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Issue #139 September 2010 U.S. $4.99 Canada $4.99

Contents Professional Mariner

September 2010

Towing 18 Puerto Rico towing company augments its fleet with conversions of older tugs BY GREGORY WALSH


4 Industry Signals Special Report: Gulf SPECIAL Oil Spill REPORT GULF OIL SPILL 04 Oil spill means work for many mariners, but longer term, future remains cloudy

Technology 22 Compulsory ECDIS carriage rule creates need for training BY CHRIS BERNARD

Trends & Currents


44 Extension of discharge waiver for smaller vessels approved

10 As world watches leaking oil, ROVs are the star of the show 12 Gulf maritime responders suffer flu-like symptoms, mental anguish 15 Shipyards get busy as Gulf spill boosts demand for skimmers

16 Navy to crew initial Joint High Speed Vessels with civilian mariners

17 Increments and corrections


A Mariner’s Notebook 48 Mobile offshore drilling units in Gulf should be U.S.-flagged BY CAPT. KELLY SWEENEY




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Professional Mariner is published in February, April, May, June, August, September, October and December, with an annual special issue of American Tugboat Review in July and an annual special issue of American Ship Review in December for $29.95 per year by Navigator Publishing LLC, 58 Fore St., Portland, ME 04101. Periodicals postage paid at Portland, Maine, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Please send address changes to Professional Mariner, P.O. Box 461510, Escondido, CA 92046. Copyright © 2010 by Navigator Publishing LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without written permission from the publisher. Multiple copying of the contents without permission is illegal. Call 207-822-4350 x219 for permission. Subscription rate is $29.95 for one year (eight issues) in the U.S. and its possessions. Canadian subscription rate is $33.95 U.S. funds. Other foreign surface is $35.95 U.S. funds. Overseas airmail is $64.95 U.S. funds per year. Distribution: Newsstand distribution, domestically and internationally: Coast to Coast Newsstand Services LTD., 5230 Finch Ave. East, Suite 1, Toronto, ON M1S 4Z9. Phone (416) 754-3900; fax (416) 754-4900. Contributions: We solicit manuscripts, drawings and photographs. Please address materials to Editor, Professional Mariner, P.O. Box 569, Portland, Maine 04112-0569. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee the safe handling of all contributed materials.

Professional Mariner September 2010

Contents Professional Mariner

September 2010

26 Maritime Casualties 26 Crew of LNG tanker that lost power lacked training in restarting engine manually

29 USCG crew accused of not posting lookout, face charges in fatal crash 31 Overloading, watertight integrity and failure to wait out storm cited in Alaska sinking


34 Pilot boat rescues injured OSV deck hand from Gulf of Mexico 35 60 hurt when cruise ship turns sharply to avoid drifting buoy 36 Captain manages to survive after his boat disappears under barge 37 Diesel fuel spills after twisted I-beam pierces ro-ro ship’s hull 38 Barge flips, loses its load of scrap metal in Pacific Ocean

Features 40 Retired tanker at the center of ambitious plans for a N.Y. waterfront attraction BY DOM YANCHUNAS

Vessels at Work 24 New B.C. ferry: views are great for passengers and crew BY BRIAN GAUVIN ON THE COVER Third Officer Aaron Hook stands watch on the bridge of the BC Ferries vessel Coastal Celebration while the ferry sails in the Strait of Georgia. The 525-foot Super C-class ferry and its sister vessels are the largest double-ended ferries in the world. See story, Page 24. Photo by Brian Gauvin.



Signals Photos by Brian Gauvin


Oil spill means work for many mariners, but longer term, future remains cloudy ouisiana towboat captain David Whitehurst is accustomed to picking up his next job by phoning around to vessel operators and “hustling” his services. This summer, however, it’s his phone doing the ringing. The Deepwater Horizon disaster and massive oil-spill response in the



Gulf of Mexico have stoked unusually high demand for professional mariners and deck hands, as BP Plc. hires hundreds of vessels and round-the-clock crews. Mariners from the Gulf Coast and beyond are hard at work on skimmers, tugboats and offshore vessels. The spill-response work is

Top, towboat crews strung barges together to create this breakwater at the entrance of Louisiana’s Chef Menteur Pass. The makeshift barrier is designed to protect oil boom, while the temporary opening allows shrimp boats and other vessels to sail through. Above, Capt. David Whitehurst reviews the breakwater in the pushboat Dari Lynn, with the vessel Perry M D tending the barges.

