Thursday, June 30, 2011

NSPS drumbeats

Seems the Canadian Government is being very vocal about their intentions for a fair and open bidding process, when it comes to the National Ship Procurement Strategy. The lobbyist are up at arms by the various statements, the most recent one at a military hardware conference in Ottawa, a few weeks ago, where a government minister "scolded" prospective shipyard competitors to forgo the efforts of lobbyist, on their behalf, to win their share of the procurement.

I am encouraged by the candid approach the government is taking towards this project. I am skeptical, after all, it is government, and it is largely a military project; but I must say the upfront candid disdain by the government for the lobbyist, is a welcome attitude by this taxpayer. Read more about it on this newsbit.

Meanwhile the deadline looms for the official announcements of the awarding of the of the ISPS approved shipyard designation. Currently the deadline for bid submission (RFP) is July 7, 2011, although two of the qualified shipyard requested that the deadline be pushed back further, until mid-September; the government has not responded officially to this request. The current time line would mean that a fall decision on the two shipyard would be made. Following that, more precise contracts would be drawn up for Coast Guard's fisheries research vessel and the navy's Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) shortly after, in late 2011.

Couple weeks ago the Quebec government gave "Davie Shipyard" a $150 million contract for two ferries, which allowed the shipyard to show the feds that they have their heads above water. Davies have been flirting with disqualification due to its insolvency - a never ending saga.

Meanwhile over in BC, one cannot help to notice that the new Premier, Christy Clark, is certainly in constant contact with Seaspan and Company. A couple of days ago she was in my home town, arriving in the lead engine of a freight train, to announce funding for upgrades to the rail line. Whats that got to do with Seaspan you ask, well Rail Link is part of the American industrialist Denis Washington's empire to which Seaspan is a sizable chunk. A few days before that, Christy Clark was at my old school, Camosun College announcing half a million dollars project to expands the school's welding program, into a training center for shipyard workers. Seaspan is also seeking $75 millions in tax incentives because they plan to spend $150 million on their shipyard facilities if they win the bid.

By the way, Happy Canada Day! It will be Canada's 144th birthday tomorrow.

UPDATE - July 1st, 2011

Well, looks like I spoke too soon, as Quebec's Davie Yard has managed to delay the bid deadline, albeit not to what they hope for, but a two weeks extension has been granted by the federal government. The new bid deadline is now July 21st.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monarch in the news

Some years ago a tragic accident occurred on the Monarch of the Seas, a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. At the time, the ship was in Los Angeles on a turn around day, when maintenance being carried out in the engine room, went severely awry.

As a result "three crew members, Boris Dimitrov of Bulgaria; Willie Tirol of The Philippines and Radomilja Frane of Croatia, were killed and 19 others were injured. Reports said that the deaths were almost instantaneous as the crew members were not wearing breathing apparatus at the time" (wikipedia).

The lawyers were involved, and slowly, we are getting a better picture of what happened that day. Below, is a press release from the lawyer, celebrating the presiding judge's decision to allow the jury to consider punitive damages from Royal Caribbean Cruise line; a company worth an estimated 7 billion US dollars. Punitive damages are the headline grabbing monetary awards that companies get judged against them, especially when negligence comes into play.

This story is dramatically different than the initial story I came across, which goes to illustrate at a healthy skepticism of mass media is worthy. A follow up article by the LA Times was more in depth. Read more about this development here, here too, below is the press release from Hickey Law Firm. More "details" on Monarch of the Seas. Pictures, from various internet sources.

Posted under: Cruise Ships — Laurel Chernoby @ 5:11 am, June 20, 2011

MIAMI – June 15, 2011 -Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Marc Schumacher has granted trial attorney John H. “Jack” Hickey’s motion to add a claim for punitive damages to a lawsuit alleging Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCCL) failed to fix a known toxic gas leak on board the “Monarch of the Seas” before it killed three and injured several crew members (Case Number: 08-45343CA05).

The decision comes after Judge Schumacher examined evidence and reviewed deposition testimony during an extensive evidentiary hearing to determine if RCCL’s alleged conduct was either intentional or constituted gross negligence. Punitive damages, which are not awarded in every civil case, are designed to punish a defendant for any wrongdoing and to deter bad conduct said Hickey.

