Thursday, March 30, 2006

53 19N 129 13.5W

53 19N 129 13.5W is the aproximate resting place of the Queen of the North and it's two lost souls.

I continue to follow up on the stroy as it is quite interesting. The most interesting thing I
found today is that BC Ferries has pulled the "Our Fleet" listing for the Queen of the North from the main corporate website. I am not sure it means, if anything, but it sure seems pretty quick. Usually company website are not the fastest at updating, or maybe they were just tired of seeing the same piture on the news media of the ship.

In my travels I have come
accross several very good website offering some insightfull comments about the ship and the accident.

The accident from the Union's Website, good pics, visualization and gathering of media data.
A personal webpage of John Gilliat a performer with lots of pictures inside the ship.
Some historical comments and timeline from

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Queen of the North video released by TSB

The CBC is running a pretty good piece as of the state of affairs regarding the Queen of the North. BC Ferries hired an operation to survey the ship lying in more than 400 meters of water in BC's Inside Passage. The TSB has the video footage of the wreck taken from the minisub, (pictured credit to the CP organization) and has today released a clip of it. The clip doesn't show much other than what appears to be the stern of the ship with the name and port of registry clearly visible. What it shows is circled on the picture to the right.

No crew members have come out and spoken in public, but a retired captain has been quite vocal in the local media. I believe his take is pretty reasonable, and of course, is based on much experience at the helm of that exact boat doing the same run, and therefore should not be taken lightly.

The Ferry Worker's Union boss, Jackie Miller, is upset about those "speculative comments" about the accident calling those rumours and such made from "armchair navigators". She was "insenced" about hearing rumours that the ship was on autopilot at the time of the accident. Those of us who have worked on the coast, know very well that fish boats to large ships are often on autopilot, just like planes, doesn't mean a course change cannot be made while operating on autopilot. So I guess a "way to go" is in order, standing up for the officers component... for once... but I believe its more traditional saber rattling, more than anything.

The lawsuits have already started, "open ended" class action lawsuit has been filed citing negligence, apparently, although BC Ferries is not confirming it yet, the lawsuit that is.

Aaaaahhh the lawyers. No wonder nothing is being said; give the vultures something to grab onto. But has time goes by, it is becoming apparent that the ferry was off course, probably on autopilot and hit Gill Island. Two persons were on the bridge, although it seems policy, that when in Grenville Channel, there should be three, but then again they were not in Grenville Channel...

The sad part remains, is that two people are now presume dead, as a result of the accident, and that should not be taken lightly either. One can only go back and say, thanks god it wasn't during the busy tourist season! With 700 souls onboard. Now that would have been a tremendous tragedy, with mostlikely dire consequences for the BC Ferry company.

The story continues...

Martin Leduc

Monday, March 27, 2006

Seaman's Manslaughter Statute (US)

If you intend to work in the US in the Marine Industry, you should be aware of this, ( plus it is very interesting reading. ):

