Monday, October 30

Maritime Monday 31

Welcome to the 31st edition of Maritime Monday.

As always, feel free to submit an entry for next week's edition via the Carnival Submit form at Carnival Cat.

Comments are always welcome and encouraged. However, don't post ads for your wonderful products of services in the comment's. If you think it's newsworthy, send it as a submission. If it is an advertisement, then consider sponsoring a Maritime Monday. The cost is $100 for a permanent ad. Sure it's expensive. I could lower the price, but then each ad would be surrounded by 50 others and nobody would read any of it.

This Weeks Photos:
What do you do when your car carrier is too small? You elongate it, of course. At least that is what Wallenius Marine has been doing:

The new mid section for M/S MIGNON has been launched and is floating, moored, alongside the quay where the last adjustments and installations are being made.

The M/S MIGNON is cut in two. (Then refloated to pull the two pieces apart and squeeze in the new midsection.)

M/S ELEKTRA well under way - The elongation of the second vessel has already come a long way. The new section is in place but cables and piping need to be reinstalled.

More images are located at Wallenius Marine's Image Bank and Elongation Project pages.

This weeks items:

Eagle Speak has coverage of what happens when you get too close to a US Navy warship.

Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has news of Hong Kong detaining the North Korean flagged KANG NAM 1 here and the KANG NAM 5 here as both vessels failed Port State inspections. Neither was the North Korean vessel of interest, which also happened to stop in Hong Kong for fuel. (Guess they didn't have a copy of the BIMCO Guide noted below.)

American Thinker has discussion of plans to build a tunnel from Africa to Spain.

The MarEx Newsletter has the must-read (for seafarers) "BIMCO US Port State Control Guide for Mariners."

The Stupid Shall be Punished has video of a submarine diving.

Diesel Duck has coverage of the expanding effects of a seafarer shortage, now causing a shortage of marine surveyors.

Marine Link has the Shipping Association of Canada's call for a new strategy for Canadian shipyards..

ABC News Australia has news of Japan finally being held accountable for taking about 100,000 tons over it's allotted quota of 6,000 tons of Southern Bluefin Tuna EVERY YEAR for the LAST 20 YEARS. That comes out to about $6 billion in overfishing and is now being blamed as the sole reason why the species has not recovered.

Educated Guesswork
has a summary of the story of shipping container standardization.

Marine Log has coverage of the GAO report on the declining condition of some US Coast Guard vessels.

Long Island blog covers the founding of the insurance industry, which can be traced back to marine insurance.

Investor's Business Daily notes that it was not ethanol that made Brazil energy independent, but offshore oil. (See my take on the ethanol myths first here and then here. In short, the US produces as much ethanol as Brazil and the two countries produce over two/thirds of global ethanol production.)

Cargo Law has photos of the accident in Montevideo resulting in 18 containers ending up in the harbor off the LEDA MAERSK.

Politics Central brings us "Ten Kilotons and the Port of Long Beach".

Strange, but I would have expected it to look worse.

Snarky Bastards, while not clearly a maritime post, provides good reading describing a recent fire alarm and how a Government Employee got in the way as he and others tried to evacuate from the 12 story building. It could have been worse, the person could have been on a ship and other might have depended on her to help save it. Sounds like they failed the fire drill. All the more reason why they should have a practice every week/month.

Google Sightseeing presents a ship's oilslick as seen from space. (I'm not so convinced. Google Earth does funny things with photos and the interface from land to sea. For example, is there really a fully loaded containership sunk alongside the dock at Port Elizabeth, NJ?)

Sun Microsystems answers questions about their Shipping container 'blackbox' datacenter and provides a video tour inside.

Mark 31 December on your calendar as the last day that 45' shipping containers will be permitted to move on roads within the European Union, unless their front edges are rounded off. This is in accordance with EU Directive 96/53/EC.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

GAO – challenges to implementation of TWIC - The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on key challenges that should be addressed before implementing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. The GAO recommends that, before implementing TWIC in the maritime sector, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) develop and test solutions to problems identified during testing and those raised by stakeholders in commenting on the TWIC proposed rule in order to ensure that key components of the program work effectively. The agency should also strengthen contract planning and oversight practices before awarding the TWIC implementation contract. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurs with many of the recommendations and is already taking steps to adopt some of them. GAO-06-982 (10/20/06).

Two short Excerpts from the GAO Report (page 5):

"In testing the TWIC program, TSA enrolled and issued TWIC cards to only about 1,700 workers, short of its goal of 75,000 workers. " (TWIC funding through 2006 totaled over $89 million, or $52,000 per issued TWIC card.)


"Few facilities that tested the TWIC program used biometric card readers that will be required when the program is implemented. As a result, TSA has obtained limited information on the operational effectiveness of biometric readers, particularly when individuals use these readers outdoors in the harsh maritime environment." (As mentioned in a previous post, most any convicted criminal can still work in harbor areas, including those convicted of serious felonies, so who are they really trying to keep out? The terror threat seems to come from the sea, and this technology will do nothing to stop that, especially considering that only US-Flag seafarers will be issue TWIC-compliant cards.)


EC – trade relations with China - The European Commission (EC) released a policy paper on EU-China trade and investment. It accepts fierce competition, so long as it is fair. Among other things, the paper points out that in Chinese shipbuilding new policies are emerging that appear to be based on a ‘China first approach’ in which local content requirements are imposed, contrary to the non-discriminatory principles of the WTO. (10/24/06).

Fairplay Daily News has:

Tampa (vessel) in trouble again - WELLINGTON 26 October – Wallenius Wilhelmsen's car carrier Tampa, which hit the headlines in 2001 after Captain Arne Rinnan rescued 434 asylum seekers from a sinking Indonesian boat heading for Australia, has been detained in a joint Australian/New Zealand anti-drug smuggling operation. The joint effort that started in June today resulted in the arrest in Australia of two men for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into Australian ports. A total 27kg of cocaine with a street value of about NZD9.45M ($6M) has been seized.

