Saturday, October 20, 2007

HMS Somerset Blog

I just came across a Blog that would interest anyone who went to sea or was in the Navy. It is written by the CO of the HMS Somerset, a British frigate.

The CO tends to write in cliches which is annoying, but it is a fascinating look at a way of life that most of us will never see. Check it out here.

Military

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dr. Diesel would be proud...

Came across this little bit of press release regarding the two biggest names in the Diesel engine business working together, along with many other well know partners, on improving efficiency of the prime mover in an environmental positive way. Here is the project's website, and below is the press release from Wartsila. Interesting project.

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Wärtsilä Corporation, Trade & Technical Press release, 6 September 2007

Multinational team led by Wärtsilä and MAN Diesel successfully complete the major HERCULES cooperative research project into the technology necessary for higher-efficiency engines with ultra-low emissions for ships.

A team of more than 40 European engine component suppliers, equipment manufacturers, universities, research institutions and shipping companies, led by the major diesel engine groups MAN Diesel SE and Wärtsilä Corporation, has successfully completed the major 43-month cooperative research project under the name HERCULES (High Efficiency R&D on Combustion with Ultra-Low Emissions for Ships) with a budget of EUR 33 million, partly funded by the European Union (EUR 15 million) and the Swiss Federal Government (EUR 2.5 million).

The results from HERCULES will allow the participating companies to develop marine diesel engines with technologies, components and equipment that will achieve drastically lower gaseous and particulate emissions, while at the same time gaining increased engine efficiency and reliability, thereby reducing fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and engine life-cycle costs. The results of the research are being shared among the participants and are expected to be incorporated in engines introduced during the next ten years or so.

The project has been undertaken through a series of nine interrelated work packages (two missing numbers were reserved for packages that were not adopted):


1. Extreme design parameters
Knowledge about a diesel engine operating under extreme conditions was gained with advanced research engines capable of coping with severe mechanical and thermal loads. These engines feature for instance variable valve timing, common rail fuel injection etc. allowing the researcher to adapt to whatever running conditions.

This work package included a study of the influence of advanced working cycles on engine performance and emissions, finding design and material solutions for engine components operating under extreme conditions and performing full-scale and rig tests to evaluate the technologies.

The fuel spray and combustion conditions were studied by using optical equipment to look into the combustion chamber through quartz windows.

Vital engine components situated around the combustion chamber and reciprocating parts were evaluated and redesigned with respect to the increased mechanical load and thermal load applying advanced design and material solutions.


2. Advanced combustion concepts
Three-dimensional CFD (computer fluid dynamics) simulation tools were applied to engine combustion for optimising the combustion systems, involving the development of new models as well as the extension and adaptation of existing sub-models. The developed models were applied to a very large number of cases and the result compared to measured data to ensure the models validity over a wide range of engine types and sizes and varying operating conditions.

A particular achievement was the development, manufacture, installation and testing of a novel test rig for the fundamental investigation of fuel sprays, combustion and emissions formation in large-bore two- and four-stroke engine cylinders. This spray/combustion chamber has an internal diameter of 500 mm and can operate at maximum pressures up to 200 bar.

Combustion system optimisation tests have already been performed to identify and verify combustion concepts for achieving lower emissions.


3. More-capable turbocharging systems
The potential benefits of variable-geometry turbocharger systems as well as systems with power take-in/take-out and multi-stage turbochargers were investigated. New concepts for variable turbocharging were also studied and developed. The potential of power take-in/take-out systems was verified with prototype tests on two-stroke engines, while that of two-stage turbocharging was verified on four-stroke engines.

Power take-in systems have great potential for improving part-load behaviour of two-stroke engines as turbocharging efficiency and thus charge air pressure are considerably increased in comparison to using conventional electrically-driven blowers.

Two-stage turbocharging systems were shown to improve considerably the performance on four-stroke engines, showing potentials for reducing NOX emissions by up to 50% at certain load ranges together with some savings in fuel consumption. Good part-load performance was ensured by using a variable inlet valve closure (VIC) system which enables the Miller effect to be varied according to engine mean effective pressure (BMEP).


4. Turbocompound, ‘hot engine’
The potential benefits of combined cycle systems, also known as turbocompound, were investigated for ship machinery. Different turbo-compound alternatives were simulated in computer models. These included ‘hot mode’ simulations with a two-stage turbocharging system.

A substantial number of prototype ‘hot engine’ components were developed, manufactured and tested (piston, cylinder liner, steam injection system, exhaust valve seat ring, turbocharging system, etc.). These components are resistant to heat and hot corrosion and can actively contribute to the principle of low heat rejection, as well as to a heat balance that is state-of-the-art from the points of view of heat recovery and overall system efficiency.