The Seaman's Manslaughter Statute: An Old Tool Being Used Anew
Monday, March 20, 2006
By Jeanne M. Grasso
Over the last ten or so years, criminal prosecutions have become commonplace in the maritime industry. The most common prosecutions stem from environmental violations, but often also include charges of false statements, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. Over the last several years, however, a new trend has begun - that of prosecutions under the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute. These prosecutions have come to the fore because of the Staten Island Ferry incident, which occurred in 2003, where the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute was used to extract guilty pleas from the pilot and a shoreside official. History of the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute. Since the origin of steamboats in the early 1800s, thousands of passengers died from boiler explosions and fires, which plagued this class of vessel. States began to step in and regulate steamboats, but the effort was disjointed and ineffective. The death of Senator Josiah Johnson in a steamboat explosion prompted President Andrew Jackson, in his 1833 State of the Union address, to make steamboat safety a federal priority. In 1838, Congress passed "An act to provide for the better security of the lives of passengers aboard vessels propelled in whole or in part by steam" (the "1838 Act"). The 1838 Act set forth various licensing, inspection, and safety requirements for steamboats. The focus of the 1838 Act, however, was to demand the "utmost vigilance of the crew by attaching criminal liability for fatal lapses." According to the legislative history, the 1838 Act was designed to punish captains, engineers, and pilots of steamboats for their negligence or inattention related to vessel operations.
The 1838 Act did not go far enough, and by 1852 over 7,000 people had died on steamboats. Congress realized that the technology was part of the problem and that imposing criminal liability on the crewmembers was not an effective solution. In 1852, another steamboat safety law was enacted (the "1852 Act"), which imposed various safety equipment requirements, including hydrostatic testing, safety valves, lifeboats, life preservers, and firefighting equipment. Steamboat-related deaths decreased dramatically after enactment of the 1852 Act, which largely provided the basis for the U.S. Coast Guard inspection regime as we know it today. The Seaman's Manslaughter Statute. The Seaman's Manslaughter Statute generally criminalizes misconduct, negligence, or inattention to duties by a captain, engineer, pilot, charterer, owner, operator, or other person employed on or responsible for managing any vessel. It provides for fines and imprisonment of up to ten years. The elements of the crime are that: (1) the defendant was [captain, pilot, operations manager, etc.] of the vessel; (2) the defendant was guilty of misconduct, negligence, or inattention to his duties on the vessel; and (3) that by reason of such misconduct, negligence, or inattention, someone died. Over the last few years, the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute has been used to convict not only crewmembers, but also shoreside personnel involved with vessel operations. It is important to note that intent is not an element of the offense and it is not necessary to show that the acts or omissions that caused the death were willful or intentional. In fact, in most jurisdictions where the statute has been utilized, simple negligence is enough to secure a conviction, save for in Florida, which requires gross negligence.
Until recently, prosecutions under the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute were a rare event. Recent high-profile casualties, however, have given the statute a new life. Over the last several years, it has been used to convict not only crewmembers, but also shoreside personnel who are involved with vessel operations. Early Prosecutions. During its first century and half, there were roughly eight major prosecutions, spanning 1848 through 1990. The most notable of these prosecutions involved the General Slocum disaster in 1904, where more than 1,000 people died when the vessel caught fire on the East River in New York. The investigation revealed that: the captain did not conduct fire drills or provide emergency training to crewmembers; the fire hoses were rotten and ruptured under the pressure; and the lifejackets were rotten and contained disintegrated cork, which resulted in many passengers drowning. Captain Van Shaick, executives of Knickerbocker Steamboat Co., and the inspector who had recently certified the vessel as fit for service were all indicted. Van Shaick was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years hard labor, though he only served three years before being pardoned by President Taft. Knickerbocker escaped with only a nominal fine, despite the fact that the trial revealed the company had falsified records to cover up its lack of attention to passenger safety. Recent Prosecutions. Unlike the paucity of prosecutions at the outset, during the last seven years, there were six major prosecutions under the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute, as well as the recent indictment of a charterboat fishing boat captain relating to the deaths of three passengers.
The first of the recent prosecutions, U.S. v. Lee Peng Fei, involved a human smuggling scheme. Fei, the mastermind, endeavored to smuggle 298 Chinese aliens aboard the Golden Venture into New York in 1993. When his plan to send small vessels to disembark the passengers fell through, he ordered the ship to ground in New York, which resulted in ten people drowning while trying to swim ashore. After a worldwide manhunt and a subsequent extradition battle, Fei pled guilty to the deaths of six persons, among other charges. Fei was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In U.S. v. Mitlof, a water taxi capsized, killing a passenger in 1998. The owner had allowed the vessel to operate with numerous mechanical and structural deficiencies. The vessel's owner and captain were convicted of conspiracy, manslaughter, and wire fraud, the latter count because the owner advertised the vessel as being Coast Guard inspected, knowing it was not. U.S. v. O'Keefe involved a cocaine-impaired tugboat pilot who caused an accident resulting in the sinking of the vessel and the death of his ex-wife in 2001. The pilot was convicted of manslaughter, sentenced to one year in prison, and ordered to pay $640,000 in restitution. He appealed the conviction, arguing that gross negligence rather than simple negligence was required to trigger criminal liability. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that simple negligence was all that was required to sustain a conviction.
In U.S. v. Shore, the captain and first mate pled guilty to manslaughter charges resulting from the death of an underage woman on a booze cruise in 2001. After several hours of partying, the vessel's anchor dragged and it collided with a moored sailboat, causing a section of the rail to break. The first mate motored away, knowing the rail was broken, and a woman fell overboard and drowned. The captain and first mate pled guilty to manslaughter, were sentenced to six months home detention with electronic monitoring, 500 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine, and were ordered to pay $40,000 in restitution. In U.S. v. Thurston, the chief mate instructed a crewmember on the S.S. Trinity to enter and clean a tank that had contained MTBE. When the crewmember entered the tank in 2001, he was overcome by fumes and died. The chief mate was indicted under the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute, but the first indictment was dismissed by the district court because it was based on simple negligence rather than gross negligence. A second indictment was brought charging him with the same violation, but by acting with gross rather than simple negligence. The case went to trial and the chief mate was acquitted. The Staten Island Ferry incident, which occurred in 2003, is the most recent case resulting in convictions under the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute. In this case, the Andrew Barberi veered off course and allided with a concrete maintenance pier, killing 11 people and injuring 73 others.
Immediately thereafter, a joint federal/state investigation commenced, resulting in the indictments of the captain, assistant captain (pilot), director of ferry operations, port captain, and the pilot's physician. The pilot pled guilty to 11 counts of seaman's manslaughter and for making a false statement to the government. He admitted he was overly tired, taking painkillers, and in such pain he was not in the proper physical condition to operate the vessel. In his license renewal application, the pilot stated he was not on prescription drugs for fear of losing his job. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The director of ferry operations was also charged with 11 counts of manslaughter, as well as obstruction of justice and false statements. The manslaughter charge stemmed from his failure to ensure that the vessel was in the control of a qualified pilot and to enforce the two-pilot rule, which had a long history in the ferry operations. The two-pilot rule required that two pilots be in the pilothouse during docking operations. He pled guilty to one count of manslaughter and was sentenced to one year in prison. The captain, who was not in the pilothouse at the time of the allision, was indicted for lying to the investigators. The charge was reportedly dismissed in exchange for his cooperation. The port captain was indicted for obstruction of justice and making false statements to the government for asserting that the two-pilot rule was enforced. The pilot's physician was indicted for making false statements to the government by signing a medical form that accompanied the pilot's license renewal application submitted to the Coast Guard, which indicated that the pilot was not taking any prescription medications. The maritime industry has increasingly been the target of criminal prosecutions for the better part of the past decade, originally (and still) for environmental crimes and now for seaman's manslaughter. The recent frequent use of the Seaman's Manslaughter Statute should serve as a wakeup call for companies to take action to avoid becoming a part of this trend. This includes establishing and effectively implementing a compliance program based not only on regulatory requirements, but also on other assessed risks.
Jeanne M. Grasso is a Partner in the Maritime and White Collar Practice Groups at Blank Rome LLP and focuses her practice on maritime and environmental law, including issues confronting facilities, vessels, and cargo owners on an international, federal, and state level. Her practice commonly includes conducting internal investigations, enforcement defense matters, and compliance counseling on maritime regulatory matters. This article is a condensed and updated version of an article that appeared last year in Benedict's Maritime Bulletin

