reserved, to visit one must obtain a Police Certificate, the prior approval of the Island Administrator are amongst the formalities for visiting the Islands. These are fully described in the Island Group website. So it must be quite disturbing to have these 22 foreign nationals land in from the sea, particularly when it was the result of an act of grossly careless navigation. As the Islanders describe it themselves:

"The crew were given clothes and they are privileged to be living in the family-orientated safe community which is the most remote in the world."

It must be an extraordinarily awkward situation for the Master and the Bridge Watch on duty when the vessel struck Spinner Point, Nightingale Island and the Chief Islander Ian Lavarello and Administrator Sean Burns. In fairness one can sympathize with all parties concerned and perhaps this was the reason for the choice of the word "privileged" in the statement. The full reports may be read at the Tristan da Cunha website under "Latest News" via the NAUTICAL LOG link in our 'Link List'.

Let us hope that the vessels Greek owners fully realise their responsibilities to both the Islanders as well as the crewmembers. They must immediately arrange compensation and supplies to the Chief Islander who now has 22 extra persons to feed on always controlled rations.
Good Watch

Please remember the 800 seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia - let us work to free them.

BINNENVAART

Visiting some of the other maritime Blogs as NAUTICAL LOG does each morning is always interesting. The TUGSTER Blog of Willem van Dorp is mostly about the 'sixth boro' of New York City, however this morning's entry was about Dutch barges on the Inland Waterways of Europe. Rather than tell you about it and spoil a visit go there right now (!) to enjoy the photos and notes, as Willem says you will have a surprise!! NAUTICAL LOG certainly did and found out yet another piece of maritime knowledge which was unknown to him in spite of being born and raised in Europe's maritime world. Once again it proves one is never too old to learn - thanks Will and

Good Watch

Please remember the 800 seafarers captives of pirates off Somalia - let us work to free them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SAILORS SERIES 2011


The New Bedford Whaling Museum is celebrating its 21st. year with a series of illustrated lectures, tonight's lecture at 1930 is about modern piracy. The lecturer is Commander Andrew Norris USCG the representative to the International Law Department Staff. He serves as a USCG military judge as such presides over courts-martial of USCG personnel, he is also on the faculty of the Naval War College. His JD is from the University of Florida class 1993 hence the interest of NAUTICAL LOG since we also are Floridians. The lecture will cover, no doubt from the legal point-of-view, statistics on piracy, problem areas, international response, U.S. response, self-defence of U.S. Flag State vessels et cetera.

It would be fair enough if one might say talk, talk, and more talk but how about some action. This lecture should, NAUTICAL LOG believes, be very useful in understanding just what actually can be done under the Rule of Law in the 21st. Century. As we seafarers know only too well since there are 800 of us captives off Somalia about which very little has been done.

The talk has gone on for years but little action and then mostly by the navy of whose country's ship has been pirated or whose nationals are involved. One exception to this pattern is India whose Navy and Coastguard has been outstanding in patrolling, chasing down and capturing pirates.

On another point of modern piracy, which nobody has done anything about, is the violent anti-whaling and anti-bluetuna fishing actions of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS). For a decade they have harassed seafarers engaged in legal fishing and whaling without punishment. Since the good Commander is lecturing from the New Bedford Whaling Museum it might be a good location to cover this aspect of modern piracy. However we seafarers are not "holding-our-breadth" that he will address this issue. Being politically correct and a military judge the issue will, NAUTICAL LOG is quite certain, be carefully avoided. If there is a Q&A session hopefully someone will at least ask a question in relation to the nautical thuggery of SSCS. It would be nice to have the point raised and a question on record.

