Friday, January 31, 2014

SLIPPERY SLIPWAY

Well now NAUTICAL LOG is feeling rather pleased!!  It appears that the SSCS fleet has followed a suggestion we made in our Post Operation Relentless and is now guarding the slipway of the MS Nisshin Maru thus preventing the catchers offloading their whales for butchering.  To quote Peter Hammarstedt of the MS Bob Barker:

"The primary strategy of our Antarctic Whale Defence Campaign is to secure the slipway of the Nisshin Maru and allow no dead whales to pass into this floating abattoir.  We have achieved this goal.  We will continue to block the slipway of this poaching ship, relentless in our mission to protect the whales and the sanctity of the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."

Wow! heady stuff indeed.  While the language is a little exaggerated and somewhat pompous the end result is the important point that the slipway of the MS Nisshin Maru is blocked preventing whales being hauled on board.

If the SSCS fleet can continue this blockage and shut down the Japanese Whaling Fleet (JWF) then Operation Useless may become the Operation Relentless as was intended.  So for once NAUTICAL LOG says "Bravo Zulu SSCS and keep up this good work ."

Good Watch.


WHITE HOUSE ARCTIC PLAN

 Suddenly the morning coffee of NAUTICAL LOG tastes a little bitter.  Reading the maritime blogs there is an article in gCaptain about a Plan by the White House to make Arctic shipping safer. Oh! dear me if it is anything close to their ACA (Obamacare) then the Arctic is in further hot water - hmmm.


 
 Top photo the Bering Sea showing U.S., Canada and Russia.  The U.S. and Canadian border on the Beaufort Sea coastline in lower photo.
The Navy Oceanographer Rear-Admiral Jon White announced that an inter-agency team has made a comprehensive assessment after a review of current Arctic sea-ice projections.  By 2020 the Bering Strait is projected to be ice free 160 days in the year.   The U.S. State Department will attempt to reach agreement with Canada on the maritime boundary in the Beaufort Sea.

With all that the current Administration has on its plate, that it already cannot deal with, why would they not wait until the IMO Polar Code is presented for ratification.  The U.S. could then negotiate with Canada to present a Joint Amendment with regard to their part of the Arctic Region.

Good Watch


Thursday, January 30, 2014

IMO POLAR CODE

Polar Code application areas

What can and did happen already

On January 14, 2014 the Final Draft of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Polar Code was issued.  It was met with disgust by concerned environmental organisations whose representative Mr. Bill Hemmings stated:

"A Polar Code which fails to address the major environmental dangers of increased shipping opens the door to potentially catastrophic consequences should a disaster happen.  Environmental protection has essentially been put on a back-burner through the active lobbying of the shipping and cruise industry which consistently dismisses ecological concerns. 

This is a disgraceful illustration of big business working behind the closed doors to advance its own corporate interests before those of mankind and the unique polar environment.  When the next big incident happens in polar waters the public will know where responsibility lies."

NAUTICAL LOG completely and heartily concurs so has quoted Mr. Bill Hemmings here in full.  As has been the pattern in recent decades the IMO is useless in effectively protecting seafarers, maritime safety and the environment.  It issues regulations which make little or no practical sense, are often counter to each other and impossible to follow because of the small minimum crews the IMO itself approves to operate ships.  The Organisation as very little respect amongst seafarers who know it is the darling of the ship owners and operators.

The concerned organisations Mr. Bill Hemmings represents are:
  • Seas at Risk.
  • Transport & Environment.
  • Clean Shipping Coalition.
  • Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition.
  • Friends of the Earth US.
  • Pacific Environment.

NAUTICAL LOG fails to understand why the IMO would not have say two environmentalists as Observers during the development of this Polar Code.  One can only therefore presume that the closed doors meetings are because of the clearly intense lobbying and thus preferential treatment given ship owners.  This Polar Code gains little or no respect before it is even presented to seafarers and governments for ratification.

Good Watch.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

BOXING SEA SHEPHERDS

UPDATE:
Monday January 27, 2014.
Apparently the reason there are so few reports from Operation Relentless is that they are not doing very much.  The JWF continues catching whales while the SSCS give the impression that they are following the U.S. Court order to stay 400 metres away from the JWF ships.  So it appears  from the relative positions of the SSCS ships ahead and astern of the JWF MS Nisshin Maru.  The Operation Relentless seems to be more an Operation Useless.

 
Dramatic news from the Southern Ocean - well at least according to Sea Shepherd Australia.  There is a report on their website which claims as usual excellent results from very little action on the part of the SSCS in "boxing-in" the JWF.  According to them the JWF run away at the sight of the SSCS ships.