Smugglers used divers to attach canisters containing the drugs to the hulls of the Tampa and its sister ship Taronga. The first pod containing 18.3kg of cocaine was located and removed by NZC from the Tampa in Auckland in June. A second identical pod was found on the Taronga when it berthed in Auckland in September. On that occasion Customs substituted an inert substance for the drugs and reattached the pod as part of the surveillance operation that led to today’s arrests. The agency believes the drugs were destined for Australia. The two Wallenius Wilhelmsen vessels follow a UK/Europe/ECNA/South America/ NZ/Australia rotation. Australian Federal authorities have shut down the drug syndicate, based in New South Wales. NZC spokesman Paul Campbell said there was nothing to suggest any involvement by the company or crew. Australian officials were alerted to the operation by authorities overseas as hull inspection divers are not used by Australian Customs.


Boxship could stay grounded for weeks - LA ROCHELLE 26 October – The Panamanian ro-ro container ship Rokia Delmas, aground since Tuesday off the Ile de Ré on the French Atlantic Coast after a power blackout, is likely to remain aground for several weeks, according to the Atlantic Prefecture. Yesterday, the local authorities decided to cancel the intend refloating attempt after divers reported a 20m-long crack in the Rokia’s hull. "The hull has already suffered a lot so it is unwise to tow it at this stage, and in any case towing a vessel with such a crack would cause its immediate sinking", explained a spokesman from the prefecture. Priority is now given to pumping off the vessel’s 560t of bunker fuel. Pumping operations are due to start tomorrow after the authorities have installed a floating anti-pollution barrier around the ship. The prefecture reported that at present there is no pollution, but the risk of pollution during pumping operations could not be entirely excluded. Meanwhile, the French state has now ordered CMA CGM, the owner of the ship’s operator, Delmas, to take all appropriate steps to preserve the environment from possible pollution. Apart from its bunkers, the Rokia Delmas is reported to be carrying only harmless cargo, including empty containers, timber, cocoa, rubber and steel. - Fairplay web links

Lloyds List has:

Anger as master faces 10 years for quayside accident Company (News By Katrin Berkenkopf in Cologne) - Friday October 27 2006

A GERMAN master jailed in the US and awaiting sentence of up to 10 years after a quayside worker was killed in an accident has become the focus of growing industry anger over the criminalisation of seafarers. Wolfgang Schröder was guiding the 1,150 teu Zim Mexico III on March 2 this year out of the port of Mobile, Alabama, when the bowthruster failed. The vessel, which is owned by Hamburg’s Rickmers Reederei and was chartered out to Zim at the time, hit a gantry crane onshore, causing it to collapse on an electrician who later died. The master was arrested when the ship called at Houston. Capt Schröder was charged with criminal misconduct and denied release on bail. In October he was found guilty by a Alabama jury.

The sentence, which could be up to 10 years, is expected to be given by February at the latest. “We are shocked and furious,” said Jürgen Stolle of the Hamburg association of masters and officers. “Such cases are causing considerable anxiety, in particular among the young generation, which is unnerved.”

Although the issue of criminalisation was not restricted to the US, the situation there was particular due to its special jurisdiction, he said. In the latest case, the prosecutor said the master should have paid more attention to the fact that the bowthruster had already failed on two previous occasions. A pilot, who was on board at the time of the accident, told the court that he was not told about these earlier problems. Capt Stolle pointed out that “maintenance and repair are first of all a responsibility of owners, rather than of masters”. Members of the Council of American Master Mariners warned in an internet forum that the case was “a dangerous precedent to have on the law books”. “It could aversely affect our own people whenever an accident occurs due to a mechanical failure.” Although it would not comment on the order of events, Rickmers Reederei said that “as to the question of guilt, we have a different opinion to the majority of the jury in Alabama”.

A spokesman said the company had offered all the support it could to the master. He said financial issues have been settled. Relatives of the dead worker agreed to compensation payments. “With regard to financial losses for the port, the usual P&I procedures have taken place.” Earlier demands by the port authority that the ship be arrested and sold in order to receive damages have thus not materialised. The ship, which was built in 1993 in Szczecin, has been handed back by Zim, as the charter expired, and is now trading as Peter Rickmers.

- The Stralsund public prosecutor in northern Germany has opened investigations over constraint and unlawful detention against the master of a passenger ship who was involved in a dispute with Polish customs guards last week. When three plain clothes Polish customs officers boarded the ship at a Polish harbour, the master decided to head back for Germany with the men still on board.. Lloydslist

Finally, a bad day in the shark cage:

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Submission Guidelines:
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You do not have to be the author to submit a blog post or news story. Feel free to suggest something that you think is worth sharing. Please submit your entry via the Carnival Submit form at Carnival Cat.

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Feedback Welcomed!

Friday, October 27

Looking Forward to the Upcoming Election

For starters, I am looking forward to the election so that we can get all this electioneering behind us.

Doom and Gloom is the basic impression I get from the polls covering the mid-term elections. If one was not paying attention, they might start to believe these polls. That's a shame considering that the polls were highly inaccurate in 2002 and in 2004 as well. After the fact, the polling organizations investigated why their results differed so greatly from the actual results. They then published nice detailed reports explaining how their polling methods were biased in favor of Democrats. Too bad they have done nothing to compensate for the errors that resulted in overstating Democrat support.

Since they have done nothing to remove the Democrat bias from the polls, I suspect that the bias is now even worse which makes me wonder, just how bad a hangover will Democrats be suffering with on the day after election?

Remember P.E.S.T.? Post Election Selection Trauma.

Some supporters of John Kerry shocked by President Bush's victory in last week's election continue to seek out psychological help, prompting at least one mental-health center to offer free counseling through the end of this year.