Meanwhile the 800 captive seafarers suffer off Somalia and does anyone really care about them - it seems not many even know they exist least of all the Greek led International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Good Watch.
Please remember the 800 seafarers captives of pirates off Somalia - let us work to free them.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

GREEK TRAGEDY






Updated: March 22, 2011.
Once again we have a Greek owned vessel getting itself into trouble and this one is pretty remarkable even with their history. This Greek owned vessel was the bulk carrier MS Oliva which ran aground on Nightingale Island part of the Tristan da Cunha (T. da C.) group. These are a self-administered group of British Islands and in the entire South Atlantic are the only group of islands between South America and South Africa. NAUTICAL LOG has been close to them several times on voyages from South Africa to Argentina so is reasonably familiar with navigating across that ocean by traditional methods. Not so for some seafarers it appears in spite of all the wonderful electronic aids navigators have today - perhaps that is the problem.

While on passage from Santos, Brazil to Singapore with a cargo of Soya beans the 75,000 tonne MS Oliva managed to run aground on Spinners Point on the northern coast of Nightingale Island, T. da C. The 22 crewmembers, 1 Greek and 21 Filipinos, were removed by the T. da C. fishing vessel MV Edinburgh and were brought to Tristan da Cunha Island. The bulk carrier has now broken-up and spilled both her cargo and her heavy fuel oil so there is an environmental disaster. In addition Nightingale Island is one of the few alien mammal free islands in the South Atlantic. The arrival and establishment of rats would place its seabirds and land birds at grave risk. The ships Master has stated that the vessel was free of rats - that will be a first in a grain ship - however considering the masterly skill in navigation there may be reasonable doubt with that statement. The Island also supports Atlantic yellow Albatross, Sooty Albatross, Northern Rockhopper Penguins, and Great Shearwaters (known as Petrels to the Islanders) which total about 4 million living in burrows on Nightingale Island. Already oil covered birds are being found, of particular concern are the Rockhoppers and their treatment is being attempted.

Finally there are photographs and reports on the Tristan da Cunha website. Since T. da C. is extremely sensitive with regard to its status and the Island Government has strict controls on visitors and information NAUTICAL LOG has not published anything from their website. One can visit at
www.tristandc.com/ and see under Latest News/News MS Oliva (20th. March 2011) for excellent photos, full reports and Island Group information. The photographs were taken from the SilverSea cruise ship MS Prince Albert 2 which was visiting the Tristan da Cunha Island Group at the time of the MS Oliva grounding.
There are updated reports and photos as the tug and personnel have arrived at the Tristan Island Group from South Africa; vist the website at link above.

Good Watch.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A MILESTONE REACHED

This morning here at NAUTICAL LOG we reached a milestone that of 30,000 visitors. While to some Blogs that is not too many but here at NAUTICAL LOG it happened on St. Patricks Day a neat coincidence for an Irish born seafarer. Also we do not have links to 'Twitter', 'Facebook', or 'RSS' so those who visit us find us by the Internet only.

Thank y'all and of course HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY to all hands.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PARAGRAPH 1651

"Pirates on deck"

INS Kalpeni (T75)

USS Nicholas (FFG47)


Finally there seems to be some cases of positive action and results for us long suffering seafarers against the pirates. In Norfolk, VA five Somali males were convicted of attacking a Navy ship and in accordance with U.S. Code Title 18, Chapter 81, Paragraph 1651 sentenced to life in prison under the law of nations. This is the harshest sentence to date as more serious efforts are made to halt piracy off the Horn of Africa.
The federal prosecution in Virginia relied on the 19th. Century maritime laws and it was the first piracy case to go to trial since the Civil War. This is of course as it should be, the fact that the law has only rarely been used is meaningless. It was enacted to deal with piracy when and if it occurred, as we seafarers know only too well it has flared up in the last decade off the Horn of Africa (HOA) and is spreading across the Indian Ocean to within 600 nautical miles of India.
The convicted pirates had at first admitted their crime but later when they saw they were not just going to be released they claimed to be innocent fishermen. Their attack on the USS Nicholas (FFG 47) which is homeported in Norfolk, VA was when she was part of the anti-piracy patrol off HOA. Stated U. S. Attorney Neil MacBride:
"Today' sentences should send a clear message to those who attempt to engage in piracy. Armed attacks on U.S. flagged vessels carry severe consequences in U.S. Courts."