Friday, March 24, 2006

Burning Star

Yes Indeed JK, disaster abound at sea this week. Here is a little more on the Star Princess in Jamaica.

The photo had the following caption. Click on the link at the end, for the full story.

"The Star Princess cruise ship, with some clearly scorched cabins, is pictured while approaching the port of Montego Bay, in the northern coast of Jamaica, Thursday, March 23, 2006. Fire broke out in the Star Princess while on its way to the Caribbean island on Thursday, killing a passenger, injuring 11 other people and damaging some 150 cabins before the crew extinguished the flames, officials said. (The Jamaica Observer / AP)"

When I first heard the news report, I din't think much of it, the story was a bit "muted" I though it was a small cabin fire with unfortunate death. Then I saw the picture. This is a very serious fire.

It is pretty evident that at least two fire zones were involved, if not more. Maybe the pictures look worst than it is, but to me this looks like they were very lucky to have contained it at all. I hear it was a cigarette on a balcony - perhaps. Regardless, this is bound to have some profound effect on the design of ships because two things jump to my mind.

How can a balcony cigarette cause such damage. If the fire did indeed start there and spread to such a wide area, there is serious lack of fire protection on the balcony. With all these balconies now on cruise ships being the trend, maybe its an area that is vulnerable to fire spread, since there are few fire rated bulkheads, mostly glass, on that side of the ship.

The fire appears to have been contained to a specific area, but in reality, there is no reason for that kind of large area. Especially not in passenger area, sure there is lots of combustible, but the sprinkler system should have controlled a large part. I would say it carried over to at least another fire zones, which is the whole point of the design, so obviously something drastically failed - sprinkler, alarm system, or firefighting efforts.

