Thursday, August 31, 2006

Arctic is Heating Up

Lots of interesting news happening in the Arctic.
The CCGS Louis S St Laurent is operating in the Beaufort Sea approximately 240 miles north of Point Barrow Alaska. Onboard are scientists from all over the world looking into the climate changes and how it is affecting multi year ice.
Also onboard, members of NRCan are conductng experiments for UNCLOS bottom surveys on the continental shelf. This is vital to ensure our continuing sovereignty of the Artic archipeligo.
Highlights from the scientist's blogs from the Louis can be seen:
http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/dispatch2006/index2006.html
and the ships present position here:
http://www.sailwx.info/shiptrack/shipposition.phtml?call=CGBN

At this site:
http://www.iarc.uaf.edu/expeditions/?cat=7
Scientist blog their findings from the Laptev Sea onboard the Kapitan Dranitsyn and from the Beaufort Sea onboard the Louis.

You are probably wondering why I am posting this on a marine engineering board. It is not only the climate and ice heating up in the high North. There was the recent comments by the American ambassodor that stated that the US does not recognize Canada's sovereignty past the 12 mile limit.
And on the Marinelink.com news board this was posted today:

EU, Norway Eye Arctic Oil, Gas Deposits
Thursday, August 31, 2006
EU and Norway’s energy officials met in Brussels on August 30 to examine ways of strengthening a bilateral energy dialogue launched in 2002. Short-term issues include increasing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) deliveries to Europe as well as the planned opening in October 2006 of the "Britpipe" linking Sleipner in Norway to Easington, UK. By 2015-2020, natural gas deliveries from Norway are expected to grow from 85 billion cubic meters to 120 bcm, EU officials said. However, talks on longer-term exploitation of the expected huge oil and gas reserves in the Arctic will probably attract most attention. The region is believed to hold 25 percent of the earth's hydrocarbons, according to the US Geological Survey. And as international demand for fossil fuels continues to rise, the High North is attracting growing interest from big oil and gas companies. But a territorial row between Norway and Russia in the so-called "disputed zone" of the Barents Sea has so far prevented further exploration, let alone commercial exploitation of these resources. According to euractiv.com, natural gas deposits in the Arctic, such as the Shtokman and Snøvit gas fields could provide as much as 50 bcm of gas per year, covering 7-9 percent of the EU's entire gas consumption by 2020. Other problems include the high costs of deep offshore drilling and environmental concerns such as the oil and gas industry's coexistence with fisheries. The 2005 EU-Norway energy dialogue confirmed interest from both sides to strengthen cooperation on energy efficiency, renewables, and security of energy supply, including exploration and production activities in the Arctic area. (Source:
www.euractiv.com)

It may not come in my career, but the heydays of the Beaufort drilling days will be back. The question is will the Canadian government be ready?

Who knows how many new engineers will be needed when the boom begins.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New FedNav Icebreaking Bulker

GROUNDBREAKING ICEBREAKER The Gazette, Montreal, March 25, 2005,

A new 31,500-tonne icebreaking bulk carrier, the most powerful of its kind in the world, will play a key role in moving 360,000 tonnes of nickel concentrates a year from Inco Ltd.'s new $3-billion Voisey's Bay mine in northern Labrador to its smelters in Sudbury, Ont., and Thompson, Man.

Fednav Ltd. of Montreal, the biggest Canadian international dry bulk carrier, has a contract to haul the nickel concentrates in its new ice-breaking bulk carrier the first 2,050 kilometres (1,100 nautical miles) from Edward's Cove, the mine's port, through Belle Isle Strait and up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City.In Quebec City, the concentrates (in granular form like sand) will be transferred to covered hopper railcars for the second stage to Inco's Sudbury smelter (1,170 km) and to its Thompson smelter in Northern Manitoba via Winnipeg (3,625 km) on CP Rail, CNR and other lines.