The Florida-based American Health Association has released symptoms of what it calls "post-election selection trauma," or PEST, which include: feelings of withdrawal, feelings of isolation, emotional anger and bitterness, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares, pervasive moodiness including endless sulking, and being excessively worried about the direction of the country.

"Post-election selection trauma affects many people and they have a right to be taken seriously and to seek counseling," psychotherapist Rob Gordon of the AHA told the Boca Raton News. "This is a real need and we're a charity. This is not a matter of Republicans and Democrats."

Some 30 people have reportedly contacted Gordon's group for counseling since Kerry conceded the race to Bush Nov. 3, and more than a dozen others in Palm Beach County have undergone intense hypnotherapy by trauma specialist Douglas Schooler.

"The problem is out there and it's not going to go away anytime soon," Schooler told the paper. "Conservatives are calling me to say these people are weak-kneed kooks, but they're not acknowledging that this is a normal psychological response to a severe and disillusioning situation. Any suggestion that this is not a serious problem arises from a political agenda. The Republicans don't want this talked about." - © 2004

PEST is going to be a real problem after this next election because the Democrats are so certain that they are going to regain control of the house. What a blow they are going to receive on election night. At least Republicans are being told left and right that they are going to have a bad election night, so we are at least ready to be disappointed. (Not that I expect that outcome.) However, if that is the case, then I will understand that my understanding of what is going on in this country and how people feel is flawed.

So remember to vote. (Once please.)

Here is another ad from Jim Zucker warning what might be coming if the Democrats regain control of Congress: (Spotted at Lawhawk/A Blog For all)

url link

Win or lose for the Republicans, the day after the election can't come soon enough! Then we can all focus on the madness of the 2008 Presidential elections.

Note to Republican Leadership in Congress: You guys suck. Your getting my vote because the other guys suck more. So get your asses in gear and start fixing problems, instead of f*cking with all of us.

Thursday, October 26

Morgan Stanley fined $2.9 Million for Rogue Trading

The 'naked short' issue has been simmering for a long time, so far without getting any real traction. However, there is a steady stream of regulatory fines coming out of the NASD for improper short sale trading. I have covered this in the past, but most of those caught had been smaller traders. Now a big fish has been caught. Take this from the NASD NTM Disciplinary Actions Report for October:

NASD Fines Morgan Stanley Firms $2.9 Million for Widespread Violations of NASD Rules

Number and Scope of Violations Indicate Extensive Reporting Problems at Both Firms NASD imposed fines totaling $2.9 million against Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc. (MSCO) and Morgan Stanley DW Inc. (MSDW) for extensive violations dealing with reporting obligations, best execution, short sales and a range of other NASD, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) rules.

NASD found that MSCO:

  • failed to timely report or incorrectly reported thousands of transactions through the NASDAQ Market Center in NASDAQ National Market securities, OTC Equity securities and listed securities;
  • executed thousands of short sales transactions without ensuring that the firm could deliver or arrange to borrow the securities by the settlement date;
  • failed to execute hundreds of customer trades at the best available price, and will make nearly $5,000 in restitution payments to affected customers;
  • failed to report or incorrectly reported thousands of transactions in corporate bonds; and
  • created locked and crossed market conditions in hundreds of instances.

    NASD found that MSDW:
  • failed to send, or failed to send in a timely manner, required documents to hundreds of customers in connection with municipal bond transactions;
  • failed to report or incorrectly reported thousands of transactions in corporate and municipal bonds; and
  • failed to enforce the firm’s written supervisory procedures with respect to municipal bonds.

    In settling these matters, MSCO and MSDW neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of NASD’s findings. - NASD (PDF. Click for full report)
  • While the full NASD report mentions nothing about 'rogue trading' it was the first thought that popped into my mind reading the report. That these guys were doing whatever with no fear of getting caught. Even though they have been caught (you don't pay a $3 million in fines if your not guilty) I see no mention of this in Google News and only a couple of websites picked up the story at all. This is not the first time they have been fined, and this happens to be one of the smallers fines that they have received lately. Here is a summery of other legal action that Morgan Stanley has been on the receiving end of:

    The NASD fine comes just a few months after the SEC settled charges against the firm for lacking adequate procedures to prevent the misuse of non-public information. Morgan Stanley agreed to a censure and a $10 million fine in June as part of that settlement. In May, the Commission hit the firm with $15 million in civil penalties to settle charges that it destroyed and failed to produce tens of thousands of emails from a previous investigation. - CCH Wall Street

    With all of this money flying out the door in fines, it makes you wonder just how much they are ripping their customers off to still be making a profit?

    Congress Should Investigate Short Selling Records - 9 June 2006
    Are Brokers 'Screwing' Stockholders through Short Selling? - 6 April 2006

    NASD NTM Disciplinary Actions Report for October - NASD (PDF)
    Monthly Disciplinary Actions 2006 - NASD

    Wednesday, October 25

    Moonbat Bumper Stickers

    Here are pictures of some moonbat bumper stickers I have run across in the Washington, DC area. They are all over the place. I just happened to have my camera when I saw these.

    This first one alludes to the fear of the 'Police State'. The blue and yellow sticker is the logo for the Human Rights Campaign (for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights). The HRC was wholly onboard the John Kerry for president bandwagon to the point that they were very anti-Bush and Republicans in general. Before I really did not care about their activities, but their behavior during the 2004 election has turned me tone-deaf to anything they have to say. It was their aggressive tactics on the streets of DC that rubbed me the wrong way. (Note: The HRC sticker by itself is not a sign of moonbattery.)

    Here is another moonbat fearing the upcoming 'police state'.

    The sad thing about people like this is that they don't like the way that I think and they have no interest in thinking about all these moonbat conspiracy theories that are out there. Take all the idiotic 9/11 conspiracy theories. Some of the theories even contradict the others. None of them stand up to any reason. This car had Texas plates. Cindy, that you?

