Honoring our Shipmates

By MarEx 2015-05-23 19:56:32

By Annalisa Underwood, Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division, United States Navy

Honoring the deceased is a centuries-old practice that includes many traditions across cultures. The customs and traditions behind military funerals and burial at sea date as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. In the Navy’s culture, as we give the final honor to our shipmates, we employ traditions that not only signify the service of the deceased, but also display our commitment to their legacy.

Reversal of Rank

In Royal Connell and William Mack’s “Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions,” it is noted that the reversal of rank at military funerals is modeled after an ancient Roman custom of “reversing all rank and position when celebrating the feast of Saturn,” showing that, at death, all are equal. This is signified by positioning the honorary pallbearers and all other mourners, if practicable, in reverse order of rank.

Firing Three Volleys

The custom of firing three volleys at funerals comes from an old superstition. It was once thought that evil spirits escape from the hearts of the deceased, so shots are fired to drive away those evil spirits. “The number three has long had a mystical significance,” write Connell and Mack. They note that in Roman funeral rites, earth was cast three times into a grave, mourners called the dead three times by name, and the Latin word vale, meaning “farewell,” was spoken three times as they left the tomb.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also notes that the firing of three volleys “can be traced to the European dynastic wars when fighting was halted to remove the dead and wounded.” The funeral volley should not be mistaken for the twenty-one gun salute which is fired for the U.S. President, other heads of state, Washington’s birthday, and the Fourth of July. At Navy military funerals today, three volleys are fired by a firing detail of seven riflemen during the funeral of active duty personnel, Medal of Honor recipients, and retirees just before the sounding of taps.


The sounding of taps is perhaps one of the most moving and well known elements of military funerals. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, taps originated from the French final call, “L’Extinction des feux,” to extinguish the lights. This “lights out” bugle call was used by the U.S. Army infantry during the Civil War, but in 1862 Gen. Daniel Adams Butterfield suggested a revision of the French tune, and we now have the 24-note bugle call we hear today.

Taps was first played at a military funeral in Virginia when Union Captain John Tidball ordered it to be played as a substitute to the traditional three rifle volleys so as not to reveal the battery’s position to the nearby enemy. At Navy military funerals today, taps is played by a military bugler after the firing of three volleys and just before the flag is folded.

The National Ensign

The National Ensign plays a very special role in today’s military funeral traditions. The custom of placing a flag over the body of a fallen soldier has been recorded in the days before the American Revolution when a private in the British Guards by the name of Stephen Graham wrote that the Union Jack was laid upon the body of a fallen soldier who died in the service of the State to show that the State “takes the responsibility of what it ordered him to do as a solider.”

Today, this custom is practiced in American military funerals as a way to honor the service of the deceased veteran. The National Ensign is draped over the casket so the union blue field is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. After Taps is sounded, the body bearers fold the flag 13 times—representing the 13 original colonies—into a triangle, emblematic of the tri-cornered hat word by the Patriots of the American Revolution. When folded, only the blue field with stars should be visible. The flag is then presented to the next of kin or other appropriate family member.

Burial at Sea

Another type of ceremony for honoring the deceased is the burial at sea (also called the “at sea disposition”) performed on a U.S. Navy vessel. According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the tradition of burial at sea is one that dates back to ancient times and has been a practice for as long as people have gone to sea. The body was sewn into a weighted sailcloth and in very old custom, the last stitch was taken through the nose of the deceased. The body was then sent over the side, usually with an appropriate religious ceremony.

During World War II, many burials at sea took place when naval forces operated at sea for months at a time. Today, active duty service members, honorably discharged retirees, veterans, U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command, and dependent family members of active duty, retirees, and veterans are eligible for at sea disposition.

The ceremony for burial at sea is conducted in a similar manner to that of shore funerals, with three volleys fired, the sounding of taps, and the closing of colors. The casket or urn is slid overboard into the sea after the committal is read, or, if requested, the cremated remains are scattered into the sea. Flowers or wreaths are also allowed to slide overboard or tossed into the sea by a flag bearer.

