Feb/March Editorial Highlights

Editorial Highlights
February/March 2008
Industry Signals
Shipyard: Nichols Bros., the Whidbey Island boat builder, closes its doors. The company was behind in deliveries, but the move comes as a surprise at a time when shipyards have been turning away work.
By Larry Pearson

Places of refuge: The Coast Guard has published guidelines for places of refuge for vessels that get into serious trouble. In general ports have responded favorably to a potentially controversial issue.
By Peter Meredith

Polar Discovery: The operator of Polar Discovery is fined $2.5 million in connection with a January 2004 spill in the Pacific.
By Dom Yanchunas

LNG: The Coast Guard rejects a proposed LNG terminal in Fall River, Mass., because of the difficulties of navigating tankers through two bridges on the approach to the terminal.
By Jim Austin

NMC: The Coast Guard is making big changes to the credential process at the National Maritime Center in West Virginia. The aim is to speed the issuance of mariner documents.
By Dom Yanchunas

Bridges: The Coast Guard in New York is encouraging mariners to report on the condition of bridges they encounter as part of an effort to identify problems and get the bridge owners to address them.
By Dom Yanchunas

Cosco Busan: A containership leaving Oakland hits the Bay Bridge. The structure of the bridge was not damaged thanks to a fendering system that absorbed the shock of the impact. But a 200-foot hole gouged in the ship’s side penetrated the fuel tank, leading to an environmentally damaging spill. The ship was operating in heavy fog under the guidance of a San Francisco bar pilot.
By Dom Yanchunas

Spirit of Nantucket: A small cruise ship runs aground in the Intracoastal Waterway in Virginia Beach, Va., after hitting a large uncharted object. The vessel’s captain ran it aground deliberately to keep it from sinking. The object, consisting of logs and some metal plates, was of undetermined origin, although it may be an old remnant of coastal defenses.
By David Tyler

Essence/Barkald: The Coast Guard places the primary blame on the mate of a sailboat involved on a fatal collision with a bulk carrier on Long Island Sound. The mate of the sailboat may have misinterpreted the aspect of the ship’s lights, and steered the boat in the path of the ship.
By John Snyder

Ambrose Light: A ship collides with the Ambrose Light tower at the entrance to New York Harbor. The light is the rendezvous point for ships about to pick up pilots for entry to the port complex.
By Dom Yanchunas

An update of the latest developments in the towing industry.
By John Snyder

Tong Cheng: An unusual salvage effort saved Tong Cheng, a Chinese vessel that ran into trouble near Hawaii. When the ship began taking on water as a result of storm damage, Navy divers came on board to carry out emergency repairs, enabling the ship to reach port safely.
By Peter Meredith

Pilot Boat: Delta Launch Services operates the pilot boats that transport the members of the Associated Branch Pilots, who guide ships over the bar at the mouth of the Mississippi.
By Brian Gauvin

War pay: It is widely believed that when a mariner’s ship was sunk or when the mariner was taken prisoner during World War II, his pay stopped. Not true, according to a historian.
By Charles Dana Gibson

Human element: Human error is a factor in about four-fifths of maritime accidents. There are lessons to be learned on how to reduce these mistakes by looking at other industries.
By Geoff Gill

Classic Casualty
Coya and Hellespont: It took years of petitioning the U.S. Lighthouse Service Board before money was allocated for a lighthouse at Pigeon Point south of San Francisco. The most significant events influencing the decision were the wrecks of two ships, Coya and Hellespont, in the 1860s.
By JoAnn Semones

Trends and currents
Cold ironing: Pollutants from the diesel engines of vessels account for a large part of the primary ingredients of smog. Increasingly, ports are responding by requiring that vessels be capable of cold ironing, that is to have the ability to hook up to shore-side sources of electricity.
By Bill Siuru

Bioremediation: The maritime industry is developing some innovative technologies to clean up oily wastes, including bioremediation, which involves the use of naturally occurring biological agents to clean up bilge water.
By Richard Aichele

Pirates: A former mariner who is making a documentary about pirates describes how he made contact with pirates who attack vessels transiting the Malacca Strait.
By Michael Rawlings

Boat operators: When it comes to vessel handling, pilots get most of the attention and respect. But their safety depends on the skills of the mariners who operate the launches that take them to and from ships.
By Alan Haig-Brown

A Mariner’s Notebook: Kelly Sweeney points out that the Coast Guard has not always been the agency that issues mariner documents and he suggests that the Coast Guard might not be the best agency to perform that function today, given its other responsibilities.

By Professional Mariner Staff