The report is of course somewhat exaggerated, a bit bombastic and while stating things rather gives itself away in not really knowing what the JWF have been doing.  It seems the SSCS vessels lost track of the JWF but with the help of the Australian Government Environmental Minister found them again.  There was heavy fog in the region in which the SSCS ships lost track of the JWF as far as one can tell.

Whales remains
 
MS Bob Barker

MS Steve Irwin
 
To quote that intrepid chap Peter Hammarstedt "After finding the discarded remnants of butchered whales..............We wasted no time in following the bloody trail of remains.....to the Nisshin Maru." 

That is one way one supposes but some skillful radar navigation might be easier and more effective than just happening to cross courses with whale remains.  Methinks a little dramatic writing here for the public at large once again with this chap the influence of "Wats-his-name" mentoring. 

Of course what the remains of the whales actually sadly indicate is that regardless the JWF are killing whales and once again the SSCS vessels are unable to prevent it.  In all honesty one has to wonder just how "relentless" it has been to date in Operation Relentless.

Good Watch

Thursday, January 23, 2014

CAPT. PAUL EMILE FRANCOEUR






The death occurred on Tuesday January 21, 2014 of Captain Paul Emile Francoeur (90).  For many years under different ownerships of Eastern Steamship Lines (ESL) he was Master of their SS Ariadne.    NAUTICAL LOG served during 1969 as 2nd. Officer in the SS Ariadne which CAPT. Paul commanded on cruises from South Florida. In fact he was one of the original South Florida cruise ship Masters.

Born in St. Alexis de Matapedia, Gaspe, Quebec, Canada he served in various ships before joining Eastern Steamship Lines.  In 1970 he was accepted into the Biscayne Bay Pilots Association as a Port of Miami Pilot until retiring in 1991.

Eastern Steamship Lines was founded in 1901 by the Wall Street financier C. W. Morse and consolidated several small New England coastwise passenger lines.  They offered service from New York to New England ports and winter cruises to Florida.  Ceasing operations during World War 2 they resumed afterwards.  In 1954 the line was bought by F. Leslie Fraser who transferred the ships to Panamanian registry.  Cruise service offered was along the coast of New England and the Canadian Maritimes until 1962 when the line was sold to W. K. Lovett an investment banker, owner of the "Piggly Wiggly" supermarkets well known here in the South.

In 1970  Eastern Steamship Lines was sold to a Norwegian company Gotaas-Larson, it was not a particularly happy match with ESL and its ships going out of business.  At that time the Norwegians were moving to take over the South Florida cruise business and Gotaas-Larson was itself swallowed by the corporate swamp which resulted in the current Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL).

Good Watch

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

SOLAS AT 100





 

On April 14, 1912 at 2340 the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage, the rest is history and the story well known.


 

On January 20, 1914 100 years ago today as a result of this tragedy 13 Nations held the International Convention of Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) it came into force in 1915 with just 5 Nations having ratified SOLAS. 

At that time Europe was involved in the First World War from 1914 to 1918 but eventually most if not all maritime nations signed and ratified the Convention and today it is the normal standard for safely operating vessels at sea.  In each country there is a body which is charged by its government and enforces SOLAS on all ships registered in or visiting its Ports.  Known as the Flag State and the Port State Inspections vessels are inspected to SOLAS standards they may be detained until repairs are made should defects be found by these Inspections. 

In the United States of America this is one of the missions of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the National Transportation Safety Board Marine Office (NTSB) conducts inquiries after maritime incidents.

Good Watch.

Friday, January 17, 2014

OPERATION RELENTLESS REPORT

SSCS vessel MS Sam Simon
Well now what a nice surprise this morning to open up the Sea Shepherd Australia link in and find a sensible report.  The article covering current happenings was well written, informative and non-bombastic which is quite a change from previous seasons when "Wats-his-name" wrote his nonsense. 

It is however quite amazing to NAUTICAL LOG that after all the reports about finding the JWF and ships following ships the SSCS has lost contact with the factory ship MS Nisshin Maru.  One would think that a SSCS ship perhaps the MS Sam Simon would be assigned to stay with her to keep track at all times.  It may be that there is not a well coordinated plan or the captains of the SSCS vessels are not able to execute the plan or handle their ships in an effective manner.  We shall just have to see if they have the navigational ability to do so.   Instead of racing back and forth in dramatic fashion across the Southern Ocean like the MS Bob Barker transmitting bombastic signals, remain and track the JWF ships so as to actually know what is going on.