Fednav's part will be the most dramatic as the new vessel will make 12 to 14 trips a year down the Labrador coast and up the St. Lawrence, contending with some of the world's most rugged ice conditions, including icebergs, from November through July. Fednav takes delivery of the ice-breaking carrier from Japan's Universal Shipbuilding Corp. in April 2006 and it will enter Voisey's Bay service three months later. It will have a double hull, an icebreaking bow of Fednav's own proven design, a V-shaped stern with ice knife to protect the rudder, and a state-of-the-art satellite-based navigation system developed by Fednav subsidiary Enfotec.

It will operate safely in the most extreme conditions, said John Weale, the company's vice-president of risk management. The carrier will be capable of a speed of three knots in level first-year ice 1½ metres thick. A bow wash system will help to reduce friction as the vessel rides up over the ice and crushes it with its own weight. It will have one 50-tonne deck crane and two 30-tonners and carry containers on deck. Open water speed will be 13.5 knots and the vessel will qualify for operation anywhere in the world as a bulk carrier.

The 50-kilometre access route to Edward's Cove through a maze of islands is ice free for five months from July to November, when new ice starts to form, thickens and extends seaward. But ice originating from farther north is moved southward by the Labrador current across the access route and a shear zone is formed at the interface creating huge ridges. These will pose the biggest challenge.

Registered in Canada with a Canadian crew, the new vessel will be larger, have twice the power and greater icebreaking capacity than the 28,400-tonne MV Arctic, the pioneer icebreaking bulker built at Port Weller, Ont., in 1978. The Arctic has hauled lead, zinc and nickel concentrates from Canada's northernmost mines for many years. Owned by Fednav and fitted with a more efficient bow some years ago, the Arctic hauled lead and zinc concentrates from Cornwallis Island and Baffin Island until the mines were shut because of low metal prices. It now hauls nickel concentrates from the Raglan mine in northern Quebec via Deception Bay to Falconbridge Ltd.'s Sudbury smelter.

The new icebeaking vessel is being built in Japan because Universal Shipbuilding has the design capability and construction technology needed for large icebreaking bulk carriers, Weale said. It wasn't an issue of price, he adds. The vessel could not be built at Port Weller, since its 26.6-metre beam (the Arctic's is 22.9-metre) means it could not transit the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Fednav will not reveal the new bulker's cost, but shipbuilding sources estimate it could be well over $50 million. By 2011 to 2013, Fednav will be changing course because of Inco's longer-term commitment to process the Voisey's Bay concentrates at Argentia, the old US. naval base near St. John's.Inco is building a demonstration refinery at Argentia to test its new hy-drometallurgical or chemical-based process to produce finished nickel. The system uses less electric power and pollutes less than existing smelting and refining plants.

The demonstration plant starts up in November, along with the startup of the Voisey's Bay open-pit mine and concentrator about six months ahead of schedule. Voisey's Bay and the Goro project in New Caledonia in the Pacific will raise Inco's total nickel capacity by 50 per cent with a total investment of about $5 billion.

If the new "hydromet" process works, Inco will build a full commercial-scale plant by 2011 to 2013 at Argentia. If it proves uneconomic, Inco will build a conventional plant there. In either case, Fednav's new bulk carrier will be switched from the St. Lawrence to haul the Voisey's Bay concentrates via the east coast of Newfoundland to Argentia (1,600 kilometres).

Nickel is king just now with China's rapid expansion, fetching more than $6 U.S. a pound against a recent low of $2. Inco will not reveal the cost per pound of moving the Voisey's Bay concentrates thousands of kilometres to Sudbury and Thompson, but insists its journey is necessary. In 2004, Inco's average cash cost of producing nickel was $2.32 U.S. a pound, rising to about $2.80 this year and then dipping to $1.95 in 2006 when Voisey's Bay comes on stream.

Inco, the world's second-biggest nickel producer after Russia's Norilsk, produced 522 million pounds last year, declining to about 490 million pounds this year with heavy maintenance in Canada and power problems in Indonesia. The ores also yield copper, cobalt and platinum."The economics will work well for Canada and for Inco, improving our overall cost performance and reducing our smelters' reliance on external sources of feed," Inco spokesperson Steve Mitchell said.

