Wednesday, October 31

Never Push Your Luck

Don't you hate it when the bad guy gets away? Me too, which is why I love stories like this.
Scott A. Masters, 41, is accused of shoplifting the pastry [Note: a 52 cent doughnut] and pushing a store worker who tried to stop him. The worker was unhurt. But with that shove, his shoplifting turned into a strong-arm robbery. Masters, who appeared in court Friday, is stunned. The prosecutor shows no signs of backing down. In fact, because Masters has a prior record, he could get a sentence of 30 years to life. - STLToday
Of course, Mr. Masters has an extensive record:
Masters, who lives in the nearby town of Park Hills, has been arrested more than a dozen times: for being drunk, for shoplifting, for missed court dates, for marijuana possession. He spent most of the 1990s and a stretch from 2000 to 2004 in state prison for the felonies of torching a car to collect insurance and possessing methamphetamine ingredients. - STLToday
People like this are a menace. This is only what he has been caught doing. Although we can't judge him on suspecting that he is more of a criminal than his arrest record indicates. But really, why must we have to deal with this man over a dozen times. Maybe he has moved from the more serious crimes to petty ones because he knows that he can get away with them. He is certainly shocked that he might be going away to prison for years:
"Strong-arm robbery? Over a doughnut? That's impossible," Masters said, exasperated. "I've never had a violent crime in my life. And there's no way I would've pushed a woman over a doughnut."

After his arrest, he forgot all about the case. He assumed it had been dismissed. He spent the summer in jail on outstanding warrants. Just before he was to get out, he was indicted Sept. 14 in the doughnut case. His bail was set at $25,000 — well beyond his means.

Masters briefly appeared in court Friday. His case was continued until next month. He is shaken by the possibility of a third felony conviction. A prosecutor could pursue an enhanced sentence. As a persistent offender, Masters could face a murderer's term.

"I can't believe this crap," Masters said. - STLToday
See. Even with prior convictions, he still expected the system to go easy on him, simply because he was caught being a petty criminal, this time. This guy should be defined as a persistent offender. The rest of us should not have to put up with him being loose on the streets. There should be a limit on how many times you can break society's trust. Unfortunately, there is no way to limit how many times you can be a victim. That is where three strikes laws come into play to reduce your chances of being a victim of a career criminal. Here is a graph of ten years of three strikes sentences in California.

While there is a large number of criminals sentenced under the law at first, which appears to get the message out to others, which results in less serious criminals. The end result is a dramatic reduction in crime.

This can work. You just have to stop feeling sorry for those who are sent to jail. Sure it is hard on their families. He/she should have thought about that beforehand. Then again, where were their families back them to steer them away from trouble?

52 cent doughnut may cost man 30 years to life -

Three Strikes Org

We Must Take a Harder Line Against Criminals - 27 Feb 2005


Tuesday, October 30

Bomb Iran - Start with the Missile Factory

Once again there are news reports that missiles manufactured in Iran are being used in Iraq to target US troops and cause general havoc.

If they are made in Iran, there is a factory. Bomb the sh*t out of it. If we do not have the will to do it, then ask the Israelis to do it for us.

This has been an ongoing issue. Confederate Yankee covered this story already in July. That is long enough to address this issue diplomatically, and this was reportedly discussed when the US met with Iran, only to be met with denials.

Click the photo for the related story and photos at Confederate Yankee

And if we are going to go to the trouble of leveling the missile factory, then we might as well also destroy the factory that is manufacturing the powerful EFPs being used as IEDs coming out of Iran. (PDF Report here.)

This act will have two immediate effects. One, reduce the flow of these weapons to terrorists as well as send a message to Iran that the US is prepared to act (in addition to sanctions) and that there is still a price to pay for attacking US forces.

So while Congress fights over how to restrict the President's options when it comes to stopping Iran, (reckless behavior in my opinion) it should be taken into account that those actions have the side effect of protecting the manufacture and supply of these weapons. The problem is not that these facilities cannot be targeted; it is a lack of will to use force to do so. The Iranians know this and are taking advantage of it. Do keep in mind that this would not be an attack, but more so a response to being attacked already.

Iranian Rockets Recovered In Iraq [with Photos] - Confederate Yankee
More Iranian Rockets Used to Attack U.S. - Jawa Report

- -

Monday, October 29

Maritime Monday 82

Welcome to this Weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 32 here. (Published 6 November 2006)

You can find last week's edition here.

This Weeks Photos:
These photos are taken from the accident report of the 1994 grounding of the M/S SALLY ALBATROSS.

The report is in Finnish, but the photos don't need any explanation. The PDF format report can be downloaded from this page. The Finnish Accident Investigation Board does publish accident reports in English, just not this one. They (including the highly flawed report on the M/V ESTONIA) can be found here.

Live Leak has dramatic video of a collision by the (now ex) SALLY ALBATROSS / SILJA OPERA that appears to destroy all the boats on the port side.

