Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tug porn

I sailed with this guy, one day he comes up to me and says hey buddy do you have any tug porn? I believe this link would probably make him happy.

Ever wanted to drive a tractor tug? Well at Voight Schneider's website, you can try your hand at handling a tractor tug. A pretty neat simulator.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Is that a TEU in your pocket?

Cosco orders eight more boxship behemoths
Nacks to benefit from bulk-box deal worth $2bn
Janet Porter, 12 May 2008 Lloyds List

THE containership newbuilding market has burst back into life with a massive $1.3bn order from Cosco Container Lines for eight 13,350 teu vessels.

The Chinese line, which already has eight 13,100 teu vessels in the pipeline through a long-term charter agreement with Seaspan, confirmed the new order late Friday after setting out its ambitious expansion programme a couple of weeks earlier.

The huge ships are to be built by Nantong Cosco KHI Shipping Engineering, known as Nacks, a joint venture between Cosco and Kawasaki Heavy Industries.

In a stock exchange filing, parent company China Cosco Holdings also said it had placed a separate order with Nacks for eight 205,000 dwt bulk carriers in a deal worth $612m.

Cosco Container Lines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Ocean Shipping (Group), said bank finance would cover approximately 80% of the cost, with the balance to be funded from internal resources. The same financing terms apply to the bulk carrier order.

Containership contracting had slowed down this year after an unprecedented investment spree last year as owners and operators signed up for ships in excess of 12,000 teu.

Latest estimates put the number of these super post-panamaxes now on order at 140. Mediterranean Shipping Co tops of the league with 39, followed by Maersk with 18 and CMA CGM with 17.

The price Cosco is paying of $166m per ship appears to be slightly on the low side.

Howe Robinson research director Paul Dowell said recently that prices for ships of this size were in the $175m to $187m range.

Seaspan paid a contract price of $165m for the 13,100 teu ships it ordered last September from Hyundai Heavy Industries that will be chartered to Cosco for 12 years at $55,000 a day.

Even before this order, Cosco Container Lines was on a fast growth trajectory. A liner market share report published by AXSLiner last month showed that Cosco’s containership orderbook stood at 382,044 teu, equivalent to 89% of its existing fleet. Having lost market share between 2000 and 2005, the Chinese line is now recovering fast and poised to climb into the world’s top five as it doubles fleet capacity over the next few years.

Financing constraints have hit the pace of containership contracting so far this year, although speculation that some of the big boxships already ordered could be cancelled because of the credit squeeze have been dismissed by experts.

The agreement between Cosco and Nacks was signed on Friday, but had been signalled in an announcement in April.

Of interest... here is a GA of Seaspan's 13,000 teu ships. Here is KNACK's feeble website.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ares' end in Brownsville

When you think of ship breaking, you usually think of Alang in India, or Bangladesh, but I came across this neat article the other day which made me learn something new. Read on...

Shipbreakers paying for shot at government ships
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN Associated Press Writer, May 11, 2008

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — The air tastes like pennies at this gritty port at the southern tip of Texas, where ships' final voyages end and steel is reborn.

Recycling here is big business, on a scale that counts in thousands of tons, not pounds. It's where torch-wielding workers strip ships' decks and cut their hulls for the metal to form new steel that could end up in washing machines or even new ships.

For years the federal government paid the shipbreakers at the Port of Brownsville — the center of the U.S. shipbreaking industry — to dispose of its rusted frigates and tankers.

But soaring scrap metal prices have led these companies to begin paying the federal government for the chance to get ahold of all that valuable steel.

International Shipbreaking Ltd. recently began recycling Adonis, an 18,000-ton tanker built in 1966. The company paid the U.S. Maritime Administration an unprecedented $1.1 million for the privilege, on top of the cost of towing it from the reserve fleet's home in Beaumont, Texas, nearly 700 miles up the Gulf Coast.

"That was directly influenced by the price of scrap," said ISL's chief operating officer, Bob Berry.

The Navy, which also contracts with shipbreakers to dispose of warships, isn't allowed to take money from the companies, but was able to give Esco Marine Inc. a symbolic 1 cent to take the USS Puget Sound off its hands this year.

That means the Puget Sound's metal is expected to more than cover the cost of towing it from Philadelphia and the work of removing hazardous materials, including asbestos and toxic PCBs.