The 60-year-old Fednav, a family-owned company headed by chief executive Ladi Pathy, operates a fleet of 21 owned vessels and 50 to 60 time-chartered ships. One of every two large deep-sea vessels transitting the St. Lawrence Seaway is operated by Fednav. Every year, its fleet makes nearly 600 voyages and hauls 15 to 20 million tonnes of commodities, mainly grain and steel.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Navy Goes to The Arctic

As part of Canada reasserting their rights over the Northwest Passage, the Canadian Navy has sent the HMCS Montreal to the Arctic this year. Last year the HMCS Fredicton was there.
Hopefully the Navy will not discover the hard way why Arctic icebreakers have special steel hulls with an ice belt of 3" thick steel and reduced scantlings.
Even with Global warming and reduced ice thickness, somehow the thought of taking those lightly built hulls north makes me cringe. I would suspect that the engineroom cooling systems have no recirculation features built in for slush conditions and the crew are more familar with keeping their engines running cool in the tropics then warm in the far north.
A recent article in the Halifax NS news highlights their difficulties:
http://www.herald.ns.ca/Canada/523691.html

As marine engineer who has not been to the Arctic since the early 90's, the sight of all the open water is astounding.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Sonia: the new queen of the North

Even with the decision to build a new ship in Germany for the northern route, BC Ferries has a service gap to fill until the new ship is ready. Enter the Sonia. See pictures here. From what I can research in short time, it looks like the ship was built for Spanish ferry operator Balearia for its Barcelona-Ibiza (Sant Antoni) run.

It has been operating as a charter on a reported $24,000 day rate in Trinidad and Tobago starting early 2005. The Sonia works alongside "The Cat", Canada's Bay Ferries High speed catamaran on the ferry run between Trinidad and Tobago .

Acording to the Balearia website here are the ship's particulars (in its configuration for them):

Length: 111 m
Beam: 20 m
Maximum speed: 21 knots
Passengers:: 750
Hold capacity: : 600 m.l. de carga

Denis Solomon has interesting insight on the operation in Trinidad, definately not a glowing review of the operation.

Heres and article on hints of the Sonia coming to BC from the Vancouver Province.

B.C. Ferries gets its shipWORST-KEPT SECRET: Company won't confirm it's bought 'Sonia' Ian Bailey, The Province; with a file from Staff Reporter Christina MontgomeryPublished: Sunday, August 06, 2006
B.C. Ferries appears to have found a replacement for the sunken Queen of the North -- the Sonia, a two-year-old ferry that sailed between Trinidad and Tobago until this spring.
While the company declined to comment on the purchase yesterday, CEO David Hahn has referred recently to his new "European" ferry as the "worst-kept secret on the coast."
The Sonia is managed by TTT Tomasos Transport & Tourism, part of Italy's Tomasos Group, which has posted word of the sale on its website. The sale price is not listed.
A Swedish shipping database also lists the Sonia as "sold to B.C. Ferries Canada" for "delivery in the autumn." It says the ferry was renamed Sonia X this month.
Hahn has said publicly that the new ferry is just years old and that delivery is expected in September.
"It's got capacity for vehicles, it's got great capacity for passengers, it's got great speed," he said.
The 117-metre Sonia, built in 2004, carries 1,200 passengers and crew and 220 vehicles and has a speed of 22 knots. It has more cabins than the Queen of Prince Rupert now serving the north.
It also has two stern doors but not a bow door, unlike most ferries in the provincial fleet.
Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall would only say yesterday that sale talks are "ongoing."
Current time-charter arrangements for the ferry are believed to be delaying the final sale. More than a dozen Ferries personnel, including engineers from the North, are believed to be working on the Sonia now in Europe, where it was moved this spring. Marshall did not comment on either of those matters.
Word of the new ferry has been eagerly anticipated along the coast, whose residents and tourist operators suffered massive service losses and disruptions when the North sank March 22.
Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood, whose town would serve as one end of the Sonia's Hardy-Prince Rupert run, told The Province his sources have confirmed the Sonia is vessel being purchased.
"It was critical B.C. Ferries find something to the standard of the Queen of the North -- and it's my understanding that's going to be the case," Bood said.
Capt. David Badior, president of the ships' officers component of the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers Union, said the union is also interested in a resolution so they can begin determining how to train crew for the new vessel.
It is unclear how much work must be done to have the ferry meet both Canadian standards and the physical requirements of B.C.'s docks.
George MacPherson, president of the Shipyard General Workers Federation, said his union wants the refit work -- rumoured to be worth between $10 and $30 million -- done in B.C.
-- with a file from Staff Reporter Christina Montgomery
ibailey@png.canwest.com