It incorrectly notes that this accident happened in Finland, but Cruise Junkie has the following two accidents events listed for this vessel in 2003:

The Silja Opera, a cruise ship sailing under a Swedish flag, collided with a Yermak icebreaker stationed at the exit of a St. Petersburg port on Wednesday. The Silja Opera's lifeboats were damaged but the ship remained capable of traveling.


Collided with several ships and a crane at St. Petersberg. Damage not sufficient to delay itinerary. - Cruise Junkie

I am not sure which of the incidents above is the one that was recorded. (I would think it was the one noting the damaged lifeboats, but it appears that the vessel struck was a cargo ship and not an icebreaker.) I wonder how much damage a lifeboat needs to be sustained to have a press release note that they were destroyed as is clear in the video. Wikipedia has this comment on the vessel:

The ship already had a reputation as a ship of bad luck amongst the public (she had after all burnt out completely once and partially sunk only a few years later, in addition to smaller mishaps), and this was not helped when in September 2003 she collided with three cargo-ships in St. Petersburg, resulting in minor damage to all parties. - Wikipedia

This vessel is currently named the M/S CRYSTAL as is currently sailing as the replacement vessel for the SEA DIAMOND that sank in Santorini earlier this year.

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has "Just in case you were thinking differently: "Southeast Asia's Maritime Triangle A Security Nightmare"" Be sure to also check out his weekly series "Sunday Ship History: Sea Escape 2 - PT boats take MacArthur from Corregidor". and last week's edition "Sunday Ship History: Sinking the Albemarle"

Forbes has "Hawaii Lacking Interisland Transport"

Cargo Law has the collision between the drilling platform USUMACINTA and the KAB 101 Light-Production Rig, resulting in 21 dead.

Tims Times cleans tanks and then has to deal with idiotic (and reckless) inspectors.

Lifeboats are not the only killer on a ship. Maritime Accident Casebook covers another life ender, the (anchor) Chain Locker, listing some recent accidents.

Robin Storm covers seiches (a rare type of wave)

MarEx Newsletter has "Long-Term Neglect of Mariners Continues to Haunt Maritime Employers"

gCaptain comments on "Are Rising Salaries Enough To Retain Mariners?". Well, rising salaries are a good spot. Just a little too late for me. (Oddly enough, I was asked a week ago about the possibility of getting my license back. If so, there was a job waiting for me. One small problem, the working language on the ship was Swedish, but I was assured that this was only a 'small problem'.)

The Pilot Boat covers the voyage data recorder. How would you like one of these hooked up to your workplace.

Sea * Fever has the effort to save the historic riverboat DELTA QUEEN which will be retired unless the Democrat-Controlled Congress acts to save her. Not likely.

The Sunday Herald has the threat of pirates off Iraq. (How about making piracy a death penalty offense?)

SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE has "Spain Reports 6 Dead, 50 Missing From Migrant Boat Off African Coast"

The Stupid Shall Be Punished has the completion of the nine month deployment of the UK's sub HMS SCEPTRE.

Cruise Bruise seems to make the cruise lines out as villains when it comes to extending services to infants, but I think anyone who brings an infant onto a cruise is being somewhat irresponsible. After all, ships are inherently dangerous, including cruise ships. Sure, the cruise lines could set a minimum age for passengers, but at the end of the day, you are responsible for your child.

The Horse's Mouth has a must-see fishing photo.

Mr. Boat Blog has the amazing fishing tale with photo "Bambi Caught 1.5 miles OFFSHORE while fishing."

CDR Salamander has two cases of shameless Congressional pork projects doing their bit to handicap the Navy and Marine Corps. With friends like this...

Telegraph (UK) has good news for some looters/salvagers in that any BMW cargo they hauled off the beach is theirs to keep, provided they declared it in accordance with the law. (Further update on the vessel below.)

Kiwi at Sea thinks that the Russians are a bit ungrateful that they are there helping them, and provides examples. (I know of one guy who tried to leave by train. The conductor collected his ticket and moved on. Then when returning stopped and asked for his ticket again. He politely explained that he already gave them the ticket and that the conductor could confirm that by flipping through the tickets in his hand. Well that never happened. Instead, he endured a good deal of verbal abuse before they lost interest in harassing him.)

Tugster has "Hulls as Flags"

THE PRIVATE ISLANDS BLOG has "Tiny Island Nation of Tokelau & The Internet". Be sure to click through to the story to read just how the internet has changed life on the island.

Maritime Compass has "Position Announcement: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, San Francisco, CA"

The has an opinion piece that mothball ships slated for scrapping should be scrapped in California, keeping the jobs in California instead of 'exporting' them to Texas.

Daily Yomiuri Online notes that despite sanctions, exports to North Korea are surging due to simple circumvention of the sanctions by using non-North-Korean Flag vessels.

