Monday, December 31

Maritime Monday 91

Welcome to this New Year's edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 41 here. (Published 08 January 2007)

You can find last week's edition here.

Have a Happy New Year and be sure to celebrate with a little noise.

This Weeks Photo:
This weeks photo comes from the website of The Interlake Steamship Company which has been operating on the US Great Lakes since at least 1913.




M/V James R. Barker was the first 1000-foot class vessel constructed entirely on the Great Lakes, where she was built by American Ship Building Company at Lorain, Ohio. Her self-unloading system includes three cargo hold belts and a 250-foot boom, and is capable of discharging a cargo in about eight hours. The James R. Barker is named for Interlake's President and Chairman of the Board. The ship has always been part of the Interlake Steamship fleet. - Link



The Steamer John Sherwin is one of the last straight deck (non-self-unloading) bulk cargo vessels on the Great Lakes. Named for a former chairman of Pickands Mather & Co., she was built in 1958 by American Ship Building Company, Toledo, Ohio, and has always been in the Interlake Steamship fleet. In 1973, she was lengthened by 96 feet at Fraser Shipyards, Superior, Wisconsin. The Sherwin has been in long-term layup at Superior since November 1981. - Link

That is a long time to hold onto something, yet thanks to the fresh water of the Great Lakes, it is possible to do so.

Many more photos can be found here in their photo gallery.

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has "Somalia: Puntland home of the pirates?"

Also be sure to check out Eagle Speak's weekly series "Sunday Ship History: PROJECT WHALE TALE"

Chaotic Synaptic Activity has the December 7th story of the Battleship USS OKLAHOMA Seaman First Class (and Medal of Honor recipient) James Richard Ward for his weekly series Monday Maritime Matters.

gCaptain has "Top 10 USCG Resuces of 2007 - Video"

gCaptain also has "The Queen Mary 2 - Time Lapse Video"

Tims Times covers the running aground of the WILSON GARSTON off Helsingborg, Sweden on Christmas Eve - not because the Mate on Watch was drunk, which he apparently was, but because he was asleep. Keep in mind that unless he was up there drinking on the bridge, he relieved the mate on watch in that condition, so what was that guy thinking? Perhaps he was also drunk or eager to head off to the party to get himself that way. If that was the case, why not just have the party on the bridge. (No, this is nowhere near an original idea, and yes, it is a serious suggestion.) At any rate, the mate on watch is not the only guilty party in this accident. Lets see if the investigation sees it the same way.

Bitter End has "Security Zones: A reader writes"

Bitter End also points to the Wired Magazine photo story "Aboard the Swedish Icebreaker Oden"

Cruise Talk Central has an amazing sequence of photos of the December collision between the cruiseship NORWEGIAN DREAM and a container barge.

Marine Buzz has "Rinspeed Ready to Launch Zero Emission sQuba Underwater Car" and "Global Warming takes toll of Walrus due to Stampede"

Marine Buzz also has an update to Norway's Ship Tunnel plan which includes illustrations.

The Stupid Shall Be Punished
notes the sudden passing of US Navy submariner CDR (Sel) Chris Riley. (USNA Class of 1992)

Typically Spanish has an update on the removal of the NEW FLAME still laying half-sunk off Gibraltar.

MarEx Newsletter has "President Bush Signs Marine Highway Legislation"

Tugster has the issue of "Moving Fuel" by water.

Sea * Fever has "Experiential Education: At Sea, Under Sail"

Robin Storm has "NASSG Oceanographers Guide Ships Through the Storm"

Shirlaw News Group has "Russia hands over six detained fishermen to Japan"

Cruise Bruise has another example of a passenger being removed from a cruise and being left to find their own way home in "Victim In Cruise Ship Assault Thrown Off Ship"

Cruise Bruise also covers the third cruise accident this year in the Antarctic as the MS FRAM has struck an iceberg this last Friday. But hey, it's alright, as the passengers got free drinks for the scare. Just make sure that you are not on the last cruiseship to sink down there as there won't be anyone left to save your butt.

Freight Dog has the news of the upcoming meeting of the three Cunard QUEEN oceanliners in New York Harbor this upcoming January.

Freight Dog also has some "Thoughts about APL's new 53 ft. ocean containers". Hmmm, written by a P&O Containers/PONL veteran like myself.

SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE has "Vessels Assist Disabled Container Ship Near Nantucket" as the cargoship AGAMON lies dead in the water while plying the busy Canada-Cuba trade route.

Maritime Accident Casebook predicts increasing arrests of seafarers in 2008 including for non-compliance with MARPOL Regulations.

AfricanLoft has the news "Africa's First Deep-sea Container Port Proposed for Nigeria". Hopefully this has side benefits like providing a paying customer for public utilities as one example. Of course they will need to build it first.

The Road to the Horizon has "News: Somalia - An Uphill Aid Battle" covering efforts to get aid into the country through the Port of Merka. A previous post with photos can be found here.

Click on the photo for the related photo set:

(Port - yes, Dock - no)

Pirates were just the first problem.

Toons at War covers the Disney-produced insignia for the WWII fleet re fueler USS HOUSATONIC.

Penraker has "Why Chinese Subs Are Dangerous"

WorldChanging has "Greening Shrimp" covering the first certified sustainable shrimp farm in the US and world.