In other good conter-piracy action the INS Kalpeni (T75) captured a pirate mothership and along with 61 pirates and freed 15 hostages. Those of you who follow piracy news already know that the Indian Navy and Indian Coastguard are doing outstanding work in fighting the pirates. They are just about the lead nation in effective counter-action to prevent piracy and in capturing those involved.
Good Watch.

Friday, March 11, 2011

NLIN #34 - M-NOTICES

The following M-Notices are available at www.mcga.gov.uk/

MIN 406 (M+F) Reporting Operating Anomalies within ECDIS

MSN 1827 (M) Categorisation of Waters

If you experience any difficulties contact the M-Notice Administrator at 023 8032 9391

Good Watch.

FRIDAY REPORT

From Europe and our Risk Management correspondent comes a report on piracy. Quoting from a recent letter that was received:

"It is up to the international community to take a strong stand against this threat. If pirates have human rights, what about the human rights of several hundred seafarers in captivity?"

Indeed how very true this fact seems to have been lost in the little concern shown by governments to date. The pervasive socialism of European governments in particular has turned out to be one-sided in that the pirates are given maximum consideration and the seafarers none. How does one explain this when international maritime law clearly lays down, for centuries, the punishment acts of piracy will receive.

After being arrested 80% of pirates are being released to attack again and while we describe them as 'pirates' this is the type of statement that comes from a spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence. NAUTICAL LOG quotes this classic piece of complete nonsense:

"Unless international navies actually capture men undertaking an act of piracy, there is a very limited legal basis - almost non-existent - on which they can be prosecuted for piracy. Often, what we will also do is destroy some of the smaller skiffs they are using to conduct these attacks."

What a load of drivel!! If these people, referred to as pirates, cannot be prosecuted why on earth would one destroy their boats for an act of piracy that, supposedly, there was no legal evidence of in the first place. It is clear from that ridiculous statement that the UK Ministry of Defence has no idea what it is doing in its attempt to resolve piracy. Of course the answer lies in the fact that the UK Government and the rest of the Socialist European Union lacks the hard will required to deal with this piracy problem. Now NAUTICAL LOG fully supports SAVE OUR SEAFARERS
www.saveourseafarers.com/ and urges readers to visit the website and sign the letter but in all honesty does not really see the organisation achieving the cessation of piracy acts. As they have said themselves:

"Governments give the orders. Governments hold the key to resolving this crisis."

As usual the silence from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is deafening :-(

We should mention in passing that the MS Maersk Alabama was attacked for the third time by pirates just this week. They were driven off by gunfire from the vessels armed guards, therein lies an answer it would seem.

Good Watch.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

REFLECTIONS


When NAUTICAL LOG started going to sea professionally in 1953, having already worked in fishing boats during Summer holidays, the world pace was considerably slower. Not counting the passenger liners vessels were on average of slower service speeds and stayed longer in Ports loading and discharging cargoes. Since it was before the days of containers TEU box ships were unknown and a week in port was quite normal. In the Far East this could easily stretch to a month moored to buoys in the Hooghly River below the Howrah Bridge off Calcutta or in the Calcutta Docks - it was a choice of smells. Indonesia, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong were equally smelly - though different - rather more interesting as ports ashore. Japan was very clean but far too quick port turn-rounds and becoming more expensive each voyage. We left the Far East and could not wait to get back. The United States was rather a pain in the butt, Europe and Canada were pretty good however there was nothing that compared to East of Suez.

