Tuesday, December 31, 2013



So here we are on New year's Eve and for many of you it is already 2014.  This is quite a momentous year for Europeans being the 100th. Anniversary of the start of World War 1 which was from 1914 to 1918.   Known as "the war to end all wars" it sadly was not the end but rather the beginning of many.

It was the War that changed the face of Europe for ever destroying monarchies and wiping out a generation of families and leadership.  It led to the formation of the Soviet Union and NAUTICAL LOG believes actually set things back socially to a point from which we have not yet recovered and never actually shall recover.  It led to the National Socialist movement in Germany, German speaking countries and other regions of Europe which in turn led to World War 2 from 1939 to 1945 one of the greatest horrors of which was Shoah.

So as we celebrate the New Year 2014 let us not forget that good and evil are always intertwined.


PS:  This is a photograph of the damage from British artillery and naval gunfire, a RN river gunboat came up the River Liffey, around O'Connell Bridge during the Easter Rising in 1916.  The photograph was taken from the McBirneys Building where later the Head Office of Irish Shipping Ltd. a company of the Irish Mercantile Marine was located.

Good Watch.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


SS Irish Elm ISL Dublin, Ireland
Today is the 60th. anniversary of the start of the sea career of NAUTICAL LOG on December 29, 1953 following my 17th. birthday on December 23, 1953.  Joining the SS Irish Elm O.N. 400098 of Irish Shipping Ltd., Dublin, Ireland, CAPT. E.C.G. Horne, Master.  The first six months was as Cadet then on until October 12, 1957 as a Deck Apprentice before being promoted to 3rd. Mate of the MS Irish Rose O.N. 400141, CAPT. I. Tyrell, Master and finally completing the Apprenticeship Indentures on January 03, 1958.  It was the experience of this Apprenticeship and both observations and discussions with other Officers with different training backgrounds that set the background to the Post MANAGING TECHNOLOGY.

The training in ISL was to say the least haphazard, for a start there was no ISL training programme that the Apprentices followed.  Since we were part of the Irish Mercantile Marine and not the British Merchant Navy the British Merchant Navy Training Board Courses and Examinations did not apply to us.  We worked on deck under the Boatswain and stood Watches on the Bridge with the Officers.  Any instruction was purely at the behest of the Master and sadly most did not bother very much about it.  It was up to us Apprentices therefore to prepare ourselves for our Certificate of Competency as 2nd. Mate Foreign-going which we could sit for in Ireland or the United Kingdom.  Home Trade Certificates for European and the Mediterranean Waters were of course also available to us.

If you would like to read something about our life at sea as Apprentices in those far off days so different from going to sea today there is an interesting book by an Apprentice of the intake after me.  "Steady As She Goes" by John Molloy is a personal take on the starting years of his sea career. Like myself he is from Waterford City, Ireland.  John has recently had a second book published "The Atlas Murders" which uses a background of ships and seagoing.

The NAUTICAL LOG sea career, which started out in fishing boats while on Summer holidays in Dunmore East, Co. Waterford,  sailed all over the world.   Having lived in New Zealand, Canada and now in the United States never returning to Ireland except for brief visits.  Serving in two Navy's, a Coast Guard, as well as the Merchant Navy, teaching Nautical Science including Maritime Law, IMO-STCW courses and sailing in just about every type of ship afloat one does tend to have strong views based on a wide range of experiences hence the viewpoints expressed in this Blog. 

So for now remember while OOW to get your head out of those instruments and look out the Bridge windows study the sea out to the horizon to see things for yourself.

Good Watch.

PS.  NAUTICAL LOG has done some editing to this Post from its original version.  This is due in part for accuracy, memories from long ago sometimes are inaccurate, also in response to some comments received which were anonymous, inaccurate and petty.  The Administrator decided to remove all comments received.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


AGS Ocean Protector

Well back to nautical things from NAUTICAL LOG.  While most of us have been busy preparing and shopping for Christmas the Japanese Whaling Fleet (JWF) has left Japan for the Southern Ocean and yet another whaling season in 2014.  Early in December the MS Nisshin Maru left for the Southern Ocean and now two catcher vessels with a surveillance ship left Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture to join her.

