Thursday, November 24, 2005

Loud Chief Engineers cause heart attacks

As Noise Rises, So May Heart Risks
By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Loud, grating noise is not just annoying, it can increase the risk of a heart attack, researchers report.

This increase in risk appears to be caused by the physiological effects of environmental and work noise, the German research team found.

"Our results demonstrate that chronic noise exposure is associated with a mildly to moderately increased risk of heart attack," researcher Dr. Stefan Willich, director of the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at Charite University Medical Centre in Berlin, said in a prepared statement.

"The increase appears more closely associated with actual sound levels rather than with subjective annoyance. However, there were differences between men and women and these need further investigation," he noted.

Oh great. I will have to add this to my long list of possible future health concerned. Or maybe they are "now" concerns. Come to think of it, I just dimissed my heartburn to "cooky"'s bad cooking. Mmmmmmm. Read more on

Sunday, November 20, 2005

When ships dance together

An article in the Novemebr 11th edition of Lloyds List had quite a few dramatic pictures of the collision involving AP MOller-Maersk Group's LPG carrier Maersk Holyhead and the fully laden bulker Pequot.

The pictures were taken from the bridge of the bulker, and are remarkable photographs but they do not really explain what happen. Read more here on New Zealand Ships and Marine Society and also.

Here's the press release from Maersk...

07 November 2005
Press Release

MAERSK HOLYHEAD involved in collision

MAERSK HOLYHEAD, a 20,900 cbm semi-ref liquefied petroleum gas carrier (lpg-carrier), on Sunday 6 November 2005 about 1745 local time collided with the Liberian panamax bulk carrier PEQUOT 53-55 miles off the Maracaibo Lake channel.

MAERSK HOLYHEAD is carrying about 11,200 metric tons propane.

We are grateful that our Venezuelan officers and crew as well as the vessel are safe. The vessel is now alongside in the discharge port El Tablazo and is awaiting additional oil containment equipment before initiating the discharge operation.

The collision has resulted in a hole in the vessel’s starboard side above and below the waterline as well as a leakage in a bunker tank containing about 500 cbm of fuel oil. The oil from this tank is presently leaking into the sea. The cause for the accident has not been clarified yet.

The A.P. Moller - Maersk Group is committed to the protection of the marine environment - it is in fact an integral part of our business philosophy and policy, and we are actively cooperating with the relevant authorities to carry out an adequate and effective response to the oil pollution and to determine causes and effects of the incident.
Technical expert assistance is presently being arranged flown out from Copenhagen.

Further relevant factual information will be provided when available.

MAERSK HOLYHEAD was delivered from Mitsui Shipyard, Japan in 2000, registered in Guanta Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela and has Venezuelan officers and crew onboard. The vessel has been employed for more than 4 years by the Venezuelan national oil company, for coastal trade.

A.P. Moller - Maersk
Corporate Communications, Copenhagen

Friday, November 18, 2005

Serial entrepreneur digs ships

Ian Maxell, of the Ralmax Group of Companies, has great big plans for the defunct Point Hope Shipyard, a Victoria institution for well over a century. If you were at the November 18 meeting of the CIMarE Vancouver Island branch, you would have learned about a brand new shipyard, not just being proposed but built. With the site preparations well under way. I am excited to see such an investment in the marine bushiness.

The site was a collection of derelict buildings and an inefficient operation that had continuously been patched up to a point where it just collapsed. The new business plan, though, seems well thought out and the property layout looks very efficient. Not very surprising of an idea considering the golden touch Ian Maxell seems to have on his other businesses.

It's nice to see someone vision matched with deep pockets to create a buzz in the community. The new shipyard is scheduled to open in the spring, when Phase 1, the site is readied for construction and the marine railway is in place. The buildings will come in phase 2, and include a small warehouse / workshops for numerous subcontracting within easy access to the jetty and yard, a bit of a novel idea. Plus much more...

In my view the big deal is a new yard, from scratch, you don't see that everyday. With a lift capacity of 1200 tons, twice the previous capacity. The boats will be hauled out horizontal, as opposed to the "trim" position they used to come out. Once a boat is out of the water, they can stow on land on various "spurs" using a "roundtable"; so more than one vessel can be worked on at the yard, at the same time. The yard will also have covered paint and sandblasting sheds and machine shops strategically placed.

Obviously the capacity is just about the right size, allot of BC Ferries or Coast Guard vessels, Alaskan crab boats and many yachts are too big for small boatyard, but the esquimalt dry dock is just too big to be efficient. The west coast will definitely become a serious place to fix ships and boats when they open up for business.

Based on what I saw and heard I am quite impressed and wish them well. Some more details. I could not find a site plan, which would make the above much more clear, but it looks like the archetectural firm, which gave the presentation, has a spot on their website for it check it out - de Hoog + Kierulf architects.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Crewing Agent Scam

In the 2004 Seafarer's Bulletin, the International Transport Workers' Federation warn of a crewing agency scam preying on third world seafarers. Prospecting seafarers pay an upfront fee for positions that do not exist. This money was sent to an address in Canada.