A further goal of this work package has been search not the optimal solution for the individual machines (engine, turbocharger, power turbine, boiler and steam turbine) but to find the combined optimum for the total process. The main success criteria are optimal efficiency (reduction of CO2) of the system as a whole.

This search for optimal efficiency of the total system has confirmed that dedicated design of gas power turbines, boiler elements suitable for operating under high exhaust gas pressure and steam turbines developed to actual steam conditions must be made if optimum efficiency is to be obtained. Calculations confirm that choosing the optimal combination of known machinery gives potential for improving combined efficiency by some 3 to 5%.


6. Emissions reduction methods (internal – water)
Various ways to use water inside engine cylinders to reduce NOX emissions generation at source were studied and further developed: the intake air humidification and fuel water emulsion systems for four-stroke engines, and the Direct Water Injection (DWI) as well as the scavenging air moistening (SAM) systems for two-stroke engines.

Appropriate computer simulation approaches have been devised for above techniques. Extensive simulations were run for identifying the most suitable geometries and operational parameters.

The systems were further developed on the basis of field testing as well as the experience from additional endurance tests in the laboratory.

The systems have been tested successfully in collaboration with the shipping companies A.P. Moller-Maersk Group and Wallenius Lines in prototype installations on board some of their vessels.


7. Emissions reduction methods (internal – exhaust gas)
Particulate matter emissions from two- and four-stroke marine diesel engines were characterised in terms of physical and chemical properties; size distributions were measured, and particulate matter deposited on filter samples was chemically analysed.

The results showed that engine tuning parameters did not have sufficient influence to significantly reduce particulate matter emissions. However, fuel quality did have an impact. Particulate emissions decrease with increasing fuel quality and decreasing sulphur content.

Data resulting from these measurements provided a basis to investigate particulate emissions systematically and to state that the current particulate formation models will have to be adapted.

Correlation with after-treatment technologies investigated in work package No.8 showed that there is a need to explore new technologies for marine diesel engines running on heavy fuel oil in order to reduce particulate emissions to the same extent as for passenger cars.

A complete exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system for two-stroke engines was developed including a novel exhaust gas cleaner (scrubber). A potential for NOX emission reductions up to 70% was confirmed. Investigations on different combustion gas recirculation (CGR) systems were carried out.


8. Emissions aftertreatment
Aftertreatment of engine exhaust gases was also studied. Non-thermal plasma (NTP) equipment has been used to demonstrate NOX reduction at laboratory scale under conditions representative of the exhaust gas composition from a two-stroke research engine. Results showed that considerable development work needs to be done before NTP systems can be considered a viable proposition for large diesel engines.

A wet scrubber prototype was designed and tested on a four-stroke research engine. With the research engine the prototype removed an average of 95% of the SO2 and 42.8% of the particulate matter in the exhaust gases, according to ISO 8178.

The shipboard monitoring system was installed on the 8-cylinder two stroke engine of the “Maersk Montana” and is operational.

Attention has also been given to new measuring techniques. A measuring concept for emissions originating from individual engine cylinders has been developed on the basis of preliminary tests and simulations. The sampling proved to be the most critical issue in the arrangement and must be further improved to obtain better results.
Further, Infra-Red spectroscopy was tested against the standard NOX measuring method.


9. Reduced friction engine
One way to increase engine efficiency is to reduce internal engine friction losses. This requires developments in lubrication and tribology.

During the research, valuable information regarding the friction losses was obtained and significant differences depending on engine size were found. A new, “environmentally friendly”, non-metallic bearing material with improved mixed friction properties and reduced friction losses was developed and a new bearing geometry concept was created.

A tribometer (friction test-rig) with the unique capability to determine accurately and reliably the friction losses and wear resistances of piston ring and cylinder liner materials was studied.

A hydraulic simulation model and a device to predict accurately and measure the fuel injection rate of a common-rail fuel injection system was developed. A common-rail system with optimised fuel injection characteristic for a 1000 kW/cyl engine was tested, and a significant reduction of fuel consumption was achieved.

Simulation techniques for a tuned/adaptive mass damper were developed, and a significant reduction of the vibration levels was achieved, allowing a much wider engine operating field.


11. Adaptive and Intelligent engine
The objective for the ‘adaptive and intelligent’ engine was to create engine systems and components that adapt to prevailing operational conditions as well as to component status. This involved self-learning systems based on monitoring with reliable measuring equipment with goal-oriented performance under all boundary conditions, together with engine mode changes based on manual or self-detected requirements.

