Sunday, January 29, 2017

AND SO IT CONTINUES

Once again  NAUTICAL LOG has a boating tragedy to report from Asia in our continuing monitoring of the lack of maritime safety in that region.  This time the incident has occurred in Malaysia with the loss of a "tourist boat" from Kota Kinabalu to Pulau Mengalum with 28 passengers and 3 crewmembers most of whom are Chinese celebrating the week long Chinese New Year of the Rooster.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) reports it is engaged in a "search and  rescue" effort hampered by bad weather.  From this one might conclude that the missing catamaran departed on its passage in bad weather or with bad weather forecast.  The boat is reported to have left at 0900 local time on Saturday for the 60 km trip to the popular tourist island offshore. 

MMEA is covering a 400 nautical square mile search area where storms are common at this time of year.  It is always interesting when "safety agencies" title themselves as "Enforcement" yet in the case of those involving maritime responsibility allow small craft to proceed to sea regardless of the weather and all too often uninspected.

These reports came to us from BBC World News and the New Straits Times on the Internet.

Good Watch

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

FAKE NEWS

In recent years there has been a steady decline in the professionalism, accuracy and quality of the various Media outlets and the social media.  In the rush to get there first with a story the shoddy Media - lets call it the really shoddy social media - have resorted to making up stories.  When growing up in the late 30's and 40's this was called lying and got one punished in our house.

Fake news includes inaccurate and unsupported stories all of which in the last year have been published without correction or apology.  Now it seems this attitude has spread to the maritime blogs.  One blog which was generally pretty good about its posts has slipped in accuracy lately including quoting from European tabloids.  A recent post was about H.M.S. Vengeance and its missile launches off the coast of Florida part of its programme to Certify boat and crew  The story was an ill advised, inaccurate choice in subject matter as to what happened and how the incident was reported to a Foreign Nations Government.  The Blog is written and published by a United States based author who would have been better advised not to have become involved in the affairs of a Foreign Nation and in particular a subject which involved that Foreign Nation's National Security and its Official Secrets Act.

NAUTICAL LOG would respectfully suggest to the Blog author that the post and its - so far - two comments be removed as a courtesy to that Foreign Nations Government and its Prime Minister who arrives to meet with the current U.S. Administration this week.

Many times data crosses the NAUTICAL LOG desk which at first look seems like making an interesting post but on further examination and assessment in this very troubled World thought best to pass over.  It is better to look at the big picture rather than just what is allowed for publication under the U.S. Constitution.  In fact its all part of being a mature responsible person, writer and publisher.

Good Watch.

Monday, January 16, 2017

OUT BUT NOT GONE

Well now here we are in the last couple of days of the 44th. Presidents term of Office and the end of his Administration.  One recalls his Inauguration speech full of hope about all people and races in the United States of America working together - hmm that didn't last a week before he was dividing the Nation by blaming the opposition  Party and previous Administration for the Nations ills.  So it continued whinging and whining for the next eight years with lowering standards and governmental stagnation.  The new 44th. President turned out to be quite unable to make timely decisions and develop an effective foreign policy. He continued to blame Congress and the Republican Party for being unable to get things done.  Of course it is hard to win support when you continually blame your mistakes on other people which he did.  Last week he made a farewell speech which referred to some imaginary country not the one he has attempted to administer these last eight difficult years.

This is something the incoming President and his Administration needs to get into its head also.  The President-Elect is another person who continually blames other people and insults them with childish immature comments on something called "Twitter®" which seems designed for immature thin-skinned persons to use for immature comments not  the professional communication that one expects from a President.-Elect or President. 

Various members of Congress of the Democratic Party the same Party as the departing President are also performing in front of Media cameras and making immature statements.  To any educated voter this indicates that these Members of Congress in turn are not suitable choices to represent We the People of these United States of America.

At Noon on Friday January 20, 2017 the President-Elect  becomes the 45th. President and whether one likes it or not has voted for him or not is quite immaterial.  All the egos that have been ignored, bruised, rattled, or trampled on should realize that the incoming person has the biggest most touchy ego of all - a true super-ego which will have to be dealt with regardless.

Meanwhile the former President instead of leaving Washington, D.C. as is usually done is just moving down the road from the White House, in the Clintons neighborhood, pathetically clinging to a position from where he no doubt will cause as much trouble as he can for the new Administration.

So the World watches and wonders just what path America is taking.

Good Watch.

Friday, January 13, 2017

FINALLY - ACT 3

Yesterday came the rather surprising news that President Obama, who leaves office next week, had cancelled the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that applied only to Cubans trying to get into the United States of America.

What on earth was this "wet foot, dry foot"?  First some background to understand this discriminatory policy.  Back in 1966 under a very different World political atmosphere the United States decided to create and pass into Federal Law the Cuban Adjustment Act which included the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program  it was signed into Federal Law by President Johnson that ultimate politician.  Act 1 was thus on stage.

This policy being unique to Cubans led to the influx of Cubans into Dade County Florida and in a very short time they had taken over the County in business, politics and language which led to the present state where 65% of the Miami-Dade County population now are Spanish speaking and indeed in business one is expected to speak Spanish and English (hopefully - English is not required in many area retail stores and businesses).  You may have noticed that the County name was changed from the historical Dade to Miami-Dade this was by a Cuban immigrant who was elected Mayor.  One could bet that very few of todays population of the now Miami-Dade County know how or why the County got its original and indeed proper name.