Times Union Article

Bad Things Happens in Bunches

Scanning the marine sites the last fews weeks has not turned up much to comment on.
Then all hell breaks loose!
(I've noticed the same effect around my office. One ship breaks down and there is a cascade effect until you can manage to get one back to sea. Thankfully nothing near the magnitude of the topics of the last three posts )

If you go to the Cargo Law site you can view the spectacular pictures of the Container ship MV Hyundai Fortune in flames in the Gulf of Aden. As of yet there is no reports, that I could find, of why the fire started.
Be patient, the site has been slow, they must be getting a lot of hits to see the pictures.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Star Princess smokes up in Jamaica

This story from Radio Jamaica on the Star Princess fire.


One man reportedly died of a heart attack and eleven other persons are injured following a fire on board a cruise ship which was headed to Jamaica from Grand Cayman Thursday morning.

The Chief Financial Officer of Carnival Cruise lines which owns the "Star Princess" Gerald Cahill, says the fire was containined to a single area aboard the ship and eventually extinguished.

He said the fire had caused "one passenger fatality," two cases of smoke inhalation and nine cases of "minor smoke inhalation."

A statement earlier Thursday said the ship was "carrying a total of 2,690 passengers and 1,123 crew members."

According to Mr. Cahill the cause of the fire remained unknown.

Meanwhile officials of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association are at this hour still trying to secure rooms to accommodate the passengers from the "Star Princess."

JHTA officials say they have only managed to secure about 1,000 of the 1,500 rooms being requested by the cruise ship company.

The following is a statement issued by Carnival:

This morning at approximately 3:10 am local time, as Star Princess was en route from Grand Cayman to Montego Bay, a fire broke out in the passenger accommodations, and spread to adjacent cabins.

Passengers were immediately notified of the fire using the public address system and requested to report to their muster stations. We subsequently completed a full check to account for all passengers and crew.

We deeply regret having to confirm that there has been one passenger fatality following a cardiac arrest, two passengers with significant smoke inhalation injuries and nine passengers with minor complications resulting from smoke inhalation. The injured passengers have been stabilized in the ship's medical center.

The fire is fully out, however there is still residual smoke throughout the affected area. The cause of the fire at this time is unknown.

The ship is carrying a total of 2,690 passengers and 1,123 crew members.

A full damage assessment is being carried out now that the ship has arrived in Montego Bay.

Authorities were immediately contacted regarding the incident and we continue to work closely with all relevant parties.

Star Princess sailed from Fort Lauderdale on March 19 on a western Caribbean itinerary with calls at Cozumel, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay and Princess Cays.

A special number has been set up for inquiries from immediate family of passengers who are currently onboard: 1-800-693-7222.

OLD, ARMED Coast Guard Icebreakers

Strapping guns on coast guard ships quick solution, admiral says

By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter Halifax Herald

The fastest way for Canada to get armed icebreakers would be to put .50-calibre machine-guns and some navy sailors on coast guard ships that are already up to the task of navigating the Arctic, says the region’s top sailor.
The new Conservative minority government has promised to buy three armed, heavy icebreakers as part of its bid to assert sovereignty in the Far North. But the commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic made an alternative suggestion Wednesday during a lunch with reporters at his residence.
"If the Canadian government wants icebreakers, I’m sure we could work something out," Rear Admiral Dan McNeil said.
"If you wanted to do it right now, really quickly, you’d put trained naval people together who know how to operate a .50-cal. And you strap one (of the machine-guns) on an icebreaker and you’d automatically have an armed icebreaker."
That would be his preference in the short term.
"The long term deserves a deeper analysis than me just simply talking off the cuff," Rear Admiral McNeil said.
Canada has been locked in a dispute with Denmark over the claim to Hans Island, which lies between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.
In November, the USS Charlotte’s voyage through the Arctic sparked a political firestorm in Ottawa. Opposition parties, including the Tories, slagged the government for allowing the nuclear-powered U.S. navy attack submarine to make a two-week trip under the polar ice that included a surfacing at the North Pole.
This year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper clashed with U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins after an American challenge to Canadian sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, the routes through the Arctic archipelago.
The Canadian Coast Guard is not a "military service," Rear Admiral McNeil said.
But putting a gun on a coast guard icebreaker would be "the easiest" way to safely add some muscle to the coast guard, he said.
"You would have an armed vessel that is able to at least fire warning shots to say, ‘Stop doing what you’re doing,’ " said Capt. Larry Hickey, commander of the navy’s Fifth Maritime Operations Group.
Don’t expect the navy to send any of its four used British submarines into the Arctic to assert Canadian sovereignty.
It would be "almost impossible" for diesel-electric subs to operate in the Arctic archipelago, Rear Admiral McNeil said, noting depth charts of the area are more than a century old and currents in the narrowest passages move along at up to 17 kilometres an hour.