Significant improvements in performance and reduced emissions were obtained by using an advanced embedded speed controller, also by introducing a new method for sharing the load of several generating sets or propulsion engines in a ship, with self adapting properties and fault-tolerant operation.

A new adaptive multimodel controller structure for optimized performance of non-linear processes was developed. Tests were also made with dual control for speed and timing using advanced controllers with increased accuracy. Advanced engine balancing diagnostics for common rail engines were tested and verified.

A new method was also developed to ensure advanced fuel injection system reliability by a novel redundancy strategy. Improvements were also achieved in the reliability of adaptive control methods for gas engines by the development of new methods for accelerometer sensor analysis and condition monitoring.


The next step – HERCULES-B
MAN Diesel and Wärtsilä have proposed a follow-up to HERCULES in a new large-scale collaborative research project – HERCULES-B, which was announced in October 2006. A proposal was submitted to the European Commission within the “FP7 Cooperation Work Programme: Theme 7-Transport” in June 2007 and it is expected to be evaluated by the end of September 2007.

The principal aim of the proposed HERCULES-B based on the developed know-how and results of HERCULES, is to considerably improve the efficiency of marine diesel propulsion systems and achieve substantial reductions in fuel consumption and emissions. HERCULES-B is planned to reach beyond today’s limits set by the IMO, radically improving the environmental effect of waterborne transport.

For more information please contact:

Mr. Klaus Heim, Vice President, Global Research & Development, Wärtsilä Corporation, tel. +41 52 262 44 62, e-mail: klaus.heim@wartsila.com

Prof. Nikolaos P. Kyrtatos, Project Coordinator, e-mail: npk@uleme.com

Dr. Thomas Knudsen, Senior Vice President Research & Development, MAN Diesel A/S, e-mail: Thomas.Knudsen@dk.manbw.com


About Wärtsilä Corporation

Wärtsilä enhances the business of its customers by providing them with complete lifecycle power solutions. When creating better and environmentally compatible technologies, Wärtsilä focuses on the marine and energy markets with products and solutions as well as services. Through innovative products and services, Wärtsilä sets out to be the most valued business partner of all its customers. This is achieved by the dedication of more than 15,000 professionals manning 130 Wärtsilä locations in close to 70 countries around the world.
www.wartsila.com


About MAN Diesel

MAN Diesel is the World’s leading provider of large-bore diesel engines. The company designs two-stroke and four-stroke diesel engines, generating sets, turbochargers and CP propellers, for manufacture by MAN Diesel and its licensees. The engines have outputs ranging from 450 to 97,300 kW. MAN Diesel has approximately 6,400 employees, located in Germany, Denmark, the UK, France, the Czech Republic and China. The company’s worldwide service organisation, MAN Diesel PrimeServ, consists of a network of own service centres, supported by authorised partners. MAN Diesel is a subsidiary of the German industrial group MAN AG, which is listed on the DAX stock index comprising the 30 largest companies in Germany.
www.mandiesel.com

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Savannah: A southern belle

I'm a diesel man, I like it big, loud, and rumbling. Don't talk to me about antiquities and all that "how it use to be" shit. Ok, in my old age I am learning to appreciate the finer point of older machinery and the beauty and simplicity and of course the quietness of it all. One of the reason is the Nuclear Ship Savannah.

The NS Savannah has got to be one of the prettiest working ship anyone could ever set sights on. Although it was taken out of service in 1973, after only 13 years of "work", I still think it is one of the coolest ships around. It was built to demonstrate the useful peacetime application of the "Atom". It tramped around the world carrying some cargo, but mostly demonstrating the capabilities of peaceful nuclear use. The Germans and Japanese also built similar ships, and of course the Russian have used "Peaceful Atoms" in the icebreaker fleets for a long time, but I would arguee that none of those ships are quite as pretty as the Savannah.

The plant consist of a single screw driven by a steam turbines provide with by a pressurized water nuclear reactor. The ship was designated by the US Government as a national monument and has recently been awarded funding to complete the decommissioning of the nuclear plant.

Here are some more details.

* Displacement: 22,000 tons
* Length: 596 ft (180 m) overall
* Beam: 78 ft (23.8 m)
* Complement: 124 crew, 60 passengers
* Cruising speed: 21 knots (40 km/h)
* Top speed: 24 knots (47 km/h)
* Power: 74 MW, 20,300 hp to a single propeller
* Load carrying capacity: 14,040 tons
* Watertight compartments: 14
* Loading spaces: 6
* Reactor manufacturer: Babcock & Wilcox
* Builders: New York Shipbuilding, Camden, NJ
* Cost: $46,900,000 ($18,600,000 for the ship, and $28,300,000 for the nuclear plant and fuel)
* Range: 300,000 miles at 20 knots on one single load of 32 fuel elements.

