Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ship For Sale

Anyone want to buy a piece of junk.....err ship? A great project for a bored engineer, because I am sure it needs plenty of work. Only slight hull damage from playing chicken with a Coast Guard icebreaker.
Unfortunately the designer black does effectively hid the rust and corrosion, so a viewing would be recommended to ensure you don't fall thru the decks!

The Cape Breton Post reports the federal government is selling the anti-sealing vessel, the Farley Mowat.

The vessel, owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, has sat at dock in Sydney, Nova Scotia, since it was seized by Department of Fisheries officers off the west coast of Newfoundland in April 2008.

Officers seized the ship in the Cabot Strait after a confrontation with a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker.

The captain of the vessel was arrested along with another crew member and later appeared in court to face charges of violating the Fisheries Act and Canada's marine mammal regulations for interfering with the seal hunt.

Fisheries officials said since its seizure, the ship has accrued $500,000 in berthing fees, security and other marine costs.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has filed a $487,000 statement of claim against the vessel's owner.

Paul Watson, the head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, told the Cape Breton Post that he intends to sue the Canadian government.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Old salts get online exposure

HTML clipboarThe National Film Board of Canada has recently put up much of its collection online, for all to access. This is a fantastic resource for all that is Canadian, but also an interesting look back at seafarers and technology in moving pictures.

Most films are quite dated and specific maritime films are somewhat difficult to find, but within a few minutes I was looking at arctic exploration documentary, another film was a 1979 production on oil conservation, featuring a good deal of offshore platforms, tankers, navy ships and such from the period. You can access the archive online.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

MarPol Squared

As you may be aware, the US Environmental Protection Agency was sued by environmentalist groups, and subsequently was ordered to implement regulations under the Clean Water Act which will affect discharges from vessels during normal operation. As a result, most commercial operators in US waters, are required to have a Vessel General Permit, which dictates various limits on 26 various streams of effluent from vessels.

This new set of requirements are now in effect, and have been implemented rather quickly. The regulations stipulate various test, training and checks to be carried out on the various discharges but more importantly, stipulates further record keeping. Record keeping is of course the critical point in this exercise, seeing how in the past, US law enforcers use the Oil Record Book to prosecute, ultimately, MarPol infractions. The following waste streams are now required to fall under the VGP...

  • Deck Runoff and Above Water Line Hull Cleaning
  • Bilgewater/Oily Water Separator Effluent
  • Ballast Water
  • Anti-fouling Leachate from Anti-Fouling Hull Coatings/Hull Coating Leachate,
  • Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF)
  • Boiler/Economizer Blowdown
  • Cathodic Protection
  • Chain Locker Effluent
  • Controllable Pitch Propeller and Thruster Hydraulic Fluid and other Oil Sea Interfaces including Lubrication discharges from Paddle Wheel Propulsion, Stern Tubes, Thruster Bearings, Stabilizers, Rudder Bearings, Azimuth Thrusters, and Propulsion Pod Lubrication
  • Distillation and Reverse Osmosis Brine
  • Elevator Pit Effluent
  • Firemain Systems
  • Freshwater Layup
  • Gas Turbine Wash Water
  • Graywater
  • Motor Gasoline and Compensating Discharge
  • Non-Oily Machinery Wastewater
  • Refrigeration and Air Condensate Discharge
  • Motor Gasoline and Compensating Discharge
  • Seawater Cooling Overboard Discharge (Including Non-Contact Engine Cooling
  • Water; Hydraulic System Cooling Water, Refrigeration Cooling Water)
  • Seawater Piping Biofouling Prevention
  • Boat Engine Wet Exhaust
  • Sonar Dome Discharge
  • Underwater Ship Husbandry
  • Welldeck Discharges
  • Graywater Mixed with Sewage from Vessels
  • Exhaust Gas Scrubber Washwater Discharge
These new regulations are on top of existing MarPol requirements, and the EPA estimates that approximately 61,000 domestically flagged commercial vessels and approximately 8,000 foreign flagged vessels may be affected by this permit.