Professional Mariner September 2010

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industry signals

expected to last for most of 2010, as cleanup will still be needed long after relief wells finally stop the oil flow from the leaking riser. Even while they are getting steady work now, the region’s vessel operators and crews are worried that the BP spill could harm their long-term economic future. Uncertainty over the Obama administration’s attempt to halt deepwater drilling, a congressional assault on the Jones Act and the potential for stricter environmental laws could threaten maritime jobs. For now, Whitehurst says he has never seen such strong demand for professional mariners. The 59-year-


old licensed master of towing is aboard the towing vessel Dari Lynn stringing 200-foot barges across inlets to prevent encroaching crude oil from entering Louisiana coastal bayous. Everyone is sad about the environmental disaster, he said, and plenty of Gulf Coast mariners are contributing to the spill response. “It’s actually producing work,” Whitehurst said in late June. “Otherwise, I’d be hustling for work. In the last week, I’ve had four calls with job offers. That’s more than I’ve had in the last 10 years. And I’m not the one doing the calling. They’re calling me.” The vessels and mariners

involved in the recovery aren’t only from the Gulf Coast. Spill-response and research vessels from as far away as Maine and from overseas have joined the BP-funded fleet. Because the work is constant, relief crews are needed to supplement the regular crews. Operators are offering mates $400 a day to lure them to the Gulf, and trip pilots are earning as much as $600 a day, said Capt. Joe Dady, president of the National Mariners Association, formerly the Gulf Coast Mariners Association. While most of the vessels are involved in skimming, the overall response has created demand for a

Professional Mariner September 2010

diverse array of maritime services. Relief crews are needed for the spill-response specialty ships and for “Cajun navy” offshore supply vessels that transport personnel and equipment to the Deepwater Horizon site. Tugboats also are plenty busy. “They are creating sand berms, so there is dredging going on, and I see that in some places they are using barges to block inlets,” Dady said. “There is a lot of equipment going down there.” Whitehurst and the 56-foot Dari Lynn maneuvered barges into place to protect entrances to Lake Pontchartrain and bayous in the

vicinity of the Rigolets strait, including Chef Menteur Pass and Unknown Pass. Oil began pushing into Lake Pontchartrain in July.

“The barges are a breakwater. They’re to protect the spill booms that are deployed behind the barges,” Whitehurst said. “We

Dari Lynn sails alongside a bridge in the vicinity of Lake Pontchartrain. Although mariners worked hard to protect the inlets and bayous, oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill began reaching the vulnerable lake in July. Brian Gauvin


industry signals

string the barges out. Once we do that, we pull one of them back out to make a 200-foot hole to let the shrimp boats out and things like that. We made a gate with a piece of pipe. Once the oil is here, they

will close (the hole) and that’s it.” Work may be steady now, but diverse political moves are afoot that may harm the ability of U.S. mariners to find work in the future. Citing a lack of safety, the Obama

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administration ordered a moratorium on deepwater drilling off the U.S. coast. The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) opposed the move, stating that it would result in major job losses. In June, a federal judge in New Orleans overturned the moratorium, finding that the government hadn’t provided a sound legal basis for stopping the drill work. The Obama administration appealed, but was not immediately able to convince the courts to issue a stay, meaning drilling could continue pending the appeal. However, the initial moratorium announcement prompted the industry to move some equipment elsewhere. More than 40 vessels were idled, OMSA said. Members of Congress have used the Gulf spill to attempt to weaken the Jones Act and allow more foreign-flagged vessels to operate on the nation’s near-coastal waters. In June, Sen. John McCain cited the Deepwater Horizon disaster specifically as he introduced a bill to repeal the Jones Act in its entirety. “This antiquated and protectionist law has been prominently featured in the news as of late due to the Gulf Coast oil spill,” McCain said in a statement accompanying the bill. The former Republican presidential candidate said the 1920s law “hinders free trade and favors labor unions over consumers.” McCain’s remarks angered some U.S. maritime organizations, who noted that plenty of foreign-flag vessels have been part of the spill