In the "engine room" picture to the right you can see a bit of the reactor and check out those cool shoulder boards, now that pretty unique.

You can find out more about the ship and the decommissioning project . You can also check out the US Maritime Administration's section on Savannah.

TSB, BCFC and Cannabis

Now I realize that the wheels of TSB grind slowly, but this release from yesterday made me go Hmmm. A Board Concern that takes a year to release and concerns about possible cannabis use onboard by the crew on a Ferry. The same crew who is presumably manning another ship for the year it took for this Board Concern to be released.
Yet TSB wants BCFC to review their policy without delay?
I have to wonder how many meetings this took at TSB to get this Board Concern released.



THE TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD OF CANADA ISSUES A BOARD CONCERN REGARDING CANNABIS USE BY CREW MEMBERS IN BC FERRIES' NORTHERN FLEET
(Gatineau, Quebec, October 17, 2007) - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) issued a Board Concern about cannabis use aboard ferries to BC Ferries as part of the ongoing investigation into the sinking of the Queen of the North on March 22, 2006 (TSB occurrence M06W0052).

The Board Concern was issued after the TSB learned that several crew members of the Queen of the North regularly smoked cannabis between shifts, both on board and off the vessel. The Board stressed that there is no evidence that the crew members on the bridge at the time of the accident were impaired.

"Ferry crews whose performance is impaired by cannabis are a clear risk to the travelling public," said Mrs. Wendy A. Tadros, Chair of the Board. "We are confident that BC Ferries will determine the extent of the problem and effectively manage this risk so it will not lead to a serious accident," she added.

In expressing its concern and highlighting the risk, the Board believes that BC Ferries is in the best position to determine whether this behaviour is present on board other vessels in its northern fleet. As a first step, BC Ferries should determine whether cannabis is in use by crews of other vessels or whether it was isolated to the Queen of the North. This should include a review of the effectiveness of the company's policy on alcohol/drugs. The Board further encouraged BC Ferries to address the issue without delay.

The TSB will be monitoring the progress made by BC Ferries on this issue and will be reporting on it in its final report into the sinking of the Queen of the North.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/board_concerns/marine/2007/m06w0052_board_concern.asp

Arctic Oil Find

There's oil under that ice... but it sounds like the boom years aren't here yet.

Devon Energy has no plans yet for Arctic oil find
Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CALGARY -- Devon Energy Corp. revealed yesterday it found a giant pool of oil in the Beaufort Sea two years ago when it was actually searching for natural gas. But even with oil prices pushing US$90 a barrel, the U.S. company says it has no immediate plans for the huge discovery.

The Oklahoma City-based company said its US$60-million Paktoa C-60 well, initially portrayed as a disappointment because it didn't find the trillions of cubic feet of gas it was aiming for, struck an estimated 240 million barrels of recoverable oil.

Michel Scott, spokesman for the company, said the discovery confirms there are big resources in the Canadian Arctic, but commercialization is many years away because there is no infrastructure. "We have confirmed the presence of both oil and gas," he said. "Most significantly, based on initial results, it appears there is a recoverable resource there of 240 million barrels of oil."

Devon would not disclose the quality of oil found, nor the size of natural-gas reserves. At 240 million barrels, the pool would be on the same scale as the initial White Rose oil discovery in Newfoundland's offshore. The company has no plans for further drilling to better size up what it has.

"At the end of the day, it's beyond economic reach," Mr. Scott said. "We would need some critical mass going. It takes a lot of time and energy to get these things to market -- just look at how long it's taking the Mackenzie pipeline guys. At this juncture, the company has better places to invest its money."

The company has obtained a significant-discovery licence. The find could eventually be developed if an oil line is built in conjunction with the proposed Mackenzie Gas Pipeline. Another option is to move the oil by tanker through the Northwest Passage, which is becoming increasingly navigable due to global warming. The company may also consider selling it.

Some 26 significant discoveries -- eight gas, four oil and 14 oil and gas -- were made in the Beaufort Sea during a drilling boom two decades ago funded largely through federal incentives. At the time, companies such as Dome Petroleum Ltd., Imperial Oil Ltd. and Gulf Canada Resources Ltd. were searching for oil.

The National Energy Board has estimated that between 585 million barrels and 1.44 billion barrels of recoverable oil has been discovered in the Mackenzie Delta/Beaufort Sea region, not including Paktoa.

Devon's Paktoa well was the first to be drilled in the region in 16 years, but required a major effort because the Beaufort lost its infrastructure after oil companies pulled out nearly two decades ago.

