Friday, June 17, 2016

STANDING DOWN

In a previous Post we discussed the decline of the United States Merchant Marine (USMM) now it appears the situation is so bad that basic shipboard discipline cannot be enforced.  Is this due to the Masters and Officers incompetence, the power of the Maritime Unions to overrule them or a combination of both.  From what NAUTICAL LOG has seen and heard it appears to be a combination of both.

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) has announced that it is "standing down" Sea Year.  This is when the Seniors go to sea in USMM vessels to experience directly what life at sea is all about - well the United States Maritime Union controlled version anyway, rather different from other Nations Merchant Navies as NAUTICAL LOG well knows from 50 years as a seafarer.

The concern is that the USMMA cannot guarantee the safety on board USMM vessels of the Midshippersons as we suppose one must now call the USMMA trainees.  One gets the impression that sexual assault is rampant on the campusi of United States Universities including USMMA and this in turn is carried on to USMM vessels. 

The mind boggles frankly at all this.  For this decision to have been made by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) there must be a clear basis for concern.  Truly these United States are  rapidly descending into a cesspool if they have not already done so.

Good Watch -  if one sails in the USMM y'all will need it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

FINALLY AN ATTEMPT TO RECOVER

NAUTICAL LOG has on previous occasions discussed the SS El Faro VDR in a Post titled RELUCTANCE TO RECOVER and two other Posts about the VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) of the SS El Faro

The Ship sank in Hurricane Joaquin on October 01, 2015 off the Bahamas.  There has seemed to be a reluctance by all parties involved to continue the attempt to recover the VDR from some 15,000 feet - admittedly a considerable depth.  However because of the importance of possible data on the recorder such an attempt must be made.

Finally the NTSB has contracted with the USN Supervisor of Salvage to assist in the recovery of the VDR.  The USNS Apache will depart in early July 2016 together with USCG, Phoenix International and an underwater operating vehicle the CURV-21.

Once the VDR is recovered it will be brought ashore to the NTSB laboratory and thoroughly studied to download and analyze the information.  With these results in hand the USCG will conduct a two hearings to investigate the sinking and question witnesses.  A third hearing is planned for later this year and will likely analyze the data from the recorder.

With the extremely long time in accomplishing this investigation one has to wonder if the fact that the USCG licensed, drilled and inspected the vessel, which was in deplorable condition, has a bearing on these apparent delays.  It has taken pressure from the Democratic Senator for Florida Bill Nelson to keep things moving and one feels that it is largely due to his pressure that this recovery attempt is even taking place.

Good Watch.

Monday, June 6, 2016

JUNE 06, 1944

NAUTICAL LOG would like to take a moment this morning to thank all who served in World War 2 and particularly those who landed on the beaches of Normandy, France this morning. 

At that time one was an eight year old boy beginning to understand what was going on and going to church with my mother to pray for "the lads".  My Mother had already experienced  both World War 1, the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Troubles that followed before Ireland became a fully independent nation.  One can remember the terribly wounded Veterans of World War 1 and now here it had all repeated itself once again.

NAUTICAL LOG is now in his 80th. year more than likely one has achieved this and a long most enjoyable career in the Merchant Navy due to the sacrifice of others.  So thank you to those who rest "In Flanders Fields" including members of my own family.  Rest assured you all are not forgotten by this Merchant Navy Officer.

Good Watch.

Friday, June 3, 2016

HARDLY PRACTICAL

NAUTICAL LOG has previously addressed comments by an American Merchant Marine Officer who following the policy of his Union refers to the numerous cruise vessels operating out of U.S. Ports as FOC vessels.  Of course nothing could be further from the truth, both he and his Union wallow in this antiquated concept that anything non-American is substandard. In passing it is worth mentioning that a U.S. Flag vessel, the S.S. El Faro with a full U.S. maritime Union crew and in the most deplorable condition, was lost with all hands last year off the Bahamas. It sailed directly into the path of a hurricane in one of the most puzzling decisions by her USCG licensed and maritime Union Master. 

As the United States continues to slip towards a Third World status with a rapidly declining infrastructure, an outdated transportation system particularly the railroad system so far behind the European Union in both speeds and comfort of trains.  Then we have the armed crime ridden cities which the local governments seem to be unable to curb and control.  Many of us who became U.S. Citizens by choice watch in disgust.  Sadly instead of working to help improve the situation it is reported that now many native born citizens are leaving the country and unwisely giving up their USC.

In a comment to "Old Salt Blog" the USMM Officer asks what can be done to save the USMM from further decline.  The answer he got from that blogs owner was enlightening and well worth reading.  In addition NAUTICAL LOG decided to comment as well from the perspective of an Officer who served during three decades in passenger ships in various parts of the world including the cruise lines based in South Florida and Alaska.

We suggested that the USMM does not mann any of the cruise ships operating from U.S. Ports mainly one believes due to the overbearing maritime Unions requirements which suffocate that possibility.  Attempts to do so by the cruise lines have ended in disaster as one cruise line found out when they tried U.S. Union crews from Honolulu, HI.  Also in Hawaii a U.S. operation to provide Inter-island ferries also had to be shut down due to impractical State Regulations and maritime Union requirements.

So what has brought all this on in a NAUTICAL LOG Post.  Well the American Union Officer concerned has it seems being doing some thinking about his Merchant Marine and perhaps his Union.  In our comment we suggested that the USMM had to be rebuilt from the top down and the bottom up.  Unions had to change from the "them and us" concept and work with management by having seats on the Board to build a successful company together.  The infamous, outdated and impractical Jones Act is no longer needed and should be abolished.  In all honesty we do not believe this is possible in the United States so the decline will continue apace perhaps depending on the result of the upcoming general election.

Recently NAUTICAL LOG received a catalog of their cruises and vessels from an American cruise line which operates magnificent paddle vessels on the larger rivers running north/south and east/west of the United States.  It was interesting to learn on contacting them that their first choice for Captains and Officers where former USCG and USN personnel used to dealing with "affluent passengers of the country club set".  We thought that a classic arrogant reply - no class distinction in the United States !!  While their paddle vessels were luxurious the small vessels they operate were cramped with only one lounge forward and a dining room aft.  Yet the cost of a cruise was many times more than those offered by the Cruise Lines based in U.S. Ports.  In fact it is far better value to obtain a package offered by European river cruise lines and fly to Europe for this type of vacation.

So between attitudes like that in the maritime industry and the requirements of the maritime Unions it would seem the USMM has an uphill battle if it is to stop its continuing decline and success is not forecast !!

Good Watch.