The Alaska Public Radio Network has the podcast "Sustainable fisheries gaining commercial support"

Never Sea Land covers nude cruising.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

UK – report on gas carrier-yacht collision - The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) issued the report of its investigation into the collision between a gas carrier and a sailing yacht six miles ESE of Lowestoft on 16 April 2007. The incident occurred at night in heavy fog. Both vessels were proceeding at speed and neither was sounding fog signals. Both vessels detected the other on radar, but neither of the individuals on watch on the vessels fully understood or utilized the radar information. The radars on both vessels had deteriorated performance and accuracy. Fortunately, there was no loss of life and little damage as a result of this avoidable collision. Report 25/2007 (12/21/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

Ports snub Madrid on privatisation - MADRID, December 21 – Numerous Spanish port authorities have upstaged central government by approving the privatisation of stevedore companies. The movement from individual port authorities follows months of legal uncertainty over the status of stevedore companies. The Spanish government has failed to win parliamentary support to modify legislation initially approved in 2003. The implementation of legislation was postponed until 21 August 21 this year. However since then the government has tried to block any moves to implement the privatisation of stevedore companies, which is supported by both dockers and stevedore management companies. According to industry sources, the government has aimed to maintain a share in stevedore companies because it fears unions and stevedore management companies have sealed a pact between themselves to increase handling prices at ports. Earlier this week Barcelona port authority was the first port in Spain to approve the privatisation of its stevedore company Estibarna. A spokesman today said it was simply implementing the law by approving the legislation. Spain's state ports entity, Puertos del Estado has declined to comment on the issue, but Spain's shipowners association Anave, has forecast "complicated times" ahead for Spanish ports in the new year. The legal uncertainty prompted Spain's largest dock worker union, La Co-ordinadora, to launch week long strike action starting on January 14th. With parliament in recess ahead of Spain's general election of March 9 next year, the government may modify the privatisation legislation by royal decree, a political tool dating back to the era of the Franco dictatorship. - 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:
Here or click on the label below 'MaritimeMonday'.

Saturday, December 29

Thompson 2008 Update - "doing it for the right reasons"

I wrote this just yesterday:
Along with the complaints about his Senate record are some concerns that Senator Thompson has been lazy in running his campaign. This too does not wash with me. We have been dealing with an early election campaign for months now and when one of the candidates refuses to play the same game (due to laziness or not) it is seen as a flaw. That is total BS and leave no alternative for candidates other than to play follow the leader. - FFI
Now take what I wrote with CNN's Saturday's story on Presidential Candidate Thompson:
Thompson took heat for not jumping into the White House race until September — significantly later than every other candidate — and has since been criticized for his lax campaign style and often-times light schedule.

The former actor has criticized his rivals for launching their presidential bids months ahead of his, and continually touts the fact he hasn't harbored presidential ambitions his whole career. - CNN
So there you go.

Now there is an additional comment in here that makes Thompson even more of a candidate of choice, the fact that he has not had a life-long ambition for the job:
"I am not consumed by personal ambition," Thompson also said Saturday. "I'm offering myself up."

"I'm only consumed by a few things and politics is not one of them." - CNN
This is a good thing because those who have had a life-long ambition for the White House also have a lifetime's worth of IOUs they have doled out to everyone who has helped them climb the political ladder in pursuit of their all-important-lifelong-goal of getting into the White House. Our Mr. Thompson has not suffered from a life-long dream of getting into the White House and as a result has not been burdened with political connections that will effect good decision making by a Chief Executive. You see, that is what happens in politics; Good choices are not picked, because some of the people who are responsible for getting you where you are, don't want you to make those choices. That can be see everywhere in our Government and most clearly in the thousands of earmarks Congress just showered on behalf of their 'friends'.

All the more reason to pick a candidate who says something like this:
“I’m not particularly interested in running for president," the former senator said at a campaign event in Burlington when challenged by a voter over his desire to be commander-in-chief.

“But I think I’d make a good president," Thompson continued. "I have the background, capability, and concern to do this and I’m doing it for the right reasons." - CNN
Now he could have stretched the truth, or outright lied when answering the question, but he gave a truthful answer. He didn't deflect it, or ignore it, or tried to spin it without giving an answer. another nice thing about Thompson is that if you asked him this question again, I bet he would give the same answer.

Now others will take the quote and use it out of context. At least the press has not been to competent lately too do much damage with it.

Thompson 2008 - FFI 28 Dec 2007

---- ----

Battlestar Galactica Season Cliffhanger Available Online

While I don't talk about Battlestar Galactica here, I am a huge fan. So I have been waiting for season three to come available on DVD, which for some reason has not done so already. Imagine my surprise to find the last five episodes of Season Three available online, including the cliffhanger ending. The website they are posted on is called Hulu:
Hulu's ambitious and never-ending mission is to help you find and enjoy the world's premium content when, where and how you want it. We hope to provide you with the web's most comprehensive selection of premium programming across all genres and formats – television shows, feature films, clips, and more. Additionally, we want to give you more choices of when and where you can enjoy your favorite programming, while creating innovative experiences that let you watch and participate in online video in new and exciting ways. -

The website is currently in Beta testing, but at the moment you can sign up on their homepage, provided you are in the United States, or at least appear to them to be.

There is a treasure trove of programs available there, including the Original Battlestar Gallactica, 'EMERGENCY!', Bionic Woman, Buck Rogers, Miami Vice and Lost in Space among many others. They also have a couple movies, both old and new posted there, including Miracle on 34th St, Weekend at Bernie's, Master and Commander, Conan the Barbarian and the Blues Brothers.

So go check out the site as there is bound to be something there that you like. The playback is pretty slick and best of all it's free. (Click the embeds below to play. Not sure if they will work outside the US, but add a comment if they do.)

Crossroads - Part 1

Crossroads - Part 2


Friday, December 28

Thompson 2008

Thompson. Fred Thompson.

As I see it, Mr. Thompson is the most appealing candidate running for President of the United States.

Sure, there are complaints out there that he has an undistinguished Senate record, but come on, have you seen the crap coming out of the US Senate? His excuse was that he was busy killing bad legislation. Sounds good to me. We need more of that. Anyway, maybe the next President of the US should take things a little slower. The world is expert at inaction and constantly hounds us for not only intervening, but intervening the wrong way. Fine, let them not deal with the world's problems.

Along with the complaints about his Senate record are some concerns that Senator Thompson has been lazy in running his campaign. This too does not wash with me. We have been dealing with an early election campaign for months now and when one of the candidates refuses to play the same game (due to laziness or not) it is seen as a flaw. That is total BS and leave no alternative for candidates other than to play follow the leader. So let's play devil's advocate for a second and say that Fred Thompson is lazy. So what. As I mentioned above, isn't the US always being criticized for being the one to overreact? Doesn't the Government mess up everything it gets involved in at home? So maybe we would be better off with a President who is a little 'lazy'. This might actually give us time to fix what is wrong and give the laws in place time to have an effect on what they were passed for in the first place.

