Friday, September 28, 2012

GOODBYE and GOOD WATCH

The dictionary defines "decision" as "the quality of being decided in character," "a settlement," "final".

For NAUTICAL LOG the choice is final because we have decided to cease publication of this Blog. 

Originally we wrote two blogs one maritime themed and the other under a pen name politically themed.  As we saw what we considered declining standards and professional behaviour in the maritime world the two blogs formed into NAUTICAL LOG as an activist maritime blog.  Our hope was that by pointing out some things they might be changed for the better saving the lives of seafarers.  How simplistic our thinking was!! 

First with piracy placing our comment after each Post got little or no response - except begging letters for money - to support phony organisations cashing in on another human beings misery. On issues of safety we saw a minimum of response on an individual basis never collectively.

The World Court never had the courtesy to even acknowledge our open letter to them regarding the overall condition of seafarers and the effects of piracy on our profession and families.  Of course all seafarers know of the total useless of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the contempt of NAUTICAL LOG for that organisation.  As for the United Nations, which NAUTICAL LOG did work for over many years through its Geneva Offices, it has descended into something even more contemptible than the IMO - which is now part of it.

This week was the final act, as in decision, for NAUTICAL LOG.  Firstly we had the choice by the UN/IMO selecting the RMS Titanic as a theme for World Maritime Day supposedly drawing attention to shipboard safety 100 years too late.  Then the final blow of contempt for seafarers last night when an e-mail was received calling attention to the unbelievable awarding of the "Seafarer of the Year" to the crew of the MS Costa Concordia for putting their ship on the rocks then trying to rescue themselves and their "guests" - with 32 known dead.  This award by Lloyd's List publication is completely beyond our understanding and illustrates to us just how far the maritime organisations, publications, and administrations have drifted off course into the political world without honour from the maritime world which was their duty.

So it is time to cast off and leave this sordid mess to wallowed in its own muck. 

There are some good maritime blogs for you to follow, two of which are quite informative are Old Salt Blog a nice site of nautical "fluff" nothing controversial but interesting never the less and gCaptain mildly activist but carefully controlled very politically astute. Their Monday Maritime section is written by a person who seems to take pride in crude and obscene language - strange.

So from NAUTICAL LOG keep your heads out of the fancy instruments look out the Bridge windows that's why they are there and a final,

Good Watch.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

MARITIME INSANITY

Unbelievably this is how one is awarded the Lloyds List "Seafarer of the Year"

MS Costa Concordia as she is today

NAUTICAL LOG along with most of the seafarers of the world are stunned to learn that the crew of the MS Costa Concordia have collectively been award the "Seafarer of Year" by Lloyds List publication.

It appears Lloyds List found their performance admirable after they wrecked their own ship on that Italian island and caused 32 known persons deaths.

This is supposed to promote maritime safety on the UN/IMO World Maritime Day ??

Good Watch.

WORLD MARITIME DAY 2012


no comment

Port of Tartus, Syria one of the world's oldest now being destroyed by civil war

This young man might make a first class Officer - today one wonders however

By designation of the United Nations today is World Maritime Day which is celebrated during the last week of September and is a movable date.

With its usual insensitivity to national events the UN/IMO has selected the great tragedy of the RMS Titanic (NAUTICAL LOG is even reluctant to type that name) as its World Maritime Day theme.

The excuse used with this choice of theme was to bring attention to maritime safety - after 100 years totally out of date !!  Pretty reflective of how the UN/IMO works.  The logic of the UN/IMO boggles the mind but then look at the nonsense going on there this week in the UN Building New York, NY with speeches by some of the worlds greatest scumbags with whom one has a wide and varied selection to choose from both male and female.

NAUTICAL LOG noted two items just this week which reflects the state of world shipping from the manning aspect .  The British MCA has developed an alternative method for non-sailing Officers to re-validate their Certificates of Competency (see the latest NLIN) the situation for trained Officers being so poor they hope to get at least some Officers with experience back on the Bridge.  The other item was published in Marine Cafe Blog about recruiting crews in Manila's Luneta Park  This in violation of the local laws but then what do those matter since only seafarers are involved, we being the third-world class of person.