Holy crap, the dogs of war are rearing their heads!!
What ever happened to a Canadian PEACEFUL solution? Fire on the Dane's?
Or maybe a Nuclear sub?
Haven't they noticed that when you fire at someone, they tend to fire back and some of those 'breakers have aluminum superstructures.

Shake your heads Boys and take some anti-tetestorone drugs.

DFO tried this route and there are no 50 calibers left on those ships 15 years later.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Queen of the Deep, huh, North

Boy you are quick on the ball there JK. Its good to have you onside.

Indeed something going on, I said to myself as I drove home this morning, past the BC Ferries Company headquarters in Victoria BC, there was the local news media satellite trucks parked in the front and several people lined outside. I thought to myself, oh great, not another fare hike. Little did I know it was much worst, and checking The Monitor blog, JK was already on it.

According to the media and from the press release, 37 year old Queen of the North seemed to have struck a rock of Gill Island in Wright Sound and completely sunk in somewhat rapid and dramatic sequence, suggesting a full speed grounding.

The initial press release from BC ferries states that all 101 pax were reported off the 8,806GT ship, and in relative safety, onboard the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and in the small coastal native village of Hartley Bay, registered population of 605. Some have since been transferred to Prince Rupert Hospital.

From the aerial footage of the scene, the Laurier and the Fisheries Research vessel WE Ricker can be seen meddling in the oil slick left from the wreck. It would appear that the ship "(he) hit Gil Island" stated my source. There is plenty of room in that part of the channel and at that particular time, the ship should had at least one bridge officer on duty, and one helmsperson. I understand it is also customary to have another lookout as well.

My source hinted that the mate may have been in the fleet for a long time, but may have been recently promoted, in a similar fashion to the accident with the Queen of Oak Bay which loss power just shortly before running down a marina at Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver. With that much sea room, and on an established, routine run, I would speculate human error or faulty steering gear / autopilot. This story is certain to have a tremendous impact on the coast.

I remember hearing about Transport Canada giving a waiver for the ship to sail without a two compartment standard of flooding survivability (Solas90) when most other ships came under scrutiny after the tragic loss of the Estonia. I am sure the Department will be pressured to assure the second, smaller, Queen of Prince Rupert, will meet all safety regs to the fullest, if they don’t outright ground her, pardon the expression. These accidents seem to be getting more serious in nature and will surely bring into focus the "forgotten industry" to the forefront quickly, hopefully before something bigger happens.

I don’t know how much longer the Canadian Coast Guard can get lucky by having a ship in close proximity as it happened this morning. The Laurier is a big ship and the best suited for our coast so it was nice to see them on scene in relatively short time, kudos to the crew, I know quite a few of them. With the recent reduction in SAR zones, from three to two and of course cutting one ship, a ship may still be in the SAR zone - officially, but may be over 30 hrs away. So indeed it was a stroke of good luck and I am sure the direction breathing big a sigh of relief. But with the long lasting and massive cuts in budget, and subsequent loss of assets, how much luck can they get. Maybe they won’t be so lucky when a cruise ship gets into trouble.

Then this accident is bound to affect BC Ferries. They recently announced plans to build replacement vessels, so now I guess those plans will have to be fast forwarded. Better do it soon, the important tourist season is toast this year for sure, but I am sure the coastal communities will not be too pleased about their lack of contact with the outside world either. Then again the tug and barge fleet, since we have no coasting fleet whatsoever, might be please to pick up the business; activating the old junk to cover the slack. Should be interesting. I guess there will be many more jobs available at the TSB.

I’m sure this accident will have far and wide repercussion. It should.

Martin Leduc
March 22, 2006

By the way, the local television media coverage has been quite extensive and seems to be very good. Here are some of the stations covering it. As JK said it earlier, it is a smalll marine community in Canada, and allot of recognizable faces from the coast here were featured.
Telus, CTV, CBC

You can see many pictures of the ship, on Kevin Stapelton’s BC Ferries website.