Of course the other side better known as the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) fleet consisting of the MS Bob Barker, MS Steve Irwin, and MS Sam Simon have also departed from their government approved pirate base at Melbourne,Victoria, Australia.  This according to Dr. Bob Brown who is the current head of SSCS in Australia.

There are questions as to why the Australian Government is not sending its purpose built ice-strengthened vessel MS Ocean Protector to patrol the Southern Ocean but instead are using that vessel to patrol the tropical waters of Christmas Island for asylum seeker boats.

It will be interesting to see what tactics the SSCS pirates - now operationally directed by the Australian SSCS - use this season now that "Wats-his-name" seems to no longer be in charge of the largely pointless, ineffective operational tactics with the unproven claims of the past decade.

Good Watch.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


As the story goes it all began some 2000 years ago in what we call today the Middle East in the region of Palestine.  A people had arrived long before having left Egypt where they were in bondage as workers of the Pharaohs who had reigned in Egypt for millennium as god-kings.  After years of wandering in the Southern Middle East they were supposedly given a region to settle in by their God which they called Israel - they were the Jews who worshipped just one God.  This was in sharp contrast to other peoples of the world who usually had many gods.  The Jews consisted of seven tribes and had little tolerance for other tribes living in Palestine since they believed their God had given them this land it was theirs and theirs alone.  Naturally this led to conflicts which are still going on today some 2013 years later in the Common Era (CE).

In 73 BCE the Roman Empire expanded under its Eastern Emperor into the Middle East and over the next decades gradually took control of the Roman province of Syria Palaestina - it was a harsh control.  The religious clashes between the multi-god Romans and the monotheistic Jews were continual and in spite of the Sanhedrin making deals with the Roman command the average Jew prayed for the arrival of a messiah.  The Messiah is a concept of Abrahamic Religions and is a savior or liberator of the chosen people whom at that time the Jews considered themselves to be.

Around 28 CE there appeared on the scene a Jewish preacher whose name was Yeshua.  He wandered the countryside of the provinces of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea talking about a simpler but improved Jewish approach to God and eventual salvation after death in a place of peace with that God.  He became very popular with the common people and led an extremely simple life himself showing kindness to those of all walks of life even lepers who quite understandably terrified people.  During his wanderings he encountered fishermen repairing their nets at the village of Bethsaida before going fishing in the Sea of Galilee.  He rested and chatted with them, when they were going out they invited him to go fishing with them.  It was a bit choppy and not unnaturally he got a bit queasy and lay down in the fresh air falling asleep.  Sometime later the fishermen woke him up as they were in real trouble due to a nasty storm developing.  Yeshua was not too happy about it either so he stood up stretched his arms out and asked God to calm the seas.  One would perhaps think that much to his surprise and the complete amazement of the fishermen the seas calmed, all was well and they returned ashore with a really good catch.

Naturally this led to the fisherman asking him to stay with them and he did so which eventually led to him asking them to stay with him.  Twelve decided to do so and from then on for the rest of his three year ministry the thirteen of them travelled together.  It is interesting that he chose seafarers.  By now the Sanhedrin had taken notice and paid great attention to this Rabbi and his Twelve Apostles and their views of the new improved user friendly Jewish faith, today we would no doubt call this the Jewish.1 version.  The Sanhedrin were not pleased because clearly their grip on being the Ruling Power of the Jewish Faith was being undermined.  To the Romans he was on their Watch List as a troublemaker.  One thing led to another until there was a political trial, execution, burial and - well this is one of the big questions of what has become known as Christianity, what became of the physical body of this dead Rabbi.

The Rabbi Yeshua had been accepted by some Jews as the wished for Messiah and the name Jesus Christ (the anointed one) was now used for him and Christianity the religion to follow his teachings.  This religion became open to all both Jews and non-Jews without the required procedure of circumcision.  All Christians were baptized instead into the Christian Faith however the teachings of this faith varied from place to place and it took time to settle on one teaching of Christian beliefs.  Also the Romans were totally set to eradicate all Christians so things were pretty grim for the next three hundred years until in 312 CE the Roman Emperor Constantine got religious monotheism, became a Christian and so of course did the Roman Empire.  In 325 he organized the Council of Nicea and there the New Testament Book was put together which finally settled on the Christian Faith teachings and its religious holidays.