Certainly NAUTICAL LOG is bitter and disgusted by these pathetic National Governments, the United Nations and of course the virtually useless International Maritime Organization which is good only for writing voluminous regulations which few have the time to read, understand and follow - then the ship operators work around them anyway with illegal dumping bypass pipes and impractical safety drills just to fill in the Record Books and show the passangers now known as "guests," the greatest offenders at present being the cruise industry.

So UN/IMO enjoy your World Maritime Day but do not expect us seafarers to bother too much about it because like 75% of the stuff coming from UN/IMO administrations it is pointless, meaningless and mostly impractical.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1421 IN 2012



The training ship PLAN Zheng He 81 left Surabaya, Indonesia on September 07, 2012 and is now visiting Brunei at Muara Port.  She embarked young Officers of the Indonesian and Brunei navies in Surabaya for the passage to continue their training under the PRC PLAN concept. 

NAUTICAL LOG has been  re-reading 1421 and 1434 by Gavin Menzies (Lt.Cmdr. RN Ret.) and it is very interesting to compare the concept of the Chinese Emperors to the present day PRC methods of building contacts and influencing other nations.  When Gavin Menzies was completing his Cadet and Midshipman service in the British Royal Navy NAUTICAL LOG was serving as Cadet and Deck Apprentice in the Merchant Navy during the same time period.  In his book 1434 he writes of how multi-national the RN was and how Officers were expected to learn the culture of those serving with them. 

In the MN it was even more so and included something of the language, the ships with Laskar (from Pakistan, India and Ceylon) crews had separate storerooms and three galleys for the Officers and Ratings, Hindu, Muslim and Christian all with cooks of the particular religion.  Since we also had Chinese carpenters and fitters Chinese food was available usually cooked in the Christian galley which was staffed by Goanese. 

All religious holidays were respected and time off during the day from work for prayers was given.  The caste system was in place on board and the Tópas did the sweeping both on deck, inside and cleaned the heads.  We had a Butla Sahib (Indian Chief Steward) who went with the Senior Sükunni (Chief Quartermaster) to open the Muslim storeroom each morning for the issuing of food supplies to the Muslim Bândari (crew cook) thus maintaining Halil requirements.


Sükunni sewing canvas - next task is his sock!!

There was a system of reimbursment by the Officers to crewmembers who did laundry for them and cooked and served when we had parties or a dance on board.  All told it was an interaction with mutual respect.  For example my Sükunni who was Muslim would say to me "Prayer time Mäjla Malim Sahib, which way Mecca please?" Given the direction he would go out on the Bridge wing and perform the afternoon prayer ritual having first washed at the deck fresh-water tap.  It was an excellent educational experience for a young Officer who himself was not very much into religion!!

So as this PRC "Harmonious Mission" of PLAN Zheng He 81 goes around the World it is well to remember that they too are having an excellent educational experience and greatly influencing those who come into contact and in particular sail in the vessel with them.

Good Watch.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

MSA TWO-PRONGED






In the NAUTICAL LOG Press Folder this morning was an article about and photo of the PRC Maritime Safety Administration exercise off Oahu, HI with the USCG.  The article mentioned that the USCGC Galveston Island looked small and insignificant compared to the China MSA vessel Haixun 31.  Of course the two vessels are designed for quite different purposes and the USCG has some large ocean-going cutters.

However what really caught the NAUTICAL LOG eye was a useful, for the PRC, translation of the MSA painted on the hull.  In this case the letters stand for Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) but they also stand for Maritime Surveillance Agency (MSA) another marine law enforcement agency of the PRC and the one most engaged with forcing the PRC Ocean Policy down everyone's throat.

The PRC Ocean Policy is of course their desire for absolute control of the South China Sea and East China Sea in complete disregard to International Maritime Law, the Right of Innocent Passage, and the Rulings of the United Nations as to sea boundaries between Nations.