After the hustle and bustle of port operations both cargowise and ashore activities, it was time to sail and navigate along the coast plotting bearings every twenty (20) minutes or so, watching tides, the current, set and drift. Finally the land slipped away astern and one settled down to the slightly boring but familiar routine of ocean watchkeeping. The big event of the day being completing the "Noon Chit" and giving copies to the Master and Chief Engineer. Time to relax and think about things, perhaps that very nice girl from Surrey at the Calcutta Seaman's Club or the stunningly beautiful Indonesian ladies - always double check just to make sure.

The Cold War was on but it all seemed organized and one knew which side countries were on, it all had very little to do with seafarers or so we thought. The United States made a huge fuss of course with Immigration, Customs, and Health inspections (gross, crude and insulting), seaman's landing cards, those yellow 'shot' cards. Such an objectionable people one thought at the time, little did NAUTICAL LOG ever imagine coming to live here and actually becoming a U.S.Citizen - strange world never know where it will lead you.

Many of the ships carried Gurkha or Sikh guards while in the Far East and there were gates fitted in the outside passageways and on the companionways. The Sikhs are very serious chaps and it was not unknown to hear a thump and splash during the night watch. When one asked if all was well the reply from the Sikh deck watch was "Ek ardmi bar gill gia, all well now Sahib". It was of course best to leave it at that!! People knew areas of piracy and seafaring dangers, basically did not go there, made arrangements for protection if they had too and then did not pry too deeply with inquiries as to how matters were resolved. Local issues local methods worked out best.

Which brings one to today and our current unsolvable problem with piracy in the 21st. Century. There are two main types of piracy and neither is being dealt with in any particular way in spite of ancient maritime laws condemning piracy and laying out clear and permanent punishment - hanging from the yardarm or life in prison. The problems are insolvable because most current Governments lack the will to make hard and necessary decisions in complex circumstances. The leadership is weak, indecisive and inexperienced in many countries including here in the United States. Just looking at the handling of the situations in the Middle East and North Africa tends to confirm that opinion NAUTICAL LOG believes whatever ones political thinking, religious belief (if one follows one), or ethnic background.
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One of course is the deplorable nautical thuggery of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) engaged in anti-whaling and anti-blue tuna fishing activities. To date not a single nation has actually acted against this SSCS Group in spite of clear evidence in photos and video provided with pride by themselves. In fact to the contrary, The Netherlands has provided Flag State Certificates of Registry to these pirate vessels. Australia, New Zealand and many other nations have provided fuel, supplies, crew and financial support to them. Their personnel travel freely between nations to join these vessels and also sell SSCS souvenirs dockside to support the violence, clothing items which are publicly worn by Government elected and appointed officials.

The other area of piracy is the Horn of Africa now extending out from Somalia across the Indian Ocean further and further each month. The Naval Force is so restricted by its Rules of Engagement as to be Rules of Stupidity, pirates are caught then released to rob and now kill another day. Add to this the sheer total irresponsibility of recreational yachtsman sailing in the area, then being boarded, murdered, and a family including children captured. The lack of leadership by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is absolutely deplorable, any IMO official with the slightest sense of honour would resign. The United Nations has made its usual diplomatically worded statement which will have not the slightest effect. Nations who support and register one type of pirate group, the SSCS, send their naval vessels to patrol against the other pirate group off HOA. Does this make any sense? - not to NAUTICAL LOG.

Now finally some principle shipping organisations have formed SAVE OUR SEAFARERS to seriously try to resolve the problem. These organisations are ITF, International Chamber of Shipping, INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO, BIMCO. Notably absent from the Group is the IMO which should be the lead Organisation - why are we not surprised. The Naval Force Commander must still be given clear Rules of Engagement that actually allow serious counter-piracy action which will solve the problem - permanently - as stated in International Maritime Law.

Well reflections from here in my office with traffic noise and aircraft coming into land at MIA is not as peaceful has the wing of the Bridge with a sea breeze. A seagoing lifestyle now gone, greatly missed in retirement, in a World vastly changed unfortunately it would seem not for the better. However as the calm comes after the storm at sea we move forward in hope - we are seafarers.