Never Sea Land has photos of mermaid tattoos.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

UK – update re MSC NAPOLI - The Devon County Council issued a situation update regarding the MSC NAPOLI. Removal of the stern section of the wreck will be undertaken in two phases and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2008. Phase one will consist of dismantling and removal of the accommodation block and preparation for phase two. Phase two, expected to begin in March 2008, will consist of removal of the main engine and lifting and removal of the remaining stern section. (10/19/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

EC snuff ban not to be sniffed at - MARIEHAMN 26 October – A European Commission ban on selling snuff on Åland Islands-registered ships has caused Eckerö Ferries to review whether it should re-flag its fleet in Sweden, according to a Newsroom Finland report. The islands are an autonomous, Swedish-speaking administrative province of Finland, at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia. The Commission announced earlier this week that it would impose a €4,000 ($5,700) retrospective fine for every day that the Åland Islands allowed snuff to be sold on ships registered there. Björn Blomqvist, chief executive of the Åland-based Eckerö Line, pointed out that snuff is an important source of revenue for the company. The EC has threatened to take Finland to the European Court over the snuff issue and what the Commission sees as its inherent health risk. Eckerö Line and its sister company Eckerölinjen are owned by an Åland-based company. The latter operates a two-ship service from Sweden to the Åland Islands while Eckerö Line operates a service between Helsinki and Tallinn. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

Actually, there are Finns who take the ferry solely for the purpose of purchasing snuff. More at Helsingin Sanomat which has "EU fines Åland over smokeless tobacco"

Submissions for future editions:
Please submit articles for inclusion in next week' edition using the following submit form at Blog Carnival. You are also welcome to email photos for inclusion in future editions as well as suggest area of coverage.

** Sponsorship **
Send me an email (address in the sidebar) if you would like to sponsor an edition of Maritime Monday. I accept money and gear.

Previous Editions:
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Sunday, October 28

If Illegal Aliens can Afford Photo IDs, so can Voters

It seems that one sign of a modern 'western' society is a complete lack of common sense. Take the issue of presenting photo ID to identify yourself when voting. For less than honorable reasons, people and groups have fought against adoption of these laws comparing them to old-time poll taxes.
A poll tax in the sense of capitation [Note: a fixed tax per person] plays a significant role in the history of taxation in the United States and the adoption of income tax as a significant source of government funding. However, the second meaning of poll tax, namely a tax on voting, is more widely known in the US today. Recent debate surrounds whether citizen purchase of sometimes costly state ID acts as a poll tax, keeping poor voters out of elections. - Wikipedia
It is suggested that there are millions of Americans without any form of photo ID. The common idiotic excuse why is that they cannot afford one. This is a completely bogus excuse, and one that they can remedy themselves. (I am not debating that there are people without ID, just that the reason that they don't have one because they cannot afford it). As I wrote before
Unemployed get unemployment. Others get welfare. The elderly get social security. When all else fails, children can ask their parents for the money. Parents can ask their children for money. - FFI
If you are so poor, you are getting money from the Government somehow. Use some of it to get yourself an ID. As it is, some states already provide low-cost or free IDs to those who claim they cannot afford it. So there is really no valid excuse to not have one. Not wanting to stand in line in DMV certainly isn't one, and one could argue that IDs cost people who work more because they need to take time off to obtain one.

Now we hear that New York is going to allow illegal aliens to obtain state-issued photo IDs. So how is it that illegal aliens living in the US are able to afford photo IDs? Maybe someone should ask NY Governor Eliot Spitzer his opinion on photo ID requirements for voting, seeing how he thinks that illegals are not able to function in his state without proper ID. If that is the case, than how can anyone else?

This issue is truly telling of the intentions of Democrats. See how determined they are to issue illegal aliens IDs and drivers license yet they do nothing to get those who are American Citizens "some 10 to 30 million legally registered voters" the same documents. Better to keep them poor and without ID's. This way it is surely better to be able to rely on their vote in the future.

I wonder how Mr. Spitzer is going to handle those illegal aliens who cannot obtain a passport from their own country in order to meet his ID requirement in order to obtain a NY ID? Will he accept Mexican Matricular Consular IDs? After all, that is the only form of Id that many Mexicans in the US have, and what they are going to present when applying for an ID.

One possible end run around the photo ID complaints of Democrats would be to record fingerprints and take photos of those coming in to vote. This will not disenfranchise anyone as there will be no cost to the voter. After the person has voted once, they will be on record and when they vote in future elections their photo can be brought up and a new one taken to record who voted that second time. The fingerprint can be recorded again as well.

Georgia Voter ID Law a ‘Poll Tax’ Says U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy - 20 Oct 05

Being Less Poor - 27 Oct 05

Wednesday, October 24

Attacked by the Finnish Airforce

So there I was out in the front yard one day last week, when I heard the distinct sound of a prop plane climbing and then diving.