This summer, Imperial Oil made a commitment with its parent, Exxon Mobil Corp., to spend $585-million to explore in the Beaufort over the next nine years, after winning exploration rights to a 205,321 hectares parcel located about 140 kilometres from the Mackenzie Delta.

ConocoPhillips secured a licence to explore a 103,711-hectare offshore parcel with a work-expenditure bid of $12-million, while Chevron Corp. picked up rights to a third block with a bid of about $1-million.

Financial Post

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Better conditions for seafarers agreed to

Unions hail new seafarer conditions
28 Sep 2007, Safety at Sea International

LONDON 28 September – Satisfied maritime unions have celebrated changes to seafarers’ pay and conditions that will take effect from January. After painstaking talks that took them from Sydney to Tokyo to London, the International Bargaining Forum reached agreement yesterday on improved conditions for 70,000 seafarers of all nationalities serving over 3,500 ships.

The changes cover increases in wage levels, extended maternity leave and changes in contractual clauses to incorporate the ILO Maritime Labour Convention. Under the terms of the new agreement, no seafarer for example will work more than eight hours a day from Monday to Friday.

Additionally, no seafarer employed in the deck or engine departments who is 21 or over and is not a trainee shall be paid any less than the equivalent rate of an ordinary seaman. ITF Spokesman Brian Orrell expressed satisfaction that the IBF had agreed to establish IBF Developed Economy Ratings Funds to encourage employment to seafarers from traditional maritime nations. “It’s a significant step forward to show that as social partners we can actually bring forward some of the rights within the Maritime Labour Convention before it even gets ratified [in around 2011],” said Nautilus chief Brian Orrell.

Ian Sherwood, chairman of the International Maritime Employers Committee, added that that there were a number of measures that also appealed to the employer organisations. “It reflects the supply and demand situation that we currently face for officers,” he said.


Here is the press release from the ITF...

Seafarers win pay rise and progress on contracts

3 October 2007

Seventy thousand seafarers could benefit from a substantial wage rise and significant contractual changes after an agreement was reached at a meeting of the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) last week.

The IBF – comprised of ITF representatives and the joint negotiating group (JNG), which brings together employers’ groups - met in London, UK, on 27 September. During the meeting they agreed on changes to seafarers’ pay and conditions to take effect on 1 January 2008. The IBF agreements cover some 70,000 seafarers of all nationalities employed on over 3,500 ships.

The agreement includes an eight per cent wage increase and a change in contracts in line with the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention. Both ITF and employers’ representatives commented that amending crew contracts towards full compliance with the convention was a considerable achievement. They considered that the IBF contracts were in the forefront of making the industry as a whole compliant with the best and most recent international labour standards for seafarers.

ITF spokesperson, Brian Orrell, expressed particular satisfaction regarding another key outcome of the negotiations: an agreement to establish IBF developed economy ratings funds. This would encourage companies to offer employment to seafarers from traditional maritime nations who had suffered major job losses during the past two decades. “This shows,” he said, “that the IBF can create innovative solutions to problems and improve the overall standards in the industry to all parties.”

The JNG spokesperson, Ian Sherwood, stated that there were a number of measures agreed by the IBF that appealed to the employer organisations. The agreements on implementing IBF contracts more effectively and more flexibly were of particular importance and most welcome.

Sailing with the anchor on the bottom...


Windjammer fleet stranded
03 Oct 2007, Safety at Sea International

MIAMI BEACH 3 October – Windjammer Barefoot Cruises is on the brink of bankruptcy, with all cruises halted and crew stranded. After months of cash shortfalls as the company sought a rescue investor, Windjammer cancelled all sailings late last week. The company’s phone line now offers a recorded message referring to “trying times” and the website has gone offline.

The company’s tall-ship Polynesia is stranded in Aruba; the Legacy in Costa Rica; Yankee Clipper in Trinidad; and Mandalay in Panama. A high-ranking shipboard source told Fairplay that attempts are being made to find a financial solution in the coming days. In August, it was reported that private equity firm TAG Virgin Islands would come to the rescue, but TAG told the Miami Herald this week that it was only acting as an advisor for Miami investor Jerry Ceder. According to the Herald, Ceder has just filed suit against Windjammer, claiming the line is courting other investors behind his back, contrary to an agreement.

Owned by the trust of the Burke family, Windjammer has had a troubled history. Its tall-ship Fantome was lost in Hurricane Mitch in 1998, with all 31 crewmembers killed. Founder Captain Mike Burke was incapacitated by a stroke in 2005. His son Dan, who was appointed president in 2006, died of a drug overdose this March.

IN a related story...

MIAMI Beach 3 October – Loyal passengers of embattled Windjammer Barefoot Cruises are mobilising a cash drive to help feed and support crewmembers aboard stranded vessels. Communications with crew and solicitations for donations are being co-ordinated through the Windjammer Flotilla Message Board.