NAUTICAL LOG suspects that the Japanese are catching whales maybe not in large numbers but still catching them.  As to the Australian Customs patrol plane it seems to be totally ineffective, a waste of time and tax money.

Good Watch

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

OVERFLIGHT 1

JWF vessels
"the plane, the plane" - remember that little chap?


 
The wasted operations continue in the Southern Ocean as a report from Peter Hammarstedt in the MS Bob Barker confirmed that the Australian Government conducted its first flyover to monitor the Japanese Whaling Fleet (JWF).

An A319 Airbus chartered by the Australian Customs flew over the whaling area for about ten minutes just after 0900 on Monday.  The plane flew low enough to be easily identified but did not make any known radio contact with the SSCS MS Bob Barker, it is unknown if the Australian Customs plane was in contact with the JWF.

What this will accomplish if anything is also unknown so it looks as if this overflight is some type of Australian PR, it is also unknown if there will be any other overflights.  As one can see lots of unknowns in all of this which tends to lead one to believe it is nonsense and wasteful spending of Australian taxpayers monies.

The Australian Government will not confirm some of the communications claims of the SSCS coming from the MS Bob Barker so it appears Hammarstedt is trying to be the next "Wats-his-name" making exaggerated claims.

Good Watch.

Monday, January 13, 2014

CRUISING TO SAFETY

 

 How time passes it is now two years since the disaster of the MS Costa Concordia.  The Cruise Industry has adopted new rules with regard to emergency drills, ship operations, life jackets and introduced a "Passenger Bill of Rights" all to counter the sagging public relations (PR) of the industry.  Oh and all these "new" rules might actually help the passengers in a real emergency something that could certainly use lots of improvement. 
 

All these rules have been in place since the 1920's and were enforced largely by the professionalism of European and American seafarers on the Liner Service across the Atlantic and elsewhere in the World.  National companies took pride in striving to be the best possible in looking after their passengers many of whom sailed with not just a particular Line but with a particular Master in that Line.

Those days have long gone and one might add so has a large part of that traditional professionalism passed on from the Masters to their Officers.  Now with multi-national crews and multi-national Officers it is necessary to have training programmes and multi-manuals.   This is necessary because many of these multi-national Officers are the first generation of their nations to go-to-sea as Officers and therefore have no traditions in place.

The company to which the Costa ship belonged has had a wretched two years with fires on board ship and many, many on board problems known within the industry but not actually published which in and of itself is quite surprising - well maybe not.  In certain areas such as South Florida the Cruise Industry is a huge employer, creates an enormous amount of employment in other industries creating capital supplying to these vessels making weekly calls at Florida Ports.  There is an understanding that too much publicity will kill that "golden egg" so problems are kept low profile.

When NAUTICAL LOG sailed in cruise ships they were nothing like the size that they are today, the growth in just a decade or so is amazing.  It used to be that the Safety Officer could get to know the ship very well and be able to remember the extra things needed in an emergency such as where a key valve was hidden in the back of a locker or under a stairwell.  Nowadays this is clearly impossible and indeed foolish to attempt when there are iPads® and similar handy-dandy gadgets to carry as one makes the "Rounds" of the ship which reveal all - just remember to keep the battery fully charged.

Instead of just a Safety Officer in these ships with 6000 persons on board one needs a Safety Team.  Also with the much shorter rotations on board the Safety Officer does not get to know the ship in detail so it is necessary for her or him to have that data instantly available.  With the use of computers this is not a difficult task but it takes time and that is what the crews today do not have much of. 

So all these "new" rules are actually the old rules from the 1920's on brought to the Cruise Industry's attention in the 2020's 100 years later - now there's food for thought. 

Lets see what they are shall we.

Safety recommendations:
  • Ships must hold emergency drills for embarking passengers before leaving port.
  • The nationality of all passengers must be recorded and made readily available to search and rescue workers if needed.
  • Ships ordered after 2013 must store lifejackets near muster stations or lifeboats.
  • Heavy items must be secured.
  • Crew members responsible for lifeboats must practice loading and moving the full vessels at least every six months.
  • Access to the Bridge must be limited at potentially dangerous times.
  • Bridge operating procedures must be consistent among brands owned by the same company.
  • Routes must be planned in advance and shared with all members of the Bridge Team.
  • The industry must standardize 12 keys points that passengers will learn during muster drills and emergency instruction.
NAUTICAL LOG would like to note it was with relief that passengers, a maritime law legal term, are so called and NOT the hotel style "guests" the Cruise Industry likes to use.