Absent Friends

My shoe phone rang early this morning, a friend and co-worker on the other end calling from his ship
"Have you heard about the Queen of the North?" he said, "It sunk! Isn't that Dave's ship? "

I struggled with all the info at once- early in the morning and still half asleep, a BC Ferry has sunk and the fact that another friend and old-schoolmate was possibly onboard.

An incident like this shows what a small marine community there is in Canada, in that several individuals on the East Coast are making calls to friends on the West Coast trying to find out that they are fine.

Thankfully everyone made it off the ship with minimal injuries. That is the important part and shows the crew's training was well looked after by BCFerries.

I look forward to the results of TSB and Transport Canada investigation into the cause of the accident.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Oil Company Heads For the Beaufort

Shell plans Beaufort Sea drillingNEW ACQUISITION: Oil giant buys mothballed drilling rig to prepare for 2007 exploration.

Shell has purchased the offshore drilling rig Kulluk for drilling in the Beaufort Sea. (Photo by Shell)
By WESLEY LOYAnchorage Daily News(Published: March 4, 2006)
Dutch oil giant Shell, which stormed back to Alaska last year by spending more than $44 million on Beaufort Sea exploratory leases, has purchased a mammoth drilling rig to probe the Arctic waters for crude.
The rig, called the Kulluk, has been mothballed since 1993 and now sits in a remote bay along Canada's Northwest Territories, said Cam Toohey, a Shell spokesman in Anchorage. Shell bought the rig late last year from Seatankers Management Co., based in Cyprus.
Shell plans to refurbish the rig where it sits and then move into the Beaufort Sea off the Alaska coast to drill on the company's leases, he said.
The soonest drilling could begin would be summer of 2007, Toohey said.
Kulluk is an Eskimo word for thunder.
The rig was built in Japan in 1983 and has a history of drilling in Alaska's Arctic waters.
It's specially designed to deal with ice that can shift around the Beaufort with crushing force against anything in its path.
The Kulluk is a barge with a conical hull and a drilling derrick on top, making it look something like an upside down mushroom. When ice up to four feet thick pushes up against the rig, the hull acts to force the ice downward and break it up, preventing a floe from pushing the rig off its position.
The rig's main deck is 133 feet across and can drill in water from 60 to 600 feet deep. It has berths for up to 108 crewmen.
Shell once was a major explorer in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, as well as in Cook Inlet.
But the company never was able to find the giant discoveries it wanted and by the late 1990s it had pulled out of Alaska.
A year ago, Shell leased nearly a half million Beaufort Sea acres, spending more than $12 million on a single block off Point Thomson, some 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay. A drilling partnership including Shell struck oil there in 1985, but the find known as Hammerhead never was developed even though it was estimated to hold up to 200 million barrels of oil.
Another undeveloped oil discovery known as Kuvlum is nearby.
Shell, based in The Hague, Netherlands, is one of the world's largest oil companies, with operations in more than 140 countries and territories.
Petroleum News, an Anchorage oil industry trade journal, recently reported that Shell also bought a drill ship that's being refurbished in Singapore. The newspaper said that under government rules, Shell would need two drilling platforms so one could lend support to the other in case of an oil spill.
Toohey, however, declined to confirm the report of Shell acquiring the drill ship.
Shell is building an Alaska staff, and representatives recently traveled to the North Slope villages of Barrow, Nuiqsut and Kaktovik to tell residents there about the company's exploration plans.
Offshore drilling is a concern of many villagers because of potential for industry operations to disrupt the endangered bowhead whale, which villagers harpoon for food.

Some further photos of the Kulluk can be seen here:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Flu and Ship Movies.

I am sitting here surrounded by the papers, blueprints and associated documents that one consults when writing a docking specification. The specification is gone now, contract is signed and I have a breathing space before the ship actually comes out of the water. Of course I could clean my desk so I can actually lay my hands on any required paper without moving 200 other pieces of paper, but there is always tomorrow....

In the middle of February, I came down with the flu. Not the type that leaves you huddled with various parts of anatomy over the toilet, but the one that flattens you like a truck has hit you, you hurt everywhere and have no desire to crawl out of bed. So I watched TV, and movies.