"We're at numbers we've never seen before for iron and steel scrap," said Bob Garino, director of commodities with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. Looking over the last 25 years of prices for the benchmark "No. 1 heavy melt," which in April hit $502.50 per gross ton, Garino said, "there's not even a close second."

Just last year, the average price for the No. 1 heavy melt steel was $254 per gross ton, Garino said. In 2001, when the Maritime Administration was struggling to clear its inventory of ships, the same steel averaged $75 per gross ton.

Sky-high prices for scrap metal are allowing the Maritime Administration to stretch its funding further and recycle more of its ships.

In 2001, the average recycling cost per ton for the Maritime Administration was $253. Last year it fell to $60.

Demand for scrap metal has been a major factor both in dictating what shipbreakers are willing to pay and in drawing more of them into the business domestically. The Maritime Administration has seven certified companies, two of which the Navy shares. When the Maritime Administration started the current program in 2001, there were three.

Four companies' yards are spread around the end of the Brownsville port's 17-mile man-made channel to the Gulf of Mexico. A fifth, Virginia-based company is waiting for its permit to be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Navy had about 200 ships to dispose of in 1997 and now has 15 designated for scrapping. Some others were sunk for training and others to form reefs.

The domestic industry depends heavily on government contracts because commercial owners can dispose of ships more cheaply overseas, where there is little or no regulation. Brownsville's shipbreakers also hope that the Maritime Administration will resume sending its West Coast ships to their port. Environmental concerns about the ships carrying species on their hulls that can wreak havoc on local ecosystems as well as concerns over the lead paint released by attempts to clean them have frozen the ships' movement since early last year.

For years, the Maritime Administration made money for the government selling old ships to be scrapped overseas. But in the 1990s the Environmental Protection Agency decided that doing that violated a ban on the government exporting PCBs, said Maritime Administration spokeswoman Shannon Russell.

That, combined with low prices for steel at the time, led ships to begin piling up, Russell said.

Six ships — two Navy, four Maritime Administration — were in various stages of dismantling recently at Esco Marine. Those farthest along were beached in earthen slips, where winches pulled the remaining hulls into the reach of cutters' torches.

Acrid smoke and sparks blew from the cutting pads. Heavy haulers and cranes rumbled around dirt tracks and a constant jingling emanated from a glistening mountain of metal, where a new shredder reduced smashed cars into fist-sized pieces of metal in 45 seconds.

Esco sells most of its ferrous scrap to steel mills in the United States. It is loaded onto barges and sent to mills in Beaumont, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., said company President Richard Jaross.

The high scrap prices have allowed Esco to expand, adding the monstrous shredder last year.

Driving the price higher are a variety of factors including tight supply, a weak dollar, high energy prices and rising raw material costs as well as fierce international competition among countries such as China and Turkey, Garino said. Last year, the United States exported 13.7 million metric tons of ferrous scrap, up 27 percent from the previous year.

Climbing over the Adonis last week, Berry saw value in nearly everything. With a glance at the massive propellor and a quick calculation, he put the prop's estimated scrap value at $125,000.

Jason Glasscock, ISL's environmental and safety program manager, said, "it's hard calling it scrap when it's worth that much money."

Below, you can read on about this fascinating subject...

Here is some more information about ship breaking in Brownsville. Here's an article found on the Basel Action Network (Basel being the convention covering ship breaking). Even website GlobalSecurity paints a, sometimes, grim picture of Brownsville and its activities. International Shipbreaking Ltd is one of the ship breakers in Brownsville, heres an interesting write up on its history. Here are some pictures of ships, and some more here, making their final journey. Here is a Pulitzer Prize winning article on the shipscrapping in the US.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Life on a container ship

In april 2008, Lloyd's List ran these great, insightful, pieces by Richard Meade, on life at sea as he experienced it, riding along with a ship's crew. I don't have all the parts, I think there is four or five, but the following three, I really enjoyed reading. The first is about his "signing on" the CGM CMA container ship Puget. The second part is about the various crew members, and the third is about the Master's perspective.

Part 1 - Signing on

IT IS 0930 hrs but the comprehensive log of security paperwork sitting on the master’s desk confirms that I am just the latest in a long and familiar line of visitors to the ship.