Crew have been left without company support aboard the Legacy, Yankee Clipper, Polynesia and Mandalay, which are stranded in ports throughout the Caribbean and Central America. Food, water and fuel are reportedly running short.

Doug Stevenson of the Seamen’s Church of New York & New Jersey told Fairplay that he has been in contact with the captain of the Polynesia and that his group will push to ensure “that if the owner doesn’t fulfil its obligations, that flag states and port states provide assistance to the crew.”

He stressed that “government authorities must get involved”, noting that the IMO and ILO both have recommended guidelines for the fair treatment of abandoned seafarers. Private supporters of stranded crew told the Miami Herald that nearly $14,000 has been raised so far. A PayPal account has been set up to provide donations for Windjammer crew at http://www.jammerbabe.com/Windjammer_Relief.htm.

Friday, October 05, 2007

DFO / CG Mismanagement Whistle Blowing

The Louis engine makes the news again.
I am sure the ships staff wishes the Newspaper would actually do some investigative work and find something else to put in their articles as an example of CG mismanagement.


Ottawa to probe DFO mismanagement claim

Official investigation may result in wake of allegations made by whistle-blower

By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter


A federal government insider has made allegations of gross mismanagement at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Ottawa has put out a tender looking for an investigator to probe the matter in Nova Scotia.

The tender calls for a contractor to "conduct a fact-finding exercise to determine if there are sufficient grounds to commence an investigation to validate the allegations of gross mismanagement.

"A full investigation is to be undertaken to validate the allegations of gross mismanagement should the fact-finding exercise determine there is sufficient substance to warrant a more detailed examination of the facts."

DFO officials say they aren’t allowed to disclose the substance of the complaint.

The whistle-blower is protected under the Public Servant Disclosure Protection Act, which came into force in April.

"If the allegations of wrongdoing are founded, DFO will make public the details of the wrongdoing and the actions that will be taken in response," said Genevieve Gareau-Lavoie, a spokeswoman with the department.

There’s plenty of fodder for complaints at DFO.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser released a scathing report earlier this year on the Canadian Coast Guard, which is under DFO’s jurisdiction.

It detailed how, in March 2002, when the icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent was fired up after a two-month lay-up at its Dartmouth base, the vessel’s massive 16-cylinder diesel engine "accelerated beyond its operating range," blowing out part of the engine and damaging the generator.

As it turns out, the ship’s fuel pumps had been replaced incorrectly. The repairs cost $6 million.

The same February report found the coast guard had failed to fix any of the many problems identified in earlier critical reports, going back to 1983.

The February report pointed to the age of the coast guard fleet as one of its biggest problems.

Maintenance on the aging vessels is becoming more costly and difficult. To make matters worse, the agency is doing a poor job of managing that maintenance.

"The various failures have not been caused by age alone, but by the lack of even the most fundamental materiel management system," says the report.

Faults pointed out by the auditor general aren’t the only recent problems facing DFO.

Last year, authorities charged nine Cape Breton fishermen with hunting seals in a wildlife sanctuary after they were encouraged to harvest there by both the federal and provincial fisheries departments.

The native fishery has also experienced problems recently. DFO initiated a forensic audit into the operations of Indian Brook Fisheries after a number of questions were raised last year. The company, headed by former councillor Stephen Michael, brought in an estimated $7 million in catches in one year and received close to $5 million from DFO, but wound up owing creditors more than $1 million.

( clambie@herald.ca)

Trihedral VTS Set To Expand

Where does this fit in the marine world?
Trihedral VTS Alarm and Monitoring and tank sounding system is fitted in ships on the East Coast and North Sea. They have also developed and retrofitted FAMP control and breaker control software on older ships.

The alarm and monitoring software is very user friendly and I haven't met anyone who didn't like it. And to make it that much better, they are a good company to deal with. We will see what expansion does to them!! This is very good news.