So it went on until in the age of bumper stickers one appeared saying "WILL THE LAST AMERICAN LEAVING DADE PLEASE TAKE THE FLAG" - pretty pathetic and sad.  Then we had the Mariel Boat Lift when thousands of Cubans arrived having not been stopped leaving Cuba by the Castro regime and ended up sleeping in the streets of Miami under highways and byways.  Eventually this led to a stadium being opened to them that turned it into something akin to the slums of Calcutta, India. This led to Act 2 coming on stage with President Clinton, another keen political animal, signing the "wet foot, dry foot" adjustment to the Cuban Adjustment Act.  From then on if Cubans landed on the beach they could stay if they were picked up at sea they got sent back.  We know of course exactly how many dry foot persons there are but  an unknown number lost their lives as wet footers.  It was an unwise and foolish policy from Act 1 through Act 2 and led to discrimination to all other immigrants, those in the Caribbean Basin and particularly Haiti which suffered even more than Cuba leading to resentment against the Cubans.  It also led to a human smuggling business of huge proportions.

Now finally President Obama in his last few days in office wrote Act 3 rescinding both the CAA and CMPP Acts.  From yesterday all Cubans without a visa from the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba will be refused entry to the United States of America and those landing on the beach will be returned to Cuba.

All very interesting but what has this to do with we seafarers.  Well at sea there is the long tradition of stopping to help and rescue those in trouble on the water.  However thanks to this very ill advised Act the ships were caught between "a rock and a hard place".  In rescuing these Cubans from various types of floating contraptions we are then placed in the position of applying U.S. Federal Law without even in most cases being U.S. Citizens.  For the cruise ships outward bound from Florida Ports this means keeping the "rafters" as they are known on board for an entire cruise.  Then on the homeward passage handing them over to the USCG for return to Cuba.  In some cases this was actually done by some cruise ship masters but in most cases their position was just reported to the USCG and left to the U.S. Authorities to take action. 

NAUTICAL LOG experienced this several times over the years including being in a chartered vessel returning Haitians to their island one of the most heartbreaking experiences of 50 years as a professional seafarer.

So now it is over both the President and the Play leave the stage and everybody goes home.

Good Watch.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PROFITING ON TRAGEDY

It must be a slow time for writers.  Once again the tragedy of the R.M.S. TITANIC has been dragged up for profit.  The National Geographic Society has apparently made a "documentary" based on writings by an Irish author with supposedly "new evidence" pertaining to the loss of this Trans-Atlantic liner over 100 years ago.

It is not new evidence at all merely a repeat about the bunker coal fire in the forward starboard portion of the lowest decks where the coal trimmers work.  These bunker fires were all too common in steam powered ships using coal and caused by spontaneous combustion.  It was one of the jobs of the trimmers to keep these from spreading. Then in turn feed the burning coal down the coal shoots to the firemen below who in turn fed it into the boiler fires - nice job - in absolutely appalling conditions.

There were no doubt several parameters which caused the loss of this passenger ship these include a poor lookout being kept, placing the ship on a course through an area known for drifting ice instead of steering further south, the type of steel used in shipbuilding at that time which apparently became more brittle in extreme cold and possible damage to the plating due to the coal bunker fire.  However the sinking was not caused by the fire alone as some reports state, that is rubbish.  The miss-reporting is even more absurd here in the United States with the Media this morning stating that the ship was launched with the coal bunker already on fire.  Clearly neither the editors or writers have any idea about the subject they are writing about.

The fire is reported having started soon after the ship was coaled in Belfast, NI/UK for her passage to Southampton, UK to board her passengers for her maiden voyage to New York, NY via Queenstown, Ireland/UK, now known as Cobh, Ireland.  Sadly after departing from Queenstown/Cobh she never arrived in New York. 

After all this time to drag up this terrible event to make profit is callous and NAUTICAL LOG considers the project despicable and shoddy in the extreme.

Good Watch.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A PATTERN CONTINUES

Here we are in a New Year 2017 and once again a pattern continues - that of Asian ferries catching fire, burning to the waterline with terrific loss of life.  Sadly this is a pattern which continues unabated in spite of lots of talk about inspections and safety from principally these same countries Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The latest is one of the interisland ferries in Indonesia when a ferry caught fire it appears in the engine-room and spread rapidly.  Its manifest listed 100 passengers but in fact there were at least 250 persons on board.  Belatedly the "captain" was arrested and we are told faces 10 years imprisonment.

When one reads the reports from both Media and occasionally the relative Government the sequence of events is repeated time and time again.  During the many years NAUTICAL LOG spent in cruise ships we had both Indonesian and Philippine crewmembers.  Later some Junior Officers from these countries were employed, all had to be carefully monitored when standing Watch most particularly Bridge Watch.  One might say that they had minimum training and many times false or improper documents pertaining to that training.  This has been noted by the Safety Agency of the European Union and facilities in the country of origin inspected and assessed by the EU as to quality which varies greatly from school to school.

It greatly concerns NAUTICAL LOG that their employment continues in United States based cruise ships for many cruise lines.  This in spite of the strict, supposedly, standards of the United States Coast Guard which has the responsibility for Inspections and enforcement at U.S. Ports of U.S. and IMO Rules and Regulations.  Sadly in fact as we have seen with the loss of the SS El Faro this standard is not always strictly enforced even in U.S. Registered vessels.  One could perhaps therefore wonder about vessels not Registered in the U.S. however they are inspected to nearly the point of harassment by USCG MSO.

As it is unlikely that these Asian countries will do very much to change an ingrained culture of being extremely casual about safety to the point of it being nonexistent passengers planning cruises should familiarize themselves about the type and quality of the crews now manning these cruise vessels in 2017.

Good Watch.