ITF expands... "The authorities in at least two countries, Peru and the Philippines, have issued warnings about its fraudulent activities. Applicants are lured by letter, newspaper advertisements and a professional-looking website which says wages Of UP to LIS$38o a day are available in the offshore oil industry.

Among the other countries where Caledonian Offshore has conned money from jobseekers are Madagascar, St Lucia and Mexico. Over the past 12 months the ITF has issued warnings about four other job racketeers who charge seafarers for non-existent jobs: Sea Cruise Enterprises, Red Flower Cruise Line, Letus Fleet Recruitment Office and Al Najat Marine Shipping. The 1996 International Labour Organisation Convention 179 (Recruitment and Placement of Seafarers) says that governments must ensure that "no fees or other charges for recruitment or for providing employment to seafarers are borne directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, by the seafarer".

The above story is a bit dated, but serve to remind us to please be vigilent and don't be fooled, no matter how exited or desperate you are.

No Cruise List

The US government through, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Act of 2004, is requiring that the Department of Homeland Security set up a system for all passenger of ships calling a US port to be scrutinized. All ships boarding or disembarking crew and passenger in a US port will supply a manifess to be compared to the US government's "secret lists" of suspect people - "suspected terrorist and their associates".

Most seafarers are already well acquainted with the level minded, fair, and friendly (uh huh can you fell the sarcasm) folks of the various DHS bureaucracies, so it is no surprise to yours truly that the US government would go so far. But I am surprised at the people of the US accepting these pretty scary measures, personal liberties type scary, in a land that is constantly boasting it's "freedom".

I don't know seems a bit backward and draconian to me. I doubt there is some secret grand master plan to enslave as in Orwell's film "1984", its probably more "turf building" and some "empire building" for bureaucrats. But nonetheless, there is allot of information being collected that I feel is really not the my governments business, and especially not the US government's business.

In the back of my mind I can't help but think that I will end up on one of these lists for posting these kinds of comments. Oh well, I hope not - I guess that everybody else's attitude too.

A little more on this no go list

Cool Viking Avant design

From - This new innovative platform supply vessel is designed to carry out regular supply and cargo transport functions for the oil industry. In a significant departure from many designs, the bridge and accommodation lie at the aft of the vessel, in a similar manner to an oil tanker. According to the designers Vik Sandvik, this is intended to reduce movement and noise, and provide a safer bridge layout (no aft bridge console). It has better hull lines, better DP plot, a simplified cargo area, a safer loading and discharging platform, and a lower building cost.

The Viking Avant has an overall length of 92.7m and a length between perpendiculars of 84.8m. Its breadth is 20.4m and the depth to the first deck is 9m. It has a 7.5m summer draught.

The vessel has a 3,600t gross tonnage and a deadweight of 1,500t at 4.50m depth. Its deadweight at 6m is 3,800t and 6,200t at 7.5m. The deck has a cargo area of 1,170m² and a cargo capacity of 3,900t.

Now that's different... and not just in the Canadian Tire way.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Port Weller drydock lands new builds

On September 29th 2005, Port Weller Drydocks announced that it has entered into an alliance with the Netherlands shipyard Peters Kampen to construct two hulls and two "Jumbo 6500" (6,500 grt) multipurpose short-sea shipping vessels with an option for four more. The Ships are a popular design in Europe for short sea shipping.

Carisbrooke Shipping of the UK, ordered the vessels from Peter Kampen, to add to their fleet of 36 vessels. The owner are especially enthused with the "higher ice class, economics in fuel, simple holds, easy maintenance". Building will start in the spring of 2006 with the first ship ready for delivery in September. The deal, which is worth up to $100 million and keep 250 workers busy for 1.5 years, is credited to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and their effort in getting all three parties together. Read more.

I think its great to see a Canadian yard getting involved in short sea shipping, and just plain nice to see a commercial ship being built in Canadian yards. Congrats to all involved

Miscalculations of the Seas

These pictures were taken in Costa Maya, Mexico on April 20th 2005 following a bit of an allision with the pier. The ~78,000 grt ship is a Vision Class cruise ship belonging to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. At the time there was about 2800 pax onboard.

There are six of these ship and I have been on one of these when in Costa Maya. It is not unbelievable to see this happen. Costa Maya is challenging place to berth on a good day, let alone on a day with 17kts winds and 3kts current. The bump left the ship with a five foot high, 42 feet long gash on it's starboard forward, about 5 feet above the water line.

Nobody was reported hurt, but the following cruise from New Orleans, had to be cut short to accommodate repairs back at her homeport.

Canada buys Russian nuclear subs

Well ok, not really, but sort of. Probably a better buy than those British diesel jobbies, ehehehe. Those nasty little fires!

