A CAPTAIN GOES HOME
One of our post prolific
photographers is Captain Jan Plug of the Acergy Falcon. He recently wrote
that for the first time since he had taken command of the ship, it was due
to visit his home port of Ijmuiden and as it entered the waterway he
noticed tugs lurking in the entrance. He told the pilot not to take any
notice, they were probably just carrying a few photographers, and so was
surprised when they escorted his ship into the harbour with their fire
monitors in action, and to receive VHF messages from his wife who was on one
of the tugs..
It was a charming story,
not only for Jan, but for shipmasters everywhere. At least the citizens of
Ijmuiden think it's an important job.
THE MSC OPERA
As I got my pencil and
paper out to pen this month's News and Views, some actual news of some
interest was reported on the BBC - briefly. It said that the cruise liner,
MSC Opera had broken down in the Baltic and was being towed back into port
by tugs. The passengers were to be repatriated and given vouchers for
another voyage at another time - that is, if they wanted one.
I googled the ship's name
and came up with a sort of Trip Advisor site which was doing the same thing
for ships as that site does for hotels. Well, why would anyone ever actually
want to go on this ship. It sounds as if the passengers would have welcomed
the breakdown as a moment of fun in an otherwise completely boring
situation. Of course we seafarers know what it's like to be bored at sea.
It's part of the job, but at least we are paid for it. According to
the website passengers faced booze at more than pub prices, duty free at
higher than supermarket prices and mediocre or bad food. The high spot of
the day - so they said - was bingo in the afternoons, and the Entertainment
Manager is mentioned by name in several posts, because the entertainment was
sub X-Factor audition level.
But so much for the fun.
This ship was built in 2004 and has a passenger carrying capacity of more
than 2000. News reports so far report variously that there was an engine
explosion and a switchboard failure, but it matters not which it was. It was
only in the autumn of last year that the Carnival Splendour suffered a
complete power failure off the coast of New Mexico. Who knows why the
breakdown on the MSC Opera occurred, but in February this year the Carnival
Splendour was back in action and the CEO of Carnival said "The actual cause
of the fire is still under investigation, but it occurred in generator
No 5 causing a catastrophic failure....Most ships have built in redundancy
with two engine rooms so that if one fails, the bother continues to
function. Although the fire was contained in the aft engine-room, heat
damaged the cable insulation and the control room switchboards, disabling
both engine rooms." But why!!
It's never too late to
learn is it? I was reading a report the other day about a serious contact
between the bow of a ship and a jetty. It was headlined "SHIP IN ALLISION
WITH WHARF". And as I write this my spell checker has underlined Allision -
there, it has just done it again. I can hardly blame it. I thought that the
news article had been misprinted , but on investigation found that it had
been right, even though the word is not included in the New Oxford English
I would have called the
contact between the bow of the ship and the wharf a "collision", but I would
have been wrong. When two ships are in unintended contact this is a
"collision". When a ship is in contact with a structure which is part of a
bridge, a wharf or any other bit of the shoreline this is an "allision".
Even though I now know that this is correct, I think I will continue to
misuse the other word. Mainly so that other people can understand what I am
THE NIGHT NAVIGATOR
I was really interested to
come across an advertisement from a Canadian company for device called
"The Night Navigator" which it seems is intended to be a replacement for
radar. The system appears to be based on a thermal imagining camera, and I
presume that the resulting images are presented on a computer screen of some
sort. As far as I know, up to now there has been no rival to the radar,
which has become easier to look at subsequent to the invention of the
computer and its screen. And one imagines that the camera is controlled
remotely from the position of the screen. This would mean that the operator
would be directing the camera, or would it move automatically like the radar
possibly stopping and hovering when it came across an image.
Modern thermal imaging
cameras are truly amazing. I have seen a demonstration of one which is
intended to be used for detecting fires in engine rooms and switchboard
rooms. The camera can detect increases in heat , and so will identify the
source of the fire before it breaks out. The guy demonstrating it had me
place my hand on a table, and the camera could detect my print after I took
it away. I suppose the thing the camera would avoid would be the need for
interpretation. You could actually see an approaching vessel and hence would
know from the angle whether it was on a collision course, instead of having
to work it out in one way or another. The name of the company is currentcorp.
It is almost neglectful
for me to let a month pass without at least making some mention of the
pirate business. Last month there was a two day conference at which experts
in the field put forward ideas and advice. This was reported in Seaways, the
journal of the Nautical Institute. It became evident that a mass of
companies have been formed to assist the marine industry to deal with the
problem, and there are also now couple of associations - the International
Association of Maritime Security Professionals, and the Security Association
for the Maritime Industry. Somehow the words "jumping on" and "bandwagon"
come to mind. A presentation was also made by some-one from the Salama
Fikira group, whose website says, "Our mission is to provide strategic risk
management and security solutions to enable our clients to operate as well
as resolve problems in the most challenging parts of Eastern Africa, the
Great Lakes region, the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian
Ocean." And "We will provide a consistent and dedicated service and resolve
your risk issues by matching our proposed solutions with exceptional
standards of delivery."
Meanwhile in the same
magazine Professor Captain Edgar Gold, who always writes a lot of sense, has
kept us up to date with how things are in Somalia. He says that as of 27th
March there were 43 vessels, two barges and several yachts in captivity and
there were 674 hostages including several children being held. He has said
in the past that if this level of terrorist activity was directed at
aircraft the international community would not tolerate it. A solution
would be found which would not exclude armed intervention of some sort. He
says that "The industry has adjusted to the costs involved and many parties
other than the front line pirates are now making money out of the problem."
What can I say - step forward IAMSP, SAMI - and Salama Fikira.
Victor Gibson. May 2011.