Now the timing of this post has been driven by a call for a Blogburst in support of Fred to open up the flow of money to help get Fred's message out. I am not one for donating to politicians, and at the moment 'donating' $100 towards retiring some of my debt will do more good to me than giving it to a politician. However, everyone's situation is different and you are welcome to follow the links below to donate to the cause. [UPDATE: See the donation widget below. I have just done a first and donated $25 to Fred's cause.] Oddly enough, it is the lack of massive amounts of major donors that is a strong selling point in that he has not sold himself out to special interests, at least not yet. Sure, that kind of money is sure to follow later provided he does well in the opening states, but in that case the influence of the donations is much diminished.

The Republicans seems to have a pretty poor lineup this go around. Fred, while not the media machine like Clinton, still marches forward, appears to be the real deal and that is good enough for me because in the end he will make decisions on what is best, not what the polls say he should. I guess Romney could be an OK backup choice with McCain (Who is also real but nobody seems to like what he stands for) as a safety. Some people seem to have a problem with voting for a Mormon, but I have more of a problem voting for the fake Gun Rights Advocate (Giuliani) and the fake Bible Thumper (Huckabee). I am no fan of the Mormans but don't see why one can't be elected President. Plus it pisses off the anti-Morman block, which is one thing that Thompson's vote does not provide. However, that palls in comparison to the benefits I think a Fred Presidency will bring (as pissing off the religious right will not make this a better country) if for no reason other than to put the brakes on bad Government.

(Note: Donation widget removed on 22 Jan 08)

More here:
Why Fred’s the Best - California Conservative


UPDATE: 29 Dec 2007
See my new post here.

Also, click on the label below for more on 2008:

Tuesday, December 25

Merry Christmas 2007!

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Exploring around the tree at Grandma & Grandpa's house

This tree limb fell Sunday night minutes after my brother and his fiance walked under it. Oddly enough, nobody heard it fall, including him. So that answers one question; Falling trees alone make no noise. In a sort of early Christmas present, My brother, whose car is parked here 99% of the time, was out doing last-minute Christmas shopping. I had moved our car from in front where it is normally parked. I moved it because I was concerned that someone would hit it coming around the turn. It might not look it, but that tree limb was really heavy. We would have been dealing with one-two totaled cars had they been under it at the final moment. The tree blocked the road, so that night we cleared it out of the way. Christmas eve morning was spent turning it into firewood. Luckily, in addition to guns, most Americans also have easy access to chainsaws. That a couple saws, and a little physical labor made short work of this mess.

Brother's 10 footer

My brother and fiance went to upstate NY to cut their own tree. So your looking at what was the biggest tree on the highway. I understand that other drivers were suffering from tree envy. (If I remember correctly, it cost $35.)

Finally, here is a shot of the coolest Christmas card I didn't get this year.

Our Christmas has been great. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas as well!

Monday, December 24

Maritime Monday 90

Welcome to this Christmas Week edition of Maritime Monday.

You can find Maritime Monday 40 here. (Published 1 January 2007)

You can find last week's edition here.

This Weeks Photo:
Sorry, no photo this week. It is a victim of a fallen tree, a frozen computer and a couple empty bottles of California Champagne.

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak covers the US Navy's actions off Africa in "Somalia: Pirate Crackdown"

Also be sure to check out Eagle Speak's weekly series "Sunday Ship History: The Heroes of Wake Island"

The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal has "Why TR Claimed the Seas - The importance of a strong Navy."

David Osler at the Lloyd's List Newsroom Blog comments on the possibility of the global credit crunch effecting ship finance. (Note: No Registration or subscription required to read their blog)

The MarEx NEwsletter has "The MarEx Mind Reader: All I Want for Christmas is . . ."

gCaptain points to some animated shiphandling techniques.

gCaptain also has comments on the recently released report on the EMPRESS OF THE NORTH grounding, which places blame on the deck officer on watch.

Professional Mariner has "Crown Princess officer was 'a bit nervous'"

Never Sea Land has an amazing photo of an ice-covered yacht that has to be seen to be believed.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher is blogging from the Greenpeace vessel ESPERANZA as it chases after the Japanese whaling fleet.

Captain Geir-Arne's Photo Gallery has shipyard photos of what will be the SEABOURN ODYSSEY.

Here is an extensive photo essay of an Eskimo whalehunt. (Found via Messing About In Sailboats) I think the planet would not have as much a problem with the Japanese hunting whales if they did it like this. Check this one last and just let the photos stream to your monitor.

American Shipper has "If a silent ship alert is activated, who would hear it?"

Tims Times talks about the first non-nuclear icebreaker to make it to the North Pole.

Maritime Accident Casebook has "The Case Of The Tongues of Fire"

IMC Brokers has video of "ITC tugs ‘Sumatras’ and ‘Sirocco’ towing a VLCC"

Chaotic Synaptic Activity covers the story of Medal of Honor recipient Admiral Issac C. Kidd, Sr. USN in his weekly series Monday Maritime Matters.

SAILORS, MARINERS & WARRIORS LEAGUE covers the rescue of the crew of a Russian Cargo ship with photos in "12 Rescued From Russian Ship Stranded In Arctic"

Never Sea Land has the first reported attempted act of piracy in the UK since the 1820's.

Indian Shipping News has "Indian yards still talk expansion despite subsidy uncertainties"

Robin Storm has "Saved from the Angry Atlantic". Be sure to check out the photo near the end.

Sea * Fever has "FotoFriday - Christmas Is Coming"

Marine Buzz covers Norway's plans to build the world's first tunnel for shipping traffic.

Marine Buzz also has "California goes for Commercial Wave Power"

Bellona has "Nerpa shipyard sent reactor compartments to dry storage facility"

By now, everyone knows about the Ice Roads, but have you heard about ice tramways? Go to English Russia to find out.