In the PRC the overall Ministry level body is the State Oceanic Administration which controls all maritime activities at government level such as the ocean sciences, hydrographic studies and publications, the issuing of seaman's papers and Officers Certificates of Competency, maritime investigations, and maritime law enforcement.

To do this latter they now have several agencies all with their own vessels and aircraft both rotary and fixed-wing. These agencies are under the China Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) which operates the China Coast Guard and China Maritime Surveillance Agency (MSA) in addition to all the maritime sciences and seaman's services.

NAUTICAL LOG has seen MSA Haixun 31 with China Maritime Surveillance painted on its hull so hull paintings in the PRC are flexible in accordance with the situation at hand!!

Good Watch.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

JAPAN PURCHASE






UPDATE:

September 11, 2012.  In a move which was not exactly unexpected the PRC has dispatched two "Patrol Ships" to the Senkaku Islands as a result of the Japanese Government official announcment of its contract signing to purchase three (3) of the Islands from a private Japanese owner.  The vessels are likely to be China Surveillance Agency vessels however NAUTICAL LOG does not have confirmation on that as yet.  China Surveillance Agency has drawn up a plan to continue its claim to the Senkaku Islands but clearly they are now Japanese owned and any action to enter inside the Territorial Waters or even land on the Islands would be a violation of Sovereign Japanese Territory and thus International Law and International Maritime Law.  At present in the PRC there is a change of leadership underway and as a result there is tension with PRC political people trying to show off how nationalistic they are.



Looking through the NAUTICAL LOG Press Folder this morning there is an interesting article from BBC Asia.  One of the island groups in dispute from the PRC point of view are the Senkaku (Pointed) Islands owned and leased by Japan.  There is in fact no real dispute as it is the creation of the PRC in their Ocean Policy to control everything in the South China Sea and East China Sea.  Once they have done that they will then move out to further expand their nation.  This is the same policy that the National Socialists of Germany executed in the 1930's however their expansion was only by land as their Leader had little interest in ships or an understanding of them and their usage in national politics.  The PRC does have that understanding and is going to make, indeed is already doing so, excellent usage of military vessels to expand its grip on these two Seas.

The Senkaku Island group consists of five (5) islands and three (3) reefs which form part of Okinawa Prefecture. A Japanese businessman Kunioki Kunhara owns three (3) of the islands and the Japanese Government leases them from him.  With the current deal the Japanese Government would buy all the islands and reefs and with that they would become Sovereign Japanese Territory.

With that out of the way the Japanese and Chinese, both PRC and the RC on Taiwan, could negotiate a fisheries agreement and the Japanese Coastguard could enforce that agreement while patrolling the Islands. 

Good Watch.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

ICING OFF THE CAKE ?

Lion Dance welcomes the PLAN Zheng He 81

Back in the Spring when the PLA training ship PLAN Zheng He 81 started out on its worldwide voyage there were ecstatic announcements from the PRC about a voyage of knowledge and friendship.  As time and the voyage progressed it quickly became obvious that things were becoming more restrained.  The announcements about where she was and her next Port-of-Call took two days to arrive in both the Peoples Daily and the PRC Government official notifications.

It has now come to light that many of the countries visited were less than enthusiastic that their local Chinese population were heavily involved, in some cases, with the visiting Chinese warship.  The relationship triggered some investigations of the local Chinese in some of these same countries to find out just what was going on.  Some even declined a visit from this naval training ship, in fact only Ecuador of all the South American countries allowed a Port Call.  Now it appears the PLAN Zheng He 81 training ship has arrived in Tanjung Perak, Surabaya, Indonesia having left Tonga and called at Cairns, Australia on the way to crossing the Torres Strait, Arafura Sea and Java Sea.  No prior notice appeared in the overseas Chinese Media about this passage or the Ports-of-Call.

Perhaps the PRC PLAN have realised that not that many people in most of these countries are really enthusiastic about being ruled by the Chinese.  It is fine to go out on occasions for Chinese food and enjoy Chinese New Year but besides that there is not much attraction to be involved.