Because the committal ceremony is performed while a ship is deployed, family members are not permitted to attend burials at sea. So, within 10 days after committal, the commanding officer of the ship will mail a letter giving the date and time of committal and include any photographs or video of the ceremony, the commemorative flag, and a chart showing where the burial took place.

For many centuries, funerals have been a way to give our final respects to our loved ones. The customs and traditions that we share during the ceremony make it all the more meaningful.

Source: Navy Live


Is Cold Ironing Redundant Now?

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-23 19:19:46

An article in The Post and Courier last week quotes a U.S. port official from Charleston saying that the installation of shore power (cold ironing or alternative maritime power (AMP)) has been rendered a last-generation solution at most major ports.

State Ports Authority Chief Executive Jim Newsome said ultra-low sulfur fuel and scrubbers have made the air quality improvements touted by shore power obsolete. Newsome has estimated it would cost about $20 million to build shore power into a new cruise terminal planned at the port.

The comments have drawn opposition from a local environmental group whose spokesperson said that both scrubbers and shore power would be the best solution for visiting cruise ships.

Carnival Cruise Lines plans to install scrubbers on the Fantasy, reports The Post and Courier. The cruise ship is home-ported at Charleston, and Ecstasy, which will replace the Fantasy in February, already has scrubbers. Neither ship is equipped for shore power.

A Well-Established Solution

Shore power has been taken up by other North American ports including Seattle, Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland and Halifax. Princess Cruises’ shore power program made history when it first began operations in the Alaska capital Juneau in the summer of 2001, and the Port of Seattle was the first in North America to provide infrastructure for two ships to simultaneously utilize shore power.

In addition to recent shore power installations in the Port of San Francisco, the Port of Halifax just commissioned its new shore power equipment last month.

Seattle: Nothing Compares

“Nothing compares to the benefits of zero emissions by connecting the vessel to shore power and shutting down the vessel’s engines while the ship is at the dock,” says Peter McGraw, spokesman for the Port of Seattle. “We in the Pacific Northwest do have cheaper electricity due to our hydro-electric power generated by dams throughout our state, which may produce a different cost than other parts of the country.”

Exhaust stack scrubbers have become the current industry wide focus for all cruise brands in efforts to reduce emissions when the vessel engines are running, but investment in shore power systems at ports continues in the U.S., Canada and around the world, he says.

“Most recently we had a visit from the cruise representatives at the new Kai Tak terminal in Hong Kong. He was here to see our shore power operations and meet with local experts on the technology,” says McGraw. Kai Tak Hong Kong terminal is considering investment in shore power connections at their new cruise facility.

“So all being said shore power does not appear to be dying-out,” says McGraw. “The newest systems are much more advanced than last generation equipment. I’m pleased we have two of our three cruise ship berths in Seattle equipped to serve ships capable of connecting. You just can’t get any better than the zero emissions that come with them.”

Los Angeles: Low Sulfur Fuel still contributes to Emissions

The Port of Los Angeles was the first port in the world to use shore power technology for in-service container ships. Chris Cannon, Director of Environmental Management, Port of Los Angeles, said: “Air quality conditions in Southern California are unique and among the worst in the entire country. Southern California is in “non attainment” for particulate matter 2.5 and “extreme non attainment” for ozone. For this reason, continued reduction in emissions of particulate matter and ozone precursors (NOx, SOx, VOCs) is helpful and necessary.”

In Southern California, overall emissions, as well as potential health risk, are significantly reduced when using electricity to power ships at berth rather than having the ships run on low sulfur fuel, says Cannon. “Even with low sulfur fuel, ships remain one of the largest sources of pollution in our area, and low sulfur fuel for ships still contains 1,000 ppm sulfur, compared to an average 30 ppm sulfur required for automobile fuel.”

Cannon says the port supports the efforts of the California Air Resource Board to reduce at-berth emissions by setting a regulation that requires a phased shore power program for container ships that started on January 1, 2014.

Cannon concedes though that the best way to reduce emissions can vary from one port to another. “While we have funded demonstrations of scrubber technology, we have not yet seen widespread use of this technology in our region. Nevertheless, we believe that scrubbers and shore power can both be used in the future to help reduce emissions.”