Now much has been attributed to Jesus Christ which we are not able to prove, we do not even know if he actually existed or is a combination of Jewish wandering preachers resisting Roman rule in Syria Palaestina as yet no birth record has been found in Jewish or Roman records yet the Romans did a complete and accurate census of their Empire.  It is claimed that he is "the Son of God" this is something so complex it is beyond the scope of mans intelligence to conceive let alone to prove, it is something one must accept on faith.  The amazing thing is however that the persona of Jesus Christ is so strong that totally without this proof persons from many nationalities and races have accepted his teachings and follow the Christian Faith indeed it is known as having "the gift of faith". 

When the Christian Faith made its headquarters in Rome the capital of the Western Roman Empire it adopted and incorporated all the trappings of the Roman Empire building its own Vatican with its own Pontiff, a Western Roman Empire religious term.  Gone was the simple life taught by the Rabbi Yeshua and we now had a European style Royalty in the form of the Roman Catholic Church with its Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests, its numerous scandals, corruption, external and internal struggles for power.  Somewhere amongst all this religious royalty are priests and lay groups of Christians who quietly do their best to follow the teachings of the Rabbi Yeshua who remember him in many ways one of which is to celebrate his possible birth using the date of December 25th. which we call CHRISTMAS DAY. 

Therefore this lay person wishes Merry Christmas 2013 and Happy New Year 2014 to you all.

Count D. Peter Boucher Kt. SMOM.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Actual modern navigation Bridge

During the investigation of ASIANA AIRLINES flight 214 crash at San Francisco Airport, CA., and the subsequent hearings into the causes some interesting points have been raised.  First the aircraft itself was in excellent condition with no malfunctions found by investigators.  What was found were differences of culture and training involving the technology fitted in the Boeing 777, in fact in describing the equipment the Captain confused some details of the Boeing 777 automation system with that of the Airbus A320 which detracted from the Korean flight deck Pilots ability to operate the aircraft safely.

The body conducting the investigation and hearings is the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) along with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).  The NTSB is the same body that investigates seafarers along with the United States Coast Guard (USCG)

The points raised in the hearings in reference to the flight deck Pilots attitude and its operation are similar to those found on a ships Navigation Bridge.  They apply equally well to the operation of a modern ship's Bridge with multi-national Officers with different cultural backgrounds and in spite of STCW sometimes different training or the lack of it altogether.  

With multi-national Officers and Ratings serving in most ships these days culture differences can become culture clashes quite easily, it takes astute management to prevent that happening and resolving it quickly if it does occur.  As an example the Pilots of flight 214 were Korean and Korean culture tends to inhibit those considered "junior" even when both are Captains to speak up about a developing situation even when it is a dangerous one to all.  Also they did not wear sunglasses which they needed to do due to runway glare because that is considered impolite among Koreans. 

In this Post NAUTICAL LOG will look at some of the problems involving maritime technology, and training to adapt to it.  A training protocol will be suggested which should be helpful to manage the current design, technology and equipment of a modern Bridge, achieve good Watch standing practices, while still keeping a sense of traditional seamanship.  This will be done in general terms and not try to designate training for each piece of equipment.

Regardless of whether a Trainee Deck Officer (TDO) has attended a Nautical Academy or not the TDO should complete 24 months sea time, that is actual time at sea which may take more calender time to achieve.  During that time the TDO will work with both the Ratings under the direction of the Boatswain and the Officers.  The TDO shall complete the basic training requirements as laid down in the STCW Code.  These shall be recorded in the TDO's Training Record Book (TRB) as shall the deck work completed under the Boatswain and signed by the Master when the training has been successfully completed.  The TDO will be instructed in all the Bridge equipment and how to operate it, also will learn to steer the ship in both open sea under various conditions for a minimum of fifty (50) hours and in pilotage waters for fifty (50) hours.  It has been noted that currently in cruise ships many Officers cannot steer the ship correctly and receive little or no opportunity to do so in pilotage waters.