And then I saw this pop in just over the top of the trees:

I was buzzed by one of the Finnish Air Force's Valmet L-70 Vinka trainer. Here is the Finnish Military's summary page for the trainer. (I suspect the house, or one near it was being used as a target or some sort of navigational reference.)

Now I have not seen here, but have heard, either the Finnish F-18 Hornet or one of their jet trainers. They do sound pretty impressive. One day more, so maybe the cloud cover will recede just long enough to get a good look. (The Finnish Air Force has had Hornets for almost 12 years now.)

By the way, this is an example of why you should always have a camera around. I had maybe ten seconds warning before the plane passed overhead. It never came back.

Update: Finnish Social Welfare in Action

My original post covered a drunk man passed out right in the center of the Finnish City of Tampere. Well Helsinki is no stranger to this sort of intoxication, as is confirmed by the following story in the Helsingin Sanomat:

According to the emergency response centre (ERC) of Helsinki, the number of drunken individuals lying on the streets and lawns of the Finnish capital has reached excessively high levels.

In August alone, the ERC of Helsinki received an average of 80 calls a day, notifying the authorities of drunks having passed out in the open air. This is roughly equal to 2,300 emergency calls per month. - Helsingin Sanomat

Whenever I ran across a person who was passed out I would call 112 which is Finland's 911 emergency phone number. I would also try to wake the person up, especially if they were lying in the gutter or some other place where a car might accidentally hit them. I also stuck around until the police did show up, which thankfully was never long. (Unfortunately, this happened way too often!)

Helsinki’s emergency response centre receives 1,400 calls a day on average; 80 are for sleeping drunks - Helsingin Sanomat

Monday, October 22

Maritime Monday 81

Welcome to this Weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

I am currently in Finland and you can read about some of my adventures by going to my homepage and scrolling through some of my recent posts. I will be posting more on Tuesday or Wednesday.

You can find Maritime Monday 31 here. (Published 30 October 2006)

You can find last week's edition here.

This Weeks Photos:
This weeks photos are from the website of highly creative, progressive-thinking Finnish-Flag shipping company Langh Ship:

Langh Ship is a shipping company whose operations are based on service. We believe that thorough knowledge of the customer’s transport needs and innovative solutions of the highest possible quality create added value in transport services – something that our customers appreciate.

The transport methods we have developed and our first-class vessels, coupled with our expert staff guarantee the reliability of our operations, from the point of view of our customers, safety and our environment. - Langh Ship



The "low container"

Side-Door containers

Now don't be fooled, they are more than just containers:

Cradle-tween-deck pontoon system

This Weeks Items:
Eagle Speak has "Pirate Attacks Up Worldwide". He also has "Canadian-Russian "Arctic Bridge" - cargo flows to and from the "Polar Bear Capital of the World""

The Monitor wonders why it took Transport Canada over a year to express concern that crewmembers of the QUEEN OF THE NORTH ferry regularly smoked marijuana both at sea and ashore.

The MarEx Newsletter publishes reader feedback to it's Hawaii Superferry editorial.

CDR Salamander has first impressions of the new Maritime Strategy. He also has a new weekly series posted: "Maritime Strategy Monday: Week 1". This Monday he promises more coverage of the newly released Maritime Strategy so be sure to go to his home page and look for it. (I am currently 7 time zones ahead of him so Monday comes a bit earlier for me to look for it.)

For those looking for just a short summary, the Wall Street Journal article "U.S. Shifts Maritime Strategy" is for you.

In the first major revision of U.S. naval strategy in two decades, maritime officials said Wednesday they plan to focus more on humanitarian missions and improving international cooperation as a way to prevent conflicts.

"We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars," said the new strategy announced by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. - WSJ

I'll go and read the report when I get back from vacation, and I truly hope that it takes into account that any serious conflict we might find ourselves in, will most likely have to be fought with only half our forces, the other half being wiped out by an enemy who completely blindsides us a-la-Pearl Harbor. The comment above is hardly reassuring. Prevent them all you want, but be sure that you can fight one started by the other guy whose strategy takes advantage of yours.

Tims Times brings us the problems of smoking when you are a 'Dunkirk Sea Pilot'. (Some people will smoke anywhere. I sailed on a tanker carrying gasoline for three months and there was no shortage of smokers there either. I took comfort in the fact that the tanker was 30+ years old!)

Tims Times also has more as heard on the VHF, this time taking aim at the French.

Robin Storm covers underwater weather. Yes, you read that right. The weather underwater. At least submariners know about it very well.

Hengineer gets out of the shipyard, only to be visited by people from the home office and the Coast Guard. What joy!

The Independent (UK) has "Shipping pollution 'far more damaging than flying'"

New research suggests that the impact of shipping on climate change has been seriously underestimated and that the industry is currently churning out greenhouse gases at nearly twice the rate of aviation. - The Independent

Maritime Accident Casebook has this great short read "Watch where you bolt your furniture!"