Trihedral set to expand
Bedford software firm plans to create 180 high-paying jobs
By BILL POWER Business Reporter

An expansion that includes about 180 new jobs paying about $70,000 per year was announced Thursday by the Bedford software developer Trihedral Engineering Ltd.
"We’ll be looking a diverse group of talented people, including those with computer science backgrounds, professional engineers and managers," said Glenn Wadden, president of the international operation.
The new jobs will be based at company headquarters in Bedford and will be phased in over five years.
About 25 people are expected to be hired within the year and will be working on company projects around the world.
Trihedral’s mission-critical systems software is used in control rooms throughout the world by power, oil and gas, manufacturing, security and water/waste-water management industries.
The company controls and monitors its clients’ processes using its VTScada software.
Sharp-eyed air travellers passing through United States customs preclearance at Halifax Stanfield International Airport might have noticed the VTScada software logo on monitors used by customs officers.
Mr. Wadden said about 80 per cent of the company’s work is done outside Nova Scotia, and about 70 of the company’s clients are located outside Canada. Some of these clients include Aker Kvaerner, in Europe and the United States, and Ontario Power’s generation and distribution sections.
"We plan to accelerate growth by investing heavily in research and development and adding to our sales force," he said.
Mr. Wadden said information technology has been at the heart of his business for more than 20 years.
"We’ve found skilled labour in Nova Scotia for many years now, and we know that we can maximize our growth potential by continuing to expand in this talent-rich province," he said.
The Nova Scotia government is contributing to the effort through Nova Scotia Business Inc. with a five-year payroll rebate capped at $2.3 million.
"This payroll rebate will ensure that Trihedral’s headquarters will continue to grow right here in Bedford," Tourism Minister Len Goucher said of the business expansion in his Bedford constituency.
"It will create opportunities for Nova Scotia’s talented graduates and skilled workforce."
( bpower@herald.ca)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

BCFC Report Released on Queen of the North Sinking

What everyone has been waiting for!
Well not really, I am more interested in what TSB has to say, but they have been pipped at the post by the Ferry Corp. Can it be an attempt to get the Public Relations Wheels turning before the TSB report? There is no mention of the new electronic bridge equipment and lack of training that was alleged in earlier news soon after the sinking. Maybe this is in the complete BCFC report, which I haven't had a chance to go on the hunt for.

This news broadcast makes for more questions then answers.

Notice however, despite the numerous rumours floating about in the industry, Sex on the Bridge is not mentioned!


A quartermaster with minimal training was allegedly left in charge of the Queen of the North when it crashed last year, says an explosive new report released Wednesday by BC Ferries.

But the same report adds that Karen Bricker denies that she was left alone on the bridge.
Bricker had been a part-time cleaner just a year before she found herself at the helm of the $50 million vessel, and responsible for the lives of more than 100 people.
But BC Ferries CEO David Hahn said he was more troubled about Bricker allegedly being left alone, rather than her lack of experience.
"I think it's more shocking that anyone would leave anyone in that position," he told CTV British Columbia.
Of the other two bridge officers, Second Officer Keven Hilton has said he was on a lunch break at the time, but it's unclear where Fourth Officer Karl Lilgert was during the crash.
Ninety-nine passengers and crew were rescued when the stricken ship slammed into Gil Island and sank in March 2006, but two B.C. residents failed to escape.
In the new addendum to a March 2007 report, BC Ferries said two unidentified employees came forward recently with the new information.
Both claim to have heard the on-watch quartermaster say, shortly following the grounding, that she was alone.
The first employee claims the quartermaster twice said, "It was not my fault, I was left alone."
The second employee claims to have heard Bricker say, "It's not my fault, I was alone, I was alone."
The report also says the quartermaster had worked as a deckhand since 2005 and was considered a "person under training" for the bridge.
"At no time should the officer of the watch leave the bridge, unless he or she is properly relieved by another qualified navigating officer," said Capt. Bob Kitching of the Maritime Education Association.
He added that a quartermaster "would not be considered a qualified person."
BC Ferries says the sworn statutory declarations expose what was probably a significant factor in the sinking.
No response from Karl Lilgert
Lilgert refused to talk to the media on Wednesday, while his lawyer questioned why BC Ferries took the two statements about Bricker's comments seriously.
"Who are these people, these two independent people, who have sworn these statements?" he asked. "And why does BC Ferries find them to be credible?"
The original report in March concluded that the three members of the bridge crew failed to make an important course correction, allowing the ship to head right into the island. It also said the crew had lost "situational awareness.''
BC Ferries fired all three employees in late April -- none of whom agreed to talk to investigators. The quartermaster answered some, but not all, questions.
The new revelations do "not change the original findings of the Divisional Inquiry that the Queen of the North deck watch failed to maintain a proper lookout by all available means," BC Ferries maintained Wednesday.
The B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers' Union said it wouldn't comment on the new report until the Transportation Safety Board issues its independent report.
"We'd like it over and done with because it's very traumatic for everybody concerned," said union spokesperson Richard Goode, "whether it's the public, whether it's the people that travel, whether it's the union members that were directly affected that were on that ship, the one's that were on that bridge, and the union.''
Hahn said Hilton and Lilgert came forward because they thought the original report had missed important information.
"I think it takes a bit of courage to do this, you know, to step forward and make these kind of statements, but they felt it was appropriate, important and pointed it out to the company,'' Hahn told The Canadian Press.
Family members frustrated
Shirley Rosette and Gerald Foisy, a B.C. couple taking their first trip on a ferry, were never found after the accident.
Family members told CTV British Columbia's Julia Foy Tuesday that they were frustrated at the length of time it's taken to find answers.
Despite speculation that the Transportation Safety Board report would be released before the end of this month, family members were told three weeks ago that it would likely take another couple of months.
Civil lawsuits have been filed over the sinking. Several passengers have claimed they suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, although there were few reported injuries.
The Queen of the North will be replaced by the Northern Expedition, expected to be built at the FSG shipyard in Flensburg, Germany.
It's unclear when the Northern Expedition will arrive in B.C.
The following is an excerpt from Declarant #1's statutory declaration:
"I saw (the Quartermaster) on the deck near the lifeboats where we were both assisting. Just prior to us both getting into one of the rafts (the Quartermaster) said: 'It is not my fault, it was not my fault, I was left alone.'"
And, while in the life raft with the Quartermaster: "I was sitting not far from (the Quartermaster). I recall (the Quartermaster) again saying: 'It was not my fault, I was alone.'"
"When we watched the Queen of the North disappear under the water I heard (the Quartermaster) say again: 'It was not my fault' and repeat it."
The following are excerpts from Declarant #2's statutory declaration:
"Once our raft was away, it started to drift towards the stern of the vessel and at that point I could hear (the Quartermaster) talking to herself saying, 'It's not my fault, it's not my fault, oh my God.' I could see that (the Quartermaster) was becoming a bit distressed."
"I proceeded to get (the Quartermaster) outside of the raft to act as a lookout to distance (the Quartermaster) from the passengers. At that time, I heard (the Quartermaster) say, 'It's not my fault, I was alone, I was alone.' When (the Quartermaster) made that statement, because I was not then aware that (the Quartermaster) had been part of the bridge crew, I did not put it into context."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Julia Foy