I’m late. I had to navigate my way out of Manhattan into the sprawling industrial hub of New Jersey’s port complex where CMA CGM Puget docked in the early hours of this morning. Negotiating security clearances and waiting for an escort to the ship only add to the delay.

Finally aboard with a visitor’s security badge in hand I find myself in the midst of a spot check by the ever-present Customs and Border Patrol. The crew’s extensive documentation is meticulous and they are efficiently given the requisite stamps of approval. The anomaly of a journalist with missing papers, however, proves to be more of a headache.

I’m confined to a spare cabin and told to wait. When a phone finally rings, I am summoned to the master's office and told in no uncertain terms by the armed officers that if I should step foot in the US without having the correct paperwork to hand again, the consequences will be more serious.

The crew are too polite to voice their obvious amusement that it is me and not them that has fallen foul of the humourless interrogators this time. But it is clear that the routine of inspection and interrogation are part and parcel of the job these days.

“There’s not much respect there. They don’t care about [International Labour Organisation] conventions or human rights,” explains a class inspector who happens to be aboard at the same time. In the past 14 years that he has been boarding ships as part of his job, he has seen a marked difference in the way that crew are treated by the seemingly endless parade of officials that now take an interest in crew aboard calling ships.

This time it is just a visa inspection, but more often than not there will be a full search of the ship, with particular attention paid to the crew’s cabins. This can be repeated every time a ship calls at a port, but as far as the crew are concerned this is just another part of the job.

“Post 9/11 there have been lots of changes to our lives regarding security,” explains CMA CGM Puget’s master Anic Majski. “The security part of the job in many ways did not exist before. Now it’s all about paperwork, logs, security clearance. It’s never ending.”

The rigours of the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code have left many feeling that seafarers are now looked upon as a threat and treated “more or less like a terrorist suspect”. While Capt Anic believes that this is an exaggeration of the actual situation, he agrees there has been a fundamental shift in how crew are treated.

“It used to be that my priority was the crew and the cargo. Now, it’s ISPS, then cargo, then crew.”

When the International Transport Workers’ Federation commissioned a study looking at the effects of the ISPS Code, the overwhelming majority of respondents — 86% — claimed that the code had resulted in extra work and has adversely affected crew performance. Yet 96% of seafarers said there had been no increase in crew levels to cope with the additional workload. And 89% of them said that they had received no extra pay.

Part 2 - Meet the crew

RALPHY Dumon is an extraordinarily happy man. He faces the prospect of being confined to a claustrophobic series of near identical box cabins, day and night for 12 months.

If he is lucky he will touch dry land a handful of times, but that largely depends which country his cabin is in that day and what his schedule is looking like. He is a very busy man after all. If he does escape it will only ever be for a few minutes to run an errand and even then he is unlikely to get past the ever present perimeter fence or the all-seeing eye of high visibility security.

“Do I enjoy it? Yes, of course. I’m happy, this is what I want.”

At 23, Mr Dumon may be the most junior member of crew aboard CMA CGM Puget, but one day he will be the master of his own ship and for now he is more than content with the adventure and the money that being a cadet offers him.

His enthusiasm and ambition are perhaps an anomaly of youth, but his daily working routine is anything but. The pressures of living at sea for months on end are a reality for the 1.2m seafarers who work in the world’s shipping industry.

The 22 crew who work aboard CMA CGM Puget all have different reasons for being there. Some, like Mr Dumon, signed up for the adventure, but for many that has long since faded. Seafaring is a career like any other with perks and disadvantages, but crucially it often allows them to support their families back home with more money than they could hope to earn on land. In return, the common sacrifice they all make is a life of separation punctuated with all too brief periods ashore.

“Look at this,” says one of the officers, holding up his mobile phone. “My wife asking what New York looks like at night. How the hell I am supposed to know? Everyone thinks we see all these places we visit. We don’t, we just see ports. It’s like jail.”

Bosun Robert Manoso first went to sea as a cadet in 1977. “When I started it was very different,” he explains. Back then getting off the ship at each port of call was a matter of routine, but in the era of just-intime delivery, box giants and tightened security, the job has fundamentally changed. Despite calling regularly at the port of New Jersey, none of the current crew aboard CMA CGM Puget have ever stepped outside the port’s perimeter fence, far less had the opportunity to visit neighbouring New York. It seems unlikely they ever will.