Maritime Accident Casebook also makes some interesting points in "Politicking The Pasha Bulker"

gCaptain covers yet another 'magic pipe' conviction. The vessel in this case is the US-Flag car carrier M/V TANABATA.

Molten Eagle issues a challenge of three questions. One has been answered, but two remain, including "Post Cold War, Molten Eagle has yet to hear of a single sub skipper who did not graduate from the USNA. We all know that there may be exceptions to a general rule. Name at least one (assignment #3)." He also questions if the Naval Academy and other Academies are being stuffed with the wrong type of candidates.

Sea * Fever has "Superyacht stalkers (Wall Street Journal)" (Philippines) has the story "Maritime cops probed for extortion of tuna operators"

Cardiff News (UK) has the ongoing detention (3 months and counting) of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Flag cargo ship AP CROWN for multiple safety deficiencies.

Afriquenligne (France) covers India's assistance to help Mauritius to establish a maritime training academy.

Deputy Dog has "hardcore boat-lifts" which I found via Never Sea Land.

Freaque Waves has "Irish waves generate electricity"

SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE has the shooting of a sailor on the USS BAINBRIDGE and his subsequent helo evac.

The Stupid Shall Be Punished covers China's new Nuclear missile subs.

Tugster returns to the steamer LILAC and posts more photos.

Kiwi at Sea encounters a Philippine sailor who can think of nothing other than sex. And no, most sailors are not like this one. After all, just where would they get the time.......

Finally, did you know that there is still French Territory in North America? Check out the Wikipedia entry on "Saint Pierre and Miquelon", "the only remnant of the former colonial territory of New France that remains under French control."

The islands are part of France and the European Union but due to special immigration procedures, EU nationals who are not French citizens are not allowed to exercise free movement and business establishment in the archipelago. - Wikipedia

Thanks to 'G' for the tip!

Haight's Maritime Items has:

House hearing on mariner education and work force - The Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure conducted an oversight hearing on Mariner Education and Work Force. As explained in the Summary of Subject Matter, the focus of the hearing was growing shortage of mariners and the challenges facing the maritime work force. Subcommittee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) expressed concern that the maritime industry is no longer attractive for new entrants. Committee Chair James Oberstar (D-MN) discussed the importance of timely and relevant training. Rear Admiral Joel Whitehead, USCG, explained the role of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and the Coast Guard’s involvement in maritime employment. Mr. Sean Connaughton, Maritime Administrator, discussed programs of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) intended to increase the size and professionalism of the US maritime workforce. Mr. Michael Rodriguez, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, complained of the increasing criminalization of mariners, the stringent medical policy adopted by the Coast Guard, and the growing problem with crewmember fatigue on ships. Mr. Carl Annessa, Hornbeck Offshore Services, explained that the way in which some training requirements are enforced makes it very difficult for unlicensed personnel to transition into licensed positions. Ms. Cathy Hammond, Inland Marine Service, explained that the Coast Guard should not conduct routine safety boardings in the same manner as it conducts “for cause” law enforcement boardings. VADM John Craine, USN (ret), State University of New York Maritime College, discussed the role of state maritime academies in training merchant marine officers. Captain William Beacom, US Merchant Marine, expressed his view that the Coast Guard was more concerned with protecting shipping companies than it was with protecting merchant mariners. Mr. Augustin Tellez, Seafarers International Union, discussed the importance of the Maritime Security Fleet Program, the Jones Act, the Ready Reserve Force, and cargo preference. Captain Arthur Sulzer, USN (ret), discussed the role of maritime secondary education institutions in preparing young people for careers at sea. Captain Jeff Slesinger, Western Towboat Company, discussed the innovative Pacific Marine Towing Industry Partners, a cooperative training venture to attract, train, and retain skilled maritime workers. Ms. Berit Eriksson, Pacific Coast Maritime Forum, proposed that Congress enact a program of loans to individuals to fund maritime training, with the loans to be forgiven if the individual completes 36 months of sea time. (10/17/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

EU proposes integrated policy - BRUSSELS 18 October – The European Commission today presented new proposals to make freight transport in the EU more efficient and sustainable. A new package of measures, proposed by Jacques Barrot, Commissioner for Transport, consists of an action plan concerning logistics, a proposal giving rail network priority to freight, a communication on European ports, as well as two documents on the barrier-free European maritime transport area and the so-called “motorways of the sea”. “The simultaneous adoption of all these measures gives a strong signal demonstrating the close links between logistics and the various modes of transport,” Barrot said. He said the common objective of these initiatives is to promote innovative infrastructure technologies and practices, develop means of transport, improve freight management, facilitate the construction of freight transport chains, simplify the administrative procedures and enhance quality throughout the logistic chain. The Commission is promoting maritime transport, which remains the mode that is the most environment-friendly and energy-efficient, Barrot said. The simplification of administrative procedures for maritime transport within the EU is essential to make this mode of transport more attractive. The documents on the European maritime transport area and the motorways of the sea demonstrate the progress made with the preparation of these two initiatives and invite all stakeholders to give their opinions. The communication on European ports policy is aimed at facilitating the development of an efficient port system in Europe that will be capable of meeting current and future transport needs. It sets out an action plan for the Commission to help European ports address challenges such as the increase in transport demand, technological changes and the need to reduce emissions. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

Submissions for future editions:
Please submit articles for inclusion in next week' edition using the following submit form at Blog Carnival. You are also welcome to email photos for inclusion in future editions as well as suggest area of coverage.

