Politicians Push Importance of Merchant Mariner Bill

By MarEx 2015-05-26 11:14:45

Two U.S. representatives, Janice Hahn (D- Calif.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), emphasized the importance of a House bill to recognize U.S. Merchant Mariners over 70 years after their service in World War II during National Maritime Day Speeches on the East and West Coast.

The Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015 was introduced earlier this year by Hahn and Hunter and seeks to award a $25,000 one-time payment to merchant mariners of World War II. Currently, only about five thousand Merchant Mariners who served in the war are still alive.

Duncan Hunter, speaking at a Maritime Day event in Washington DC stated that, “the legislation would provide “well-deserved recognition for these heroic mariners who fought so valiantly for our country.”

Similarly, Hahn speaking to an audience at the San Pedro Merchant Mariners Veterans Memorial said “The first Maritime Day honoring our merchant mariners was held in 1970. Before that, despite their courage and service, and despite suffering higher casualty rates during World War II than other branches of our military, merchant mariners were excluded from celebrations of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.”

During World War II over 200,000 Americans served in the Merchant Marine. The Merchant Marine also had higher casualty rates than any branch of the armed service with the exception of the Marines. However, merchant mariners were denied any veteran benefits or status until 1988 when a federal court mandated recognition for the U.S. seamen.

Hahn has introduced HR 563, “Honoring Our World War II Merchant Mariners Act of 2015,” to provide the payment to surviving World War II merchant mariners. More than 6,000 merchant mariners died in service during World War II and time is running out to commemorate the accomplishments of the remaining Merchant Marine veterans.

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225 Years of Service: Ice Operations

By MarEx 2015-05-26 23:07:35

by David Rosen, U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area Historian

On April 14, 1912, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic, resulting in the loss of 1,517 lives.

In response to the disaster, the first Safety of Life at Sea Convention was held in London the following year. In March 1913, Coast Guard Cutter Seneca was assigned to the first International Ice Patrol, or IIP.

Each year since, a patrol has been maintained. No further vessels have been sunk by icebergs in the area, a tribute to the diligence of the IIP watchstanders.

Captain-Commandant Ellsworth Bertholf was keen to assume this responsibility to forestall a proposed dissolution of the Revenue Service as part of a budget cutback. He re-defined the service by adding the Ice Patrol.

In 1915, Bertholf and Sumner Kimball merged the military Revenue Service with the civilian Lifesaving Service into the modern-day Coast Guard. Bertholf stressed the unique combination of peacetime functions and war preparedness of the Coast Guard, convincing both Congress and the White House of its critical role.

By the early 1920s, it became apparent that Coast Guard officers with professional training were needed to perform ice patrol duties. The Coast Guard therefore established an oceanographic unit at Harvard University to conduct research for the IIP from 1923 to 1931, it was headed by Edward “Iceberg” Smith, who regularized the ice patrol’s tracking of the movements of icebergs. He also initiated a method of iceberg forecasting the number of bergs annually drifting south of Newfoundland.

During the summer of 1928, Smith assumed command of the Coast Guard Cutter Marion, a 125-foot vessel built for offshore-patrol duty. He went to western Greenland to apply his surveying methods to the birthplace of icebergs.

The Marion Expedition was one of the most comprehensive oceanographic studies made by the United States. It departed Boston for Davis Strait and Baffin Bay in July. The 73-day cruise to the Arctic covered 8,100 miles, during which Smith and his team of scientists surveyed an area of nearly half a million square miles between Greenland and Canada. The crew made more than 1,900 recordings of water temperature and salinity at 190 observation stations.

Throughout the 1950’s, IIP gained more confidence in the aerial reconnaissance and the surface patrols became limited to the severe years. While the aircraft began to bear the load of the reconnaissance operations, the ships focused on obtaining ocean and current data.

Today, the IIP monitors the iceberg danger area by physically patrolling the area with Coast Guard aircraft and by receiving reports from commercial aircraft and vessels. All iceberg observations are fed into a computer, which produces a drift and deterioration model using weather and current data. Watchstanders use the model to produce a daily iceberg warning chart which is broadcasted twice daily to the maritime community outlining the iceberg warning area.