Oakland: Looking Forward to Near-Zero Emission Ships

In 2009, the Port of Oakland made a commitment to reduce seaport-related diesel health risks by 85 percent by 2020. “We’ve made significant progress to meet that goal,” says port spokesman Michael Zampa. “As a priority, the port has reduced its seaport emissions from the sources that operate at or nearest the port terminals – the ones that decrease the diesel health risk the most.”

Ship engines are the largest source of seaport emissions at the port. “It’s critical that we reduce these emissions as much as possible, particularly while at berth,” says Zampa. “This is important to the port, its neighboring communities and the region. For the port, the best day for us will be when we no longer need to use our shore power system because only zero or near-zero emissions ships are operating globally. We will all breathe easier on that day.”

Discussion in the U.K.

The U.S. is not the only nation to voice dissent over the value of shore power. The British Society of Maritime Industries hosted a seminar in London earlier this year that discussed the viability of shore power. Representatives from Cavotec and Schneider Electric argued in favor of shore power, although they recognized that a cost-benefit analysis should be done on a case-by-case basis, reports Hellenic Shipping News.

Peter Selway, marketing manager of Schneider Electric, said that ships could expect a payback time of three years and ports four years if they invested in the technology. It was pointed out that shore power reduces noise and vibration as well as air emissions.

However, another speaker at the conference, Simon Zielonka, fleet director of Royal Caribbean International Cruises, said the costs for shore power could be too high for cruise ships. By comparison, the biggest container ships use the same amount of power as a small cruise ship. He also warned that the technology might just move emissions from the port to the location where the electricity was produced.

Zielonka said that most emissions from ships are produced when they are at sea and estimated that shore power might only reduce emissions by 1-3 percent. He also estimated that it was 10 times more expensive to retrofit a ship for shore power than to include it on a newbuilding.

IMO Considered Shore Power, E.U. Acted

IMO representative Masao Yamasaki said at the conference that the IMO had discussed making shore power mandatory in 2012 but concluded that, at that time, there were not enough ports (only 20, mostly in the U.S. and Scandinavia) that were ready with the technology.

The E.U. has taken a stronger stance by approving Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuel infrastructure in 2014. This directive obliges member states to implement alternative infrastructure networks such as shoreside power technology by December 2025. The E.U.’s TEN-T program has indicated that shore power is an area where funding was available to help with up to 50 percent of the costs of research and 20 percent of the costs of implementation.

Hamburg: A Barge Solution

New ideas are still being developed. The port of Hamburg has taken a less infrastructure-intensive approach to shore power with the commissioning of an LNG-fuelled barge this month that will provide power to cruise ships in the port. The barge works like a floating power plant and, compared to conventional marine diesel with 0.1 percent sulfur content, emits no SOx or soot. Emissions of nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide are also significantly reduced. The deployment of the LNG Hybrid Barge could therefore significantly improve air quality in port cities, says Becker Marine Systems.

More Financial Incentives

The Port of Antwerp already offers shore power at its Independent Maritime Terminal, and there are berths where barges can use shore power. Ships are offered financial incentives to use the power, and the port has just introduced further incentives, this time aimed at scrubbers and LNG.

As of 1 June 2015 Antwerp will grant a discount to seagoing ships that use alternative technology to reduce their particulate emissions. The new discount means that in some cases ships can benefit from a 30 percent reduction in port fees.

According to spokeswoman Annik Dirkx: “For auxiliaries, the use of cold ironing is still a valid option, because this is not necessarily combined with or connected to the main engine that can run on LNG or with scrubbers. In our port we do case by case project development, which means that we try to accommodate every shipping company’s request the best way we can.”

So What Will Charleston Do?

Charleston has been conducting outdoor air testing at Union Pier since February. The data shows that there have been no emissions above federal guidelines, even when a cruise ship is in port. According to Newsome, there is no significant difference between cruise ship days and non-cruise ship days. He therefore believes that shore power isn’t needed.

However, contends one environmental activist, discussions are far from over.

The opinions expressed herein are the author’s and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.