German yard gets another piece of BC

B.C. Ferries awards German firm $133 million contract to build northern ferry
By TERRI THEODORE

VANCOUVER (CP) - B.C. Ferries has signed a contract with a German firm to build a new ferry for its northern route, and says it's only days from buying another vessel for the same run. It's all in an effort to fill the void left after the sinking of the Queen of the North last March that killed two passengers. B.C. Ferries has picked the firm Flensburger Schiffbau to build the $133 million vessel to replace the aging Queen of Prince Rupert.

It's the same firm, headquartered in the northern city of Flensburg, that has a $542-million contract to build three Super C class vessels for B.C. Ferries. The announcement angered George MacPherson, head of B.C. Shipyard General Workers' Federation. "We've given them now over $700 million worth of work that should have stayed in Canada and Canadian shipyards," he said Friday. "I find that to be absolutely disgusting and I question where the federal government is on these types of contracts."

But B.C. Ferries president David Hahn said they gave Canadian firms the opportunity to bid on the ship but none could meet the accelerated time line. "From our stand point, we've got a need to build these, and do it right away," he said. "And I think we've done a really good job of saving the people of British Columbia a lot of money." The contract guarantees the completion date, allows for penalties for late delivery and allows for 80 per cent of the payment when the ship is complete. Hahn said many ship builders just couldn't meet the deadline. "Once we went through the event of the Queen of the North we accelerated this at a very, very fast pace," Hahn said.

There was good competition in tendering for the latest vessel between Flensburger and a Finnish shipyard. MacPherson said the awarding of the contract to an international firm is a disturbing pattern for B.C. Ferries in the last few years. "I question what they're going to do in the future if they keep going this way, because there won't be an industry here to respond to their needs," he said. "They'll have vessels breaking down, there will be nobody left to do the repairs on those vessels."

The new vessel will operate between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert along the Inside Passage. It's the same route where the Queen of the North, carrying about 100 passengers and crew, ploughed into an island and sank in less than an hour. Two passengers disappeared and were presumed to have gone down with the ship.

While service has been cut in half because of the accident, Hahn said they'll have another vessel ready for next spring no matter what happens. "We're in very, very final stages of looking to acquire a vessel, the Sonia out of Europe." That two-year-old vessel had been sailing between Trinidad and Tobago until last spring. "But there is one last condition that has to be removed," Hahn added, saying they hope to confirm the sale in the next week to 10 days.

But if that agreement fails, B.C. Ferries also has a plan to lease another ship which would be ready for early next year. Both ships would need renovations before they could be used on the route. "So one way or the other we're going to have a vessel replacing the Queen of the North for next summer," Hahn confirmed.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the sinking of the Queen of the North. Hahn said the board received most of the information it needed with the latest dive on the wreck, removing the computer hard drive and other equipment. "I've tried to stay away from the speculation and let them conduct they're full, professional investigation," Hahn said.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cougar Ace Back On It's Keel.

The Cougar Ace is now tied up to moorings Wide Bay, Unalaska Island and being deballasted of water. At last report the vessel was at a 12* list.
It is amazing that the vessel did not capsize either in the initial incident or the tow to safer harbour.
Congratulations to the salvagers.
Photographs of the operation can be seen at the CargoLaw site.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Good News / Bad New for MOL

With good progress being made on the salvage operations of the car carrier Cougar Ace (full details) in Alaska, Mitsui OSK Line is being hit with another major maritime incident.