“If we are successful, the jury will determine the amount of the punitive damages following the trial,” said Hickey who is representing former Staff Captain Bjoern Eidissen of Norway in legal action against RCCL. “The jury may take into account the net worth of Royal Caribbean, which according to SEC filings is approximately $7 billion.”

The fatal accident happened while the Monarch of the Seas with more than 3,400 passengers and crew was docked at the Port of Los Angeles in September 2005. According to the complaint, RCCL failed to maintain the permanent ballast tanks onboard the ship. These tanks contain mixtures of various types of water including gray water, pulper water and seawater. This combination creates hydrogen sulfide, a colorless, deadly gas that in the first minutes of inhaling it has a foul odor of rotten eggs. After the first few minutes, the person inhaling it smells nothing. Prolonged exposure can cause severe brain and lung damage while a high concentration can cause death.

The lawsuit claims as result of poor maintenance, one of the ballast tanks became clogged and the mixture inside created hydrogen sulfide gas. Hickey said the Marine Department directed RCCL to reroute the piping to that tank. When the workers assigned to fix the piping opened the tank, lethal hydrogen sulfide gas escaped in a huge cloud killing three of them. Eidissen and other personnel who responded to the emergency were also exposed to the hydrogen sulfide gas.

According to the lawsuit, records show Royal Caribbean never alerted the crew that a worker fixing the same pipe in March 2005 was overcome by the noxious fumes and nearly died and continued to operate the vessel basically as normal even hours after the second accident in September.

The complaint states that a condition of class, an approval of inspection with exception, was issued. The exception required that the subject bilge tank must be vented overboard when the ship was at sea. Hickey claims the recommended procedure was not followed properly, therefore endangering the health of passengers and crewmembers.

The lawsuit claims that the venting of the gas from the location of its origin was accomplished by a jury rig of fire hoses to the exterior of the ship. These hoses would then transfer the toxic gas from the tank to the exterior of the ship. The complaint suggests the accommodation was inadequate, and constituted a situation where the toxic hydrogen sulfide gas was blown back into the air conditioning system, exposing passengers.”

The lawsuit alleges that despite the fact that Royal Caribbean represented on its logs that venting took place only when at speed and at sea, venting actually took place whenever there was a pressure build up sometimes when the ship was not at speed and even in port.

According to the lawsuit, when the ship was drifting, at anchor, or at dock, the noxious gas was sucked back into the vessel and into the passenger areas including cabins, through the air conditioning intakes. This reportedly allowed the methane and hydrogen sulfide gas to leak into habitable areas on the ship including the areas in which Mr. Eidissen worked. Attorneys said the Monarch of the Seas received numerous passenger complaints about a foul smelling gas, in addition to several complaints from a stevedore company, dockside businesses, and the workers who eventually fixed the pipe while the ship was in dry dock.

For More Information Contact:
Charles Jones

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Korean giant gains foothold in Nova Scotia

In other Shiyard news... sort of... Korean shipyard heavyweight, DSME (Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering) has open a facility in Nova Scotia. Yes, you heard right.

In March 2010, Daewoo, the province of Nova Scotia, and the federal government, entered a partership to transform a defunct rail car manufacturing plant into a modern windmill factory. Daewoo and the government spent $40 million dollars (~20 each) converting the Trenton Works rail car factory, closed in 2007, into a modern tower and blade manufacturing plant for windmills.

The new facility was officially opened June 15, 2011 and DSTN website states they have begun production, and expect production as the new entrant into renewable energy, receive more orders. See here for more news, here here too and info.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ocean to dredge river

Progressive and innovative Quebec City based Groupe Ocean has won an important dredging contract from the government, to dredge the St Lawrence River, and maintain parts of its navigational channels.

Dragage St Maurice, a division of Groupe Ocean, won the $30 million dollar contract, which will see two sections of the St Lawrence being cleared of an estimated 70,000 tons of silts annually, from around Ile D'Orleans, just downstream from Quebec, and around Becancourt further upriver. Over 6000 ship movements occur in this area of the St Lawrence every year. This 30 kilometer section of the river represent some of the most challenging navigational conditions due to high wind, tides and strong currents.