“The changes have made a big difference for us. It’s become harder for you to do your job. Now we are always busy,” Mr Manoso explains between his shifts overseeing the loading and unloading of boxes from the ship. Contrary to popular belief it is not draconian US security restrictions that prevent crew from leaving the vessel. “I cannot go out, but it’s because there’s not enough time. We don’t stay long enough.”

CMA CGM Puget may have only docked last night but in a matter of hours the crew will be leaving New Jersey for the short journey down the US east coast to Norfolk and then again onto Charleston. After that it will be a straight run to Port Said, then Jeddah, Karachi, Nhava Sheva and Mundra, then back across the globe along the same route. It sounds glamorous, but says Mr Manoso, containers look the same no matter which country you are in and he rarely sees anything else on his travels.

As boxes swing rhythmically overhead courtesy of the three deafening cranes working the ship, 2nd mate Christopher Anudon explains that he has just one month and 29 days left on board before he can return home. His precision is understandable. He has a 13-month-old baby girl waiting for him who he has not seen since starting his latest six-month contract.

He takes pride in his work and has won the respect of all senior officers on board, but he is realistic about his reasons for being here. “If I could earn the same money onshore I would. This job is not about respect, it’s about the money.”

The benchmark monthly wage for Filipino ratings is about $1,400, although union officials concede the figure doesn’t mean that much when some companies offer half that wage or less. But for those aboard CMA CGM Puget, working for a reputable company like CMA CGM allows crew of all rank the opportunity to earn well above the average wage available to them back home.

Like many of the other crew members, Mr Anudon has been sending most of his wages back home to invest in a small business. He plans to stay at sea for two more years before returning Quirino province where he plans to set up a small holding where he will farm corn.

If everyone’s plans pay off, within the next five years the crew of CMA CGM Puget between them will establish several new smallholdings, as well as a new Cebu taxi service and a chicken farm. They will also see dozens of children put through school and university.

Not one of the crew or officers aboard wants to see their children enter the shipping industry.

“I wouldn’t let them,” says Mr Anudon. “Besides, why would they want to? You spend half your life away from your family. It’s not right.”

Chief mate Dean Dakic agrees. He followed his father into a career at sea, partly because of it was seen as a prestige job back in Croatia and partly, he admits, for the adventure. “It used to be that a career at sea was something that you looked up to,” he says. But looking back, he barely remembers seeing his father when he was growing up, and with children of his own now back home, the adventure and glamour have long since faded.

Two floors underneath the ship’s bridge is the crew’s lounge. The sparse but comfortable room is empty during the frenetic port call as most are on deck going about their jobs. A notice on the wall points out the separate meal times and makes clear that “food will not be served beyond these hours except in an emergency”. Only the CD and DVD players parked next to an empty ashtray marks this out as being the communal hub of the ship.

Despite cook’s strict regime and the limited entertainment options, the crew agree that there is a good social atmosphere onboard, but conducting a social life between shifts is hard.

As on most international vessels there is a noticeable division along the lines of rank and ethnicity. Aboard CMA CGM Puget the majority of lowerranks are Filipino, while Croatians all hold senior positions.

“There is a good group on this ship,” says Mr Manoso. “But for every nine-month contract I will meet new people so it changes. Sometimes I get to work with old friends from other ships, but mostly it is new faces all the time.”

For Mr Dumon, it is hard work and he misses his family, but is happy because this is what he wants to do. “I want to be a captain,” he says.

The fact that he can earn three times what is on offer to him back home in Isabela is an obvious draw, but that is not the whole story. He has heard the experiences of his crew mates and he knows what lies before him if he is ever to make the leap into the captain’s chair. The fact that he still wants to try is a testament both to his own determination and to the conspicuous family atmosphere aboard CMA CGM Puget and the professionalism of all who work on it. The odds, however are stacked against him succeeding. The simple truth is that Filipino crew generally don’t make it to the senior grades.

Data indicates that one officer trainee in 10 fails to complete training. The world fleet is short of 10,000 officers, according to the last edition of the most comprehensive study of the subject available. Broadly speaking, there is a requirement to have one cadet on every ship to maintain seafarer supplies.