I started off with War of The Worlds with Tom Cruise. I was actually getting into it, until the Hudson River ferry is tipped over on it’s side by one of the alien machines and Tom and family are sent hurtling into the waters. When they surface, they are at the stern of the ferry and the prop is spinning madly in the air over their heads. Instantly I am diverted from the storyline by the prop ( alright I could have been feverish) and watch it spellbound, waiting for it to wind down, as I debated about the propulsion equipment. I decided that it was a diesel driven gearbox, probably reversing as the propeller was not CP. Then I found that I was trying to figure out what safety shutdown had not activated to stop the engine, then I pictured the engine chugging away on it’s side and where was that lube oil going to? By the time I focussed back on the movie, the heroes were ashore.
In the same movie a train belching flame out of all the windows had gone by them at a crossing and my only thought was ‘Gee, that’s sort of neat”.
However, the ship scene made me want to call Steven Spielberg and tell him to get on the ball, being a Director didn’t give him the licence to get it wrong.

That was only the start. I then watched a story about a bunch of terrorist taking over the QE2. The Head of Security on the ship is a blonde in a long dress and heels. There is a Captain that is attending a gathering in a banquet room and sole function as far as I could tell was to look manly and regal in his dress uniform ( sorta like real life) and one mate on the bridge and no ship engineers. The Head of Security manages to get away from the terrorists, meets a SEAL (of course there is one onboard) in a little wee closet that happened to have a Ship to Shore radio in it, and tells the SEAL that there is a device in the engineroom that will allow them to take control of the shafts. ( Uh ha, here we go, I think to myself. ) They go to the engineroom and the top secret device is the local propulsion control. The movie makers were close, but did they have to make the console look like something designed by my Grandson? The levers were 2 feet long and the pitch gauges were hand drawn. I lost interest after that!!
The last movie I seen shot on the QE2 had Omar Sharriff as Captain. I watched it for awhile trying to think what was wrong with the picture. After awhile I realized that everyone was moving WITH the ship’s roll instead of against it and that I was sub-consciously waiting for them to fall over. I guess that the Director decided it was easier to move the camera to simulate the roll, then it was to film on a rolling ship.

The absolute best of the worst scenes I have seen on a movie is the sinking sailing vessel. A man is trapped inside, frantically trying to beat his way out of a locked hatch and breathing through a vent as the cockroaches stream out of it. They cut away to an exterior shot and the boat is fully afloat with water pouring out of all of the hull openings. Not awash, but at it’s waterline! A real groaner!!

( Needless to say, I don’t pay to watch ship movies at a theatre because I end up noticing the technical details. Even when I take a ferry I wander around and check out the safety equipment and condition of the ship where I can see it. Since my Co-worker does the same I know I am “normal” )

As for the best movie, it has to be Das Boot. The engine scenes where they are scrapping and fitting main bearings are excellent. I’ve watched this movie several times, subtitled at that, and am always in awe at the background work that went into it.

Another excellent show is “Super Ships”. It is a 1 hour weekly show that features different ships, such as Mighty Servant, going about their business and interviews with the crews. It is nicely presented to appeal to the non-marine watchers as well as ashore mariners such as myself.

I'm sure there are scenes in so-called ship movies that have irked you, because they are wrong. Drop us a line and tell us about the worse ones. Heck, tell us about the good ones too.
We can all use a laugh and maybe Steven Spielberg will drop by and see where he went wrong.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Good News on Canadian Shipbuilding

Trustee for Quebec-based Davie Shipyard says it has accepted purchase offer

MONTREAL (CP) _ The Davie shipyard near Quebec City is expected to be sold to the Quebec-based ship repair company, Navamar.
The trustee for the bankrupt shipyard announced Friday it has accepted Navamar's purchase offer, considered the most suitable offer of the five companies interested in purchasing it.
Few details have been released about the offer.
But Navamar will go over the shipyard's books before taking it over and company president Pierre Boisclair said that process should be finished before the end of March.
Boisclair said he has plans for the shipyard, which first opened in 1825, and has been bankrupt since 2001.
` ` I'm a seafaring man,'' he said. ` ` I don't want it dismantled.''
Navamar has other investment partners, some from outside Quebec, involved in the purchase offer.
A total of five businesses placed offers to buy the Davie shipyard.
In order to have their bids considered, potential investors had to agree to meet the shipyards' existing financial commitments, which includes $3 million US owed to Samir Financial.
The historic shipyard was bought in 1995 by Dominion Bridge.
The Davie shipyard has built a variety of vessels over the years ranging from war ships to oil tankers.
At its height, the shipyard had 3,000 workers but only about 30 remain, finishing up a contract.