** Sponsorship **
Send me an email (address in the sidebar) if you would like to sponsor an edition of Maritime Monday. I accept money and gear.

Previous Editions:
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Thursday, October 18

Overtaking on Finnish Roads

There are very few true highways in Finland where the traffic is separated. Most are located in the south leading from Helsinki.

This is what most roads leading between cities look like; a single lane in each direction where you cross over to the other side to overtake slower traffic. The summer speed limit for these roads is often 100 kilometers an hour. Some of the traffic on these roads is limited to only 80 kilometers and hour. Most are trucks but some are old US station wagons and other similar cars that were imported as trucks and therefore limited to 80 klm/hr for tax purposes. Since nobody wants to drive behind slower traffic, there is lots of passing going on. Some of it is downright dangerous.

Of course, there needs to be no immediate oncoming traffic in order to safely pass. As there is more traffic on the roads there are less valid passing opportunities. That however, does not stop people from passing anyway. This is a typical example, as we are all driving at about 100 kilometers and hour (62 mph):

"Where did that oncoming truck come from?!?!?"

'No problem, I'll just cut this other driver off.'

This last passing move below was especially reckless as it was not possible to see what was coming from the other direction due to the hill. As can be seen from the bottom photo, the passing area had ended for that very reason.

Finland is also experiencing traffic problems in the capital area as well. Driving in Finnish cities is interesting as people will walk into the street without even looking to see if there is oncoming traffic. However, there is good reason to look. See the following story for more details:

Traffic discipline very slack in Helsinki - Helsingin Sanomat

One problem in Finland is that cars are seen as the enemy, especially in the cities where people simply refuse to accept that there are valid uses for them. (Such as having two small children and needing to go food shopping.) So they have really pushed to keep speed limits in the cities down in the name of 'safety'.

I lived in Finland for three years, and the one thing I truly missed was not having a car. It was just truly frustrating to go to IKEA or wherever and then try to lug whatever you purchased home on the bus. At least I lived in the Capital and there was good public transport. Still, it took twice as long to get downtown than it would by car, even having to sit in traffic.

Oh, before I forget, try doing the same maneuver above with the road covered in ice! Just make sure that you have good studded tires...

Wednesday, October 17

Dollar Buying Power in Finland - Monopoly Edition

There is all this talk about how the dollar has somehow lost buying power as its value has eroded against the Euro. Well, at least in Finland, this is not an issue, partly because items were unbelievably expensive even when a dollar was exchangeable for a Euro.

Take the classic American game of Monopoly. The game can be found in the US for under ten dollars. ($9.74 at both Target and Walmart.) The game is available for $10.75 on Amazon, but that does not include a $3 rebate if you buy the game before 7 January. ($7.75 + one stamp to mail in the rebate form.)

So how much would you expect to pay for Monopoly in Finland? At the current exchange rate, it will cost you $49. (34.90 Euros (on sale!) times the exchange rate of 1.417 dollars to the Euro.) Now I would expect that the Finnish-language version of the game would cost a little more, but not fives times as much. Really, this game was probably translated decades ago. Any additional cost is probably limited to actually getting the games to Finland. Even if the dollar was worth a Euro, it would still be grossly overpriced at three times the US Price. Finland's tax rate of 22% does not explain away this price difference either.

To make matters worse, salaries in Finland are generally less than they are in the US and income taxes are higher.

This store will let you pay in three monthly installments, for 1.10 Euros extra. I first noticed this in a store that was selling the game for 39 Euros and was sure it was a mistake, but no.

So don't let anyone kid you in thinking that you can buy less for the dollar. Your buying power in the US is on a wholly different playing field than in Northern Europe.

Finnish Social Welfare in Action

This unfortunately is a common sight in Finland. This man is so drunk that he is passed out in the center of the Finnish city of Tampere. Worse yet is that this guy got tanked well before noon. He is probably well-known to these policemen who have the thankless task of collecting him from the street. This will probably not be the last time either. Notice the lack of an ambulance. One would have been called had they suspected a problem other than too much alcohol.

Just remember if you are ever in Finland and your having a heart attack, be sure to not look like your just another drunk.

Out Cold

Just to be clear, I was not searching for this, I just ran across it soon after arriving into the city. Sure, you can see this most anywhere else in the western world, but In Finland, this is something you can see right in the center of town, on the busses, trams, wherever. Everywhere.

