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Balancing Risk and Reward at the Poles

Mariners Develop Many Skills in STCW Training

The Arctic and Antarctic Regions have Increasing Vessel Traffic. Ships are Navigating New Routes and Exploring for Untapped Resources. Pioneers Face many Expected and Unexpected Challenges..

Maritime Spotlight10

Korean Sewol Ferry Trapped Hundreds

Wednesday April 16, 2014

What seemed to be a tragic accident off the coast of South Korea has worsened as rescuers search the wreck of the Sewol Ferry. Two hundred ninety one are still missing and accounts from other passengers aboard the ship say many people were trapped as vessel capsized and sank on Wednesday.

The ferry is 6,825 tons and has a capacity of 920 passengers. Most reports say 459 people were aboard and that 164 had been rescued while four were found dead immediately after the accident.  Many of the reported missing are students on a high school field trip.

Some passengers reported an impact or very loud noise and quick listing of the ship which inverted soon after. The site of the accident is sixty miles offshore and well traveled in 104 feet of water. Something very large or powerful caused a dramatic breach of the hull since the ship sank very quickly according to recused passengers.

The shallow waters could hold any number of hazards but few of them would sink a ship the size of the Sewol so quickly. Could it have been a cargo explosion involving one of the 150 vehicles in transport? Sea mines were also heavily used in this area and a sixty year old mine can still be active.

Water temperature is 54f (12 c) at the wreck site which means hypothermia will have claimed many lives of those trapped in lower levels of the ship.  We can only hope some areas remain survivable as the rescue efforts continue.

Video from Vessel Finder

NY Times Coverage

The Missing Presentation

Monday March 31, 2014

Legend of the Seas Cruise Ship

The National Transportation Safety Board hosted a two day hearing with representatives from major cruise lines. Success is difficult to measure at these hearing but both sides came away with new understanding that the industry is on the right path to minimize risk.

Day two was the most interesting even though several lines of questioning were abandoned due to time limits. One of the final presentations from Carnival Line laid out complementary MOSA and BOQA risk management programs based mostly on training and data.

Since time cut the presentation short, the slides outlining the programs were never shown in detail. A short summary and text directly from the slides is available if you missed the hearing.


LCS Program Update

Monday March 31, 2014

US Navy Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth Launch Aeriel View

The next phase of dismantling the troubled Littoral Combat Ship program began with the announcement that twenty ships would be cut from the total production. Only twenty of the fast, low draft ships have been funded so in the worst case only ten of each design could be built.

In the same statement where the program is cut, Secretary of Defense Hagel reaches out for submissions for modifications of existing ships, modification (again) of the LCS designs to increase survivability, and a new fast frigate replacement.

Parts of the Navy are having serious growing pains which are very visible since the start of the LCS program in 2005. Take a look at the updated program and write your representatives in Congress.



Monday March 31, 2014

Two sea traffic management systems are being deployed and tested in limited areas. MONALISA is active in the Mediterranean and BOQA is being tested by cruise lines.

Both systems are modeled on technology from aviation management where information is shared freely as part of safety culture. In the more closed operations of ships the openness of information sharing may keep some owners skeptical of the safety value versus strategic advantage. In cargo operations data is tightly held because margins are non-existent and a small strategic advantage is the only thing that keeps the fax machine ringing.

Yes, fax machine, but that's a different story.


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