Domestic Icebreaking Operations

For the Revenue Cutter Service, ice breaking primarily began as a means to support traditional missions that were impossible in the winter without preparations for ice.

With the advent of steam propulsion in the 1830s and the purchase of Alaska in 1867, ice breaking became a seasonal mission of the Revenue Cutter Service. Early vessels, including Cutters Thetis and Bear, had reinforced hulls which made them ice resistant, but it was not until the early 1900s that cutters were built primarily for ice breaking operations.

By the 1920s, the Coast Guard had become fully committed to ice breaking operations with the original intent of the Revenue Cutter Service – to utilize ice breaking primarily in Alaska and in support of other traditional missions.

On December 21, 1936, domestic ice breaking became a major mission for the service. The Coast Guard was given the first statutory authorization for icebreaking operations – signifying the importance of keeping ports and waterways open for vital economic resources along the Great Lakes and New England coast. Icebreaking operations have evolved from a means to complete primary missions to one of the Coast Guard’s 11 statutory missions.

From 1936 to 1941, the Coast Guard initiated an intensive, comprehensive study into icebreaker technology. Rear Admiral Edward Thiele spearheaded the research, studying the Swedish icebreaker Ymer – commonly considered one of the best icebreakers of the time.

Over the next few decades, the Coast Guard introduced many more classes of cutters with icebreaking characteristics – the 180-foot Balsam Class buoy tenders followed by the 110-foot Appalache class cutters.

Eventually came the commissioning of 15 65-foot icebreaking harbor tugs in the 1960’s and nine 140-foot Bay Class cutters in the 1980’s, many of which still serve the U.S. nation.

Today, the Coast Guard conducts icebreaking operations during the winter months in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions. Operation Renewable Energy for Northeast Winters, is a region-wide effort to ensure Northeast communities have the security, supplies, energy, and emergency resources (i.e. home heating oil) they need throughout the winter.

The operation utilizes 225-foot Juniper class buoy tenders, 140-foot Bay class icebreakers and 65-foot harbor tugs to ensure the safe navigation of commercial vessels supplying goods to ports throughout the Northeast. During the 2013 to 2014 icebreaking season, U.S. icebreakers facilitated the safe passage of 20 billion barrels of petro chemical, valued at $3.3 billion.

In the Great Lakes, the Coast Guard conducts ice operations jointly with Canada.

Using a system approach, both U.S. and Canadian-flagged icebreakers facilitate commerce through ice impeded waterways to support both inter-lake and intra-lake trade to both U.S. and Canadian ports. Operation’s Taconite and Coal Shovel assist commercial vessel transits in the connecting waterways of the Great Lakes by utilizing one 240-foot Icebreaking buoy tender, six 140-foot Bay class icebreakers and the Canadian Coast Guard ships Samuel Risley and Griffon.

Both the U.S and Canadians work jointly to facilitate nearly 200 commercial vessel transits with an estimated $4.5 billion worth of cargo each winter season.

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Human Heart Inspires New Wave Power Device

By MarEx 2015-05-27 00:29:09

The Swedish Energy Agency has granted the company Corpower Ocean two million EUR to conduct tests of its innovative concept for wave power. The project is part of a larger collaboration with KIC InnoEnergy, the Spanish energy company Iberdrola and the Portuguese Research Institute WavEC Offshore Renewables.

Corpower will build a new prototype wave power plant and install it in the sea off Scotland. The wave power plant is inspired by the pumping principles of the human heart. CorPower founder Stig Lundbäck, MD, spent most of his life studying the pumping principles of the human heart. He invented the Dynamic Adaptive Piston Pump Technology (DAPPT) in 1984, and used his comprehensive knowledge to imagine and construct a wave power plant based on similar principles. The wave power plant has in recent years been supplemented with advanced control technology developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

“The Swedish Energy Agency’s commitment is crucial to our continued development of commercially viable wave power. Our goal is to test the wave power plants in the sea off the coast of Scotland and show the same performance as in the previous scale trials in Portugal and France. If the project reaches the set goals, it will mark a major step forward for wave power,” says Patrik Möller, CEO of Corpower Ocean.