The Government here does have a solution to combat this problem. It is similar to their solution to solving most every problem. That is to raise taxes. So they plan to raise the tax on alcohol that is levied before levying the VAT (sales tax) on the price of the product and on the alcohol tax. (That is called double-taxation.)

Of course there are other ways to obtain alcohol. Hell, I was told how to make poisonous methanol drinkable by freezing out the 'poison'. Not that I would try such a thing, but then again, I would not be picked up off the sidewalk either.

There is also the issue that Finns, when drinking, tend to continue drinking until their wallet is empty. Higher prices just means that they go out with more money in their wallets.

Monday, October 15

Maritime Monday 80

Welcome to this Weeks edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 30 here. (Published 23 October 2006)

You can find last week's edition here.

This Weeks Photos:
This weeks photos comes from the website of shipping line OOCL.

Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orient Overseas (International) Limited (OOIL), a public company (0316) listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. OOCL is one of the world's largest integrated international container transportation, logistics and terminal companies. As one of Hong Kong's most recognized global brands, OOCL provides customers with fully-integrated logistics and containerized transportation services, with a network that encompasses Asia, Europe, North America and Australasia. OOCL is well respected in the industry with a reputation for providing customer-focused solutions, a quality-through-excellence approach and continual innovation. OOCL pioneered transportation coverage of China and is an industry leader in information technology. - Website

OOCL Containers being operated on board our vessel - OOCL

OOCL container vessel at Hong Kong's Modern Terminal at night - OOCL

This Weeks Items:

Sydväst Maritime in Turku, Finland is holding a Shipping Fair on the 19th and 20th of October 2007:

Sydväst Maritime organizes the shipping fair in Turku 19th and 20th October 2007. This is the eight shipping fair organized by Sydväst Maritime and provides the exhibitors an opportunity to make their products and services known within the Finnish maritime industry, and especially to meet future professionals in the realm of seafaring – the fair is widely visited by the students of Sydväst Maritime and other seafaring schools in Finland, and it is thus an excellent opportunity to recruit new crew members. The fair is aimed at the maritime industry, seafarers, shipping companies, authorities and maritime trainers.

I will be there sometime on the 19th.

Eagle Speak has the sad, never-ending story of "Somali pirates cruel to captured crews", that is, when they are not killing them. Also, be sure to check his weekly series and this weeks must read: "Sunday Ship History: Sea Escape".

Maritime Accident Casebook brings us another accident in "The Case Of The Seductive Sim"

So, my post last week about the Royal New Zealand Navy taking Americans is having you think about joining up? Well, be sure to read this post from Dean's World first to get an idea of how the locals will 'welcome' you. I have always wanted to Visit New Zealand. Not so much anymore. And this is an example of our friends! Thank God it's a big planet.

Neptunus Lex provides the story of Two hundred Marine infantrymen of 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment who chose to extend their enlistment in order to return to Iraq with the rest of their comrades. Go read their story.

gCaptain has the amazing report of the PASHA BULKER grounding in "Pasha Bulker Incident Report - Nearly Unbelievable"

Robin Storm has “Satellite Data Used To Warn Oil Industry Of Potentially Dangerous Eddy

Tims Times overhears radio communication between deck officers of an American-Flag vessel as they dock their vessel and the confusion that ensues when the captain fails to convert a distance from meters, as called by the docking pilot, to feet before passing it on to the deck. It is a very amusing read but this is an example of how accidents happen.

Sea * Fever has "Tall Ship Semester for Girls - Changing Lives at Sea Under Sail"

Opinion Journal covers the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and asks (and answers) the question 'What would Reagan do?' concerning whether the US signs it or not in "Another U.N. Power Grab". (I guess the titles gives the tone of the articles away.)

CDR Salamander invites you to download a copy of the Maritime Strategy from 1986.


The LA Times gives some insight into the opposition in Kauai that some have over the Hawaii Superferry service including this comment on the general tone of the protesters: 'Now that I'm on this beautiful rock, let's kick the ladder off so no one else can get on.' Yes, development can be a problem, but as you read the story, much of what has been lost by the long-term residents, has actually been access to property that did not belong to them. Others have since purchased the property. Why didn't they?

MarEx Newsletter has more on the mess in Hawaii in "Profiles in Stupidity: Hawaii Superferry Idled by Courts"

gCaptain also speaks up with "hawaii superferry - a ship captain’s perspective"


Molten Eagle compares submariner safety training to the safety training received by coal miners and finds that coal miners are coming up short.

EU Observer has "Faroe islands seek closer EU relations". They are part of Denmark, but oddly enough not part of the EU. This apparently has to do with problems over the EU Fishing Policy.

MarEx Newsletter also has "U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Receives Its Largest Corporate Grant Ever from Lloyd's Register Educational Trust"

Tugster covers the steamboat LILAC.

Cruise Bruise explains why Cuban nationals (still living in Cuba) do not work on foreign-flag cruiseships based in the US.