    This next one must be a really small group. The organization apparently no longer exists and the website is just a placeholder with a bunch of generic ads in case anyone bothers to look them up, generating a little income for the moonbat who started the group in the first place. (DON'T LOOK UP THE SITE, it's full of spam ads.)

    For those who don't know, a 'birder' is a bird watcher. Of course Bush was a 'threat' to birders because his administration is such a threat to nature..... Blah, blah, blah.

    Like the first car above, this car also has the DC-popular 'no w' sticker. There is also a Kerry sticker. Surely, Kerry must be pro Birder right?

    Of course he is. At least through the sights of a shotgun.

    This next one is typical DC:

    Lets not forget who really controls the White House. Does it surprise anyone that this liberal is driving a SUV? Contactors ripping off the Government = BAD. Killing the environment as you drive to a protest sponsored by a liberal group in your gas guzzling SUV = GOOD.

    'Teachers Against Bush.' No surprise here. Looking at the state of DC schools, they should take any help they can get. Might it be that they were against Bush because he was pushing them to do work? OK, the teachers are not fully to blame for stupid children. The parents are partly to blame. And which party has no interest in preserving family values? I think it is the party the teachers are for, if only to give them an excuse for why their students can't read and write. (Yes, there are some very good teachers out there. Then there is the mass of moonbat teachers feeding our children liberal BS, when they should be teaching them to read and write. They should all keep politics out of the classroom.)

    This next sticker is probably the most idiotic of them all. Like the Peace Corps could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. I could be wrong, but first someone has to explain to me how sending young outspoken liberal women into muslim lands, telling locals how to do things, is going to work against Islamic terrorism. As far as we know, it might have been the threat of feminist Peace Corp workers that most threatened these terrorists into attacking us. If only they were issued burkas.

    Whoever this person is, they are bringing discredit on the Peace Corps. Go here to read what the Peace Corps does. Fighting terrorism is not part of their mission.

    This last one is not a bumper sticker but I just had to include it. It's one thing to put these lunatic stickers on your car, it's another thing to put a sign like the one below in your front yard. Apparently, the problem is who is doing the screwing. Clinton screwed us all too, but apparently it was OK when he did it.

    Send me your moonbat bumper stickers and I will add them to the gallery.

    Why are the left's conspiracy theories so complicated? - 06 June 2006

    Monday, October 23

    Maritime Monday 30

    This Weeks Photo:
    A photo of the JPO ARIES from the website of German Shipping Company Schiffahrtsgesellschaft Oltmann. The ship was launched in 2001 and this appears to be a picture of the vessel in the shipyard.

    This weeks items:
    Eagle Speak has news of a Crewman on the QUEEN ELIZABETH II busted while attempting to smuggle over 700,000 cigarettes. (This guy must have been a complete idiot because every sailor knows that UK Customs searches sailors quarters and they always find contraband.)

    Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has news of an explosion on the Mexican Tanker QUETZALCOATL resulting in at least 8 deaths.

    Spiegel Online has coverage of Polish Customs agents secretly boarding a German passenger ship and then the ship kidnapping them back to Germany.

    The MarEx Newsletter has coverage of a ship's cook receiving 90 Months in prison for a shipboard stabbing. Apparently he didn't take criticism of his food very well.

    The Stupid Shall be Punished has coverage of Japanese Sub maintenance. ("for official use only" "top secret")
    Molten Eagle has "Three Submarine Radiation Stories".

    EU Referendum tears apart a poorly-researched Times UK report calling for the end of commercial fishing in the EU for cod.

    Marine Link covers the proposal to build an offshore wind farm off Delaware.

    Stolen Moments of Island Time notes that no country has yet ratified the UN's Suppression of Unlawful Acts (SUA) at sea convention. has coverage of US and Canadian Coast Guard rescue teams conducting joint training at the US Coast Guard's Air Station Astoria.

    Marine Log has news of US-Flag Carrier Matson Navigation's awarding of a contract to Atlantic Marine Alabama to convert the M/V MOKIHANA to a combination RORO Container vessel.

    Publius Pundit has news of Panama's vote approving plans to enlarge the Panama Canal.

    Gun Muse has coverage of the controversy over planned live-fire zones for Coast Guard training in the Great Lakes.

    Blackfriars' Marketing covers Sun System's data center packaged inside a 20' container.

    Born Rich has the Hydra Spider amphibious sports car.

    The Moller Skycar auction is over. The high bid was just over $3 million but was still under the reserve price, leaving the vehicle unsold.

    Haight's Maritime Items has:

    IMO – fair treatment of seafarers - The IMO released its resolution providing guidelines to member states on fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident. Res. LEG.3(91) (4/27/06).

    Yeah, that will keep countries from treating seafarers like criminals.

    Fairplay Daily News has:

    UK to fund freight shift to water - LONDON 17 October – THE UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) is about to launch a new Sustainable Distribution Fund (SDF), the key aim of which is to offer funding on projects that shift freight from roads to water and rail. When launched next month, the fund will have an emphasis on modal shift, operational efficiency and value for money. The fund will bring together the existing grant schemes provided by the DfT, such as the Freight Facilities Grant and the Waterborne Freight Grant. The SDF will provide up to 50% of any modal shift project and over the past five years such funding has amounted to £34M ($63.5M) out of a budget of £53M, leaving £19M which will be returned to the UK Treasury. Speaking at a seminar organised by Sea and Water – the UK short-sea, coastal and inland waterway promotional body – Stephen Fidler, head of the logistics policy division at the DfT, explained that the new fund will operate through a quarterly bidding round with the first due in December 2006. The fund for 2007-08 will have £7M available for Freight Facilities Grant, and £18.6M in its resource budget supporting new waterborne projects.Lloyd's Register - Fairplay web links

    Lloyds List has:

    Experts say ship sanctions will not impact North Korea - SANCTIONS against North Korean flagged shipping could impact chiefly on ships trading in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean, according to an analysis by Lloyd’s Marine Intelligence Unit.

