Monday, March 31, 2008

Clubbing the Canadian Coast Guard

Image conscious Canadian Coast Guard is under quite a few spotlights these days. Theres is bound to be some discomfort at HQ after several incidents in the Maritimes (Eastern Canada) which has drawn media scrutiny, and even became the second topic discussed today in the house of commons' Question Period. The Prime Minister stated that the accident would be investigated publicly, by no less that the Coast Guard, Dept of Fisheries, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Transportation Safety Board.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, March 29th, the Canadian Coast Guard ship, Sir William Alexander, was towing a 32 meter boat, L'Acadien II from Iles-de-la-Madeleine in the gulf of the St. Lawrence, with 6 seal hunters on board, when the boat "rode up" on ice and tipped over. The two crewmen, not sleeping, survived and were rescued by a near by fishing boat. Three bodies were recovered by Navy Divers, and one man is still missing, but the search was called off as he is presume drowned. On the right is a graphic of the accident by the Globe and Mail, notice the vessel involved not accurately represented (perhaps neither is the data - such is the media) but pretty good insight nonetheless. Here is the press release by the DFO about the incident, issued on the following day, on the 30th.

The minister responsible for Coast Guard, a part of the DFO, the Honourable Loyola Hearn, did finally issue a statement on this matter expressing sorrow and announcing the investigations by the various organization - after some political pressure, I am sure - three days after the incident.

There was another brief mention of the L'Acadien II accident in a another press release. In that press release, Fisheries and Oceans' minister, the Honourable Loyola Hearn was commenting on the latest incident in the seal hunt this year, where the RV Farley Mowat was involved in a collision with the Coast Guard Ship DesGroseilliers. You can read the Sea Sheperd's version of events, with pictures here.

Farley Mowat is a ship from the Sea Shepard Society - environmentalist group protesting the seal hunt practices - that according to the minister put itself in a position to be struck by the Coast Guard Ship to raise awareness, funds, attention against the seal hunt - supported by the Government of Canada.

- Martin

Here's is a story about the Sir William Alexander accident from the Globe and Mail.

Ship captain called in vain to stop icebreaker
JONATHAN MONTPETIT, The Canadian Press, March 31, 2008 at 4:26 PM EDT

Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Que. — The captain of a sealing vessel says he shouted in vain on his radio for the coast guard to stop an icebreaker after another vessel it was towing capsized on the weekend.

Wayne Dickson was trailing closely behind his friend's sealing vessel and could see the small boat zig and zag on Saturday morning as it pitched between large chunks of ice far from shore in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

His mate's boat, L'Acadien II, was under tow from the coast guard icebreaker Sir William Alexander and was not having an easy time in the darkness as ice spewed up behind the cutter.

Mr. Dickson saw the icebreaker haul L'Acadien up sideways onto an ice floe the size of a truck, and keep moving forward as the boat began sinking into the frigid water.

Mr. Dickson says he started screaming into his boat's radio to tell the Alexander to stop before it dragged the boat into the inky black waters, imperilling the six crew members on board.

Mr. Dickson and the six others on his sealing boat scrambled to help two men who made it out of L'Acadien.

Meanwhile, Quebec's seal hunters limped back to port Monday from a disastrous start to their annual hunting season. As the sleepless hunters set foot on land, their tales of what happened to the ill-fated L'Acadien II raised questions about how the Canadian Coast Guard handled the operation.

Three men died and one remained lost at sea after L'Acadien II flipped over while it was under tow early Saturday from a coast guard icebreaker.

“When you're being towed by the coast guard it's supposed to be safe,” said Charles Poirier, captain of the Emy Serge. “What happened? Was there negligence? Was it an accident.”

Hunters consider such towing operations routine. Many of those returning home Monday were grim-faced and tight-lipped about the weekend's events, when a boat in their fleet stalled and called the coast guard for a tow.

But some indicated there were several irregularities about Saturday's rescue.

Jocelyn Chiasson, a crew member of the Emy Serge, said it's unusual for large icebreakers to pull a boat as small as the 12-metre L'Acadien II.

“The icebreaker is around three times its size,” he said, squeezing his 11-year-old daughter tightly under one arm. “Smaller boats usually tow fishing boats, but they (L'Acadien II's crew) didn't want to disrupt the hunt.”

One hunter said he heard shortwave radio reports that L'Acadien II began to sway as it was being towed. It was apparently at a 30 degree angle to the icebreaker when it capsized.

“There should have been somebody watching L'Acadien II,” said the hunter, who asked not to be identified.

Witnesses aboard the boat following L'Acadien II have said the icebreaker appeared to be going too fast.

“We're all emotional over the drama because we always say when we're with the coast guard we're supposed to be safe,” Ms. Chiasson said. “It was an accident, we don't want to blame anyone.”