At 54, Mr Manoso is the most experienced Filipino on board, and unlike Mr Dumon he is clear that there is no chance he will make the step up an officer rank.

“At the moment I can support my family, but I will stop when my two sons finish their studies. After that I just want a small field to farm on,” he says.

His career at sea has helped his eldest qualify as a computer engineer and allowed his youngest to study Italian. Neither of his two boys has ever considered following their father into finding a job in the shipping sector.

Part 3 - The Master Mariner

Counting $30,000 in unused notes is surprisingly tricky, particularly when you have only slept four hours and it is 6°C in your cabin.

New $100 bills are the problem. They are sticky and unyielding, but on the plus side they are worth more than used currency when paying sweeteners in Middle East ports, especially when they are accompanied by a carton or three of Marlboro cigarettes.

Majski Anic and the 21 crew of CMA CGM Puget arrived at the Port of New Jersey at around midnight last night. It was 0230 hrs by the time Capt Anic had seen the ship’s agent and signed off the most urgent of the documentation, so he decided to catch a few hours sleep before the next parade of visitors started to demand his attention at dawn this morning.

The sticky $30,000 came with a company agent who needs him to sign off on some papers. Queuing up behind him is a class inspector and the engineer who has come with a plan to fix the broken boiler and heat up the freezing cold ship. Outside, the bunkering operation is nearly completed and there is a consignment of food and medical supplies that needs his stamp. But before he has had a chance to finish counting the cash, two humourless officers from Customs and Border jump the queue and an immediate crew inspection is called.

“It’s normally like this, although it’s not usually so bloody cold,” Capt Anic says as he signs yet another piece of paper and hands it to the waiting bosun.

Despite appearances, the pace of a port call in New Jersey is pretty relaxed. There are two CMA CGM vessels alongside at the moment and the priority has shifted away from the CMA CGM Puget, giving Capt Anic nearly 30 hours to prepare for the next leg of the voyage.

“We are busy all the time but this is easy, we have time to spare. When we do China we are looking at staying in the port between six to ten hours absolute maximum, then move on to the next. I’m like a zombie by the end of those trips.”

On a typical China route, CMA CGM Puget can expect at least five port calls in a week amid very heavy traffic often consisting of smaller, and sometimes erratic local vessels. It is a job that requires the full attention of an alert crew, not zombies.

There are, of course, rules governing working hours, but the reality of working on a containership is often very different.

When CMA CGM Puget leaves the Red Sea to pass through the Suez Canal later on this voyage, Capt Anic will face a familiar dilemma. Follow the rules or arrive on schedule.

“We drop anchor at say 2300 hrs, the pilot arrives between 0300 hrs-0500 hrs and I have to be on the bridge during the whole passage until probably 1600 hrs. After that I have two hours navigation to the port of Damietta. What else can I do, turn round and say sorry gentlemen I am very tired? It doesn’t work like that. I will finish at about midnight. That’s around 20 hours on the bridge without sleep. That is the reality”.

If the pace of life at sea is speeding up, then the crews are simultaneously getting smaller.

Just a decade ago, Capt Anic worked aboard smaller ships manned by 35 crew. Now he is in charge of 282 m of vessel with just 22 crew members, and two of them are cadets.

Given a choice he would take at least 24 for a vessel of this size and preferably include an additional ‘sparky’ for the ubiquitous and never ending torrent of paperwork that seems to flow into his office. “I just don’t seem to ever leave this room. The paperwork is a reality of the job these days but there is just too much of it.”

Given a choice to go back and start again, many of the senior crew aboard the CMA CGM Puget tell me they would seriously reconsider a life at sea. But sitting in his office, tired and cold, Capt Anic disagrees. “I’m satisfied. I could change jobs if I wanted, it’s not too late for me, I’m 44. But I enjoy it.”

“For the family, of course, it is not so nice, particularly when you have small kids.”

Capt Anic’s four-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son do not see him for four-month stretches and each time he returns it takes a while to get back into family life. With break periods in between contracts generally only running to about three months for senior officers it can often be very hard to balance family life with the job.

When he met his wife, Capt Anic had already been at sea for several years and as a naval architect herself she was well aware of the pitfalls of being married to seafarer. But understanding it is not the same as liking it. When his son was born Capt Anic was at sea and while he managed to get home for his daughter’s birth, he admits that the job can often be equally tough on those left behind. “It’s by far the worst aspect of our job,” he admits.