Professional Mariner September 2010

response. The Maritime Cabotage Task Force, a pro-Jones Act coalition of domestic operators and shipyards, noted that the law already allows waivers for foreign vessels if they are needed in emergencies. The task force membership promised that it “has not and will not stand in the way” of the international assistance in the Gulf. The U.S. State Department said equipment from nine foreign countries — including 24 foreign-flag vessels — was involved in the spill response in May and June. Dady noted that less than half of U.S. mariners are unionized. The percentage is even lower on the Gulf Coast. “McCain is playing on the emotions of people right now,” Dady said. “He sees an opportunity here, but I don’t think his facts are correct. He talks about unionism blocking free trade. It’s not about organized labor, it’s about American workers, period.” The true legacy of the BP disaster for U.S. mariners is that they may face even more safety and clean-water restrictions in the coming years, Dady said. “It’s a double-edged sword,” Dady said. “Some guys might get more work out of it, but long term, it’s going to cause the government to create more laws, and that might hurt us. The Coast Guard will zero in on the licenses and the training, and there will be more environmental laws. They don’t really go after the industry; they go after the worker, and that’s what we’re in for.”

As tar balls finally began washing up near Lake Pontchartrain in July, Whitehurst figured Dari Lynn’s response work might be just beginning. Eventually, though, the spill recovery will taper off, and the tugs

will remove the barges and boom. And he’ll be dialing his phone, hustling for work again. “You’re going back to square one,” Whitehurst said. Dom Yanchunas


industry signals


As world watches leaking oil, ROVs are the star of the show emotely operated vehicles have been a high-tech but a relatively unknown piece of oil field exploration equipment. But no more. Since the start of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, real-time videos of ROVs often lead the national news


Courtesy Deep Marine Technologies

with live feeds from 5,000 feet beneath the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). As the BP Plc.-operated well spewed oil uncontrollably, television viewers seemed mesmerized by images of the various attempts to cap the well. At the spill site, six vessels have


Courtesy Subsea 7

Above, a Triton remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is at work aboard the construction vessel DMT Emerald. This ROV specializes in deepwater work including setting suction piles. Right, a Hercules series ROV from Subsea 7 is a slightly smaller version of the heavy-duty vehicles that monitor the oil flow from BP’s riser a mile below the surface at the Deepwater Horizon disaster site.

two ROVs each with a pair of these devices tethered to the ship around the site. The main ROV — or at least the one of which most major news organizations are getting their video — is a Hercules series vehicle from Subsea 7 controlled by Skandi Neptune, a 341-foot Norwegian vessel that was doing well completion work using its ROVs before the explosion and fire aboard Deepwater Horizon. “This is an unusual job in that we have never had a pipeline rupture of this magnitude before, but getting video from 5,000 feet down is no big deal,” said Brett Candies, traffic and sales manager at Otto Candies LLC. “We do it all the time, but usually the general public is not interested.” Ocean Intervention III is also on site with a pair of 150-hp ROVs. Viking Poseidon, Boa Deep C, Q4000 and drillship Discoverer Enterprise each have two ROVs. While all 12 ROVs send live video to the surface, news broadcasters typically use the feed from Skandi Neptune ROV 1, because it is focused on the oil coming from the riser. Without ROVs, construction activity on all oil and gas wells in water deeper than 1,000 feet would be impossible, because that is the absolute limit for divers to descend. “Deep water is the future of