Many captains have described the ice in the North Atlantic as the worst they've seen in years. Pressure caused by the ice floes is being blamed for the loss of another Madeliot seal hunting boat over the weekend.

The seven crew members of the Annie Marie managed to jump to a nearby ice floe when their vessel began to take in water. They were later rescued by helicopter.

The crews of six of the boats that set off with L'Acadien II last week for the annual seal hunt were welcomed by relieved friends and family at the docks in the Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

As the boats emerged from the ice floes, the boats cut their engines in unison for a moment of silence before embarking on the final leg of the trip.

The half-dozen that arrived Monday formed a cortege of sorts as they arrived in the harbour, a sign of solidarity for those who went down with L'Acadien II.

The captain of the overturned trawler, Bruno Bourque, and sealers Gilles Leblanc and Marc-Andre Deraspe died in the accident.

The remaining half-dozen boats that were hunting with L'Acadien II were having trouble negotiating thick ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and were scheduled to pull into the harbour by Tuesday.

Among them was the War Lord, whose crew is being credited for picking up the only survivors from L'Acadien II's six-man crew.

The mayor of the small island community continued on Monday to call for a thorough investigation into the deaths.

Joel Arseneau indicated the matter would be discussed by ministers in the federal government.

Mr. Arseneau also called on the coast guard to resume its search for the missing sailor, 31-year-old Carl Aucoin.

“Political pressure is now being applied on the coast guard, the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans, and Transport Canada to push for the continuation of the search,” he told reporters.

“We were told the conditions are very difficult.”

Mr. Aucoin's family acknowledges there is little hope of finding him alive, but want to have the body to help with their mourning.

Autopsies have been completed in Halifax on the bodies of the three hunters. The bodies were expected to be taken to the island Monday or Tuesday.

Mr. Arseneau said he is consulting with the families about holding a civic funeral.

The hunters will be keeping a close eye on the weather conditions, anxious as they are to resume as soon as the ice begins to soften.

But with the deaths aboard L'Acadien II still fresh, weather might not be the only factor that prevents them from returning to the unforgiving icy waters of the North Atlantic. “We'll have to check with the women first,” said Ms. Chiasson.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Icebreaker to the Aid!

It has been a many years since Marine Atlantic Ferries have not been able to get into Sydney due to ice !!

NORTH SYDNEY — The Canadian Coast Guard has sent its largest icebreaker to rescue a passenger ferry that can’t enter Sydney Harbour due to high winds and chunks of ice.
About 170 passengers spent Tuesday night aboard the MV Caribou, but a spokeswoman for Marine Atlantic said they were in good spirits.
The Louis S. St-Laurent was expected to arrive in Cape Breton at about 7 p.m. Wednesday to clear a path for the stranded ferry. The MV Caribou bobbed about three kilometres off shore earlier that day, as it sailed back and forth waiting for the winds to shift or the coast guard to show up.
The ferry arrived off North Sydney at about 1 p.m. Tuesday. The captain soon realized the boat could not push through the ice that had built up around the harbour, spokeswoman Tara Laing said.
"What’s happened is you had a 30-mile radius of ice, (but) because of the wind and (its) direction that’s compacted it into 10 miles," she said. "It’s all pieces of ice, and they’re on top of each other, so that increases the pressure."
If the MV Caribou were to try to power through the ice, it would likely get stuck, she said.
The MV Leif Ericson, meanwhile, managed to dock Wednesday morning and unload its cargo. Its passengers made it ashore Monday, but the ferry could not manoeuvre up to the wharf equipped for unloading vehicles.

MV Caribou Vessel Specifications :
Lloyd's: 100A1Ice Class: Northern Baltic 1A Super
Main engines: 4 MAK, 8-cylBHP (horsepower) 7,000 each
Auxiliary: 3 MAK, 2,400 hp
Propellers: Twin Ka Me Wa
Thrusters: Twin bow KaMeWa,
Twin Aft KaMeWa
Economical speed: 15 knots
Maximum speed: 22 knots
Length oa - 179m
Length bp - 165 m
Breadth - 25 m
Loaded Draft - 6.6m

© 2008 The Halifax Herald Limited

Monday, March 10, 2008

Behold, the son of Posedion

A few months back, this strange looking craft made the news just about everywhere, because of its radical design and the secrecy surrounding it. Well fear not; the veil of mystery, well most of the big stuff anyways, has lifted and we now know the name and purpose of this peculiar craft.

Its called Proteus and you can visit the creators website for more details. From the website we find out the following details.

Proteus is the first full-size WAM-V™. Aptly named after an early sea-god capable of changing shape and assuming many forms, the name also suggest that Proteus is the first of its kind.