Despite the obvious pressures he continues to take pleasure in the work and does not see himself changing anything for several years to come.

“I am happy, if I wasn’t I couldn’t do this. I find this a good company to work for and this is a good ship,” he says.

The fact that CMA CGM Puget is a relativelynew ship also helps, in that everything works, with the current notable exception of the heating system. Working for a management team that understands how a ship needs to be run, however, is vital, says Capt Anic.

“We have a good relationship with the company, particularly with [the head office in] Marseille. It feels like we are a family.”

Despite the rapid growth at CMA CGM over the past few years, efforts have been made to keep in touch with all employees and address staff issues from the bottom up.

It is a policy that appears to have gone down well. Several of the crew and officers aboard CMA CGM Puget have been to France for one of the company’s regular staff meetings with senior management. The fact that they are encouraged to talk frankly about their jobs and what they need has won a great deal of appreciation from the crew.

“It seems that any problem can be sorted out. We will generally be able to find a solution,” says Capt Anic.

When one of the Filipino crew recently had a death in the family it was arranged for him to fly home for the funeral. “You do not get this with every company, they are very human company.”

This attitude also translates into the ship’s galley where food is taken very seriously. “Food is very important to the good running of a ship.”

Inside the galley’s fridges Capt Anic is proud to say that he can find different types of cheese andsalami that he would not even be able to afford at home. The produce they buy is varied and good quality and he is encouraged to make sure that the crew are satisfied with their menus. To him this is indicative of a company who knows how to look after its staff.

“I was working for a German company before where they were very strict on what we could buy. We were told not to buy more expensive options. We always had to look for cheaper food. I like mustard, but there were people looking at our shopping lists saying that this was too expensive. They were even moaning about the water for the table.”

But as a man with $30,000 for expenses sitting in his safe, stocking up on knock-off pots of cheap mustard is presumably the least of his worries.

The paperwork is stacking up once again in his office. The next port of call requires 24-hour advance notice of all cargo manifests and he has not yet finished dealing with the onslaught of forms from this port call. When he does finally arrive everything will need checking all over again and there will be the usual parade of around 30 visitors, officials and inspectors demanding his immediate attention, a signature or perhaps some of the $30,000.

Hopefully, before that happens, the boiler will get fixed and he can get some sleep.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

NCL faces charges over Norway

May 2, 2008 - The United States Attorney's Office, for the Southern District of Florida, has charged cruise vessel operator Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) with gross negligence, stemming from the accident on the famed SS Norway while in the Port of Miami in 2003. Below is the official press release.

R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Rear Admiral Robert S. Branham, Commander Seventh Coast Guard District, announced today that NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE LIMITED (NCLL) has been charged under federal shipping laws with grossly negligent operation of the S.S. NORWAY, thereby placing the lives and property of persons on board the vessel at risk, and thereby leading to the death of at least one individual., in violation of Title 46, United States Code, Section 2302(b). The case has been assigned to the Honorable Federico A. Moreno, United States District Court Judge. No hearings are set as yet.

The one count criminal Information filed in Miami, today, alleges that on May 25, 2003, NCLL, a Bermuda corporation with its corporate headquarters in Miami, was the owner and operator of the S.S. NORWAY when one of the vessel’s boilers ruptured, while the vessel was moored in the Port of Miami. As a result of the failure of part of the boiler system, eight crewmembers were killed and ten others seriously injured.

A Complaint For Civil Injunctive Relief was also filed today, against NCL (Bahamas), LTD., a Bermuda corporation which assumed operational control of several ships that were previously operated by NCLL. The case has been assigned to the Honorable James Lawrence King, United States District Court Judge. The Civil Complaint reflects that NCLL has agreed to plead guilty to the companion Criminal Information and pay a criminal fine.

NCL has agreed that, as operator of the former NCLL vessels, it will assume legal responsibility for carrying out certain procedural and safety reviews under the auspices of an independent consultant, to ensure that NCL has in effect safe practices in vessel operations, a safe working environment, and proper safeguards against identified risks. The review will specifically include consideration of procedures related to the maintenance. Operation, and inspection of all boiler systems on NCL vessels. The S.S. NORWAY, itself, has been permanently removed from maritime service.

