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.


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.