The Horse's Mouth has photos of kite-assisted boats.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

Hearing on oil spills from non-tank vessels - On December 18, the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries & Coast Guard of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation conducted a hearing on Oil Spills from Non-Tank Vessels. Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) noted the success of OPA 90 in reducing spills from tank vessels, but noted that the incidence of spills from non-tank vessels have not declined as much, asking whether standards for these vessels should be strengthened. Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant, US Coast Guard, discussed efforts to make fuel tanks on vessels less susceptible to damage and proposed increasing the limit of liability for damages caused by oil spills from non-tank vessels. Ms. Mary Glackin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed the agency’s role in oil spill response. Ms. Susan Fleming, Government Accountability Office (GAO), recommended that the Coast Guard determine whether liability limits should be changed by vessel type and submit a report to Congress. Mr. Mike Cooper, Washington Oil Spill Advisory Council, recommended that the federal government delegate additional authority to the various states to reduce the risk of oil spills. Mr. William Deaver, Totem Ocean Trailer Express, explained steps taken in the design, construction, and operation of the company’s ships to reduce the risk of pollution. Dr. Dagmar Etkin, Environmental Research Consulting, discussed ways to reduce the risk of oil spills. She also noted that it is rare that more than 25% of spilled oil is recovered. (12/18/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

Arison warns of US cabotage plan - MIAMI 20 December – Carnival chairman Micky Arison believes a new US cabotage plan would force his brands to reroute and “put some ports out of business”. During a conference call, Arison was asked about potential fallout from a Customs & Border Protection (CBP) proposal to require a 48-hour foreign port call for US-homeported, foreign-flag cruise voyages that stop at one other US port. If the rule is limited to the Hawaii trade, Arison said the CBP rule “would be devastating for Los Angeles and particularly for San Diego 2E” If the rule is applied country-wide, “it would be devastating for Seattle and Key West and will affect other ports”. In all cases, he explained, Carnival brands could switch to a different itinerary to comply with the new rule. In the case of Hawaii, Carnival brands “could not continue to operate California-to-Hawaii cruises” but could switch to an Ensenada homeport. If Seattle-to-Alaska cruises require an excessively long Canada call, Carnival brands could switch from a Seattle to Vancouver homeport. “This would really be felt by US ports – and it would put some ports out of business,” he warned of the rule proposal, which is now being aggressively challenged by the cruise lobby and US port sector. - 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:
Here or click on the label below 'MaritimeMonday'.

Thursday, December 20

One Map - Two Worlds

Here is a consolidated map of visitors to FFI on the 19th of December.

First, I am very thankful to receive so many visitors. Take a good look at the pattern on the map. Most visitors are coming from the first-world. Sure, there are no visitors from Australia marked on this map, but I know that there are people in Australia who regular read FFI and according to my Stat Counter, Australians are #4 in visitors to the site. (Thanks much!) But look at Russia and China. They are two huge black holes. Africa and South America are not that much better off. But I know that I do get more visitors from Africa than I do from Russia. Than again, half the visitors from Nigeria end up here because they are looking for information on the Rose Household Textiles scam. (Hey Nigerians, ask the guy on the computer next to you about it!)

Now some may be thinking that the lack of visitors from some parts of the world might be due to their home languages not being English. Well that is certainly possible and most likely a symptom, but lack of access to the internet is probably as big a problem. But let's think about the language problem. Maybe the inability to speak English is keeping the third-world stuck where it is. (We will forget about those third-world countries that do use English.) Take this from a story about the richest Muslim in India:

A Muslim school a half-hour's drive from Mr. Premji's Bangalore home reveals the chasm between this globalist success story and the country's Muslim masses. Students sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Masjid e Takwa madrassa spend their days memorizing the Quran in Arabic -- a language that neither they nor their teacher understand.

The classes are taught in Urdu, a tongue that's largely confined to Muslims and uses the Arabic script. There is no science in the curriculum. Neither is there English, the language in which Wipro conducts business and interviews job applicants, as it looks for Westernized staff who can deal with international customers. - Wall Street Journal

This is an education that is setting up children to fail. Educations like this are the reason why no amount of effort manages to lift the third-world from the hole that it is in. Throwing money at this problem is not going to fix the situation, unless the money is used to take the children away from their parents and put them in schools that teach them how to read, write and understand math, and teach them English as well. (It is suggested that Russian President Putin has stolen over $40 billion from his country. Why should we replace that money? Not only that, the Russian Government is swimming in money. Money is not the problem, convincing Russia and other third-world Governments to invest in their populations is.)

There is no reason why there should be two worlds. Unfortunately, until the UN gets down to addressing the root causes, this is not going to change at all.

How a Muslim Billionaire Thrives in Hindu India - WSJ
Google News Search linking to the full article, in case you get a preview view through the link above.


Wednesday, December 19

Three Year blogiversary

Today is the third anniversary for this Blog. Actually it has kind of morphed into two. On the one hand, I post comments and opinions on whatever comes to my mostly-conservative mind. Then each Monday I try to post a roundup of maritime related news and events in my weekly 'Maritime Monday'. I do try to keep the two sections from mixing. Next Monday, Christmas Eve, I will post edition 90, as the series heads towards its own two- years in publication.

I guess the biggest change in my life since I started is that I am now a dad of 2. The first one showed up in early 2005, which explains a lack of posting right after I started. The second one arrived about six months ago. Let's just say that I am still adjusting from the life that I had to the one that I have now. This is not a complaint, just a statement of fact.

Anyway onward into year 4!

- Fred Fry International -

- SINCE 2004 -

Omnibus Spending Bill Earmarks - $78.36 From Each Of Us

So Congress has passed the Omnibus spending bill and apparently once the differences between the House and Senate versions are hammered out, and expecting that the revised bills are passed again, it will be signed by the President.

Too bad.

There is so much wrong with this Bill, from weakening the border fence to paying close to $200 million to pay for debt counseling, which payment for by those being counseled should be lesson one in the value of money. Then there are the earmarks. Thousands of earmarks. There are many things wrong with our Government and earmarks is the perfect example of that. We are burdened with paying for earmarks because the Congressmen we elect stab us in the back to payoff their political contributors, friends, family and themselves. In a bill like this that forces much of the earmarks to be concentrated in one place, it gives you a good idea how much this is costing each of us.