Spill Could Hamper California Oil Projects

By Reuters 2015-05-23 18:58:10

Hundreds of barrels of oil that gushed from a ruptured coastal pipeline in scenic California this week could stiffen opposition to large oil projects that companies want to build in the state, notably those to deliver cheap U.S. crude on trains.

Several proposed oil-by-rail offloading terminals in California were already being contested in light of several fiery crude train derailments since 2013 that have stoked safety concerns about spills and explosions.

Now, the sight of oil washing up on the shores of Santa Barbara could further galvanize rail opponents after up to 2,500 barrels of crude leaked on Tuesday from a pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline LP.

“The more oil we’re moving through the state, the greater the risk of these sorts of accidents,” said Paul Cort, an attorney with EarthJustice, which has sued to stop crude deliveries at Plains’ 70,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil-by-rail terminal in Bakersfield.

Past spills have prompted policy changes. A leak of 100,000 barrels of crude off Santa Barbara in 1969 led to bans on new leases for offshore drilling in California.

The latest spill could complicate regulatory approvals.

“It’s certainly not good news for anyone trying to permit any kind of oil-related facilities in California,” said John Auers, a consultant at Turner, Mason & Co in Dallas.

Refiners Valero Energy Corp and Phillips 66 want to use railways to transport cheap crude from onshore fields in North America to northern California refineries to displace more pricey foreign imports.

But the projects, which could help mitigate upward pressure on gasoline prices that are among the highest in the United States, have been repeatedly delayed to allow for lengthy environmental reviews.

Some companies have given up.

Nearly two months ago, WesPac Energy-Pittsburg LLC withdrew the 51,000 bpd oil-by-rail component in a broader proposal that has been awaiting permits from the city for more than two years. WesPac now proposes that crude would move into the terminal only via pipeline or vessel if approved. Valero last year scrapped crude-by-rail plans at its Los Angeles-area refinery.

And even some companies with permits face more hurdles.

EarthJustice is suing local permitting agencies over both the Plains’ Bakersfield operation, which the company aims to expand to 140,000 bpd, and a new Alon USA Energy rail project nearby slated for next year.

“People trying to build projects that bring North American crude oil to displace imports at California refineries now have another thing they have to deal with,” said David Hackett, a consultant with Stillwater Associates in Irvine, California.

Sea Lion Dies

A sea lion that became streaked with petroleum from an oil spill on California’s Santa Barbara coastline has died after it was taken to SeaWorld in San Diego to be treated, officials said on Saturday.

The spill left a number of birds and marine mammals streaked with petroleum. So far, a greater number of presumed oil spill casualties have been found alive than dead.

The sea lion was found alive in the area earlier in the week with petroleum on its coat and was shipped to SeaWorld San Diego to be cared for and cleaned.

But the mammal died overnight, said Ashley Settle, a spokeswoman for the joint-agency command for cleanup and recovery.

Dave Koontz, a spokesman for SeaWorld, confirmed the death.

“It’s always very saddening to our rescue team when an animal doesn’t make it and often the situation is that the animal is past the point of being able to recover,” he said.

Koontz added that a necropsy is planned to determine the animal’s cause of death.

So far, two dolphins without visible signs of petroleum exposure have also been found dead, Settle said, as have five petroleum-streaked pelicans and 50 invertebrates.

Another surviving sea lion also was being cared for at SeaWorld, Koontz said.

Separately, wildlife workers have managed to keep alive nine pelicans, one western grebe and a sea elephant that were streaked with oil, Settle said.

The full extent of the toll on wildlife has not been determined, and experts fear the oiled birds and marine mammals found to date may represent only the tip of a potential calamity.


Arctic Shipping Could Increase CO2 Emissions

By Wendy Laursen 2015-05-22 20:13:41

Increased use of the Northern Sea Route is expected to slightly increase CO2 emissions. Although the much shorter shipping distances will reduce the emissions associated with water transportation, these gains are offset by a combination of higher trade volumes and a shift to emission-intensive production in Northeast Asia.

That’s one of the predictions made in the report Melting Ice Caps and the Economic Impact of Opening the Northern Sea Route released by the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.