Invention and original design: Ugo Conti, Ph.D., D. Eng.
Co-design (Phase I): Antrim Associates, NA
Co-design (Phase II): Ugo Conti and Mark Gundersen
Design Software

Autodesk Inventor Professional

12 tons full load. With 2,000 gals of fuel aboard, Proteus has ocean crossings and long-range mission capabilities.

100 feet. The high length to displacement ratio and the small wet surface result in low fuel consumption even at high speeds.

50 feet. The very wide beam and low wind resistance esure a high margin of safety.

8” forward and 16” aft at half load. Her limited draft and inflatable hulls contribute to her maneuverability. Proteus can be beached without damage, delivering cargo or personnel.
Power Plant

Two Quantum Series QSB5.9 355 mhp by Cummins MerCruiser Diesel (picture)

TwinDisc MG-5061A marine gears and Arneson ASD 8 surface drives.

A crew of 2 can man this large vessel and has piloted Proteus over a thousand miles of ocean.

4000 lb. In this prototype, the payload is a boat with berthing for 4 and independent propulsion.
Materials and Components

Titanium, aluminum and reinforced fabrics.

The TIMET titanium springs and the structural inflatable hulls produced by Wing Inflatables ensure inherent flexibility that provides shock mitigation for crew and payload.

Sea trials are in progress. Performance details will be disclosed at a later date.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Royal Caribbean news

Aker Yards denies rumours of delays in Genesis cruise projects
Craig Eason, 19 February 2008 Lloyds List

BELEAGUERED Nordic shipbuilder Aker Yards has denied reports that its cruiseship projects are behind schedule, in particular the prestigious and lucrative Genesis vessels whose late delivery would trigger millions of euros in late payment fees, writes Craig Eason.

Royal Caribbean Cruises commissioned the two ships, agreeing to a record €900m ($1.32bn) for the first vessel to be delivered in late 2009.

The first blocks of the first 5,400 passenger vessel were laid at the yard in Turku last December, with work on the second ship beginning two weeks ago. The second vessel is contracted for delivery in 2010. Rumours of delays to the cruiseship projects, attributed to some of the company’s subcontractors, were reported by a Finnish newspaper.

But a spokeswoman for Aker Yards Finland told Lloyd’s List that it has not altered delivery dates: “We are not talking about delays to the Genesis project. We have a contract for delivery in autumn 2009 and we have not changed that.”

The cruise and ferry division is fitting out the Independence of the Seas, the third of the Freedom-class vessels for Royal Caribbean and the eighth for the company in recent years. The Independence of the Seas is expected to be handed over in a matter of weeks. Its sister ship, Freedom of the Seas, was the largest cruiseship ever built and was delivered two years ago.

Any slip in the deadlines for its prestigious cruise vessels would be embarrassing for the company, which strongly denied the Royal Caribbean Genesis contracts would suffer the same problems as its ferry orders.

Last December, Aker admitted that it was having difficulties meeting the contractual delivery dates for ferries being built in Finland, subjecting it to a number of late-delivery fines. It blamed poor performance from subcontractors and a lack of skilled workers for the delays.

Aker Yards Finland uses more than 600 subcontractors in the construction of its cruise vessels and ferries, which employ more than 2,000 people to work in the shipbuilder’s three Finnish yards — up to 50% of the workforce on any one vessel.

The company said that an ageing, unskilled work force has created problems for both it and its contractors and it has now started a recruitment and training programme, including employing skilled labour from overseas.

Check out Aker Yard's blurb on Genesis. Also in the news, something we reported about, a couple of years ago here....

RCI ploughs $144m into fuel-efficient engines
Mike Hood, 18 February 2008 Lloyds List

THE technically and logistically challenging retrofit programme being undertaken by RCI to fit new fuel-efficient diesel generators to eight of its thirsty gas-turbine-powered cruiseships is well underway, writes Mike Hood.

The project, involving four RCCL Radiance-class vessels and four Celebrity-owned Millennium-class vessels, will cost the Miami-based cruise giant $144m, but is expected to save the company around $6m per ship per year in overall fuelcosts.

Feedback from the first two vessels to be retrofitted, Celebrity’s Celebrity Constellation and Celebrity Millennium, show that they are performing better than expected. The new engines are likely to save the company $7m per vessel per year in fuel costs, chief executive Dan Hanrahan said.

The retrofitting work on Celebrity Millennium and Celebrity Constellation was undertaken last year at the Sobrena yard in Brest, under the guidance of Finland’s Aker Yards Lifecycle Services.

Meanwhile, Freeport’s Grand Bahama Shipyard has secured the contract to retrofit three of the gas turbine-powered vessels, with RCCL’s 90,000 gt sisters Serenade of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas being worked on in February and March.