According to the Heritage Foundation's Omnibusting site, the Omnibus Spending Bill contains $23,508,442,253 in Earmarks, better known by most people as 'Pork Projects.'

Divided up between the 300 million Americans, the earmarks in this bill cost each of us $78.36. Since I am the only wage earner in my family of four, this one bill will cost me next year $313.45.

That's like the Government pulling an extra dollar out of my pocket AFTER they took their taxes out of me. I consider it an extra dollar as this is money that is completely wasted and really should either not have been collected, or used to pay off the deficient and hopefully the debt. Hell, how about earmarking a little less and use this money to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) that they kept promising to do. It looks like they finally will, but check out how hard it became to find money to do something that will actually benefit Americans.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The congressional struggle over how to protect millions of middle-class people from getting soaked by the alternative minimum tax this year entered its final stage Tuesday as the Senate rejected a House demand that the $50 billion in tax relief be paid for.

The Senate voted 48-46 for the House-passed bill, well short of the 60 needed to advance the measure to shield 21 million from an average AMT bill of $2,000. The measure would have covered the cost of the lost revenue by closing a loophole on offshore tax havens.

With that vote, the House was scheduled to vote Wednesday on a Senate-passed measure that fixes the AMT for a year but provides no offsets to pay for it. - AP

These congressmen have all sorts of time to fund all sorts of money for pork-barrel projects, yet when it comes to doing one thing for Americans, their response is F-you.

Now you might be thinking that $78.36 ($313.45) is not much. Well that is exactly how they get away with it. They are grabbing Billions because each Congressman is not grabbing that much. They are counting on you not to care. This way they can get away with this theft again next year. That is what this is, legalized stealing from the American People.

Note: Drunken sailors spend their own money. Congress is spending your money as if it were theirs.

Earmark Totals - Heritage Foundation's 'Omnibusting'

$20 billion in pork = $66 Each = AMT Fix - 18 Nov
Murtha in My Pocket - 14 Aug
Alaska Screws over Rural Residents in Quest for Pork - 4 May

Monday, December 17

Maritime Monday 89

Welcome to this Fred Fry International 3-Year Anniversary Edition of Maritime Monday. (My first blog post was on 19 December 2004 and can be found here "Seeing things in Black and white instead of in shades of gray.")

You can find Maritime Monday 39 here. (Published 25 December 2006)

You can find last week's edition here.

This Weeks Photo:
This weeks photo comes from the Picasa web album of 'Ping' who snapped photos during his tour of Evergreen Marine's M/V EVER SAFETY.

The bridge is pretty large with duplicated controls on the port and starboard side to make life easier when docking and entering/exiting port - 'Ping'

You can see all his tour photos here including a couple looking down at the cargo operations.

Marine Link has more on the ship in "Ever Safety Launched in Japan"

This Weeks Items:

Eagle Speak has "Latest ONI Worldwide Threats to Shipping Report (to 12 Dec 07)" which includes coverage of the latest Greenpeace and Sea Shepard anti whaling and other protest/terror activities.

Also be sure to check out Eagle Speak's weekly series "Sunday Ship History: “Little Giants” - the Escort Carriers"

Hawaii Reporter covers the return of Hawaii Superferry service by taking a ride on the vessel.

Chaotic Synaptic Activity in his Monday Maritime Matters has the story of WWII Medal of Honor recipient SP5 Eric G. Gibson, who is also honored by the US Navy who named the MV SP5 ERIC G. GIBSON (T-AK 5091) after him.

NPR has a radio report on the first Japanese attack against the US during WWII. It happened in December, 1939 when the Japanese sank the USS PANAY while it was stationed in China. Wikipedia has a summary here. Also hit during that day were the Royal Navy's HMS LADYBIRD and HMS BEE. More at the Internet Archive.

I look at the City of San Francisco's COSCO BUSAN lawsuit. They are suing 100 people who they only name 'DOE'. So there might be 100 people who aren't sure if they are being sued or not, but if you were part of the crew, one of the tug captains, vessel agent, line handler or other person who breathed the name of this ship before the accident, you might want to claim one of those 'coveted' DOE positions and counter sue. That might force the city to either name you or exclude you from being named later. But for the moment, lots of people have targets on their backs.

gCaptain has some video giving good looks into ships in "A Video Tour Of Basic Tanker Ops" and the Discovery Channel's "Extreme Engineering - Container Ships"

EU Referendum covers the European Court of Justice's ruling on the right of a company to reflag within the EU against the right of worker's unions to act against the company in "Social dumping OK!". The company involved was Viking Line and the ship was the ferry M/V ROSELLA.

Robin Storm catches a break from work just long enough to post "EEs explain rogue waves"

Canada Free Press has clarification on the disappearing Arctic Ice Cap Story. Turns out the sky is falling/ice is melting story was completely distorted to benefit the Global Warming econuts. (Found at EU Referendum)

gCaptain also looks at watchstanding with "The Most Dangerous Hour In Shipping". After you read that, take a look at my post "DANICA WHITE Hijacking - 'Minimum Safe Manning' Partly to Blame" which also looks at watchstanding and manning levels and how they contributed to the ship's hijacking.

Maritime Accident Casebook also comments on the case with "The Danica White and The Pirates - All That Was Missing Was A Welcome Mat"

You can find the English translation of the DANICA WHITE piracy report here.

Maritime Accident Casebook also has a follow-up to his "The Case Of The Electric Assassin" with shocking news that almost the exact same accident, costing two more lives, happened on a sister ship. Go read it and make sure it does not happen to you. Land-lubbers should read it as well, because you never know when/if you'll encounter an enclosed space. Sailors should know, yet these deaths keep happening.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has "Chamber Opposes Retroactive Tax Hike on U.S. Flagged Ocean Carriers" Fairplay comments on how Congress tried to back-door this tax hike: "The surreptitious move by Democrat Rep Charles Rangel was uncovered earlier this week in a usually obscure piece of legislation meant to repair errors in previously passed bills." Nothing is a nice as defining a tax-break as an error, right Charles? Surely he did not act alone. Who else knew?