The report authors predict an increase in global emissions of 14.2 million MT CO2 – an amount comparable to the annual emissions of a small country such as Latvia or Lithuania.

The report predicts that the shorter shipping distances offered by the Northern Sea Route (NSR) could be associated with substantial reductions in trade costs between two major economic regions: Northeast Asia and Northwestern Europe. As a result an increase the trade flows between both regions could increase by around 10 percent, making the NSR into one of the busiest global trading routes.

Roughly eight percent of world trade is transported through the Suez Canal and the report authors estimate that two-thirds of this volume will be re-routed over the shorter Arctic route. The NSR also implies a large volume of trade diversion that will have a negative economic impact on South and East Europe, states the report.

The report forecasts a remarkable shift of bilateral trade flows between Asia and Europe, diversion of trade within Europe, heavy shipping traffic in the Arctic and a substantial drop in traffic through Suez.

The estimated redirection of trade has also major geopolitical implications: the reorganisation of global supply chains within Europe and between Europe and Asia and the highlighted political interest and environmental pressure on the Arctic.

The report is available here.


ExxonMobil Denies Lobbying on Iran Sanctions

By MarEx 2015-05-22 19:29:19

Media reports that ExxonMobil is lobbying the U.S. government on Iran sanctions are inaccurate, says the company in a statement.

“ExxonMobil is not lobbying on Iran sanctions,” said Ken Cohen, vice president of Public and Government Affairs. “Erroneous media reports resulted from errors in a consultant’s lobbying disclosures. Current U.S. law prohibits American companies from operating in Iran.”

The U.S. and other nations have been struggling to reach an agreement on nuclear technology development with Iran for months and have set a June 30 deadline for negotiations. If an agreement is reached, it could mean sanctions are lifted, leaving oil companies such as ExxonMobil free to pursue oil interests in the country.

The announcement from ExxonMobil follows a media report stating the company is ramping up efforts to track U.S. government work on Iranian sanctions. The report goes on to balance any claims relating to lobbying by reporting: “We are not lobbying on Iran sanctions,” Alan Jeffers, an Exxon spokesman, said during a telephone interview on Thursday. “We are monitoring activities related to Iran in the U.S. government.”

Similar news was covered by several media outlets.

Iran holds the world’s fourth-largest proved crude oil reserves and the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves. However, despite the country’s abundant reserves, Iran’s oil production has substantially declined over the past few years, and natural gas production growth has slowed. International sanctions have profoundly affected Iran’s energy sector, prompting a number of cancellations or delays of upstream projects, resulting in declining oil production capacity.


Yemen-Bound Aid Ship Docks in Djibouti

By Reuters 2015-05-22 18:22:01

An Iranian aid ship docked on Friday in Djibouti, where its cargo will be inspected by the United Nations before being moved to conflict-torn Yemen, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported.

“The ship docked a few minutes ago in Djibouti,” Fars said. “The ship entered Djibouti waters yesterday and after inspection by the international organization will head towards Yemen.”

Tehran agreed this week to allow an international inspection of the vessel, the Iran Shahed, averting a potential showdown with Saudi-led forces who are enforcing searches of ships entering Yemeni ports to stop arms reaching Houthi rebels.

Shi’ite power Iran backs the dominant Houthi militia in Yemen’s civil war while regional arch-rival Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Muslim allies have carried out almost two months of air raids against them and want Yemen’s president reinstated.

Tehran has rejected Saudi accusations it is arming Houthi fighters.

The ship had originally been bound for the Yemen’s Red Sea port of Hodaida, which is controlled by the Houthis, but its aid cargo will now be delivered by the World Food Programme, the U.N agency said on Friday.

“The cargo of the ship will be handed over to WFP in Djibouti and will be transferred to WFP-chartered vessels for shipment to the Yemeni ports of Hodaida and/or (the southern port city of) Aden,” WFP spokeswoman Abeer Etefa said.

“It will be delivered to humanitarian partners on the ground for distribution.”

Etefa said the WFP had been told the 2,500 ton cargo included supplies of rice, flour, canned fish, medicine, water, tents and blankets.