Passenger Bill of Rights:
  • The right to disembark a docked ship if essential needs are not able to be addressed on board.
  • The right to a full refund if a trip is canceled due to mechanical problems or a partial refund for trips that are cut short.
  • The right of passengers to get timely updates about itinerary changes if a mechanical failure or emergency disrupts a trip, as well as updates on attempts to deal with mechanical problems.
  • The right to transportation to the scheduled final port or a passengers home city if a cruise ends early because of mechanical issues.
  • The right to a place to stay if passengers must disembark and stay overnight at an unscheduled port.
  • The right to have full-time professional emergency medical attention on oceangoing ships until medical care on shore becomes available.
  • The right to a ship crew that is properly trained in emergency and evacuation procedures.
  • The right to emergency power if a main generator fails.
  • The right to have included on cruise lines websites a toll-free phone line that can be used for questions or information about any aspect of ship operations.
NAUTICAL LOG can see from just writing this information that the Cruise Industry has opened quite a can-of-worms for itself.  In many of the ports visited by cruise ships it is just not possible to provide some of these "rights" and the maritime lawyers are going to have a field day with any future incident.  On that "timely updates" issue the Purser/Hotel Manager/Cruise Director/ whomever had better be well trained in handling PR.  Passengers tend to ask a cleaner, steward or waiter and then go berserk when they do not get an answer to some complex shipboard problem.

Well there it is the latest PR from the Cruise Industry and NAUTICAL LOG must say in fairness it is really great and a huge relief to be retired able to view all this from the outside and ashore!!

Good Watch.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

OPERATION RELENTLESS

The SSCS vessel MS Sam Simon formerly a JWF vessel

Reports on the whaling in the Southern Ocean are less frequent than in previous years by both the JWF and SSCS.  It seems that in spite of Mr. Bob Brown being in charge of this seasons Operation Relentless now that "Wats-his-name" is out of the picture the tactics have not changed that much.

 
As in previous years the SSCS vessels follow the JWF and then claim they are "chasing" them away - one would ask away from what?  On the other side a JWF catcher vessel MS Yushin Maru No.3 follows one of the SSCS vessels MS Bob Barker which heads towards Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone. (AEEZ)  The JWF vessel then stops one nautical mile outside the AEEZ so as to obey International Maritime Law as the SSCS vessel enters the AEEZ.  What has this accomplished?  Wasting fuel?

All that NAUTICAL LOG can see is that it burns a lot of fuel with no effective results, fuel that is difficult for the SSCS to replace without leaving the Southern Ocean.  This is what happened last season with disastrous results for the SSCS and was most likely the final blow to tolerating "Wats-his-name" as overall person-in-charge of the SSCS fleet.  For the JWF which has a resupply tanker chartered the problem is not that serious as long as it moves north of the  restricted area to refuel at sea which again it is well experienced in doing from past seasons.  So once again we are seeing pointless tactics repeated from past seasons operations which are proven in not actually saving a single whale in spite of phony statistics put out by SSCS.

Another phony communication exchange can be read on the SSCS Australian article "Harpoon Ship Stopped."   This series of exchanges is really complete nonsense even by SSCS and government standards.  It serves absolutely no useful purpose whatsoever does not save a single whale and indicates the rather childish behavior of the persons involved - which is an insult to children!

Since the SSCS have refused to observe the U.S. Court Order to stay 400 metres away from the JWF vessels NAUTICAL LOG would suggest that their vessels get up close to the loading ramp of the MS Nisshin Maru.  This would prevent the factory ship from hauling whales on board to be butchered while the other two SSCS ships prevented the catcher vessels from shooting the whales by getting between the whales and the catcher vessels.

However one wonders if these present captains (NAUTICAL LOG uses a lowercase "c" because we are told that they do not hold licenses as Ocean Masters or in fact may not hold Mariners Licenses at all) have the ship-handling skills to execute these tactics.  If they learned from "Wats-his-name" it is questionable because he always approached far too fast slamming into the JWF ships on several occasions as indeed did Hammarstedt on at least one occasion NAUTICAL LOG seems to remember.

So as the season marches on we shall learn just how effective Operation Relentless will be or just as happened last season collapse around itself caused by amongst other things fuel wasting tactics.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

SOME GOOD NEWS

MS Xue Long
Making a helicopter landing zone


Commonwealth Bay where the MS Akademik Shokalskiy embayed herself
 
MS Aurora Australis


 
Just got my morning coffee and opened the NAUTICAL LOG e-mail to read that both the ships stuck in Antarctic ice are free.  The Russian Master of MS Akademik Shokalskiy reported that the wind shifted to westerly and cracks appeared in the ice he was able to use one long crack (known as a "lead") to manoeuvre and make it out to open water with his crew of 22.