Monday, October 01, 2007

Queen finds retirement job

Palmed off QE2 to be floating Dubai hotel
By Sandra Speares, 19 June 2007 Lloyds List

CUNARD’S legendary cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 has been sold to Dubai World in a $100m deal which will see the ship transformed into a floating hotel and leisure centre.

The QE2, which is 40 years old this year, is due to be delivered to Dubai World in November next year and, following a refurbishment to recreate the ship’s original interior, it will be moored at a purpose built pier at the man made island of Palm Jumeirah.

Cunard president and managing director, Carol Marlow, denied yesterday that new Solas regulations coming into force in 2010 had anything to do with the sale of the vessel. She described the new Solas regulations not being a “show stopper” as far as the QE2 was concerned.

However, industry insiders said that any necessary costly refurbishment to ensure compliance with Solas 2010 is bound to have had an impact when considering a possible sale.

Solas rule changes will affect not only the design of new ships, but safety procedures on board as well regulations requiring the use of non-combustible materials.

The demise of the classic cruiseships of yesteryear is being widely predicted as the costs of making the necessary changes prove prohibitive for many companies.

The QE2 was purchased by Istithmar, which is Dubai World’s investment arm and wholly owned by the Dubai government.

Financing aside, Ms Marlow said that strict criteria had to be met for a sale of the QE2 which would guarantee the future of the vessel, maintain the ship in first rate condition and preserve its history and heritage.

According to Dubai World chairman, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, “QE2 is without a doubt one of the wonders of the maritime world, and is easily the most famous serving liner in the world today. I am delighted we will be able to create a home for her on the newest wonder of the world, the Palm Jumeirah. QE2 at the Palm Jumeirah will become one of the must see experiences of Dubai and the Middle East. We are investing in creating a truly global tourism destination.”

The ship was launched in September 1967 and is the longest serving ship in Cunard’s 168 year history, having carried more than 2.5m passengers and crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times. It will set sail on its farewell voyage to Dubai on November 11 next year.

Sad anniversary

Speaking of ferry safety... This came in my Daily News email from MarineLink.

Estonia Sinking Remembered
Friday, September 28, 2007, (HK Law)

Thirteen years ago today, on September 28, 1994, the ferry ESTONIA sank during a storm in the Baltic Sea. The sinking claimed 852 lives and the exact cause remains controversial. The ferry was engaged in an overnight crossing from Tallinn to Stockholm, carrying 989 passengers and crew. The official report states that the bow visor broke under the strain of the heavy weather, allowing large quantities of water to enter the car deck. The free-surface effect of the water on the open deck caused the ferry to list and rapidly sink. A variety of safety improvements were adopted subsequent to this incident.