Although wave power is a significant energy resource with an appealing capacity, reliability problems and high costs have been a major obstacle to a large-scale deployment. Corpower’s compact and robust wave power plant enables five times higher annual energy output per ton compared to conventional wave devices. Installing and testing a wave energy plant in the tough environment of the Atlantic is key step in the verification of Corpower’s concept.

“The decision is part of the Swedish Energy Agency’s investment in marine energy. Sweden has strong research and new innovative companies, which opens up opportunities for the Swedish export industry in this area,” says Rémy Kollesar, head of the Research and Innovation Department at the Swedish Energy Agency.

Among several other influential bodies, the World Energy Council has estimated the potential global output to about 2000 TWh per year, if only a robust and efficient design can be found. At this level, wave power would be on par with today’s global output of hydropower.

How it Works

The resonant wave energy converters developed by CorPower have a heaving buoy on the surface absorbing energy from the combined surge and heave motion of the waves. This is connected to the seabed using a taut mooring line. The system has a pneumatic pre-tension module between the mooring line and the buoy to enable a lightweight system with high natural frequency of oscillation.

Corpower says it uses a new phase control method, so that the system’s wave energy converters always oscillate in resonance with the incoming waves, strongly amplifying their motion and power capture. Phase controlled oscillation offers an exceptionally high energy density, five times higher than conventional wave energy converters without phase control. The technology allows a large amount of energy to be harvested using a small device, says the company.

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Second Sea Lion Dies Following California Oil Spill

By Reuters 2015-05-26 15:33:07

A second sea lion rescued from along California’s oil-fouled coastline near Santa Barbara has died at SeaWorld San Diego, where veterinarians are still caring for 15 surviving marine mammals brought in for treatment, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

The petroleum-stained pinnipeds are among the earliest apparent wildlife casualties documented from a pipeline rupture that dumped as much as 2,400 barrels (101,000 gallons or 382,327 liters) of crude oil onto the shoreline and into the ocean west of Santa Barbara one week ago.

The spill left an oil slick stretching for more than 9 miles (14.5 km) along the coast and forced the indefinite closure of two popular beaches. The area also has been placed off-limits to fishing and shellfish harvesting.

The stricken region lies at the edge of a national marine sanctuary and underwater preserve that is home to whales, dolphins, sea lions and other marine mammals, along with some 60 species of sea birds and over 500 species of fish.

As of Tuesday, 15 oil-contaminated California sea lions and two elephant seals had been brought to SeaWorld to be cleaned and nursed back to health.

The first arrival, a young sea lion streaked with oil over a third of its body, died late on Friday or early on Saturday after being cleaned, SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz said. A second sea lion died there on Monday, leaving 13 sea lions and two elephant seals still to be rehabilitated and hopefully released.

“Our team is working very, very hard, doing everything they can to give these animals a second chance at life,” Koontz said.

Meanwhile, the carcasses of four sea lions and two dolphins have turned up with no visible signs of oil, including a dead dolphin found on Friday in Santa Barbara Harbor, according to officials overseeing the spill response.

Post-mortem exams must still be conducted on all dead animals recovered from the disaster zone, and those that die under care, to determine whether they were spill victims.

The latest official tally of oil-soaked birds indicated that nine pelicans and one western grebe had been discovered alive and five pelicans found dead.

Last week’s pipeline rupture resulted in the biggest oil release to hit the ecologically sensitive shoreline northwest of Los Angeles since a 1969 blowout dumped up to 100,000 barrels (4.2 million gallons or 15.9 million liters) of oil into the Santa Barbara Channel.

That much larger spill killed thousands of sea birds and other wildlife and helped spark the modern U.S. environmental movement.

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Half Cruise Ship, Half Freighter Debuts 2015

By Kathryn Stone 2015-05-26 14:46:57

At first glance, it is hard to know what to make of the Aranui 5. It is clearly some kind of passenger vessel, but it is also appears to be a freight vessel. The ship is in fact both and is set to begin voyages in French Polynesia in late November. The Aranui 5 is replacing its predecessor, the Aranui 3 on a dual mission to bring travelers and commodities to the Marquesas Islands, the remotest archipelago in the world.