Good Watch.

Monday, March 7, 2011

FRENCH POLYNESIA




To give it its correct name Pays d'outre-mer de la Polynesie Française is a glorious part of the World. The former French Colony of Oceania it is now administered by a local Government with a President and Assembly in the French manner. Representing France is a High Commissioner and France still administers the overseas affairs of French Polynesia.

This means of course that while NAUTICAL LOG thought that the MS Gojira might be acquiring a new Flag State it is unlikely. For any voyages outside French Polynesia that would have to be France. Maybe The Netherlands will again issue a Certificate of Registry and all three SSCS vessels will have the same Flag State. Inside the island administration one might well be able to fly the Ensign of French Polynesia. Today NAUTICAL LOG heard that Locky MacLean is flying back to Australia apparently Hobart, TAS to rejoin the other SSCS members. It will indeed be interesting to see if he is detained on arrival by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). While in command of the MS Gojira his actions were aggressive to the point of endangering his own vessel and crew. He also fouled the propeller of the JWF vessel leaving it helpless at sea. This is a clear act of piracy which he should, without question, have to answer in Law but one doubts that the Australian Government has the political will to persue. The second part of the rumor was that the MS Gojira was being painted silver, the MS Silver Streak perhaps?, in readiness for the Mediterranean and attacking Libyan tuna fishermen - as if there is not enough problems in North Africa and the Middle East already.

One can only wait and see in some degree of amazment at the thinking process of these SSCS people.

Good Watch.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

THEY'RE BAAACK


Steaming gallantly into Hobart, TAS this morning, as can be seen in the photo, are two of the SSCS Group vessels, MS Steve Irwin and MS Bob Barker. Alongside the starboard side of the MS Bob Barker is the Hobart Pilot cutter boarding the Pilot to guide them into assigned berths. As usual on arrival of SSCS vessels the crews were retained on board while the Australian Federal Police (AFP) boarded and conducted an Examination of both vessels logbooks, records and personnel. Since this Examination is ongoing there has been no information release by the AFP as of yet. Of course no arrival can go on without a 'Presser' (ghastly word) which NAUTICAL LOG understands is the latest media expression adding to the destruction of the English language. An Australian Greens Party person and the SSCS will have a news conference at 1100 AEST - no doubt this will rehash the same SSCS line once-over again. Operation No Compromise is now officially over - whatever that means!

Missing from all this excitement is the Australian Flag State vessel MS Gojira. She is thousands of nautical miles away, as was mentioned yesterday, enjoying the famous hospitality of French Polynesia being currently berthed in Tahiti. One wonders why did the SSCS order the MS Gojira not to proceed with the other two vessels to Hobart. Perhaps they had a 'heads-up' that their would be problems because of the involvement of the vessel in aggressive actions against the JWF. As an Australian Flag State vessel her status is quite different in Australia from the other two vessels which are Netherlands Flag State and Australia is just their temporary Port State. It is the opinion of NAUTICAL LOG that the MS Gojira will change her Flag State to French Polynesia with a Port of Registry in Tahiti, this will no doubt be done as soon as possible.

Good Watch.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

VOYAGES - 'ERE AND ZERE





Since their search and rescue on behalf of the RCCNZ things have been quiet with the SSCS Group. While NAUTICAL LOG had heard rumors about what might be going on but nothing definite that we could write about it. So it was with quite a surprise this morning that we read the very brief Press Release from SSCS. Taking the second part first it seems the MS Steve Irwin and MS Bob Barker are due to arrive in Hobart, TAS on the morning of March 06, 2011. Their arrival there will mark the official end of this seasons strange campaign Operation No Compromise. As we have said before NAUTICAL LOG has no idea what if anything was accomplished indeed for the second year running. One might say that at least they did not have a vessel sunk this year - though MS Gojira was put quite at risk in ill-advised operations.