    The likely corollary is that such measures will have limited direct impact on the Pyongyang regime. Lloyd’s List asked the fellow Informa Group subsidiary — recognised as a leading independent provider of shipping data — for a breakdown on the North Korean fleet and its movements. According to the results, there are 412 North Korean vessels live on the Lloyd’s MIU database. But in beneficial ownership terms, only around half are actually controlled from within the Stalinist state. The other half are operated by owners spread around the world.

    Such a finding is in line with the flag’s reputation as perhaps the world’s ultimate flag of convenience, even though it is not formally regarded as such by the International Transport Workers’ Federation. Industry insiders believe that the flag is particularly favoured by some of the more publicity-averse owners in the former USSR countries and in Syria. North Korean flag vessels are also owned or operated by companies registered in Belize, Greece, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, the Marshall Islands, Panama, Pakistan, Romania, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. In June there were reports that nine companies registered in Delaware also owned North Korea flag tonnage, even though that has been illegal under US law since May 8. Ironically, North Korea is not a cheap option. It is thought to charge two or three times the fees levied by bargain basement flags. Nor is the fleet’s trading pattern dominated by serving the needs of the regime, which for political reasons tries to be as self-sufficient as possible. In practice, it is heavily dependent on China, which provides 90% of its oil and 80% of its consumer goods. But these cargoes tend to be trucked in. LMIU said that there were 606 recorded moves involving North Korean vessels in August. Of these, 186 involved arrivals or departures from Black Sea ports, compared to just 115 arrivals or departures in the area designated ‘Chinese waters’, which includes North Korea itself, as well as China and the Russian Far East. There were 83 movements involving ports in the east Mediterranean, 73 involving ports in North Africa and 34 involving ports in the Red Sea. No North Korean vessels arrived or left western Europe, although there was one movement involving Scandinavia and 38 involving southern Europe. The best guess has to be that, if North Korean registration proves inconvenient to non-North Korean owners, they will simply flag hop to another of the world’s more accommodating administrations.

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    Tuesday, October 17

    Amazing Afghanistan Helicopter Rescue Photo

    I found this on Aloha Dump. It was taken in Afghanistan. Click on the photo for the story.

    Great flying, teamwork with a little trust added in.

    Nerves of steel - Aloha Dump

    Update: 2 Nov 2006

    Here is the story according to

    Origins: In November 2003, a U.S.-led coalition launched Operation Mountain Resolve in the Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan in order to disrupt anti-coalition militia (ACM) operations and prevent militia members from seeking sanctuary in the rugged Afghan provinces. The above-displayed photograph of the precarious-looking rooftop landing by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter (which began circulating via e-mail in December 2003 and started making the rounds of the Internet again in August 2006) was taken during that operation by U.S. Army Sgt. Greg Heath of the 4th Public Affairs Detachment.

    Although the text that accompanied copies of this image sent via e-mail in 2006 suggested the activity shown therein was part of an effort to evacuate wounded coalition soldiers, the photo actually captures the Chinook helicopter touching down to receive Afghan Persons Under Control (APUC) captured by members of the U.S. 10th Mountain Division. -

    I guess this is part of the leave no stone unturned policy.

    Monday, October 16

    Maritime Monday 29

    Welcome to this week's edition of Maritime Monday.

    This week's photos:
    FPSOs go round.

    Floating Production, Storage and Offloading

    The SSP FPSO is used as a floating production and storage for hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons are stored in tanks in the hull of the platform and are transported by shuttletankers or by pipe line to onshore refineries. The hull is fitted with machinery, power generators, transformators, electric boards, fire control systems, ballast pumps and cargo pumps. The main components on deck are living quarters with control rooms, workshop, life vessels, helipad, cranes, on- and offloading system for oil, and anchorwinches. The FPSO also has a processing plant for hydrocarbons installed on deck. Depending on characteristics of the field, the processing plant has different modules for processing oil, gas, and water.
    The SSP FPSO is more than a computer image.

    The TAI AN KOU with Sevan Marine Engineering's "SSP 300" FPSO and in the background the KANG SHENG KOU with Exxon's Sable Tier 2 Compression deck sail side by side - NMA Maritime

    It's round.

    This Week's Items:

    Environmental Republican celebrates the Birthday of the US Navy.

    Eagle Speak has coverage of the US donating patrol craft to the Kenyan Navy.

    Watcher Magazine has the news that Russia's Gazprom will build the world's largest offshore gas field off Murmansk, the Shtokman Field, without any international partners as was expected. Also, none of the gas will be headed to the US, as was also expected.

    Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has news of the conviction of the Captain of the ZIM MEXICO III of criminal misconduct as a result of a port accident that resulted in the collapse of a container crane, killing an employee working on it.

    Mainichi Daily News has coverage of a drunk Chief Engineer going 'Berserk' off the coast of Japan.

    Zaman Daily Newspaper has news of the sinking of the Comoros-Flagged vessel MAGIC in Turkish waters.

    Bellona has news of a new long-term storage facility for spent fuel for Russia's nuclear icebreakers. The fuel was being kept on 'Technical Service Ships'. One of them was the LEPSE, which currently houses 639 spent fuel assemblies. Go here to see a summary of the vessel, which has been dubbed the most radioactive ship in Europe, and here for a short history of the nuclear waste ship.

    The Times Online has the story of Norway's closure of two offshore oil platforms due to faulty lifeboats.

    The Stupid Shall be Punished has news of a port call in Hong Kong for the USS Honolulu (SSN 718) and USS La Jolla (SSN 701) fast attack submarines tied up alongside USS Frank Cable (AS 40) Submarine Tender. Yes, in Hong Kong.