On completion of their sea service the TDO will attend required courses for certification as a watch standing Deck Officer in accordance with IMO-STCW at an approved maritime training facility.  During that time ashore the candidate must attend a full simulator course at an approved school in shiphandling, maneuvering, instruction to fully understand the Bridge equipment and how it can assist the candidate in underway Watchkeeping.  Coupled with the background of actually having worked onboard ship for 24 months this is going to be much more advantageous to the candidate for certification as a Deck Officer.  Once the candidate has passed the certification examination he/she should return to sea immediately as a Junior Deck Officer (JDO) and start training to upgrade that certification for Senior Deck Officer (SDO) certification and on completion of that SDO certification return to sea to train towards completing requirements for a Master Certificate of Competency.  Between each upgrade certification 24 months sea time is required followed by attendance at an approved maritime training facility which should include further simulator training.

The idea behind this suggested protocol is TDO training that is straightforward, practical, with a knowledge of traditional seamanship skills, a full understanding of current technology, and its application to achieve high practical Watchkeeping standards.

As has been mentioned above the traditional skills of seamanship do not appear to be known in many cases by currently serving Deck Officers.  NAUTICAL LOG has seen this lack of knowledge firsthand, also heard it mentioned by Port Pilots and others qualified to make such judgments.

Many issues regarding the operation of vessels at sea have been addressed and multitudinous regulations published.  In the smaller vessels operating to these is frankly impossible particularly those with regard to off watch periods and rest.  If the weather is bad as it often is in European waters rest is virtually impossible and the reduced size of the crew means that there are no reliefs available. Yet in spite of this being known the genius team at the IMO continue to allow owners to reduce crews to a scandalous level below safe minimum manning and pump out more "safety" regulations impossible for these vessels to comply with.  Why ?

The Cruise Ships have adequate Officers on the Bridge but are they in actual fact adequately trained.  In recent years a European maritime safety investigation of the maritime training facilities in the Republic of the Philippines (RP) found conditions so poor and training equipment so bad that there was and still is a high risk that the RP maritime certification will no longer be recognized.  Yet one of the RP's biggest employers of both maritime Officers and Ratings for all onboard departments is the Cruise Line Industry.  How valid, in at least some cases, are the certificates issued to these RP crewmembers and how real is the actual training they supposedly received.  The European investigation raised serious questions along these lines which have not been properly resolved. 

As to the actual standard of Watchkeeping in vessels generally the layout of the modern Bridge can help tremendously however it can also hinder tremendously.  The instrumentation is grouped by its purpose and is of a much higher quality than just a couple of decades ago.  The Officer on Watch (OOW) is now seated in a chair within hand reach of controls or even with a set of controls built into the armrest.  Close at hand are screens which give the OOW all the information needed to keep a professional Watch.  However just the fact of sitting down could be a hazard because becoming relaxed and observing these same screens can cause the OOW to fall asleep, which has already happened in quite a few cases both reported and unreported but known in the industry - seafarers gossip - and is also a common occurrence on flight decks in the airline industry.  The young modern OOW seems to also forget that they should get up off that seat regularly, walk the width of the Bridge and observe the surrounding sea and horizon visually - that's what those windows are for !! 

Another navigational issue is the ships position.  This is continually plotted by the various instruments such as GPS to show where the vessel is but that position it is only as good as the data entered, if the Navigation Officer has made an error and the other OOW's do not take bearings, pay attention to tide and current effects it is useless rubbish.  On ocean passages so much reliance is placed on the SATNAV system that OOW's are not taking sextant sights and again if there is a problem with the SATNAV the OOW will quite likely be blissfully unaware until something goes terribly wrong and it is too late.