You can read about it at the US EPA's website, and view their pdf presentation, and also participate in an initial discussion we had on it in The Common Rail forum area a few months back.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not your average barge

Gazprom, Russia largest company, is reportedly the first company planning to employ five floating nuclear power plants from Russian state agency Rosatom, responsible for the vessels development and operation. They are reportedly planning to use them as energy source, for their exploration and production endeavors in the Russian arctic.

The first nuclear barge, Academician Lomonosov, began construction in April 2007 at the Sevmash Submarine-Building Plant in Severodvinsk, with a planned launch in 2010, at Russia's Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg. In October 2007, a second contract was signed between the Republic of Sakha and Rosatom, for use in supplying heat and electrical power to remote areas of Russia's Yakutia region.

The first floating nuclear power plant will utilize two modified KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors providing up to 70 MW of electrical or 300 MW of heat energy and will be supplied by OKBM, to be built at the Zvezdochka Engineering Plant in Severodvinsk. The second version, for the Republic of Sakha, will utilize two ABV-6M reactors with a capacity of around 18 MW of electrical power. Wikipedia also mentions that 325 MWe VBER-300 and 55 MWe RITM-200 reactors have been mentioned as potential reactors to use in the barge.

The nuclear barge will have a length of 144 meters (470 ft) and width of 30 meters (98 ft) with a displacement of 21,500 tonnes, and will be crewed by 69 person. Seven copies of the barge are planned, and all are to be delivered by 2015. Rosatom says that it has interest from 15 other nations in hiring the barges.

Russian are certainly no stranger to the development of nuclear energy, and has a fascinating story. In 1954, the 5 MWe Obninsk reactor, was the first in the world to produce electricity. With this floating nuclear barge concept, it would appear that they have not lost their atomic aspirations for innovation.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Quiet loo

Its not everyday that you get news of commode developments. These should of course come as a great step forward in human development; after all no, matter what color or creed your are, these developments affect us all.

And on a ship, flushing a vacuum toilet can sometimes disturb a sleeping coworker, or even ruin hopes of going back to sleep quickly after a drowsy trip to the loo. I read with strange interest of a new toilet from Evac that is more quiet than other vacuum flush toilets. Have a look at the news release and amaze yourself with these developements. With a drop of 5 to 8 decibles, its certain to be well received on multiple ships.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Siriusly interesting

I though it was a moot point to talk about the piracy situation in Somalia, since the coverage was so generally extensive in the industry and mainstream media. The Faina, a Russian roro carrying weapons, was released just a few days ago at a cost of 3.2 million as ransom. Its cargo of weapons and its dubious destinations, is sure to go on causing much human suffering, which the area seems to be in no short supply of, and perhaps will perpetuate the pirate trade itself. Life of irony.

An email came across my desktop, alerting me to a fascinating article in the UK's Sunday Mail, regarding the ordeal suffered by the seafarers on board the Vela Marine (Saudi Aramco) crude oil tanker Sirius Star. Seems the Second Engineer on board, as Scotsman named James Grady, managed to keep a daily diary of the ordeal, and take some pictures as well, all in secret. He paints a gritty picture of the events in a plain speaking engineer talk, we all can relate to.

He seems to feel that the whole ordeal was just part of a normal contract. Granted, on board a ship for four months can often brings about many "adventures", but I suspect there is some psychological trauma that has not been fully appreciated yet.

The ships was released once a ransom of about 3 million was paid and delivered to the ship by a small plane and parachute. Subsequently, the departing pirate vessel overturned and five pirates reportedly lost their lives. On board, Mr Brady tells the paper, no tears were shed at the news. I would certainly be incline to feel the same way.

See the pictures and read the fascinating story on their 57 day ordeal, by clicking here. You can read a lot more on the vessel and its ordeal here. Here is the 2008 piracy incident map from ICC.