The Aranui 5 will complete a circuit of 2,200 miles leaving from Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, and traveling to all six inhabited islands in the Marquesas chain. Making it into the archipelago alone takes over three day’s sea journey. Also, vessel has the largest number of passenger berths of any cargo ship allowing for passenger capacity of around 260 up over 50 passengers from its predecessor that has been in operation since 2003.

The 125 meter (410 foot) ship can carry over 2,000 tons of freight. The vessel both allows visitors access to the remote Polynesian Islands made famous by Paul Gauguin, but it also carries supplies, fuel and other staples to the remote island ports otherwise cut off from commerce. However, the ship does not just make deliveries, it also receives imports form the islands in the form of dried coconut, citrus and fish.

Although the Aranui 5 is unique in design, it represents a concept that has been around in the shipping industry for many years: the fusion of cargo and cruising. Currently, there are about 300 passenger carrying cargo ships in the shipping industry, which can carry up to a maximum of 12 passengers (over this number the ship must maintain a doctor aboard). The sea travel company Cruise People Ltd. even state that all freighter voyages they showcase are aboard vessels with outside staterooms and swimming pools available.

CMA CMG, the third largest container shipping company notes on its website that 874 passengers traveled onboard its vessels in 2013. As a selling point, the company advertises passage aboard its largest vessels the 16,020TEU containerships CMA CMG Marco Polo and CMA CMG Alexander von Humbolt. The various itineraries the ships offer include passage from the U.S. to Asia and Asia to the Mediterranean.

Similarly, Rickmers Line offers various itineraries including a 124 around the world voyage. However, the company now prohibits passenger transportation between Genoa and Singapore as some passengers failed to heed the crew’s warning about being on deck in known pirate zones. Typical pricing for such a trip is around $135 per person per day.

There are even online guides for freighter travel that give stories from previous passengers and teach laymen maritime terminology that they will need for their voyage.

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Iran, Oman Settle Maritime Borders, Discuss Yemen

By Reuters 2015-05-26 12:20:37

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed how to advance Yemeni peace efforts with his Omani counterpart on Tuesday, Iranian media reported, on a visit to a country that has often played a conciliatory role in Gulf conflicts.

Speaking after talks in Muscat, Zarif and Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi also announced the two had agreed to demarcate a previously undefined stretch of maritime border, in waters including some of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

On Yemen, Zarif said they discussed implementing a ceasefire, setting up talks between warring factions and how to get aid in, Iran’s Mehr news agency reported.

“Iran and Oman want peace, security and stability in the region and have shared interests in this regard,” Zarif was quoted as saying by Mehr.

Oman, which borders Yemen, is the only one of the six Gulf Arab states that make up the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) not to join Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen’s Houthis, the rebel movement Riyadh says is armed by Iran.

Tehran denies that and has criticised the Saudi-led coalition’s refusal to Iranian cargo ships and planes into Yemen to deliver what it says is only humanitarian aid.

Analysts say Oman, which has quietly brokered resolutions to several disputes in the region, would be careful in its dealings with Iran over Yemen.

“Oman would be extremely cautious not to compromise its neutrality: it should not be seen as having been influenced by Iran with regard to the Yemen conflict,” Ahmed al-Mukhaini, a former assistant secretary-general for Oman’s consultative Shura Council, said.

Last week, a Houthi delegation went to Oman to discuss the conflict with the government that has previously relayed messages between the Shi’ite Muslim group and Saudi Arabia.

Iranian and Omani news agencies reported that the countries had demarcated a 450 km (280 mile) section of their maritime border that had not previously been defined, in the first substantial progress on the issue since 1975 – before the 1979 overthrow of Iran’s shah and establishment of the Islamic Republic.

The reports did not disclose the exact location of the area defined but suggested that the border was now fully agreed.

“This agreement will strengthen economic relations between our two countries,” bin Alawi was quoted as saying by Mehr.

Iran has a territorial dispute with the United Arab Emirates, which claims three small islands controlled by Iran in the Gulf.

Hardline commentators in Iran have also occasionally laid a territorial claim to Bahrain, a Gulf Arab island kingdom that is a member of the GCC and is closely allied to Saudi Arabia.

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