From personal experience when Master the Navigation Officer laid in a course from a waypoint to the next waypoint at a channel buoy which led right across a sandbar.  Due to NAUTICAL LOG always checking the courses well ahead of the ships current position and having excellent local knowledge we avoided a grounding.  The Navigation Officer, a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy with a B.Sc., and Third Mate Ocean license, was a much wiser young Officer afterwards.  If he had had those 24 months as TDO prior to being allowed to stand watch straight from graduation it might have made him a more aware Navigator and Deck Officer with a concentration of practical experience rather than just theoretical classroom training.

There are many more points to be considered than NAUTICAL LOG has addressed here.  Before we started siting negative examples we suggested a training protocol to address and correct them.  Owners need to do the same and write an Operating Manual for the ships Officers and Ratings with sections for each Department.  There should be a Masters Manual which covers the Owners instructions to the Master and these should be in a language that is understood by them - do not presume that that is English if you hire multi-national crews.  Certainly the originals must be in English but copies in other languages are going to have to be onboard the vessels in addition.

Finally and this particularly applies to the Cruise Industry listen to your Officers it is their profession and since most of you Cruise Line Managers are from the Hotel and Tourist Industries these days you really need to do so.  There are now 3000 to 5000 persons - "guests" as you call them - on board these floating recreation bases and in an emergency at sea you do not stand a dogs chance of getting most of them off alive in your "lifesaving" systems.  In a serious maritime accident the loss of life will be extremely high.  So now knowing this you had better start out with professional Bridge Officers with the highest level of confirmed training possible.

Good Watch.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


USS Arizona BB 39
It started on December 07, 1941 with the sinking of the USS Arizona BB 39 at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii on Sunday morning.

USS Missouri BB 63
It ended on September 02, 1945 with the Japanese surrender on board the USS Missouri BB 63 in Tokyo Bay, Japan.
Good Watch.

Friday, December 6, 2013



So at last Nelson Mandela has been allowed to die peacefully at home with his family - what an extraordinary man - his body finally rejecting the anti-biotic medications being administered.  Mandela was a Xhosa who speak a distinctive tonal language which has three types of click sound for consonants and is often known as the "clicking language".

The family of NAUTICAL LOG has long connections with South Africa from its British Empire years on my Irish side of the family.  Several of my Mother's (she had a Zulu name in addition to her Irish name) uncles served in the British Colonial Administration, after fighting in the Boer War of 1899-1902 one of my great-uncles William O'Grady served as an Administrator in Swaziland.  When he returned to England in retirement he kept in touch with friends and children of those friends in South Africa.  As a result of this one evening a limousine with outrider escort arrived at our Dublin, Ireland suburban home with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Johannesburg, who was a son of a South African friend, to visit - caused quite a stir on our street as you can imagine.

During my sea career NAUTICAL LOG called at South African Ports many times so got to see firsthand something of the country that had been a regular topic of conversation with my Mom.

While NAUTICAL LOG is not one for having "heroes" there are persons one admires so it is perhaps not surprising that two are from South Africa.  Mahatma Gandhi who born in India was a lawyer in South Africa before returning to India and Nelson Mandela also a lawyer who was born, raised and died in South Africa.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Seafarers unfortunately suffer crime just as folks who live ashore do.  Quite often they occur while the seafarer is ashore and are the same as persons living ashore suffer from.  The other type of crime is somewhat unique to seagoing for example currently and in the last couple of decades there has been an upsurge in piracy.

This increase NAUTICAL LOG believes is largely due to two attitude causes the Marine Insurance Industry and Law Firms.  The current trend amongst Shipowners and their Management Companies is to follow the advice of these persons and just pay the ransom demanded by the pirates hoping to have the ship released - there is little or no concern for the crews in many cases.  Economic and social conditions in the countries involved in piracy offer little incentive to change from their life style of crime - which piracy is and actually a hanging offence - when rarely is punishment enforced and the ransom demanded is paid.  In addition seafarers are not allowed to defend themselves with extreme prejudice and when this actually occurs some Nations take extreme offence against the seafarers security persons as India did still detaining the Italian military personnel for trial.

The approach to dealing with crime at sea aboard ship is complicated as an example take those that occur in the cruise ships.  These vessels are manned by hundreds of crew who are of many different nationalities, various cultures, speaking many languages with supposedly English as the lingua franca - well from 25 years of personal experience as a cruise ship Officer good luck with that !!  