Grand Bahama Shipyard has also been busy of late with other cruise vessel refits, including Holland America Line’s Prinsendam, Regent Seven Seas’ Seven Seas Navigator and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Imagination and Carnival Victory. A further 10 cruiseships are expected to refit at the Freeport yard during 2008.

Hamburg’s Blohm + Voss Shipyard completed the diesel-auxiliary retrofit of the 90,000 gt Jewel of the Seas last November and will carry out the same job aboard Brilliance of the Seas in April this year.

All eight RCI vessels are powered by a combined gas turbine and steam turbine integrated electric drive system, comprising twin General Electric LM 2500+ gas turbines, and will each receive a single 11.2 MW generator powered by a 16-cylinder Wärtsilä 38 diesel.

The new generators will operate on heavy fuel oil and meet the latest emissions controls.

Work on the remaining two vessels, Celebrity Infinity and Celebrity Summit, will be completed by the autumn of this year.

Read Wartsila's press release about the project.

Safety's fine, when you got the time...

I am not sure exactly who sent me the email, but it wasn't from anyone with a maritime background. It was one of those forward thingies. It had been around and forwarded quite a few times, thats for sure. It went something like, "the reason why get such cheap goods from China, is that they don't care for health and safety laws there." Which I believe holds some truth; anywhere we have an abundance of resource we end up taking it for granted. In Asia one gets the sense that life is pretty cheap.

Anyways the pictures here, were included in the email, to illustrate the point, which they certainly do quite well. But then it struck me the pictures were of very creative people in Asia, but not necessarily China, but what really got me was two of the pictures are work situations on or around ships.

The top one is of a worker grinding was looks to me, to be ship structure, with a great face shield. Have a look at his shoes, proper attire in a shipyard I am sure.

The second one down is obviously of a ship, I don't recognize the paint job, but it is pretty fancy, once again this looks like a shipyard situation. At least they have proper coveralls, perhaps they could use scaffolding, great teamwork nonetheless.

Below that, is a construction worker, inventive, but I not entirely sure how much protection this offers the wearer. I hope that's not a critical weld either, I can't imagine anyone in this situation having the proper training and diligence to meet standards.

At the bottom, is a nouveau design hard hat. Either that or that worker is in Canada and has manage to come up with a new religious head gear, federally protected by laws. If it intended as protection for his head, imagine what drove him to come up with that. Ouch.

Perhaps they are crew, perhaps they are shipyard personnel. Who can say except the photographer, whom I am sure would be severely reprimanded for letting this "dirty secret" out. No matter who the persons are, we can be sure that our maritime industry has allot of ground to cover in changing the attitude that "safety's fine when you got the time".

It is very shameful to see these pictures. To me, they illustrate the complete disregard of the industry towards its people. Which is probably why they the industry feels itself so short of people. Perhaps its not that people are not interested in the maritime industry, perhaps they are literally blind from the lack of proper safety training and more importantly, lack of safety gear.

Gonna need one hell of a coat rack...

I had a good chuckle when I saw this article the other day...

Ocean Ranger Cruise Ship Bill Introduced In California
Environment News Service, February 24, 2008

Sacramento, CA -- Every cruise ship transiting California waters would carry an Ocean Ranger aboard to oversee wastewater discharge practices and the maintenance and operation of pollution control equipment if a bill introduced in the state Senate Friday becomes law. Senator Joe Simitian, a Democrat, introduced the bill to protect California waters from cruise ship pollution, protect cruise ship passengers from crimes on the high seas, and coordinate with Department of Homeland Security agencies to be a first line of defense against terrorism attacks in U.S. ports of call.
Read the full article here.

One has to wonder where exactly this one person is going to be found, when most can hardly find a competent engineer nowadays. You are going to sail with a guy who shadows the environmental officer, who shadows the chief, who shadows the deputy chief who is responsible of the seconds who are on watch 24hr a day. huh uh. Plus the person will be the eyes and ears of the Homeland Security dept, so of course they are gonna want to be armed to the teeth - "just in case" and will be investigating drunk quarrels among the passengers. That is an awful lot of hats to wear for one person (which of course means at least 3-4 persons will be needed for the idea to be effective)

Ultimately the person will not be an engineer and will not have a clue of what the hell is going on on board, so will have to depend on the staff to guide and to spoon feed them the required info. Which is pretty much what happens now. Sound like a terribly frustrating job to have. So of course it will not be done properly. I am not sure what exactly prompted this initiative, but it is safe to say it will end up being one big administrative clusterf%^&$ just to pander to the die hard Fox News and CNN watchers.

These elected boneheads sure know very little about life on a cruise vessel and much less about life on a ship in general.