Add into the mix the current policies of the PRC Government in imposing their will, regardless of other opinions, on the South China Sea and East China Sea and the PRC have no doubt found that the "icing is off the cake".   The Cadets and Petty Officers trained in PLAN Zheng He 81 will be highly experienced Officers having been through both Canals, all the principle Straits of the World and crossed each of its oceans.  In one voyage they have accomplished what most of us have taken ten years to complete, and then if we were lucky on our longer voyages.  These experienced Officers will form the nucleus of crews to mann the PRC vessels of its PLAN, Coastguard, and Ocean Surveillence Agency to impose the ocean policies of the PRC in its future expansion from the South China and East China Sea's. 

One hopes that the various Naval Intelligence Services have been making due note of all this because, regardless of the results of the next United States Election in November 2012, in the not too distant future there is going to be a face off with the PRC over its ocean policy.  Also in each country visited the PRC now has loyal contacts of the best type of intelligence - human intelligence.

Good Watch.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

NOT AGAIN !!

Once again in the United States Navy (USN) there are reports of Command reliefs. 

On Saturday September 01, 2012 CMDR. Sara Santoski was relieved of Command of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15.  Also relieved was Master Chief Petty Officer Bobby T. Anderson who was the Command Master Chief.

These firings resulted from two crashes in one of which there was loss of life in Oman in July 2012 and the other was at Bahrain International Airport in August 2012. 

So once again the Gulf Region Commands find themselves in trouble and once again there are questions as to the training and selection of these Commissioned Officers and non-Commissioned Officers.  It would seem the malaise continues to spread throughout this Command Region. 

Also the Navy football team was humbled at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland when playing against Notre Dame - the final score was Notre Dame 50 Navy 10.  Oh! dear it seems not much is going positively at the USNA in either the areas of scholastics or sports.

Good Watch.

AT LAST

Concept Bridge looking Forward
Concept Bridge looking Aft

Another Ulstein Bridge current design

Continuing the Posts about ships Bridges a favourite subject of NAUTICAL LOG both from the Watchkeeping point of view and the design.  We were very pleased when going through our Press Folder to see an article about the new design concept by Ulstein®.  The design incorporates all the current technology and the most up-to-date method of exercising control over that technology.  Using the current methods found when one uses a cellphone, information pad or other electronic wizardry of today's world.  While most comprehensive the Bridge equipment is extremely easy to both understand and operate.  Particularly NAUTICAL LOG likes the ability to individualise controlling the equipment and the heads-up projection on the Bridge windows.  This latter is most necessary and really helpful when maneuvering in close waters.

The concept will appeal to the young officers and crew coming up and also to us older seafarers, 76 years young in the case of NAUTICAL LOG.  Having always dreamed of commanding a Starship on an interstellar voyage as CAPT. Jean-Luc Picard did, one would hope to make at least a visit to a vessel fitted with one of these magnificent Bridges (before it is time to make passage to the next stage). 

Now this is what those Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers needed - sorry chaps maybe next refit!!

Good Watch.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

BIT STRANGE

HMS Duncan D37
 
This is a photo of the latest, sixth and last, of the British Royal Navy Type 45 Class Destroyer HMS Duncan D37 underway conducting sea trials.

As one can see she is an ultra modern naval vessel which by all reports is extraordinarily capable in warfighting.  No doubt with all the latest modern goodies computer controlled with the minimum of crew to do the job.  But something looks very weird to NAUTICAL LOG eyes and that is the Bridge.

It is an old fashioned design perched low on the forward main superstructure.  One would have thought that a sleek modern design somewhat higher on the house would have been constructed - but no.

While the Royal Navy is very tradition bound, the Type 45 Bridges look like they were left over from another era perhaps lying in the BAE Systems shipyards which someone decided to use up by sticking them on the Type 45 to save some  construction money.

While NAUTICAL LOG is quite sure the Royal Navy Bridge Watch Team will maintain its usual high Watchkeeping standard regardless from this odd looking contraption on the ultra-modern vessel it would have been better not to have "spoiled the ship for a ha'penny worth of tar". 

Good Watch.