Really considered in comparison to crime rates ashore crimes at sea amongst crewmembers and against passengers - the correct legal term but called "guests" by the Hotel Industry trained persons who now operate cruise ships - are at quite a low rate.  It is difficult to deal with and prosecute these crimes as International Maritime Law recognizes the Flag State as the nationality of the vessel.  Passengers fail to understand when they purchase a cruise ticket they are covered only by what is printed on the back in very small print.   Once they step on board the vessel even while it is still at a cruise terminal they are now in the Flag State Nation bound by and subject to its Laws regardless of their own Nationality or the country the cruise terminal is in.  To summarize, when you board a Panamanian Flag State cruise ship at the Port of Miami, Florida you are legally in the Republic of Panama. 

Mostly the cruise lines, Flag State and local law enforcement are not particularly interested in getting involved.  There are U.S. law firms who specialize in the miseries of passengers with the cruise lines but in actual fact it is only on rare occasions that much comes of it and after the first flush of reports on CNN or FOX it fades quietly away with a settlement in confidence.  NAUTICAL LOG knows these law firms quite well based in both Texas and Florida and they are going to disagree strongly with this viewpoint but that is how it works in practice.

When NAUTICAL LOG came to sea as a Cadet on December 29, 1953 some 60 years ago most accidents involving vessels be they collisions, cargo damage or whatever nautical event it was were treated "In Rem" and charges were brought against the ship.  The Master while considered responsible was usually the scapegoat and maybe the Officer on Watch got punished as well.  With the formation of the European Union the concept of Common Law of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland was mixed in with the concept of Code Napoleon law applied in other European nations.  The result - besides mountains of regulations many of which confuse the others with the result none are followed correctly it seems - is that maritime law is now applied "In Personam" and the seafarers are charged and punished as individuals involved in the nautical event.

Thus in the case of the MS Costa Concordia this thinking led to an Indonesian helmsman being charged and punished when the Master and several Senior Deck Officers were all on the Bridge at the time of the grounding.  Absolutely disgraceful even allowing for the fact that it was under Italian law which is something of a mystery even to the Italians themselves.  Also in the United States Masters have been removed from their vessels in handcuffs on several occasions and without the presence of a lawyer.  This has been done by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) which issues seagoing papers to U.S. Citizens, acts as the law enforcement agency, judge and jury to all seafarers under the terms of the IMO-STCW.  This is particularly the case when non-citizens in command of non-U.S. Flag State ships are involved and is a clear violation of the principles of the U.S. Constitution.  The United States unfortunately picks and chooses these principles when non-U.S. citizens are involved which is not helpful to U.S. seafarers overseas.

Good Watch.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


As we mentioned in our Post AWKWARD APPROACH we are looking more to publishing websites and Posts on subjects that reflect useful information and educate in Nautical Science.  There is NAUTICAL LOG believes a serious lack of seamanship amongst seagoing crews today in the cruise industry many of the Officers cannot steer their ship in an emergency.  We have therefore added a link to Pocket Mariner which should be a useful planning and operational navigational tool.  We shall continue looking for useful data and are interested in our readers opinions particularly those whom are navigators so we look forward to comments.

There are two versions an U.K. App. and an U.S. App. so be careful reading the SeaNav advertising package for which one needed.  As you should know there are considerable difference between the U.K./E.U. system and U.S. systems.  In the International Association of Lighthouse Associations (IALA) buoyage systems the U.S. uses IALA-B (thankfully) and the U.K./E.U. IALA-A, which NAUTICAL LOG detests it being difficult to see the topmarks (in poor visibility) which can give a whole different meaning to what is being marked.  The IALA-B system is simpler and straight forward so in our opinion a safer system for seafarers particularly recreational boaters.

Enjoy looking into this planning system.

Good Watch.

NOTE:  Those of you who use AKISMET SERVICE® to screen comments - with all the spam screening is much needed - NAUTICAL LOG  has been informed that the system is dumping valid comments on occasions. 

Good Watch.