Miami Herald has 'passenger outrage' on the NORWEGIAN DREAM after the ship struck an adrift barge. Guess they really would have been pissed had the ship sunk! Part of the problem is that some of the passengers are demanding a full refund and the cruise line has offered just over half. Maybe someone should tell them that they are entitled to almost nothing. Sea * Fever comments on the story and shares a similar personal experience dealing with passengers that just have to go, damn the circumstances. Go read it.

MarEx Newsletter has "Perfect Visibility: Marine Pilots Receive Renewed Scrutiny" which includes the following:

The recent spate of criminal actions brought against mariners everywhere is old news. It is a reminder, however, that going to sea in 2007 is a far more complicated proposition today than it was just thirty years ago. [Note by Fred: Same goes for just 15 years ago!] In this regulatory climate, it is not surprising that so many mariners are choosing not to go to sea and that shipping companies are moaning about not only the lack of mariners, but also the lack of fully qualified professionals. And now, in the choppy wake of the Cosco Busan allision, it certainly appears that the legal focus on marine pilots will be ramped up considerably, as well. (Go read the rest here)

Seattle PI has more anchor troubles for the ALASKAN NAVIGATOR. This is the same ship that lost its anchor last year.

Bitter End has comments on interaction between ships and boats with suggestions on how ships can make encounters safer for boaters. Of course it is best for boaters to stand clear. It is much easier to do that if you know where the clear areas are!

Tims Times has one of the biggest dangers to seafarers in "Don’t go ashore there".

CDR Salamander is the latest to comment on the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Dark Roasted Blend has photos and video of "Ships vs. Big Waves" (h/t to Never Sea Land)

So, your Navy's only aircraft carrier is undergoing an overhaul, what do you do for at-sea flight training? Well if you are France, you make arrangements to get some planes deployed on the USS ROOSEVELT. Steeljaw Scribe has the details and photo here.

Tugster has great photos of the C-Class containership OSLO EXPRESS.

Sea * Fever has "Popular Mechanics Thinks Being a Merchant Marine Captain is Cool!"

Marine Buzz has "Oil Spill by Offshore Platform Statfjord A in North Sea, Norway"

IMC Brokers has "Owners challenge EU exemption for towage"

The Monitor has "Korean built cruise ships coming soon". You can almost hear the shipyards in Europe dying, as specialized ships were their defense against the cheaper Asian shipyards.

Maritime Calamities has "Algeria-Bound Ferry Evacuated After Bomb Alert"

Neptunus Lex covers an emergency appendectomy on a US Aircraft Carrier on a passenger who had started his day on a cruiseship.

Never Sea Land has "Outriggers of Waikiki"

Blog Japan attends the Mitsui shipyard launch of the AFRICAN KOOKABURRA and takes a couple pictures.

Years of planning has failed to address a very important issue concerning opening a new cargo terminal. Helsingin Sanomat covers the story in "Vuosaari harbour transport needs could cause major traffic jams on Ring Road". This is not to say that they overlooked the issue of traffic coming into and out of the terminal. They just did not look far out enough. Why didn't the effected communities try to address this problem earlier?

The Pilot Boat has "Rope Splicing"

Castle Argghhh has a photo of recently released GOLDEN NORI, which was being held by pirates off Somalia, as it is refueled by the USS WHIDBEY ISLAND.

Maritime Compass has coverage of where to find some classic knitting patterns for sailors and soldiers. If this is your sort of thing, how about knitting a watch cap?

Shipping Times (UK) has "RFA LARGS BAY foils drug smugglers" They are operating in the Caribbean.

I did not know whether to lead with this story or not, so for those who make it this far, here is an odd story at Maritime Accident Casebook where the Canadian Authorities have taken a seafarer off a ship after finding porn on his USB stick and have charged him with a crime. Go read about the stiff fine that he faces. While it surely is amusing on the surface, it is a serious matter. Lets face it, lots of sailors have porn in their staterooms. I have heard, but not seen, that some sailors even cover their bulkheads with it. On my first ship, one of my duties was to collect the crew's porn prior to arriving in the UK, because they had an issue if they found it, including porn that was purchased in the UK! (Each seafarer who had porn that they wanted 'secured' would place it in an envelope with their name on it. It would then be locked in the ship's store while in port.) To be actively looking for it seems absurd. Why single out sailors? This would only be fair if they were also searching each person arriving by plane as well.

Haight's Maritime Items has:

Bill introduced to prevent maritime emergencies - Senator Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Maritime Emergency Prevention Act of 2007 (S. 2430) to prevent maritime emergencies, and for other purposes. This bill, if enacted, would authorize the USCG Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) to command the person directing movement of a vessel to modify the speed or direction of the vessel in an emergency. It would also require federally licensed pilots to use laptop navigation computers, where practicable and necessary. Senator Boxer also issued a news release discussing the proposed legislation. Note: Turning the ship navigation concept on its head will require more than an Act of Congress and should not be undertaken in haste. Also, the laptop computer requirement should apply to state-licensed pilots, if at all. (12/6/07). - Dennis Bryant Holland & Knight homepage (Used with Permission)

Fairplay Daily News has:

Sweden angry at Baltic death traps - STOCKHOLM 12 December – Sweden’s Maritime Safety Inspectorate has called on all foreign-flagged Baltic ro-ro ferries to shut their watertight compartments while at sea to prevent another Estonia disaster, reports the Swedish weekly Ny Teknik. The doors of the compartments in several Finnish, Lithuanian and Estonian vessels do not have waterproof power sources. The inspectorate says it is vital that electrical power sources for doors on older ferries built before 1992 are waterproof to the highest SOLAS classification. But it is facing stiff opposition from operators and its Finnish equivalent. “The requirement for waterproofing these components is a footnote in SOLAS and merely a recommendation,” retorted Bo Fagerholm, inspector and stability expert at the Finnish Maritime Safety Inspectorate. He maintains it is sufficient for Finnish bridge crews to immediately press the “all-doors-button” once an accident has occurred to prevent water from entering a ship in the first place. But when the Stena Nautica collided with cargo ship Joanna in February 2002, panic on the bridge delayed this action by three minutes. Water leaking in from the resulting hull breach then short-circuited the watertight compartment doors. Estonia’s Fantaasia, Lithuania’s Regina Baltica and Vana Tallin, as well as Viking Line’s Mariella have been hauled up by the inspectorate on this safety breach in the past two months. It remains unclear what role the doors to Estonia’s watertight compartment played when it sank in 1994. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)