Karsten Petersen presents photos of 'The Storm'

"Stolt Surf" - the Officer's Mess during the storm - - moments later the still intact chairs on the picture were totally smashed to bits and pieces - (Photography by Karsten Petersen) - Webpage with more photos and the story behind them

THE PRIVATE ISLANDS BLOG has Nova Scotia under attack as their islands are being marketed for sale on the internet to foreign investors, who are driving prices up.

Mr. Boat Blog has a video featuring 'Redneck surfing...'

The Uber-Review reviews "GPS + Mouse = Useless Tech Mish Mash". Yes, you can now buy a computer mouse equipped with a GPS. Not sure why. It might be useful if someone stole your mouse, but then it probably should State "GPS" on the damn thing.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

NTSB – marine deaths rose slightly in 2006 - The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a news release discussing transportation deaths in the United States during 2006. Marine deaths rose slightly over the figures for 2005 (from 789 to 805). Of these, 710 involved recreational boating. Marine deaths in the commercial sector were virtually unchanged. (10/4/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)


Hijacking of the cruise ship ACHILLE LAURO - On October 7, 1985, four terrorists associated with the Palestine Liberation Front took control of the Italian cruise ship ACHILLE LAURO in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Egypt. The terrorists, headed by Abu Abbas, demanded that Israel release 50 detained Palestinians. After the Israelis refused, the terrorists shot American passenger Leon Klinghoffer, who was disabled and wheelchair-bound, and then threw him and his wheelchair into the water. Egypt eventually agreed to give the terrorists safe conduct to Tunisia. US Navy fighter jets intercepted the flight and forced it to land in Italy. Nine years later (November 30, 1994) the ship was destroyed and then sank following a fire off the coast of Somalia. - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

EU plans integrated maritime policy - BRUSSELS 10 October – The European Commission today proposed a detailed action plan for an integrated maritime policy for the EU. “Scientific discoveries, huge strides in technological development, globalisation, climate change, and marine pollution are rapidly altering Europe’s relationship with the seas and oceans, with all the opportunities and challenges that this presents,” Commission president José Manuel Barroso said today. This plan is grounded in an extensive public consultation that ended last June, and represents the work of a Steering Group of 10 Commissioners chaired by Commissioner Joe Borg (maritime policy), who spoke of “strong stakeholder support” for the Commission’s initiative. The action plan lists a range of actions to be launched during the mandate of this Commission. They include a European “Maritime Transport Space” without barriers, a European Strategy for Marine Research, national integrated maritime policies to be developed by Member States, an integrated network for maritime surveillance, a roadmap towards maritime spatial planning by Member States, elimination of pirate fishing and destructive high seas bottom trawling, promotion of a European network of maritime clusters, a review of EU labour law exemptions for the shipping and fishing sectors, a European Marine Observation and Data Network and a strategy to mitigate the effects of climate change on coastal regions. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)


Windjammer raises hopes of revival - MIAMI BEACH 9 October – WINDJAMMER Barefoot Cruises hopes to resume operations under new ownership after a severe cash crunch halted service. All cruises were cancelled last week, the cruise line’s website went dead and crew on the line’s four tall ships were temporarily stranded in the Caribbean without support. But the website came back online today, with a posted press release insisting that the company’s “heart is still beating”. According to Danny Walsh, grandson of founder Captain Michael Burke, “We are actively working with several investor groups on a viable plan.” The release also claimed that on Friday “critical payments were made to all shipboard staff and other immediate debt obligations are planned shortly”. Windjammer said that “arrangements are now underway to restart the cruises in the Caribbean and Costa Rica” and that “essential crew and staff are working to continue operations on all ships in the Windjammer inventory”. The cash crunch that halted operations last week left the tall-ship Polynesia stuck in Aruba, the Legacy in Costa Rica, the Yankee Clipper in Trinidad and Mandalay in Panama. Windjammer said today that cruises will be cancelled at least through the week of 21 October. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

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Sunday, October 14

The Tank Museum in Parola, Finland

It being Sunday in Finland, all the stores are closed (save a few small ones) as part of some idiotic law to prevent store owners from 'abusing' employees by 'forcing' them to work on Sunday. So I went off to Finland's tank museum. It is a pretty cool museum, if you like tanks, which I do. For starters, there is this cutaway tank for anyone who is interested in getting a look inside one.

The collection is full of Russian tanks

Of course there are tanks from other countries, including this WWII Sherman Tank.

There are also a couple of WWII Nazi-German Sturmgeschütz assault guns there which were purchased by Finland near the end of the war. The Finnish Defense Forces just auctioned off three hulks of the lot, which were bought by a UK dealer. (Story here.)

Then there is probably the most interesting piece of the collection, the armored train.

As you can see the weather was not the best, then again, we were the only two who were there. So this was yet another museum I have had the entire museum to myself. October is a good month for that.

Defence Forces sell off obsolete tanks at auction - Helsingin Sanomat