    EU Referendum covers the changing purpose of the EU's Galileo GPS system from civilian to military as the costs skyrocket out of control and the realization sinks in that businesses are not willing to pay for something that they can already receive from the US for free. (To be operational in 2010, maybe.)

    Smart Tech Writing has an explanation of Flotsam, Jetsam, and Lagan.

    Read the latest cruise ship deaths at Safe Cruise.

    Marex Newsletter questions if the Lake Charles LNG Terminal is a "Model for Success or a Recipe for Disaster." Also, on their homepage, they have an offer to send you a free copy of their magazine. (You can also sign up for their newsletter.)

    Treehugger has coverage of harnessing wave power in Europe.

    The O.E.S. Project Web Log (Operation Enduring Service) is showing signs of frustration. Not familiar with the project? Check out The Dread Pundit Bluto for a short summary.

    Check out photos of the massive boat lift at the Krasnoyarsk Hydroelectric Dam in Russia.

    Alaska Report has an update on the 'toxic ship' PROBO KOALA going back out to sea.

    Haight's Maritime Items has:

    President signs SAFE Port Act - The White House issued a news release stating that President Bush signed into law the Security and Accountability for Every Port (SAFE Port) Act of 2006 (H.R. 4954). Among other things, this bill, also known as the Port Security Improvement Act of 2006, modifies the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program by requiring the prompt issuance of TWIC cards to maritime employees and the initiation of a pilot program for installation and use of card readers. It also codifies the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the Container Security Initiative (CSI) programs. (10/13/06).


    US economic sanctions against Sudan - President Bush signed an Executive Order imposing economic sanctions against the Government of Sudan. Companies doing business with both the United States and Sudan should exercise caution so as to avoid inadvertent violation of US law. (10/13/06).

    Fairplay Daily News has:

    Crew shortage spurs Conti reflaggings - HAMBURG 09 October – German KG financier Conti Group, one of the staunchest supporters of the German flag, has been forced to transfer more of its ships into open registries this year because of the acute shortage of German masters. Managing director Nikolaus Pröls told journalists in Hamburg today that five 1,600-teu vessels were reflagged to Liberia this year as its pool of German captains has become stretched to the limit through retirement and poaching by other German owners. "Reflagging has only taken place on a limited scale so far, but the pressure is rising," Pröls warned. Irrespective of the personnel shortage, Conti's fleet is set to yield record payouts for private investors this year, even exceeding the very good result of 2005. Pröls predicted overall payouts of euro170M ($214M) after euro144M last year. Current charter income levels across Conti's 80-strong fleet will also enable it to write off the outstanding debt for another eleven ships, he added. Lloyd's Register - Fairplay

    Lloyds List has the following:
    Two killed as tugboat strikes gas pipeline - GULFPORT Energy Corp has shut a southern Louisiana oil and natural gas field yesterday after two vessels struck a natural gas pipeline. Two people were killed and another two were critically injured.

    The West Cote Blanche Bay field had been pumping 4,000 bpd of oil in August. "Gulfport has temporarily shut-in all production from the field; however, no damage has been reported to Gulfport's West Cote Blanche Bay production facilities," Gulfport said in a statement.

    The Coast Guard responded to the accident near the Cypremort Point State Park after reports of 30.5m flames in the area. State police said a tugboat pushing barges had struck the natural gas pipeline, adding emergency services were working to put out subsequent fires.

    "We have two confirmed dead, two critically injured and three confirmed persons missing," Iberia Parish Sheriff Sid Hebert told Reuters. Coast Guard officials said vessel traffic in the region had not been disrupted. State police had initially reported a rig was also on fire.

    Finally, Gizmodo notes that the Moller 'Skycar' prototype is for sale on ebay. You have until October 19 to bid. (High bid was just over $2 million as of this posting.) Be sure to check out the Q & A at the bottom. No question is too silly!

    Sunday, October 15

    Mini Protest at the CIA Sunday Morning

    I saw this on the way home this morning. Not sure who organized it but looking at the small turnout they clearly could have done a much better job getting the word out.

    They didn't waste any energy making signs either. Signs would have narrowed this to a group of moonbats. So I wonder if this was some sort of 'rogue' conservative group.

    The funny thing is that the people who work inside the CIA are best able to know if torture works or not. Since they would have first-hand access to the results, I doubt any protest is going to rattle their conscience compared to what they have managed to prevent new attacks. Not all CIA victories are published, unlike their failures.

    By the way, they are protesting at the location of a terrorist attack. I wonder how many of the protesters know that, or even care.
    Mir Aimal Kansi was a Pakistani citizen who spent four years on the United States Department of Justice's FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list after he shot five people with an AK-47, killing two, in their cars as they were turning towards the entrance to US CIA headquarters on January 25, 1993. He was captured in Pakistan more than four years later and following a trial, was executed by lethal injection in the state of Virginia, United States in 2002.

    On the morning of January 25, 1993, he drove his brown Datsun station wagon to the intersection and shot into several cars, killing two people (Frank Darling and Lansing H. Bennett) and injuring three others. He had the opportunity to kill two females but did not do so. Upon being asked why by the FBI, he said that it was because Islam forbade the killing of women.[Really??] After the shooting, he was surprised that he was still alive and returned to his vehicle and fled the scene. He returned to his apartment and went to a convenience store where he purchased an airline ticket through the owner, who also owned a travel agency, and boarded the flight to Pakistan shortly thereafter.

    On February 9, 1993, The FBI named Kansi as the 435th fugitive to be added on their Top Ten Most Wanted List. [1] The State Department offered a $2 million reward and later increased the reward to $3.5 million. After four and a half years, he was captured. On June 15, 1997, Kansi travelled to the town of Dera Ghazi Khan in central Pakistan as part of a business venture to import Russian electronics into Pakistan. He was captured in an early morning raid led by the FBI and transported to Fairfax, Virginia to stand trial. Kansi suspected that he was set up by his business partners to obtain the reward money offered by the United States.