A new, 70 meter long trailing suction dredge, similar to the one pictured above, will be built at Isle aux Coudres, at Groupe Ocean's own shipyard, a drive about two hours east of Quebec City. It will be the largest dredge in Eastern Canada and should be ready for service in early 2012. That yard has been very busy over the last few years, delivering a slew of Robert Allan designed ship berthing / icebreaking tugs to Groupe Ocean's operations, principally in Montreal and Quebec.

Along with the newest Canadian tug fleet serving just about all major ports, from Hamilton / Toronto all the way down the St Lawrence, Ocean is a also an extensive provider of marine services in transhipment in the arctic and other isolated areas. They have also recently built a modern machine shop / repair facility in Quebec City, and offer numerous ship repairs services. All in all, a very active and modern company, who does not seem to shy away from investing in modern equipment and facilities, giving its people the tools they need. Good on them.

You can find the official press release here. A bit more about the shipyard, and below is a story from the CBC. Here's some good pictures of their tugs in action.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Main site update

Well, Johnny Canuck wasn't able to seal the deal tonight, and the Bruins took Lord Stanley's cup. Well at least it will still make several appearances in BC, where some of the Boston players call home.

Martin's Marine Engineering Page website was partly down today, as I uploaded the new version - update of the site. Sorry for the inconvenience, but with some many new files and changes, I end up updating the majority of the site, which works out to be about 1.6 gigabytes, much to the rejoice of my ISP, Shaw Cable, wringing their greedy hands, ready to slap me with extra usage charges. Anyways, I digress; below is a summary of some of the new stuff you will find on the main site...

Its been a very busy winter at work, my usual time to update the site. Then at home I was swamped with several projects, mainly helping out with the CIMarE's very successful Maritech Marine engineering conference and exhibition, and also laying some new flooring in our little house. The result was that my "regular" bi-monthly update, scheduled for April, was skipped. Hopefully you find a trove of new stuff in this update, to make up for the lack of updates. I really enjoy maintaining this site, I get to see so many interesting things so this is a fun hobby for me, just wish sometimes I could do more of it!

In the Ship's Library, is where you will find the biggest haul of new stuff. In one of the most popular areas of the site, Exam Help, you will find a whole new raft of helpful documents, kindly submitted by a long time visitor to the site - thanks for sharing. A set of Questions and Answers for the Second Class Marine Engineering EK General exam. You will also find an extensive set of Questions and Answers - excellent resource - targeted to Millwrights, but as you will see, quite applicable to Marine Engineers with its simple format, and broad spectrum of subjects. These include Couplings, Workshop, and review of welding study material. There is also an all subject in one Millwright / Industrial Mechanic Study resource. These are only a small list of the new things, check out the other 12 documents yourself. This is truly a great contribution, that will assist those of us studying to upgrade our certificates.

Also in the library you'll also find lots of other interesting documents, including accident reports on the Oscar Wild, HMS Endurance. An excellent paper on the history and future of Classification Societies. A power point presentation of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker under construction, the CCGS John Diefenbaker, a presentation on the USCG's "black fleet" and what the did do. An interesting primer on importing a foreign vessel into Canadian trade; a topic that is sure to be more common everyday.

En francais, tu peut lire apropos des Canadien en mers, principalment avec les bateaux de croissiere, comme Allure of the Seas.

On the Machinery Page, even more stuff to learn from; Electric Motors, consideration for switching from MDO to HFO operations. You all also find a paper on Stirling engines and Ice Navigation, with recommendations for engineering operations in cold weather.

Over in the Historical area, you will find new material as well... A glossary of sailor's terms, circa 1800's Sailors glossary. Denis Grifths has summarizes British Marine Industry and Diesel. Ion Livas has compiled a definitive list of Liberty Ships and a compiled a list of those modified Liberty Ships. Local BC tug company's history is chronicled in The Hodder Tugs Story.

Updated the Fairbanks Morse page, always a popular page, with some new pics, diagrams and comments.

Extensive updating of the Training Page with updated and corrected information based on new regulations - thanks EM for providing the in-depth knowledge. Also added some other tidbits in there.

