THE COSTA CONCORDIA
The Costa Concordia ran
aground on the island of Giglio on the very day last month that I was
writing this newsletter, and it has now more or less faded from view except
for those living on the island. But it is now accepted that thirty two
people, who were either passengers or crew members on the ship, died in the
accident. It was a painful and distressing event for everybody who witnesses
it, even in the media, and it must have been traumatic for those who were
attempting to evacuate from the vessel, and the relatives of those lost have
our sympathy. In the aftermath much has been said and written about the
event, and the actions of the master, who seems to have failed in a number
In the professional marine media the Nautical Institute, through its
magazine “Seaways” has pledged that it does not comment on marine accidents
until the findings of the investigation have been revealed, and the marine
union paper the Telegraph has protested at the “scapegoating” of the master.
However, while the Nautical institute has said nothing – because the
investigation has not been concluded – the Telegraph has also called for “a
radical safety review”. For myself, I have read what was in the papers, and
heard what the marine experts have had to say on the Beeb, and listened to a
thirty minute programme on Radio 4 called “The report”.
I have written to the Nautical Institute, pointing out to them that if they
wait for the results of investigations, they will probably not be commenting
on anything – and for them to get on with it, and make their point, which
primarily is the prevention of the criminalization of the seafarer. We all
agree with that, but on the face of it Captain Schettino seems to have been
a bit … what could the word be? Incautious!
THE IRON LADY
Now showing at a cinema
near you. The Iron Lady starring Meryl Streep. I had not realized what a
strange name that was until I typed it for the first time. However, it was
Mrs Thatcher who totally deregulated the British merchant navy, and I wonder
whether it was she, who had therefore changed the way ships are operated all
over the world. Did she identify the means by which even Mongolia can have a
TEENAGE YACHT PERSONS
It was reported in the
press the other day that a teenage girl, Laura Dekker, now sixteen years and
four months has completed her objective of sailing round the world. She made
it in a 38 foot boat, and it took her one year and a day, and arrived on
21st January in St Maarten in the Carribean.
She had won a court battle in the Dutch courts before leaving, because the
Dutch social services had argued that the voyage could harm her emotional
and social develop. Of course this was not out of the blue. The press had
reported that she had been born on a yacht off New Zealand during a seven
year round the world voyage. The Guinness Book of Records has now withdrawn
the category to prevent children in nappies from competing for the award.
Of course she is not the first, which could be even more worrying. Those of
us who spent years learning the trade before being let loose with a sextant,
might now wonder what the point of our study was, but we assume that they
are relying on GPS systems. And it appears that Jessica Watson, the
Australian round the worlder was condemned by the Queensland government
before she left.
American teenager Abby Sunderland had her yacht dismasted but was lucky to
It seems pretty strange to me that a fifteen year old with no formal marine
qualification can leave school and take off by herself across the world.
Today in UK, parents cannot take time off with their children to go on hols
during the term time!
TUGS IN THE GULF
In the third week of
January the weather was a bit rough in the gulf and it was reported in the
Tugs, Towing and Offshore Newsletter that in one week two ships had sunk one
of them only 500 metres from the beach. The beached vessel in the photo is
the tug Fadak 2, or maybe the Iranian tug Fadak 200. At least one crew
member has been lost.
In general the conditions in the Arabian Gulf are pretty fine, but the
weather can get up. Sometimes moderate gales can last for two or three days,
and on occasions there are storms with very high winds, driving rain,
lightning and thunder. It is likely to be the latter that catches out these
little ships, and would probably catch out bigger ships if they were about.
We go back to the loss of the Demas Victory with the deaths’ of nearly
everyone on board back in 2009 and the sinking of the Koosha 1 with a number
of divers still in sat in October 2011. It seems likely that they were all
lost. They were Indians, Iranians and Ukranians. According to an article in
the Hindustan Times the ship was on its way to port when it sank 15 miles
offshore. This was due, according to the newspaper to “an overload of
Probably if asked, the marine regulators in the Gulf would bristle with
indignation at the possibility that they were not doing a good job, but one
wonders how many port state inspections take place in its ports. When I was
master of a supply vessel out there it had an approved stability book, even
though there was no deadweight scale on the vessel. When I asked for one,
the managers said they were not prepared to spend to money on getting one –
because after I left “no-one else would ask for one”.
STUFT IN THE FALKLAND
We continue watch things
going on in the Falklands, or as the Argentinians have it, the Malvinas, now
we are at the 30 year anniversary of the Falklands War. Elsewhere on the
Ships and Oil site there is an article about the Oil Mariner, and when the
actual war took place 30 merchant ships were taken up from trade or STUFT.
The most famous was the Atlantic Conveyor which took out aircraft and a
single Chinook helicopter. The ship was hit by two Exocet missiles and was
burnt out. The master Captain Ian North died in the attack.
Now apparently Sean Penn, possibly having been less than totally successful
as an actor, has become a spokesman on behalf of the Argentinians, and has
accused the British of being inappropriately colonial. The current situation
is being hyped up by the impending Argentinian elections, and of course by
the successful drilling campaign by Rockhopper using the Ocean Guardian.
Next month the Guardian is due to terminate in the South Atlantic and return
to the North Sea, but the DP deep water rig Leiv Eiriksson spudded in for
Borders and Southern at the beginning of this month. This unit is due to
drill another well for this company and then go to work for Falklands Oil
and Gas, and at the moment there is no other action in view. This is despite
the fact that according to a pundit on the BBC there is more oil offshore of
the Falkland Islands that there was in the Uk sector of the North Sea.
PASSENGER SHIP BREAKDOWNS
Back in December 2010 the
Carnival Splendor suffered from a fire in one of its engine rooms which
resulted in the ship being disabled and as a result had to be towed into
port, still full of distressed passengers. And there is more.
The other day the UK MAIB released a report into an explosion and fire in an
electrical switchboard room on the Queen Mary II which disabled the ship for
a little less than an hour. The report said that the fire resulted in all
four propulsion motors shutting down and leaving the ship drifting off the
coast of Spain.
The report described the manner in which the explosion took place, which is
frankly beyond me, but it is important to say that the systems which had
monitored the switchboards had not worked for several years. The report also
said that the watch-keeping engineer officer had cancelled two fire alarms
without taking any action, and that he was cancelling at least one alarm
The ship of course owned by Carnival Cruises – the owner of the Carnival
Splendor and the Costa Concordia!
THE THAMES ESTUARY AIRPORT
Just at the moment there
are people lobbying for the development of an airport in the Thames Estuary,
and apparently an equal number of people working against this proposal. The
proposed site seems to be just off the Isle of Sheppey where I recollect
there is still a Liberty Ship full of ammunition sunk by enemy bombing in
the Second world war. This vessel has not been moved so far because it was
considered too dangerous to do it. Even if it is not moved it would end up
in the flight path of the aircraft. Does this matter? Maybe not since it has
been said in the past that if the ship blew up it would devastate Sheerness.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS
NEWLETTER AND SHIPS AND OIL LTD
This newsletter expresses the views of the author Victor Gibson about marine
events which are considered to be worthy of interest sources of information
The Tugs, Towing and Offshore Newsletter.
The Nautilus Telegraph
The Nautical institute Magazine Seaways
The BBC Home Page
Articles already on the Ships and Oil Website including:
The Costa Concordia Accident
News and Views November 2011.
The website contains comprehensive information about many offshore vessels
and approaching 10,000 images. Since the beginning of 2012 the following
company information has been updated:
Neches Gulf Marine
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Vic Gibson. February 2012.
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