Many seafarers will be on the move along shipping routes during the holiday season. Here are a few gift ideas for those who will serve aboard ship during the holidays as well as those who are nearby, and difficult when it comes to buying presents. What's the best or most useful gift you have received to make your days and nights more comfortable?
Over the past few years open source hardware and software have crept into a few businesses. Some upstart companies, like Point 97, have shown the great potential of better data collection, processing, and presentation. Open source data platforms could offer a strong enough financial advantage to executives that they will be unable to resist demands from shareholders to implement similar programs.
On the grassroots side of business we also have some great potential for solutions to old problems and plenty of innovative ideas from the new members attracted to open source projects like OpenRov. Open source boat instruments pop up online once in a while so it seems inevitable an ecosystem will emerge to support these development projects.
For those and other reasons we will look ahead to 2014 throughout December to get a glimpse of what could be the first year open source strongly impacts the maritime industry.
A new data technology company with field deployments around the world is connecting users and regulators of coastal resources. The new found cooperation between groups vying for limited space in high pressure areas is being facilitated by data management and presentation.
Point 97 CEO Ruby Gates explains the philosophy behind a better use of data for fishermen in the developing world.
"Marine resources continue to decline with very little systematic collection of data to inform government management decisions related to local economies and food security, particularly among the very poor. There are very few long-term data sets useful for decision-making for inshore fisheries as a result of generally low capacity to develop and sustain a data collection system for inshore fisheries management and to analyze resulting data to inform management decisions."
The Digital Deck product has brought fishermen and regulators together by streamlining data collection with the elimination of paper catch reports. The fishermen now use an app to report their catch and regulators can now focus energy once spent on data entry to improve the local fishing industry further.
One of the big issues that often comes up when training new crew members is the proper use of the VHF radio. Once all the various buttons and features are explained the lesson often ends. The student is given a few guidelines but little or no practice. Even though only a few crew will be assigned to use the radio it's important everyone can use it effectively.
Some lessons will only be learned by interacting with live traffic, but before that happens it's good to know proper protocol, some of the most common terms, and how and when to send a distress signal. This information will make a crew more attentive to radio traffic and may increase the safety of everyone on board.
Earlier this year two data security research teams published account of the vulnerability of the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Although there was plenty of speculation at the time few regular users seemed concerned. There are possibilities for crime or mischief but most of these spoofing attacks depend on the crew using this single data source without any secondary confirmation of the broadcast report.
Few ships find themselves without a persistent data connection today so confirmation is possible but the urge to act quickly might be enough to steer the ship into a dangerous situation.
The Philippines will see the strongest typhoon in over thirty years cause a estimated meter (20 ft) storm surge and 150-300 mm (6-12 in) of rain with more in some locations. The storm has a very low pressure center and made landfall shortly after 14:00 EST today. Peak winds at landfall were measured at 305 kph (190 mph)
To the many Pinoy visitors to this site: Please be careful, the world is thinking about you, good luck to all.
Other friends of this site in South East Asia should also prepare, this storm is the equivalent of a strong category five Atlantic hurricane.
More information on Super Typhoon Hiayan, called Yolanda locally, can be found in reports from Accuweather. Please consider contributing to the relief efforts to recover from what is being called "imminent destruction" in the Philippines.
Update November 8, 2013 13:00 EST: This storm may have been the strongest storm to ever hit land. Some reports claim peak winds of 378 kph (235 mph). Reports say 90 percent of infrastructure and buildings on some islands has been damaged. Storm surge and rainfall was less than expected because the storm passed quickly.
Update November 9, 2013: Early estimates say 1200 are dead.
Update November 10, 2013: Ten thousand are now said to have been killed by this storm.
The Portsmouth Shipyard in the United Kingdom has been building ships for a long time; five hundred years. The largest military contractor in the U.K., BAE Systems, will cease operation at the historic yard and eliminate 1800 jobs. More coverage of this sad news is available from the New York Times.
A third piracy incident off the Coast of Somalia in one week was reported by the International Chamber of Commerce. After three years of concentrated anti-piracy efforts off of East Africa, some focus on piracy controls have shifted across the continent to the growing West African pirate organizations.
Are we on the verge of a true global piracy problem?
Photo Courtesy of US Navy
With the increase in piracy after a short quite period, the conversation about the International Maritime Organization's guidance on Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel on ships is back.
The official acceptance and terms of many nations has already been recorded by the IMO. The use of private armed guards will likely increase as piracy begins to become more prominent on the West Coast of Africa and the South China Sea. Places as unlikely as the Arctic Sea could see armed guards defending resource extraction from disruption by environmental groups.
It's a whole new world of maritime commerce and security with so many legal guns at sea.
At the beginning of composite boat construction fiberglass was expensive and not much was known about long term durability of the material in marine conditions.
The biggest problems came when wood core methods came along to make the structures lighter using smaller amounts of expensive polyester resin. The core often rotted once tiny channels allowed water past the gel coat.
These problems are mostly solved today but poor care can still lead to fiberglass delamination or blisters which are both a lot of trouble to fix correctly.