As always, just look for the "NEW" sign for all the new material uploaded in this update; the above, is just an introduction of some of the new material. This update's header, is a picture of Canada Steamship Line (CSL) Richelieu main engine. Taken in March 2010, while I was aboard doing a couple weeks of refit. The engine is a Burmeister & Wain (B&W) 6K67GFC, burning Heavy fuel oil, rated at 11,600 bhp or 8,531 kW. It was built in 1980.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Johnny Canuck

Completely unrelated to ships, but certainly quite a focus for many Canadians at sea, or wherever else, is the very distinct possibility that the Vancouver Canucks hockey team might actually win the coveted the Stanley Cup. The first time in their 40 years history.

Here's a short video to get you pumped up for the final games in Boston, where Vancouver will take Tim Thomas for a walk around the park. Even most Greenpeace activist won't mind if we put this Bruin down.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Escape from Hamilton

The old man was all in a panic, "I need engines now, were going to anchor".

"Relax. What's the rush; were already at anchor" I replied.

Turns out, we had an opportunity to escape from the confines of Hamilton Harbour, where we had been trapped, unable to leave for nearly a week. Hamilton has been the backdrop of few "end of civilization" films without much effort, but its really not that bad. The people who are able to talk to real people are actually pretty nice - Snake Plissken would probably fit in very well.

So get to the point, you say...

Well ok, you see Hamilton Harbour is a bay on the western tip of Lake Ontario, in Central Canada, there is a major highway at its mouth therefore choking it to a narrow channel, spanned by two bridges. The main highway out of Toronto, south, is the QEW and it has its own bridge over the mouth of the bay. Twining it,is an older lift bridge, that when lowered over the narrow entrance of the harbour, makes a pretty nifty blockade tool for any vessel with an air draft more than ten feet.

The most defining aspect of Hamilton Harbour is the massive steel mills; one belonging to ArcelorMittal (formerly Dofasco) and the other, US Steel (formerly Stelco). The employee at the US Steel mill are on strike, and they are not too happy that raw materials from the mill's property are being loaded on foreign ships, bound for US Steel operations in the US deep south.

So, for nearly three days they have been camped on the bridge, preventing the bridge operators from lifting it safely, and therefore blockading the harbour, trapping ships inside, and out. The Harbour Authority requested courts to provide an injunction on the protest, which they were quoted has having cost over one million dollars. The injunction was given on late Friday evening.

Although we were not specifically delayed, since we had no cargo ready for us, the charterer insisted we escape for the steel clutches of the harbour at first opportunity. And so last night around 19:30, we steamed out in procession with other vessels, while several others waited outside their turn to proceed into the harbour.

Never a dull moment at work. That was that day's highlight. Now, we are due to sign off in a few days; my relief will be happy with the short commute, as we will be anchoring at the mouth of the Welland Canal, near St Catherine's, where he lives. I, on the other hand I am hoping a planned labour strike at Air Canada, the only airline serving my home airport, does not materialize.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

There's a nymph in my soup

I had all the right intention of making a post earlier, but like usual small fires, cargo operations, and a lack of internet access, conspired to keep me from making one. We loaded gasoline in Quebec and jauntily headed up the St Lawrence to Hamilton, always a nice trip. The voyage through the locks and past Kingston and all the quaint towns, and all the fancy riverfront homes, is a treat. Especially in the summer time, as the recreational traffic provides a welcome diversion for homesick sailors.
But of course it is not summer. So this is not about the scantily clad recreational boaters, but rather about a pest of near biblical proportions. For those who live in this part of the world, the following will come as no news to them. But for me, I was quite impress with the shear volume of bugs that we encountered on way up. So many bugs that it started being an operational issue.

The bug is know locally as a "shad fly". I had heard of these pest before, but my first experience with them was one of disbelief. Lets just say that these little critters have the potential to cause quite a few headache for us engineers. The pictures will explain more of what I mean...

So you think this is after a day in operation, no sirreee bob, our engine room ventilation fan intake screens had to be cleaned off every ten -fifteen minutes. Good things we actually had screens, the engine room was already a mess with just the "broken" parts of these insects going through. We also had to take precautions for our auxiliary engine on our barge, and their radiator, used to transit the locks.

All I have to say is, thank god they only live less than a day. What a pest! There was so many dead one, I nearly slipped and hurt myself just walking around the ship.