The Environmental Foundation Bellona reports, that back in June 2002, in Kananaskis, Canada, at the Group of Eight industrialized nations conference; Canada, along with other countries, pledged 130 million dollars, to properly dispose of Russia's derelic nuclear submarine fleet. 21.3 million will come as a donation from Canada and fund the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership, or NDEP and is part of a bigger, 1 billion dollars environmental initiative by the Group of 8.

The money is earmarked for the dismantling of 8 Victor III class submarine currently in lay up at the Northern Fleet bases. September 2005 edition of Ships Monthly reports that one sub has already been scrapped at the Zvezdochka Shipyard, while two more was underway.

Check out the Federation of American Scientist website for more info on the Russian Victor Class nuclear powered subs.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Golfball rig saves the world

What will they think of next! In the quest to spend even more money than ever on "defense" the US has come up with a massive radar floating out on the ocean. Its a part of this much touted missile defence system, which If I am not mistaken has had very little success in actually shooting down any of the test missiles. Take that El Quaida.

I wonder if you can cook pocorn really fast with that thing?

236 million $ cruise to nowhere

I found this interesting article about Carnival's response to the Hurricane disaster that hit New Orleans, in the October 2005 edition of the American Maritime Officer, the Union's newsletter.

Foreign cruise interests seek waiver of Passenger Vessel, Services Act

A waiver of the Passenger Vessel Services Act has been requested on ,behalf of a foreign cruise line chartering foreign-flagged cruise ships to the U.S. government for use in the reconstruction efforts in Gulf Coast cities recently ravaged by hurricanes and flooding.

Also requested was an exemption from U.S. taxes for the three vessels during their charters.

The Passenger Vessel Services Act is the U.S. cabotage law that reserves domestic transportation of passengers for vessels manned by U.S. citizens, built in the U.S. and owned and operated by U.S. companies. At press time, no legislative waiver of the law had been applied.

Carnival has chartered three cruise ships to the U.S. government for a cost of $192 million, with up to $44 million in reimbursements for fuel and other costs. Initially, the ships were to have housed evacuees from the hurricane-stricken areas, who did not turn out in large numbers to move onto cruise ships. The ships are being used to house relief and law enforcement workers and their families for up to seven months.

In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow, legislators requested a waiver of the Passenger Vessel Services Act for three foreign cruise ships chartered by the government. The letter cites the temporary waiver of the Jones Act for petroleum and oil shipments.

Military Sealift Command's solicitations for passenger vessels following Hurricane Katrina made no mention of coastwise qualified vessels and apparently did not anticipate a need for a legislative waiver of the cabotage law.

Because the ships are being used for temporary housing, rather than transporting paying passengers, and, due to the innate flexibility of the cabotage law under exigent circumstances, a legislative waiver is not necessary.

Carnival also asked Secretary Snow to work with the Internal Revenue Service have the income from operation of the ships exempted from U.S. corporate income, taxes.

"We simply do not want to jeopardize our tax classification, nor do we want to interrupt our relief efforts for failure to secure this assurance from the Treasury Department via the appropriate IRS guidelines," said Carnival Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank in a letter to Secretary Snow.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cruise ship suffers pirate attack

Searbourne Spirit was the target of an attempted pirate attack off the Somalian coast in the Indian Ocean. (Hell of a place to cruise) The story can be had at the Reuters website.

Reuters write: "The Bahamian-registered Seabourn ship was on a 16-day cruise from Egypt to Mombasa, Kenya. It sailed on to the Seychelles Islands, where passengers were to disembark and fly to Mombasa. Seabourn is headquartered in Miami and is a subsidiary of Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise group. The Spirit's passengers included 48 Americans, 22 from the United Kingdom, 21 Canadians, 19 Germans, 19 Australians and six South Africans. The others were mostly from other European nations."

The Office of Naval Intelligence writes up in their weekly report available here, the one with the above incident is not yet available, will check next week:

"HIJACKINGS OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA CONTINUE: Two more at sea merchant vessel hijackings on 18 and 20 October off the eastcoast of Somalia demonstrate pirate’s ability to conduct at sea hijackings from as far south as Kismayo (02 deg South lat) to as far north as Eyl (08 deg North lat) and out to a distance of 170 NM. All vessels are advised to remain at least 200 NM from the east coast of Somalia. All merchant vessels transiting the coast of Somalia, no matter how far offshore, should increase anti-piracy precautions and maintain a heightened state of vigilance. Pirates are reported to have used previously hijacked ships as bases for further attacks. Another reported pirate tactic has been to issue a false distress call to lure a ship close inshore. Therefore, caution should be taken when responding to distress calls keeping in mind it may be a tactic to lure a vessel into a trap. Victimized vessels report two to three 6 to 9 meter speedboats with 3 to 6 armed men per vessel armed with AK-47s and shoulder launched rockets, opening fire on their vessels in broad daylight in order to intimidate them into stopping. To date, vessels that increase speed and take evasive maneuvers avoid boarding while those that slow down are boarded, taken to the Somali coastline, and released after successful ransom payment, often after protracted negotiations of as much as 11 weeks (ONI)."

Be careful out there !