Also on board the Chinese icebreaker MS Xue Long (Snow Dragon) the Captain was able to sail through the floating ice to open water with her crew of 101.  This is particularly good news because it was the Chinese icebreaker's helicopter (Snow Eagle) that ferried all the scientists and passengers from the Russian expedition ship to the icebreaker MS Aurora Australis which was in open water.

All these ships were well supplied with food and water so the danger was from ice only which is more than enough to have to worry about.

Good Watch

Monday, January 6, 2014

SLAUGHTERING AGAIN

JWF factory ship MS Nisshin Maru

Caught whales on deck of factory ship
 

UPDATED January 08, 2014.

The Japanese Whaling Fleet (JWF) is already busy welcoming in the New Year 2014 with a new season of slaughtering whales.  The anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) have made contact with the JWF and is monitoring its activities with its three vessels.  Mr. Brown the person in charge of Operation Relentless through SSCS Australia said that the JWF was in an internationally recognized whale sanctuary however the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said there is no internationally recognized whale sanctuary.  So who to believe as already the annual confusion over whom is doing what starts with the first whales caught.  So far neither New Zealand or Australia intend to sent a government patrol vessel to the Southern Ocean.

From two of the captains of the SSCS vessels, Peter Hammarstedt and Siddharth Chakravaty  both "Wats-his-name" trained, come statements which are once again a repeat of those made in previous years.  However they are less bombastic than those usually made when "Wats-his-name" was in overall command of the SSCS fleet.  They do however use meaningless terms such as "chased away from the Southern Ocean" and "apprehended"  which means to capture or arrest someone.  The SSCS has not arrested anyone and in fact has no legal authority or power to do so.  As to the chasing away NAUTICAL LOG does not believe the JWF is now in the least concerned with the SSCS vessels they are merely searching for whales in known areas.

They have seen in previous years that the SSCS vessels back off at the last minute and the rare impacts that have taken place are due to misjudgments in ship-handling skills by the SSCS vessels.  It would seem that any hope of something really constructive being done by the SSCS vessels to actually stop and further prevent the slaughter of whales is not going to happen.

Sea Shepherd Australia is criticizing the Australian government for backing away from pre-election promises to send a ship to monitor the JWF.  While ranting on about others not obeying the Law as they see it,  the SSCS themselves have refused to obey a U.S. Court order to stay 400 metres away from the JWF vessels.

Good Watch.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

LEADING EUROPE BY -

This was logged-in as a "Fully attended Session"
 
NAUTICAL LOG received some interesting photographs from the European Union Parliament this weekend.  Every five years the Europeans of its 28 Member Nations vote to elect their Members of European Parliament (MEP) 2014 is a voting year.  There are currently 754 Members which for some reason NAUTICAL LOG does not understand is trying to be reduced to 751 Members.

Now the current United States Administration is liberal generally left-of-center so are admirers of the EU.  They have already managed in European fashion to impose upon us all here in America an Affordable Health Care System - "Obamacare".   Folks it is not affordable, when its website opened it was so full of faults even the creators had trouble getting coverage.  Another great purpose of the EU is to achieve Social Equality of course our current Administration is just ecstatic about that one also .  Now the Administration has a "National Maritime Domain Plan" so god knows what that will do to seafarers.  All this has been done in the European Union already so all the current U.S. Administration is doing is copying items passed by the MEP's.

Now with such momentously important tasks one might think the best and brightest are at this European Union Parliament - maybe they are just exhausted from all those decision-making tasks. 

By the by NAUTICAL LOG understands the salary for these persons relaxing below is €12,000.00 per month, €144,00.00 per annum plus various allowances for residence, travel and social interaction.


 

 
 
 
 
 
What a most impressive group of people whom the current U.S. Administration uses as its example.
 
Good Watch.

 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

IN EFFECT

It always takes a long time for changes to come into effect between the decision finally being reached at the Body concerned, then Ratification by the various Members and so becoming Law.  There is excellent coverage in the maritime Blog gCAPTAIN and no doubt there will be M-Notices coming from the British Government MCA in regard to these Amendments.

On January 01, 2014 a series of Amendments to IMO, SOLAS, and MARPOL came into effect.  Also a change to the 1988 Load Line Protocol which moved the Southern limit of the Winter Seasonal Zone 50 nautical miles southward from the coast of South Africa. 


Considering the huge seas often found off this coast NAUTICAL LOG found it rather strange this change took place after all the recent reports of vessels cracking and excessive working of the huge newly built ships.  We shall just have to see if this was a wise decision to change the 1988 Load Line Protocol.

Good Watch.