Friday, April 11, 2014

Technical program released by The New Wave

Tee New Wave Organizing Committee
The Vancouver Island Branch of the Canadian Institute of Marine Engineering is hosting “Marine Engineering: The New Wave“, a technical conference and exhibition for Marine Professionals. The conference will take place June 12 and 13, 2014 at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa. The two-day event will feature guest speakers, relevant technical presentations, a trade exhibition, an evening social event and various networking opportunities.

The conference aims to present cutting-edge developments in the marine, industry, from ship design, repair, construction and operations, to oceanography and marine renewable energy. The schedule each day will be made up of four sessions, two of which will focus on Marine Operations. The other two sessions will explore Marine Design and Ocean Technology.

There is a diverse range of topics that will be presented in the Marine Operations Sessions. Presenters from BC Ferries will discuss the process for the adoption of Liquefied Natural Gas technology into the BC Ferries fleet including the technical requirements, business case and the regulatory issues. The Defence Research and Development Centre [DRDC] Atlantic will give a presentation on the simulation naval platform dynamics and the affect on human and equipment safety as it relates to performing a mission. The results of these simulations are applicable to any platform at sea not just naval platforms.

An analysis carried out by the Maritime State University of Vladivostok will be presented regarding the seaworthiness of ships in freezing seas. Generating energy from the oceans and rivers has become a significant area of research and innovation. Marine Renewables Canada will focus on marine renewable energy on the West Coast of Canada, specifically, what project opportunities are emerging and how the supply chain can contribute and benefit.

Investigations using high fidelity computer simulations are being used to predict the performance of wave energy conversion technology will be presented by the West Coast Wave Initiative based at the University of Victoria. The Oregon Wave Energy Trust will highlight the developments of the wave energy sector in Oregon and the United States. Robotically controlled underwater devices are increasingly used in marine industries. Separate presentations will be given on underwater robotic logging and seafloor robotic mining.

Also from DRDC is a presentation on the development of a docking strategy for recovering an ROV with a submarine through virtual prototyping. Another presentation will examine how adaptive learning techniques can be used to develop vessel and equipment specific
training for fleets.

A few examples from the Marine Design Sessions are as follows: Speakers from the University of Victoria’s Department of Mechanical Engineering will give a presentation concerning the development of an integrated design and analysis platform for hybrid-electric ship propulsion taking into account the dynamics between powerplant, drivetrain and ship hydrodynamics. The presentation will detail UVic’s Green Ship and Hybrid Power Systems research.

Bart Stockdill, representing Robert Allan Ltd.,will discuss how computational fluid dynamics can be used as an effective alternative to costly and time-consuming scale model testing to evaluate the performance of tugboats and other workboats in the design process. The Corvus Energy presentation will cover advances in hybrid and full electric propulsion for passenger ferries that achieve huge fuel savings. A speaker from the National Marine Electronics Association will discuss digital electronic standards for communication between marine equipment in terms of simplifying wiring aboard ships.

The Ocean Technology Sessions will feature presentations focusing on how new technologies will help solve problems currently affecting marine industries. One such presentation from AML Oceanographic will describe how low-power LED-based ultra-violet light sources can be used to control biofouling on a Marine Engineering – The New Wave The West Coast’s Newest wide range of oceanographic equipment.

It is essential for the future of humans that the oceans continue to be a significant source of food. Vancouver Island University will give a presentation on the Blue Revolution, which is adapting advanced engineering to create sustainable shellfish aquaculture systems.

A special area at the conference will be set aside for a poster display of projects by students at post-secondary marine engineering, science and technology colleges and universities.


More details

For the most up to date information regarding the schedule, presentations not mentioned here and all information regarding the conference please refer to the website


A block of 50 rooms is reserved for conference attendees, however you must book by May 12th, 2014 to access the special pricing. Please contact the hotel reservation line to check availability, call 1-800-667-4677, and mention the conference name, “The New Wave“.

Please view the "Program" tab at for full details, times, and abstracts of the presentations.