The National Transportation Safety Board recently released the results of its investigation into the S.S. NORWAY casualty in which it concluded that a weld on a seam of a high-pressure drum fractured, releasing almost 20 tons of high temperature water, which immediately flashed into steam and swept through the engine spaces and some adjacent crew berthing areas, resulting in the death of eight crewmembers and the injury of others. No passengers were injured. The report noted that the failed system had a history of fatigue cracking, corrosion, and pitting. The Board Report concluded that the ultimate failure of the boiler system was failure of adequate care in the maintenance, operation, and inspection of the S.S. NORWAY’s boilers.

Mr. Acosta stated that “Charges such as those today are necessary to show that companies operating and managing ships have a duty to take reasonable measures to assure the safety of all onboard - passengers and crew, and that they will be held accountable if they fail to meet that obligation.”

Rear Admiral Branham stated that "The boiler explosion aboard the SS NORWAY was a preventable tragedy. It is appropriate that the corporation be held accountable for their negligent maintenance procedures. Hopefully, this case will send a message to the maritime industry that marine safety should be the paramount consideration in maintaining their vessels."
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, whose investigative efforts led to the charges in this case. The government is being represented in this matter by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Maritime industry sits in the basement

Looks like there is allot of activity at the site of the old Versatile Shipyards, bordering the Vancouver Dry dock. Seems the land developers have been salivating at the thought of some prime real estate on the north shore of Vancouver's inner harbor. The property was last occupied by Versatile Shipyards, where during the second world war, they were a major contributor to the war effort building many ships. The site has been vacant since the early 1990s, used extensively as warehouse / industrial backdrops for major Hollywood film shoots.

With the lure of quick - easy money, I theorize, the city has approved a major condominium project, sweetened by a National Maritime Center initiative and some park land. In return the city sells out shipbuilding history and future industrial opportunities for the area, further putting the squeeze on anything "productive" on the north shore. I'm sure that once people buy the condos, then the pressure will start mounting on the few remaining shipyards and industrial activity on the north shore to cease.

One must wonder if in 100 years there will be a museum dedicated to the wonderful input of condominiums and land developers. Seems like more and more in Canada we are willing to forgo industrial activities; after all shipyards are dirty, noisy and messy. I am just not sure where exactly wealth of a nation is suppose to be built up after that. I know condos are easier to manage and tidier to assess the monetary value of, but ultimately some sort of product has to generate the wealth that underwrites the ability to afford these condos.

On the positive side I guess it is nice to see that at least there is some effort to recognize the value that the maritime world has provided (provides) to the the cities that make up the Vancouver area. The current Vancouver Maritime Museum (pictured) is expected to makes its moved there. Here you can read about the proposed facility and here, you can see conceptualization (pictured below) of the exhibits that are expected to be in the center, once it is constructed - which I don't see much reference to the engineering or shipbuilding for that matter.

The Vancouver Maritime Museum is looking forward to the move, or at least they are now. The collection, currently housed in the the City of Vancouver, has been given a sort of eviction notice, perhaps the city is not happy with losing the attraction to the City of North Vancouver.

Anyways, I feel a bit blue and I am ranting about my sense of lose of the industrial base in Canada. Hopefully, from the ashes, we will have meaningful facility that celebrates seafarer and the shipbuilders of the maritime industry.

You can read all about "The Pier" from the City of North Vancouver's website here, and here is the Premiere of British Columbia announcing 9 millions dollar funding for the NMC.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"Fun Ship Freddy" sheds a tear

The 8,912 dwt, 1956 UK-built passenger ship "The Topaz " was sold last week to Indian shibreakers at $670 per ldt, with delivery at Singapore.

"The Topaz" was built as Canadian Pacific's "Empress of Britain", in 1975, when I was barely three years old, the ship was bought by cruise company upstart, Carnival Cruise Line. Back then they called her Carnivale, with that familiar namesake becoming synonym with the company's corporate identity. Being one on their first ship, they had to save cost, so they kept a good portion of the CP logo, pictured above 1968, which is why the current Carnival Logo may appear so familiar to some seasoned Canadians. Here is Maritime Matters webpage on the ship, and here another webpage on the Topaz.
Here's another pictorial history page of the Carnival Line.