In talking about the MS Gojira it was revealed that she is in Tahiti, French Polynesia which was the surprise to NAUTICAL LOG. This being one of my favourite places in the Pacific and indeed the World one is quite envious. The visit of course raises the questions - what is she doing there and where does she go on to next? Perhaps one possibility is that had she returned to Australia for any length of time the move to remove her Australian Blue Ensign would have gone ahead. Now she can change her Flag State to French Polynesia with the assistance of Minister for Environment M. Georges Handerson and have as the vessel's sponsor perhaps his very attractive daughter. Ah! zese ship captains, zey have ze life eh!

And so we leave these happy people to their romantic lives on the beautiful tropical island of Tahiti and adding to ones happiness its french speaking - could one ask for more!

Good Watch.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SOS SOS SOS


With the continued rise in piracy incidents off the Horn of Africa and now stretching out ever further into the Indian Ocean serious counter-action is required. Of course this is largely defeated by recreational yachtsman continuing to sail in the area in spite of repeated warnings by Anti-Piracy Forces. While there might be a legal right for this recreational sailing it is in a war zone and therefore highly irresponsible. For yachtsman to sail with boxes of Christian Bibles and now a family with their children only makes the efforts of the Naval Force impossibly difficult. Just this week the Somali pirates murdered four (4) amateur yachtsmen and captured seven (7) persons three (3) of whom are children aged 12 to 16, which they have threatened to murder should any rescue attempt be made. Just how is the Naval Force Commander supposed to deal with that situation, yet this family has put their children, two (2) sons and one (1) daughter, in this dreadful position.

As a father and grandfather NAUTICAL LOG is greatly distressed and horrified. Putting our money where our mouth is we have written this morning to the President of The United States of America to act on the behalf of all seafarers both professional and recreational. Piracy laws have existed internationally for centuries and it is a matter of governments applying that Maritime Law - piracy is a hanging offence.

We would request all our readers to click on the link provided www.saveourseafarers.com/ . This will in turn lead you to the website and show you how you can help by sending a pre-written letter to your own national government. Here at NAUTICAL LOG we received the link from Sweden this morning and are doing our part to put into effect this international campaign.

Please help by visiting the SOS website and clicking for that letter, perhaps the first lives we save will be those three Danish kids, Rune, Hjalte and Naja.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

AUSGANG


In an interesting addendum to the STV Gorch Fock affair comes news today March 01, 2011 via the BBC from Germany of the resignation of their Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. He has been found to have copied large parts of his thesis for his university doctorate. Since this is the civil crime of plagiarism he has been stripped of his PhD. The 39-year-old aristocrat is a member of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) party. He came under pressure after a Bremen University law professor began reviewing his 2006 thesis. In view of the fact that Bremen is a seaport city it would seem reasonable to conclude that the Herr Professor was encouraged to investigate due to the Deutsche Marine scandal involving the STV Gorch Fock and the dismissal of her Commanding Officer Kapitän-zur-See Norbert Schatz.

In somewhat typical German humour the now former Defence Minister has been nicknamed "Baron Cut-und-Paste, zu Copyberg und zu Googleburg" by the German media.

zu Guttenburg is the Minister who first waffled and did nothing about reported incidents in the Deutsche Marine STV Gorch Fock which may have resulted in the fall from aloft and resulting death of an Officer Trainee. In turn this resulted in the refusal to obey orders by a group of Officer Trainees from her Watch while the vessel was at sea off Argentina. The ships Commanding Officer then charged them with mutiny, sent them home to Germany where they complained to the Deutsche Marine Ombudsman. Defence Minister zu Guttenburg was thus forced to take some action. The situation deteriorated from that point to the arrival of a Deutsche Marine Commission of Inquiry in Argentina and the relief of the C/O from his Command position. The STV Gorch Fock was then ordered home to Kiel, Germany without any Officer Trainees on board. The final Deutsche Marine report is still being awaited.

Good Watch.