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Big Iron" gets a fishbowl

BCIT North Van campus,
home to the Cadet programs
I got an email from Russel Oye recently, letting me know of a great development for the west coast engineering types.

Most of you you may know Russel as the long time Shop Instructor at BCIT's North Shore Marine Campus, where all recent Marine Engineering cadets have passed through. Russel is also involved in the Canadian Institutes of Marine Engineering though the Vancouver Branch.

Recently he's been tasked by BCIT to developed a Marine Mechanical Technician program, and the new Heavy Equipment Technician program.

BCIT's Marine Campus
eng. workshop in 2004
The good news comes in the form of BCIT, and Vancouver Community College (VCC), announcing that they are joining "technical training forces", and are moving them to new facilities on Annacis Island, near Vancouver. The facility will be known as the Motive Power Center of Excellence. The provincial government has contributed 4.5 millions dollars to the project.

Motive power programs train heavy-duty mechanics, transport trailer mechanics, diesel mechanics, commercial transportation mechanics, railway conductors and forklift operators.

“Around 43 per cent of the one million jobs expected to open by 2020 will require trades or technical training,” said Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk. “Co-locating two existing heavy-duty transportation programs into one centre will benefit students, industry and employers.”

Pictured below, is the artist rendering of the new facility. Those of you with the keen eye, will notice the dominate feature of the facility, is a glass walled workshop housing a large MAN Diesel engine.

BCIT and VCC's new Motive Power Center of Excellence on Annacis Island

The fully operational medium speed Diesel engine; an inline 7 cylinder, 48/60 series, with common rail fuel injection, weighs in at 119 tons and puts out 8,400 kW. The 48/60 series of engines is the second largest series of the MAN medium speed portfolio, and this particular engine was recently donated to BCIT, by MAN Turbo and Diesel Canada, a value of 1.3 million dollars.

BCIT's MAN 7L 48/60 engine leaves the factory in Germany

You can read my previous blog post on the engine arriving in BC here.

This is of course, great news for us engineering types in Canada, and more importantly the future engineering types. The prominence of the engine, and its showcasing, may offer the first sight of fascination to a developing mind. Not to mention when our next generation choose this profession, they will have a place to develop their interest, with the latest gear and programs.

Congrats to all those involved. I am very anxious to see the finish product, when the new facility opens, expected to be September 2014. You can read the full press release by BCIT here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

CIMarE's 2014 Medal of Excellence

The Canadian Institute of Marine Engineering's Medal of Excellence Award is the hallmark of achievement in the Canadian marine engineering profession. It recognizes an individual's contribution to marine engineering in this country, whether through innovation, service or leadership.

The inaugural presentation last year to Bud Streeter was one of the high points of Mari-Tech 2013 in Halifax. Interviewed afterwards, Mr. Streeter remarked that "to be recognized by one's peers in our industry is the highest honour one can receive."

The nominee does not need to be a member of CIMarE. They must, however, be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Current members of the National Council and serving Branch Executives are not eligible.

Please send your nominations to me by April 7, 2014. They will be kept confidential. You can find the nomination form and further details here.

The presentation of the medal will be made in May at Mari-Tech in Niagara Falls.

Call for Nominations, Extended to April 7, 2014. 

The Canadian Institute of Marine Engineering (CIMarE) was incorporated by federal charter in 1976 to advance and promote the science and practice of marine engineering, naval engineering, naval architecture, ocean engineering, marine electrics/electronics, control engineering and other associated professions. You can find out more about the CIMarE here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's keeping you?

What a hectic few weeks. Got home to BC, from a blizzardy Newfoundland, looks like that it still pretty blizzardy over there. Needless to say I more than happy having to decide whether I should mow my lawn today, or tomorrow. Been busy with quite a few projects; taxes, failed computers / Windows 8, construction project, so on and so forth...

One of the project taking allot of my time these days is Marine Engineering : The New Wave. My duty as a volunteer organizer, is to spread the word about this great project, mainly through the website

Actually things are really picking up. Since the 1990's, I've been involve in quite a few conference by the CIMarE, and, I am always worried about the pace of development - so fellow organizers tell me. But apparently this conference, and it's planning is well on schedule.