On August 14th, 2006, the VLCC Bright Artemis loaded with almost 250,000 tons of crude, “suffered the damage on her hull” while rescuing crew from the Singapore flag cargo ship Amar. Amar, a 10,208 cargo ship, was reportedly on fire and was swept into the side of the Bright Artemis. The accident occurred in the Indian Ocean, 290 miles west of the Great Nicobar Island.

The press release from Mitsui OSK Line states that… “At about 1:00 p.m., (3:00 p.m. JST), Amar was swept by a wind wave and struck Bright Artemis. The Bright Artemis has a gash of about 1 meter in height and 5 meters in length on the starboard (approx. 1.7 meters above the water line). The amount of oil spillage from damaged 2 tanks is still under investigation, but is estimated to reach to about 4,500 tons.”

No injuries are reported on the Bright Artemis, whose complement of 23 includes one Canadian seafarer as crew. The Bright Artemis is a single hull VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier), flies the Singapore flag and is managed by MOL Tankship Management (Asia). Mitsui OSK Line is one of the largest tanker operators in the world.

Although the ship and company will be involved in many negative headline-grabbing articles, as oil spills and shipping headlines often go, it is important to remember the great job that they did. They successfully rescued all of the burning Amar’s crew without reported injuries, in obvious peril to their own safety. It is a great tradition and not hard to believe accidents like this do happen in those situations. So kudos to them.

Ship particulars:

Bright Artemis (Ex Vessel Name Cosmo Artemis)
Gross Tons: 146,463 tons
Built: August 1992 by Sasebo Heavy Industries
IMO No 9012252
Engine Maker: Mitsui B&W
Speed: 15.0
Horse power: 29,596
G.R.T. 146,463
Deadweight 258,090
L x B x D 324.00 x 56.00 x 19.52
Seafarers: 23 in total: 4 Croatians (including captain), 1 Canadian, 18 Filipinos

- Martin


Here’s a news clip from Bloomberg (Financial)

Mitsui OSK Shares Fall on Tanker Spilling Crude Oil (Update2)
Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Shares of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., Japan's second-largest shipping company, fell as much as 4.2 percent after the company said one of its tankers spilled about 4,500 metric tons (33,300 barrels) of oil into the Indian Ocean.

Mitsui O.S.K. shares fell 36 yen to 796 yen and traded at 803 yen as of 2:14 p.m. in Tokyo.

The oil spill occurred after the tanker, named Bright Artemis, collided with a cargo vessel it was trying to help. The cargo vessel, a Singapore-flagged ship called the Amar, was on fire and requesting assistance. When the Mitsui O.S.K. tanker tried to rescue the crew in heavy seas, the two ships collided, Mitsui said in a statement on its Web site.

The tanker, which was carrying 249,997 tons of crude oil for Tokyo-based Cosmo Oil Co., was heading to Japan from Saudi Arabia. There was no report of injuries among the 23 crew members of Bright Artemis, the Tokyo-based shipping line said. The crew on the cargo ship was rescued by another vessel.

The collision occurred between Sri Lanka and Sumatra, Mitsui said. The accident happened yesterday at 1 p.m., local time, at about 290 miles west of Great Nicobar island. The Bright Artemis is moving under its own power, the company said.
``The vessel is moving to the east, where there are facilities to repair ships as the top priority is to avoid spilling more oil,'' said company spokesman Hidenori Onuki. ``After the vessel is fixed, it will head on to Japan.'' He said the company had not yet decided at which port the vessel will be repaired.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cougar Ace Claims Naval Arch's Life