Viking wins landmark EU labour case - LUXEMBOURG 12 December – The European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of the Finnish ferry company Viking Line in a long-running dispute with trade unions over reflagging one of ships to Estonia in 2003. It has been regarded as a landmark case as it concerns the right of trade union members to strike if a ship is being transferred from one EU flag to another. The dispute arose as the Finnish Seamen’s Union and ITF threatened Viking Line with strikes and blockades if it flagged the 1980-built Rosella from Finland to Estonia and replaced its Finnish crew with Estonians, which it said are up to 60% cheaper than Finns. Finnish crew were offered jobs on the company’s other ships. The Court agreed with Viking that the strike and blockade could be seen as efforts to prevent a company from doing business in the country of its choice in the EU. It also said that strikes and blockades by unions to prevent the reflagging of a vessel from one EU member state to another is only justified if all other avenues to find a desired solution, in this case a reduction in crewing costs, have already been exhausted. Estonian seafarers have confirmed to Viking Line that Finnish seamen earn twice as much as they do, which means that it is not possible to compete, according to Viking. - Fairplay Homepage (Used with Permission)

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Sunday, December 16

DANICA WHITE Hijacking - 'Minimum Safe Manning' Partly to Blame

The English translation to the DANICA WHITE hijacking is now available. As previously mentioned, the ship's crew is partly to blame for the incident, as they failed to maintain a proper watch:
If there had been proper lookout from DANICA WHITE, the pirate boats could have been spotted app. 30 minutes before they reached DANICA WHITE. However, due to the slow speed of the ship, DANICA WHITE could not have sailed away from the pirates, but the crew would have been able to raise the alarm in time and shown the pirates that they had been spotted. (6.5) - DMA (page 5)
Here is a list of who was on the ship. The ship had an absurdly low crew of five:

That's it. Two Captains, two Ordinary Seamen (OS) (an entry-level position which requires little more than a heartbeat) and a cook to feed them. No experienced crew. No Able-bodied Seaman (AB) for the Ordinary Seamen to learn from. No Bosun to oversee them, no time for the Captain or Mate to supervise them, other than when they were on the bridge, no additional watchstanding officer to keep working time on the bridge to eight hours a day per officer, leaving four hours of overtime available for other activities and no engineers to maintain the machinery or to figure out any problems if the ship's engine or generator decide to stop working on it's own.

Here is how the work was organized on the ship:
Normally, DANICA WHITE had a crew of 6 men, the master, the mate, three OSs and one cook.

The sea watch on board was arranged in such a way that the master and the mate had a 6 – 6 hours schedule as the navigators on duty. Two out of the three OSs also had similar 6 – 6 hours schedule as lookout man/helmsman. OS 3 was a day man and did not take the sea watch. The OS on duty worked with the day man within normal working hours (08 – 17).

In port, the OSs kept an entrance log at the gangway. (Page 16)
Basically, this ship did not have enough crew to maintain a proper lookout. In my experience, Ordinary Seaman just don't count. Sure they contribute, but that is not exactly their purpose, especially when it comes to contributing to a bridge lookout.
An Ordinary Seaman (OS) is an unlicensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The position is an apprenticeship to become an Able Seaman, and has been for centuries. In modern times, an OS is required to work on a ship for a specific amount of time, gaining what is referred to as "sea time." Once a sufficient amount of sea time is acquired, the OS can apply to take a series of courses, and then a series of examinations to become certified as an able seaman.

An OS is generally not required to stand watch, but must pass examinations on watchstanding skills such as performing lookout duty and being a helmsman. Thus an OS will often be found on a ship's bridge after working hours taking a turn at the ship's wheel or being familiarized with bridge equipment.

During the apprenticeship, an OS performs a variety of duties concerned with the operation and upkeep of deck department areas and equipment. These duties vary with the type of ship, the type of voyage, the number of crewmembers, the weather, the supervisor, and any number of other variables. However, in most cases, one can expect an ordinary seaman to clean, to perform maintenance, to work with deck equipment, and to undergo on-the-job-training under the supervision of senior deck department members. - Wikipedia
It is nice to have them onboard to do the menial tasks, so that the able-bodied seaman can take care of other things, or give them an extra set of hands to take care of larger tasks. So, this ship really had a crew of two. (The equivalent position in the engine room is 'Wiper'. Can you guess the type of he he does?) To prove my point that you can't count on ordinaries to safely mann the ship, take a look at what happened on this ship:
On 12/5 at 1810, the following has been entered into DANICA WHITE’s logbook:

“OS XXX leaves the watch – does not wish to keep a lookout – believes that he is entitled to sit down.”

On 13/5 at 1000, the following has been entered: “no lookout”.

On 21/5, shortly after DANICA WHITE left Sharjah, one of the OSs was signed off due to illness. After this, only two OSs were left on board.

Subsequently, the master decided to stop the OSs’ sea watch. According to him, this decision was taken on basis of the fact that he did not want further discussions with the two OSs, who did not want to carry out the sea watch in addition to the cleaning and keeping up the maintenance of the deck. (Pages 16-17)
So as far as the Captain and Mate were concerned, it was better to have nobody on the bridge than have any of the three OS up there. This is how the Master ended up on watch alone when the ship was taken by the pirates, although one could probably take the position that he was still alone up there, even with the ordinaries standing watch:
Before Sharjah, the two OSs participated in the sea watch as lookouts or helmsmen according to fixed schedule where the OS 1 had the watch from 00-06 and from 12-18 with the mate and OS 2 from 06-12 and from 18-24 with the master. OS 3 was the day man. They took turns every month.

At one point, the day man replaced OS 2 (OS 4), because the master did not get along with OS 2.