VicShip's GM Malcom Barker
will be MC
We've been fortunate to have a great group of sponsors sign on quite early - Seaspan and ShipConstructor maker SSI being Gold Sponsors, with Point Hope, DSA, UVic and the Canada Welding Bureau taking Bronze Level sponsorships stakes, with Tecsol and SNC Lavallin also providing Sponsorship. BC Shipping News, Western Mariner and of course Martin's Marine Engineering Page have been great Media Sponsors.

The exhibitors are also coming in now, DSA, AXYS, and Belzona being the very early birds! I think any exhibitor will really get a great benefits package by participating, especially their online presence will be superb, if I do say so myself! The site is already ranking high on Google, and having your firm exposed on it, is nearly worth the cost of the exhibition space by itself.

We also had a great deal of really interesting papers submitted, and I am hoping we will be able to release news on the presentations shortly. The conference topic is broad in ocean technology but what's amazing, is how the "new fields" like ocean renewable energy dovetails with "traditional" entities of the marine industry.

We also nailed down the evening social, to be held at the BC Maritime Museum in Victoria BC. We've got a nice socializing opportunity, with scrumptious foods, in a great maritime setting, all lined up.

The project is taking allot of my time, but its always gratifying to be involved. The submission deadline for presentation abstracts is today. I am anxious to release the presentation lineup as it will be of interest to many in the industry, and I hope to see you there as a delegate.

Find out more, Marine Engineering - The New Wave; a technical conference and exhibition for marine professionals, Victoria, BC, Canada, June 2014.

Victoria's Delta Resort will be the Conference and Exhibition venue

Friday, March 14, 2014

Looking to dodge Cdn taxes? look to DFO for advice

What's good for the goose...
In response to my recent blog post on a decision, denying a Canada Coasting Act waiver by the Canada Transportation Agency (CTA) - which is very unusual - Halifax Shipping News tweeted about another story, where the Canadian federal government seems to be stabbing the Canadian marine industry in the back.

In his blog post, Halifax Shipping News highlights a Request for Proposal (RFP) by the Depatment of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) which calls for a "heavy lift" ship, to bring two recently built Hero Class midshore patrol vessels to the West Coast. The ships are built by Halifax Shipyards, and two copies are destined to serve on the West Coast of Canada.

Getting them there, according to the RFP, will involve - that seems to be a foregone conclusion - a non Canadian "heavy lift" ship to transport them through the Panama canal, and to the "area around Victoria". The RFP goes on to suggest ways to dodge taxes and cabotage rules.

Have a look at the RFP here - in particular this section is quite telling...
Since there are few, if any, Canadian heavy-lift vessels capable of performing this transport, most likely an international shipper will be using a foreign-flagged vessel to complete this Contract work. Shipping cargo from a Canadian departure point, aboard a foreign heavy-lift vessel means that there are Canadian Cabotage Law considerations and potential tariffs at the destination; To avoid punitive tariffs most shippers would recommend the use of the closest U.S. sea-port to Victoria, B.C., such as Seattle, Washington, to be their destination.
CCG's Hero Class Mid Shore Patrol Vessel in Hamilton, January 2014
Incidentally, I found this article about dodging taxes, while looking for the graphic at the top - I guess the survey was correct, even the government wants to dodge their own taxes and regulations.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The CTA refuses a Waiver - Pinch me !

Actual Cdn. content may vary
Stunned, amazed - "pinch me", the Canada Transportation Agency has surprised me!

You see, I started watching more closely the application and decision process of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), several years ago, after my previous vessel was "displaced" by foreign tankers operating between Canadian ports.

For whatever reason, our vessel, its entire crew, and its management lost the work we had been doing for many years, despite being fully licensed, and authorized to carry on, in our respective trade as a product tanker,  between Canadian ports.