Salvage crewman who died on listing ship identified
By BRAD WONGP-I REPORTER
A Seattle-based member of a salvage team who died when he lost his footing while looking at how to stabilize a listing ship in the Aleutian Islands was identified Tuesday.
Marty Johnson, 40, from Issaquah, was an experienced naval architect, according to Crowley Maritime Corp. Crowley owns Titan Salvage, which employed Johnson.
"He was one of these guys that everybody gravitated toward and liked," said Mark Miller, a company spokesman. "I know our folks are taking this news hard."
Ed Schlueter, Crowley's vice president of vessel management services, said Johnson was a nine-year employee who specialized in ship design. He was based at Pier 17 at the Port of Seattle's Harbor Island.
"He was an all-around perfect person to plan your company around. He was always ready with a compliment and to take on any challenge," said Schlueter, his supervisor.
"We're going to miss him. There will be a big hole to fill."
The salvage team was getting ready to leave the Cougar Ace on Sunday when Johnson slipped and was knocked unconscious. Efforts to revive him aboard the ship failed.
He was flown to a nearby Coast Guard cutter with a surgeon and a clinic, said Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis. However, he was declared dead about an hour later.
Johnson was one of the company's most experienced naval architects.
He earned a degree from the Webb Institute, a Glen Cove, N.Y., school that specializes in naval architecture and marine engineering.


My symapthies to the familly of Marty Johnson on their terrible loss.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Answer to your 2nd's Naval Arch Questions

Ok not directly related to the daily bussiness of marine engineers, but then again, if it wasnt for him, we would have a tough time understanding ships!

Martin
----

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Previously hidden writings of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes are being uncovered with powerful X-ray beams nearly 800 years after a Christian monk scrubbed off the text and wrote over it with prayers.

Over the last week, researchers at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, Calif., have been using X-rays to decipher a fragile 10th-century manuscript that contains the only copies of some of Archimedes' most important works.

The X-rays, generated by a particle accelerator, cause tiny amounts of iron left by the original ink to glow without harming the delicate goatskin parchment. "We are gaining new insights into one of the founding fathers of western science," said William Noel, curator of manuscripts at Baltimore's Walters Art Museum, which organized the effort. "It is the most difficult imaging challenge on any medieval document because the book is in such terrible condition."

Following a successful trial run last year, Stanford researchers invited X-ray scientists, rare document collectors and classics scholars to take part in the 11-day project.
It takes about 12 hours to scan one page using an X-ray beam about the size of a human hair and researchers expect to decipher up to 15 pages that resisted modern imaging techniques.

After each new page is decoded, it is posted online for the public to see. On Friday, members of the public watched the decoding process via a live webcast arranged by the San Francisco Exploratorium. "We are focusing on the most difficult pages where the scholars haven't been able to read the texts," said Uwe Bergmann, the Stanford physicist heading the project.
Born in the 3rd century B.C., Archimedes is considered one of ancient Greece's greatest mathematicians, perhaps best known for discovering the principle of buoyancy while taking a bath.

The 174-page manuscript, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest, contains the only copies of treatises on flotation, gravity and mathematics. Scholars believe a scribe copied them onto the goatskin parchment from the original Greek scrolls. Three centuries later, a monk scrubbed off the Archimedes text and used the parchment to write prayers at a time when the Greek mathematician's work was less appreciated. In the early 20th century, forgers tried to boost the manuscript's value by painting religious imagery on some of the pages.

In 1998, an anonymous private collector paid $2 million for the manuscript at an auction, then loaned it to the Walter Arts Museum for safekeeping and study. Over the last eight years, researchers have used ultraviolet and infrared filters, as well as digital cameras and processing techniques, to reveal most of the buried text but some pages were still unreadable.
"We will never recover all of it," Noel said. "We are just getting as much as we can and we are going to the ends of the Earth to get it."
-
On the Net:
Archimedes Palimpsest: http://www.archimedespalimpsest.org/
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/

Surfing on oil

From the Canoe News website.

SQUAMISH, B.C. (CP) - An oil spill fouled the waters of Howe Sound north of Vancouver on Friday, sending surfers scrambling out of the water. Dan Bate, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said the cargo ship Westwood Anette hit a pier at a terminal and a fuel tank burst.

"Coast guard emergency response is being dispatched," Bate said. He said a cleanup company was contracted immediately. The crew arrived and two large holes on the starboard side of the ship were repaired about an hour after it ruptured. "The spill was contained as soon as possible," said Alex Mendes, a spokesman for Ocean Agencies, hired by Westwood Shipping to coordinate the cleanup. Mendes could not say how much oil spilled into the water. "All I can say is we've got about 20 personnel working out in the water with various heavy equipment."