    Although he pled not guilty at trial, he did not deny the acts. He was convicted and sentenced to death. He died by lethal injection in a Virginia state prison on November 14, 2002.

    When his body arrived in Quetta, Pakistan, many of his hometown residents welcomed him like a hero. - Extracted from his Wikipedia Entry.
    If the CIA uses torture, it is against people like Kansi. No matter, the US is not in the business of capturing people like this alive. It is too much trouble. Now they capture them dead.

    Thursday, October 12

    747 Large Cargo Freighter First Flight

    It's no Airbus A-380, but then again, that's a good thing.

    This is a screenshot from a video on the 787 Dreamliner website of the new double-decker 747 cargo aircraft. Makes we wonder if they have any designers working on a passenger version of this aircraft. This aircraft is to be used to ferry wings and sections of the new 787 Dreamliner that are to be built in Asia.

    From the World Design Team Update email:

    747 Large Cargo Freighter First Flight & Behind the Scenes Videos

    For World Design Team members only - exclusive access to the WDT page of, where we've posted a video from the 747 Largo Cargo Freighter (LCF) First Flight and a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of the first LCF in Taipei, Taiwan.

    You need to become a member to view the video, but registration is easy. Then again, you can look at this video shot by some who observed the takeoff and landing.

    The flight was on 9 September.

    Boeing 787 Homepage

    Tuesday, October 10

    The David Zucker Albright Ad

    The ad says it all.

    What are the chances that Kim Jong Il sold the basketball on ebay?

    The David Zucker Albright Ad - Youtube

    Monday, October 9

    Maritime Monday 28

    Welcome to this (post vacation) 28th edition of Maritime Monday.

    This Weeks Photo:

    Finnish Icebreakers, Helsinki Harbor

    This weeks items:

    John Fund at the Opinion Journal asks "Why did Congress kill a measure to keep felons out of U.S. ports?" Here is a taste:
    Congress is patting itself on the back for passing the Port Security Act last Saturday. But the day before, a House-Senate conference committee stripped out a provision that would have barred serious felons from working in sensitive dock security jobs. Port security isn't just about checking the contents of cargo containers, it also means checking the background of the 400,000 workers on our dock.

    The problem is massive. The Department of Homeland Security recently investigated the ports of New York and New Jersey and found that of 9,000 truckers checked, nearly half had criminal records. They included murderers, drug dealers, arsonists and members of the deadly MS-13 gang. It concluded that these security gaps represent "vulnerabilities that could be capitalized by terrorist organizations." A dock worker who has been convicted of smuggling drugs is a potential danger. "Instead of bringing in 50 kilograms of heroin, what would stop them from bringing in five kilograms of plutonium?" asks Joseph King, a former Customs Service agent who now teaches criminal justice at New York University.
    Read the rest to understand how Senators Daniel Inouye (D- Hawaii) and Ted Stevens (R- Alaska) and Congressmen Peter King (R- NY) and Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) are gutting attempts to secure our ports. My favorite excuse to continue to allow convicted felons working in ports comes from Union Communications Director Steve Stallone: "barring felons from jobs at secure dock facilities would be "double jeopardy" and could push them back into crime to make a living."
    CREEations adds to the Opinion Journal piece with his own port security observations.

    Red Herring has news of KITESHIP, a winner of transportation efficiency; using wind power as power assist for ships. (Company website here.)

    EagleSpeak has coverage on China getting a little edgy about the security of it's sea supply lines and the ability of the US to cut off required supplies.

    Pacific Islander has the loss of the bulk ore carrier GIANT STEP in Japan.

    The Stupid Shall Be Punished answers the question of how many sailors can you fit on an attack sub's bridge. (Do they have any cup holders up there?)

    Oilchange International has coverage of an LNG Terminals being built in Louisiana.

    YLE (Finland) has news of the blockade of a ship in Kokkola, Finland by the Finnish Seamen's Union. The issue is unpaid wages for the Filipino crew.

    Infidel Bloggers Alliance wonders about the purpose for deploying the EISENHOWER carrier strike group to the Middle East. (Standard deployment maybe?) See the Navy Press release on the deployment here confirming 'standard deployment'. Interviews a US Merchant Marine Academy graduate, First Lieutenant Oliver Karp, serving in the Army in Iraq.

    Sailors, Mariners & Warriors League has news of the Greek Coast Guard dumping illegal immigrants that they caught attempting to land on a Greek Island into the sea off Turkey, resulting in a number of deaths. How embarrassing for the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, the IMO, Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, who is from Greece.

    The Korea Liberator has news of the seizure of the North Korean cargo vessel EWA in Greece, upon discovery of 1.5 million cartons of counterfeit cigarettes. (Who was waiting for the cargo?)

    Neptunus Lex points to some of the better sea stories in his archives. One of them covers a trip he made to Finland. His experience sounds normal, although don't get fooled into thinking that the attention he received was due to the uniform alone. (All he needed was to be an American...)

    Cdr. Salamander points out a problem with basic training at the US Naval Academy. (It is my understanding that the US Marine Corps only overseas indoctrination at the US Merchant Marine Academy.)

    The Raw Story has an update on the PROBO KOALA. Apparently, the vessel was refining crude oil at sea, resulting in the especially toxic waste that was discharged in the Ivory Coast.

    Israel Matzov covers the release of the GREGORIO-1 that was seized by Cyprus. The vessel was carrying North Korean radar systems manifested as meteorological equipment which after the seizure was claimed by Syria. I would have expected Israel to board the vessel and destroy the equipment, but apparently that has not happened.