You can view videos bits of the interview with James Grady here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Icy warm welcome

I do apologize for the lack of recent post. Several factors have conspire to keep me away from the hobby I love doing, about the job and the industry we all share some fondness for. As I grow older I find myself being responsible. What happened! One minute I was in the pub "having a pint with the mates" not a care in the world, the next I have three kids, a full time job, and a heck of allot of responsibilities. I cant promise you anything for the future in terms of posts, but right now I just happen to get lucky and get an internet connection, so for the time being I want to share my new discoveries.

Ile aux Coudres
is situated about one hour drive down the St Lawrence River from Quebec City in Eastern Canada. That's where I am right now, carrying out a refit of the 4000 hp tug William J Moore. Its a small island in the river, inhabited by about 1300 folks year round. The region is rich in artistic flair. Just across from us is Baie St Paul, home to the famous Cirque du Soleil troupe. Although not as visually dainty, Ile aux Coudres boast quite a fancy little shipyard called Industry Ocean, part of the Groupe Ocean. Group Ocean is a tug outfit (primarily) that has been aggressively expanding ever since coming on the scene in Quebec about 15 years ago, although its history begins in the early 70's.

The shipyard and its people so far have been very professional and efficient. The yard is a busy place, with two boats on the ways and more importantly, its expansive workshops housing the beginnings of two new Robert Allan designed harbour tugs. The hull are well under way and the yard is a busy, happy place from what I can see.

Maybe they are just happy to be working inside a covered shop, after all it is the east coast and minus 15degrees Celsius is considered balmy around here. Yes, don't even talk to me about the common sense of making dry dock in this weather, but you know, that is what we do as engineers, we get things done no matter what. The cold temperature, snow and ice are quite a new challenge for me, I though just being in the shipyard was normally chaos, now try doing it with roller skates on and no fingers. One begins to understand the challenges a bit better.

The people at the yard, the largest employer on the island, and certainly a large part of the local economy, are quite friendly just like the rest of this small community. Maybe a little crazy but certainly friendly. I say crazy with some serious respect, as the first weekend here, we were treated to a festive mood of racing. Not your typical race though, just like Quebecers are not typical people, this race is steeped in tradition which some might say share the universal essence of seafaring.

The race is from the island to the mainland and back again, in a canoe. Sure, seems easy enough, but across a large ice filled river moving at 7 knot current. This tradition dates back to the earliest of days for the region, where the strongest of men were relied on to supply the island(s) with necessary medicine and supplies. I tell you I have never seen anything like this. A few days earlier, I was questioning the logic and prudence of venturing out in a 4000 hp, 150 foot steel tug; seeing these guys, and girls, venture out in the same, leads me to conclude that I am a wuss.

This particular race was part of a larger event occurring in several other communities throughout the area, culminating in a final race in Quebec City. Just like all races, teams are sponsored by various companies. I was particular pleased to see the various big maritime players in the area sponsoring racing teams. Quebec City based Group Desgagnes was a big sponsor of the event, and had a team in the race as well. Although it seemed they were facing some serious navigational challenges at the beginning, they placed eight, after starting 13th, and spending 2 hours 20 minutes on the river. Group Ocean (Port of Quebec), Ultramar, Veolia were also sponsoring teams. The Quebec Ferry System was also an event sponsor.

Although I was numb from the blustery winds, I appreciated some of these maritime names being involve in such a tradition. Good on them, but mostly my hat goes off to those five guys or gals, willing to set their 250 lbs canoes into icy cold, fast moving water, infested with ice floes.

So, this weekend, the locals take a break, and next weekend is a dog race - in the snow, of course. This is what they do on their time off from work - imagine the enthusiasm on the job. I am quickly understanding the mentality of the people who designed those dangerously fun contraptions known as ski doos and sea doos, also a Quebec export.

The picture right above is from the race website, the other is of the "canotier" waiting in line to enter the water. At the top is the William J Moore at the Groupe Ocean Shipyard in Ile aux Coudres.