The OS on duty, worked with the day man within normal working hours (08-17). Therefore, it was only outside normal working hours that the ordinary seamen ran the bridge watch. The ordinary seamen received a contractual wage increase for the time spent on watch.

After leaving Sharjah, the master cancelled the OSs’ sea watch, because they did not wish to run the sea watch and do work on deck and because the Master did not want any more arguments with them. Also the mate did not think there was a need for an OS on the lookout. (Page 10)
So, according to the above point, even if the OS were still standing watch, the Captain probably still would have been caught alone as the OS on watch would have been doing work elsewhere during the day. This is not an uncommon practice. I am used to watches having two ABs assigned to each watch where during the day with one working on deck with the Bosun. (I did sail on one ship that had only three AB's and a Bosun.)
The pirates did not believe that there were only 5 men on board. (Page 11)
I too find it hard to believe. It would be nice to see a copy of the minimum safe manning certificate issued to this ship, but the authorities thought better not to include it in the report. This is about all that the report mentions concerning this issue:
6.3 The Watch

According to DANICA WHITE’s Minimum Safe Manning, the crew must consist of at least one Master, one chief officer and two ordinary seamen.

Furthermore, the ship normally has one OS and one cook on board.

With three ordinary seamen on board, it is possible, in relation to the resting hours regulations, to let two of the ordinary seamen be on a 6-6 hour sea watch as navigators, and let the third OS operate as day man for the cleaning and run-down work on deck.

During the actual sailing, there were only two OSs on board because the third had been signed off due to illness shortly before departure.

With two ordinary seamen on board, it was still possible, in relation to the resting hours regulations, to let one OS take the lookout watch in the dark hours and also to clean the ship.

During DANICA WHITE’s passage off the coast of Somalia, a sail of 8 – 9 days and nights should have established an increased lookout, as recommended in MSC/Circ.623, and as stated in the ship’s procedure for piracy under the wording “Stay alert”. This could have been done with two OSs on board, however the time to do any other work would have been very limited, if the resting time regulations were to be observed. (Pages 21-22 )

During this sailing, only the navigator on duty was on the bridge because the Master had decided that the OSs were not to take the sea watch. The navigator on duty was therefore the only one on the lookout, also in the dark and no increased lookout had been established, even though the sailing took place in an area where there is a risk of pirate attack. Lastly, the Master was alone on the bridge during the pirate attack, occupied with other things than the sailing of the ship and the lookout.

Under these circumstances, the watch on DANICA WHITE was insufficient. (Pages 21-22)
But the report makes no mention of whether the Minimum Safe Manning Certificate contributed to this problem by not requiring more than four crewmembers, of which one was the Captain who was forced to stand watch, one watchstanding officer and two entry-level seaman. With only four seafarers required to be onboard, the maximum available for any one watch would have been 2.

Here is what the Danish Maritime Authority has to say about Minimum Safe Manning:


All passenger ships, cargo ships of 20 gross tonnage or more, and cargo ships of less than 20 gross tonnage engaged in international trade, must have a Minimum Safe Manning Document. In Denmark each Minimum Safe Manning Document is issued to the individual ship. A shipping company may also apply for a preliminary decision on minimum safe manning before registering in the Danish International Ship Register (DIS). Contact the Danish Maritime Authority’s Centre for Seafarers and Fishermen for further information on e-mail: - DMA

Shipping companies will often go shopping around to get the minimum safe manning certificate they want. (So while I might be picking on the Danes, they are not the only ones who issue questionable MSM certificates. You would think though that they would know better.) I would love to know how this ship's Minimum Safe Manning certificate did not include any requirement for experienced unlicensed bridge crew or any engineering staff. It's not like this ship was operating in coastal Europe; it was traveling to Africa and to North and South America. Even if the Captain also had an engineering license, there is no time for him to spend in the engine room with all of his time dedicated to standing watch. (There is no evidence he did have any engineering certification. The issue is that the ship was not required to carry any engineering personnel.)

Here is a summary of how to determine the minimum safe manning for a vessel.

Now you might think, 'sure this is only the minimum crew requirements, the ship operator will surely place additional crew onboard, as was the case here'. My answer to that is how often do you do more than the minimum? Do you ever pay more than the sticker price for an item? This ship was sailing with the minimum as the cook is not included in the MSM certificate. The ship operator could have replaced the cook with frozen dinners and a microwave if it wanted to, but opted not to.

So while the report mentions that the ship should have had an increased lookout, it completely ignores the fact that there was nobody on board to increase the lookout with! At best, the Captain could have put the OSs back on watch where they should have been in the first place. While the initial news reports faulted the crew, after reading the translated report I suspect that the blame should be extended to the Danish Maritime Administration for issuance of a MSM certificate that resulted in the ship being insufficiently manned as they state in their own report. In my opinion, this ship was not only improperly manned for sea, but also for entering and leaving port as well. There is no indication on whether or not any of the OS had been certified as helmsmen. Even if they were, this means that the ship was 'steered' by a person with minimum training. Then on deck, this leaves the mate to supervise docking operations on both the bow and stern, unless the Captain supervised the bow from the bridge. Of course, the engine room would be unmanned at the time it is most likely to develop problems and result in an accident. Now picture a ship like this coming into San Francisco. That is easy, since this ship did call the US. The only good thing I can say is that if you were an OS on this ship, you had the opportunity to get lots of hands-on experience in every job the deck department has to offer!

You can find the English translation of the DANICA WHITE piracy report here.

Maritime Accident Casebook also comments on the case with "The Danica White and The Pirates - All That Was Missing Was A Welcome Mat"

As I mention above, Denmark is not the only Administration that is guilty of issuing bare-bones Minimum Safe Manning certificates. The first US-Flag ship I sailed on had only 18 crew, and that was including the two cadets. (This was not enough crew for docking the vessel without the assistance of the unlicensed engineers on deck.) They are just the example of the day. There has been some internal discussion between the various maritime blogs concerning the issue of watchstanding Captains. Surely this will be brought up as one example of why this is a bad idea, along with others. More to follow sometime in the near future.