    From Haight's Maritime Items:

    USCG – passenger ships with unfit survival craft - The US Coast Guard issued a policy letter outlining enforcement action to be taken when its inspectors find passenger ship survival craft (lifeboats or life rafts) damaged or otherwise not fit for service. While the details can get complex, the policy largely provides that the inspector should temporarily reduce the maximum passenger capacity of the ship by the capacity of the unfit survival craft if that craft can not be replaced prior to the next voyage. PCV Policy Letter 06-08 (9/26/06). - Dennis L. Bryant (That is of course unless the flag-state issues a dispensation permitting temporary substitution of a broken lifeboat with life rafts.)

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    Sunday, October 8

    North Korea Nuke test a Marketing event?

    I for one think that North Korea should test one of their nuclear weapons. After all, thanks partly to President Clinton, we paid for the program. So lets enjoy the fireworks. The estimates are that they only have about five or six weapons. I hope they test them all. At the very least, it would be one less weapon that we all have to worry about.

    There is just one problem in letting them test a nuke. A test is what a potential buyer needs to be sure that he is buying a product that works. This theory does not seem to have made it into the news leaving the sudden international pressure and concern about a threatened test appear odd. Everyone suspects that they have a weapon and there is no real outrage over that, so lets see if the intel is true.

    There is one real potential buyer for a product like this, Iran. This makes sense in that North Korea has sold every operational weapon system that they have developed and they need money. Iran has a nuclear program but they might be thinking that they do not have enough time to develop their own bomb. Buying one, is simply taking a short cut. It might even be a simple 'nukes-for-oil' trade.

    President Clinton, savior of North Korea?

    It may be perplexing and counterintuitive to see the United States — the dprk’s longtime principal opponent and antagonist in the international arena — described as a major backer of the North Korean state. Yet this is now in fact the case. Figures compiled by Mark Manyin of the Congressional Research Service provide the details (see Table 1). In the 1996-2002 period, Washington awarded Pyongyang just over $1 billion in food aid, concessional fuel oil, and medical supplies. (Interestingly enough, nearly $350 million of these resources was transferred in the years 2001 and 2002 — under the purportedly hostile aegis of the George W. Bush administration.) - Policy Review
    We can thank President Clinton for the fact that we are dealing with North Korea problems at all. North Korea lost it's major aid provider when the Soviet Union collapsed. As a result, most of North Korea, including all of the factories spiraled into collapse. Then there was a severe drought that killed around a million North Koreans. With the country falling apart around them, North Korea managed negotiations with the US that resulted in aid in exchange for the North quitting it's nuclear program. In reality, they took the aid to keep the regime afloat, and continued on developing the weapon in secret.

    South Korea also paid for the North's nukes as part of their 'Sunshine Policy.' Funny, that the 'sunshine' that the North is going to send back might be in the form of nuclear radiation.

    Now if North Korea does not press the button on a nuke, the diplomats will declare a victory. I think that is a victory that we can do without. Let them have their moment and then the US should use the test as the excuse to bring an end to Communist North Korea. The test will also be a good reminder to many in the South who don't appreciate the US military presence in their country and will encourage them and others, including the Japanese, to economically strangle the North into collapse.

    Now if only this test will convince the UN, the World Food Program, and the EU to NOT come to the rescue of the people of the North as it is this aid that keeps to Government viable.

    (Yes, it is a shame that the people of the North will suffer in the short run, but even with the aid, the entire population has been suffering for over a decade. Providing aid only prolongs the conflict as the West loses focus at the real problem at hand. At any rate, it is the responsibility of the North Korean Government to provide for their citizens.)

    The Persistence of North Korea - Policy Review

    Update: 9 October 2006
    They managed to pull it off and did it at a time that word was circling that there would be a delay to give the US time to remove some banking sanctions that have been hurting the north more than expected. Of course they could be claiming a natural event as a test, but it's not so easy to predict an earthquake and the north gave advance warning of the test just prior to the explosion.

    Let the games begin. I am interested in seeing what North Korea's next move is going to be. I am not sure what to expect to come out of the UN, other than calls for more negotiations. China might stop aid flowing to North Korea, but for how long?

    USGS Earthquake Hazards Program

    Saturday, October 7

    20,000 Visitors

    It took a while, but finally happened sometime during my trip.

    Staying Connected While Traveling

    I am back from vacation and we are trying to put our life back together after being away for almost three weeks. Here are a couple of pictures of all the electronic gear that we took along with us. It was a bit complicated since we were going to Europe, which has a different phone system and power supply. The list included four mobile phones, two for the US and two for Finland. Two digital cameras. GPS. Small Sony Vaio laptop (which is it's only good feature) to stay connected to work as well as for downloading images from the cameras. Then there are all the related cords and cables that keep these things powered up and communicating with each other. Luckily, the camera battery chargers accept both US and EU current, so the only issue is getting them plugged in, which is what the jury-rigged extension cord is for. (Flat prongs into round holes)

    I had brought the equipment to dial into the net from my in-laws but was pleasantly surprised to see that they now have a DSL connection. We had also stayed at a friend's apartment and at my parents who both have high-speed internet connections.

    The plan was to have all of the electronics in one bag so that we would not have problems when going through security. No problems leaving the US, but when returning the Finnish authorities had me unpack the bag to put the items through the scanner loose. That was fine the first time, but got a little old the second time when we got to the gate and had to go through security a second time before boarding.

    Oh yes, it is the FAA that has been making the rules about what you can carry onto the plane when leaving the US, but remember it is the local authorities that make the rule at the airport you are leaving from to return to the US.

    The rules are similar, but I saw at least one passenger run into problems because the Finnish rules excluded some items that were OK as far as the FAA was concerned.

    If you think this is lots, you should se all the chocolate we brought back with us. Then there were the three Lego sets we took as Christmas presents and the one set we brought back, which was a present we received for our daughter.

    All together, we had four check-in bags plus a car seat, stroller and three carry-on bags.