The CTA administers request for "waivers" of the Canada Coasting Trade Act - Cabotage laws, similar to many other jurisdictions, such as the Jones Act in the USA. Basically they protect Canadian operators engaged in trade between Canadian ports. This may sound romantic to the average joe - the government protecting Canadian workers, but actually it not even close to that.

Construction site of the Hebron GBS in Bull rm - from NTV News

The purpose of the Coasting Trade Act is to protect the Canadian ship owners - which is great - but that is all it does. When rendering a waiver decision, the impacts to the Canadian marine workforce, local economies in spin off industries, is not at all considered. Not even the lack of taxes - duty or income taxes (etc) not paid to the crown is considered, despite the crown (our taxes as Canadians) that pay for a large part of the marine infrastructure in Canada.

Nope, the only thing considered when granting these waivers to operate a foreign owned / crewed vessel in Canada, is whether a Canadian ship owner is impacted. ...and this is dependent on whether this ship owner chooses to speak up about it.

The CTA is pretty much a rubber stamping authority, at least from my perspective. Basically any request made for a waiver is generally granted. This is especially true on the East Coast.

Even with a large and mature "offshore industry", the bulk of the work being done to service Canada's offshore oil reserves is done by foreign owned, and crewed vessel. After all why not, the government seems unwilling to require Canadian content, and a Canadian operator would be foolish to assume protection from such an established pattern.

However the CTA did surprise me a few weeks ago, when it declined a waiver, one of the first I have ever seen. Okay, okay, it was for a pontoon...
" Pontoon - Float (nautical), an air-filled structure providing buoyancy "
So, it's a pontoon, really the most basic of floating structures, but to me, this is a major milestones, because now, we know that the CTA is capable of this type of decision. But it was not an easy win, believe it or not.

Dredge pontoon Source

CTA Decision No. 68-W-2014, came after Jan De Nul NV, a Belgian dredge operators, involved in part of the Hebron project, requested a waiver to utilized the “TISNIX”, "a Mauritian flagged diffuser pontoon", to use with other dredging assets, in March - April 2014, when floating the Hebron GBS begins.

Quebec City based, Groupe Ocean, through its dredging subsidiary, Ocean Dredging DSM Inc., proposed several of its assets would be suitable, and available, for the job. I imagine there was much surprise in this response.

There was some "back and forth" about the suitability of the equipment Groupe Ocean was offering - and yes, remember, we are talking about a pontoon. Eventually, the CTA's Sam Barone determined that there was a suitable Canadian vessel available, and denied the waiver. The basis being...
The Guidelines provide that the onus is on the applicant to demonstrate that a ship that has been offered is not suitable and/or is not available for the proposed activity. Further, the Guidelines recognize that the Coasting Trade Act does not state that an offered Canadian-registered ship must be “identical” to the foreign ship proposed in the application. The suitability of a Canadian‑registered ship is not assessed in relation to the foreign ship, but rather in relation to the requirements of the activity and whether the Canadian-registered ship is capable of performing the activity. 
I am not going to hold my breath that this is some kind of major win for the marine industry in Canada, or that this is the start of a trend. After all, 2013 saw the most amount of waiver applications in at least five years. Applications for waivers have been on steady rise, peaking in 2007, but now catching up to peak numbers.

With this decision we find out a couple of things. That there is a limit, even if it is a simple pontoon, and that, some, in the CTA are able to see this limit.

I don't blame anyone for taking advantage of the system that exist. The system is there, because there is an apparent lack of willingness from Canadian ship owners - except for Groupe Ocean in this case - unions, regulators, or clients, to recognize the importance of protecting the Canadian marine industry. Of course, I think this utter stupidity, and self defeating, but it is what it is.

However, if the government, et al, are unwilling to protect the marine industry within it's borders, then remove these stupid regulations applicable to Canadians seafarers, that keep us from competing world wide. Such things as burdensome and antiquated licensing system, and punitive income taxes for starters. I have no problem competing internationally, as a matter of fact, I welcome it.