However Squamish RCMP estimated about 50 tons of fuel spilled from the two holes.
"The fuel spill is being pushed by the waves, current and winds into the Squamish Estuary and is affecting the shoreline, marshes and wildlife," said Cpl. Dave Ritchie in a news release. Environmental groups were concerned about the extent of damage sustained to a sensitive bird sanctuary near the shore. "So much work has gone into this estuary. They (bird sanctuaries) are so important, so vulnerable and there are so few on the B.C. coast," said Meg Fellows, president of the Squamish Environmental Conservation Society. "We don't know the extent of the damage but potentially it's devastating," she said.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Transportation Safety Board, Canadian Coast Guard, Provincial Emergency Program and Provincial Conservation Officers are conducting a coordinated investigation into the spill.

At least four windsurfers were covered in the sticky, black Bunker fuel but there were no serious injuries. One witness said the slick was quickly pushed by the wind about 500 metres into Howe Sound, the picturesque stretch of water along the highway between Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler. "Lot's of oil. Black," said Brian Thompson, a photographer with the Squamish Chief newspaper. "The waves are bringing it onto the shore so the shoreline is definitely black. The tide is high right now, which is probably making it a lot worse. It's pushing it high on the banks and into the fauna," Thompson said after returning from taking pictures of the scene.

He said the area is popular with windsurfers and police were telling them to get out of the water. "There were a few people that had already been slicked with oil on their boards and their arms and their legs."

According to documents on the Internet, the Westwood Anette is a cargo ship flying Bahamian flag. It was built in Japan in 1987.

________________

Westwood Shipping is part of the US base Weyerhaeuser group, the shipping part has been around since the late 1800s. If I am not mistaken, they have taken over the operations of MacMillian Bloedel forest company in BC.

Here's a quote about their fleet expansion (7 ships) ...

"Working closely with Westwood’s project management team, the Gdynia (g-din-ya) Shipyard in Poland has been contracted to build all seven vessels. In addition, Westwood has contracted Barber Ship Management Company, of Oslo, Norway, as consulting engineers and construction supervisors."

Their website is informative, check it out... I like this "Fun Ship Fact" - Ten officers and 15 crew members spend an average of six months on the ship before taking time off. Yeah that allot of fun. Read more about their fleet.

Martin

Lifeboat Safety

Everyone who has gone to sea has participated in lifeboat drills.
Sometimes the boat is put into the water and goes for a short trip, sometimes it is just lowered to the embarkation deck. It is just part of the everyday routine and one that everybody hopes they will never have to use.
We all have heard of the accidents associated with lifeboats, hooks letting go unexpectedly, usually tipping the occupants into the water before the boat falls on them.
"Oh, that will never happen to us, look at where that ship is flagged. Obviously the crew doesn't know what they are doing or too lazy to do their maintenance" and with a shrug of the shoulders it is off to another task. Or you hear about the FSR for a davit company doing the load testing on a davit installed on a tanker, and the davits being ripped off the deck, completely failing. "Another example of poor seamanship" we say. "The Captain is negligant in not reporting the problems to the company."
The reality is sobering. Even in well run ships and shipping companies, surveys of davits and lifeboats can show equipment that is teetering on the edge. Cables that are damaged, allowing the possibility of the hooks to be opened with the flick of wrench while sitting on the cradle. Modifications of the hydrostatic releases by crew or hooks installed backwards.
In 2001 MAIB published a Review of lifeboats and launching systems' accidents. It is a 48 page document available online at http://www.maib.gov.uk/publications/safety_studies/review_of_lifeboats_and_launching_systems_accidents.cfm
and it is a sobering document to read.
Within the last few years the local TC office has insisted that the davit manucturer's field service rep (FSR) inspect all lifesaving davits. We grumble at the cost, but when it comes down to it you can't put a price on someone's life.