Canadian seafarers vs world seafarers (source)
I highly recommend keeping track of the decisions and application for waivers. If anything, its really neat to see so many modern ships at work in Canada, without the opportunity to work on them. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Walking Dead settlement found

Old jet fighter, center of town

In the previous posts I talked allot about isolation and prisons, well, because it feels like that for me right now. I am on a small tug near the town of Stephenville, in western Newfoundland. We are docked at the site of the old pulp mill, abandoned a few years ago. 

I was coming back from town the other day, after paying the cab driver his $30 for the “grand tour”, I could not help to think that I had found the inspiration for the TV series, The Walking Dead.

You see the town of Stephenville is actually a former US military base, the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base. Newfoundland was, not that long ago, part of Britain. The Brits, needing military assets from the US, in exchange made a deal to let the US establish numerous bases in Newfoundland.
Hope you like scenery, cuz there ain't much else
Well, at least its big
When Newfoundland joined confederation, it became part of Canada, and the US eventually left the military bases, at least in Stephenville, pretty much as they had built it.

The town has the charming, if not utilitarian, looks of the military, and makes quite a sight. The center piece of the town, is the giant runway of the former base, literally the pride of the town, despite the fact that no national air carrier lands here.

One of the main roads into town, Carolina Avenue, is actually part of the abandoned tarmac,and runs pass the numerous World War 2 era airplane hangars, in various states of disrepair. A munition bunker is still quite visible down on Missouri Drive. You see, most of the town’s streets are named after US states. 

That about covers it. One stop shopping, take that Costco !
World domination, right from NFLD
On Indiana Drive, you’ll find one of the two story utilitarian rectangles, adorned with campy ”southern” columns; that's the former base’s headquarters.

The other rectangles, stereotypical barracks, have been turned into rental housing. One of the former barracks has been turned into a hotel; a new definition of a boutique hotel - take that Toronto!

Now, I am here in the middle of a long winter, its slippery, there is lots of snow, and it’s cold. So people are bundled to the hilts, and slow moving. Trying to speak with all those layers on, only result in mumbling and groans.

Stephenville, or Walking Dead set?
As a fan of TV show, The Walking Dead, and other zombie shows, the sight of Stephenville, old abandoned military base and its “wandering” locals, is just priceless.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Regular Sex

NYC: March 2003
As it turns out, my latest hitch aboard another old tug, has taken me clear across the country, to Newfoundland. Unfortunately, as many in Eastern North America have experienced, the weather is brutal, and not conducive to many maritime operations. 

With no civilization nearby, and with no other entertainment options, we’ve been passing the time watching quite a few movies, now well into my “second choice” library, which seem to include a large number of “prison” movies; such as the one mentioned in my previous post.

All these prison movies have got us talking about prison life. Just the other day we were talking about isolation and comparing the size of our cells, huh, cabins, onboard this 1948 built tug. As it turns out, my cabin measures 6 feet by 5, while the deck guy’s is 5 feet by 4 and half feet. 

I understand a prison cell is 6 feet by 9 feet, with its own sink and toilet – can you imagine, what a dream! And those are in the US, think of the prison cells in Norway, or Sweden, wow, those would be so awesome to have.

We have a small bathroom for all of us, with the floor space probably around 6 square feet. Throw in additional challenges like no internet, working tv signal, or cell phone signal, limited food, a Detroit Diesel generator about 6 feet from my pillow. And all of it, in a Transport Canada approved secured port facility, meaning no easy access off the vessel.

NFLD: February 2014
Oh, did I mention that my computer crapped out due to the numerous leaks from the poorly insulated boat, raining on my laptop keyboard, shorting it out. Ultimately one has to have a good sense of humour to be a seafarer these days.

I once worked on a dive support vessel doing a gas pipeline in New York City, at the time the condition aboard were similar to those I am experiencing  these days. Of course the topic of conversation was also similar.
Once, we were off Rikers Island, New York City’s infamous prison, where we could observe inside the prison, the inmates watching TV. Soon, one diver started making comparison to life aboard a ship and that in prison – better sleep… cable TV… hot food… little chance of drowning… warmth. 

Someone in the back of the galley piped up… and regular sex.