GOM exploration activity and this would be impossible without ROVs,” Candies said. “We would not be building our fleet of inspection, maintenance and repair (IMR) vessels, if not for the ability of ROVs to permit deepwater drilling.” An ROV is the eyes and work device for subsea completion work. ROVs carry propulsion thrusters, lights, digital video cameras and manipulator arms to complete work otherwise done by divers. Nick Stambolis, technical service manager for Schilling Robotics LLC, in Davis, Calif., noted the high-tech nature of ROVs. “We make an entire series of ROVs, some with titanium manipulator arms,” Stambolis said. “The on-ship operator uses a master consolette that is actually a representation of a human arm and hands. Every motion inputted into this arm is mimicked by the ROV arms.” An ROV is controlled from a “mother” ship. The ROVs are “flown” by operators called pilots. A joystick controls the movements of an ROV, and video monitors track its progress. Devices that mimic the movement of the operator’s hands move the manipulator arms in sync on the ROV. Typically a ship carries a pair of work ROVs, one to do the actual work and the other to provide the lighting, so operators can precisely guide the work to be done. That work can include digging trenches for pipelines, turning valves or threading pipe — literally anything divers can

Professional Mariner September 2010

do in waters above 1,000 feet. Installing subsea trees and suction piles are major tasks assigned to ROVs. Their video recorders are superior to divers in inspecting pipelines and other subsea infrastructure regardless of water depth. All ROVs have a launch-andrecovery system (LARS) to protect these delicate machines while aboard the ship and during the launch and recovery phase. Once underwater, the ROV is freed from the LARS and its thrusters take over the propulsion function. The ROVs are tethered to the ship with a bundle of cables that control all aspects of the vehicle. Once the job is complete, the ROV enters the LARS and is lifted aboard. A typical ROV is 11.5 feet by 5 feet by 6 feet, weighs 8,500 pounds, can dive to 10,000 feet and can carry a payload of 900 pounds. It carries a quartet of 500-watt light bulbs for illumination and two manipulator arms that do most of the work. There is typically a dual control room with a duplicate set of monitors and controls for each ROV. ROVs are also made for lighter duty projects such as treasure hunting and scientific research. It was an ROV that found Titanic. ROVs have been totally involved in earlier attempts to cap the BP oil well. Their first job was to try to activate the blowout preventer that failed to take the signal from the control room on Skandi Neptune. The ROVs were unable to activate the shears and rams that would have cut the riser pipe closing the well. Next they guided a cofferdam into place while a crane dropped it over

the well, but this device did not work as planned. Neither did a subsequent “top hat� device. ROVs were involved in cutting the riser pipe off so a cap could be installed over the spewing oil, and that device success-

fully captured some of the crude. ROVs will be involved for months in the response to the oil spil. Then they will return to the normal tasks of aiding oil production in deep water. Larry Pearson



industry signals


Gulf maritime responders suffer flu-like symptoms, mental anguish ince the second week of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, workers hired by BP Plc. have experienced flu-like symptoms after performing oilspill cleanup and recovery tasks in the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) said those reporting medical complaints had been performing tasks such as busting sheen, conducting offshore work, burning oil, deploying boom and other cleanup duties.



“Symptoms we have seen over the last couple of weeks are mild, and have included respiratory conditions such as throat irritation, difficulty breathing and cough and gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea and vomiting,” said Olivia Watkins, a DHH spokeswoman. Most workers, many of whom are out-of-work boat captains, who complained of ailments after inhaling fumes from oil or chemical dispersants quickly felt

better after treatment. As of July 10, the DHH Office of Public Health reported 227 cases of exposure-related illness; 193 of those involved workers participating in cleanup efforts or on oil rigs, and 34 were from the general population. Seventeen individuals had short hospital stays, generally one day in length. “Most of the hospitalizations have been for nausea, vomiting and flu-like symptoms,” Watkins said.

Professional Mariner September 2010

Nalco Co.’s COREXIT 9500 and 9527 are the dispersants being used on the oil spill. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the dispersant begins to break down within 16 days once it is applied to an oil slick. Human exposure is most likely to occur during transportation and handling and application of the dispersants. Repeated and prolonged exposure can lead to respiratory, nasal and eye irritation. Repeated or excessive exposure to 2-butoxyethanol, a major component of COREXIT 9527, may depress central nervous system

functions and cause nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects, and injury to red blood cells, kidneys or liver. To reduce exposure levels, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strongly advises that cleanup workers wear protective clothing when using chemical dispersants (overalls such as Tyvek jumpsuits, chemical-proof boots and gloves and chemical splash goggles). The EPA recommends using a half-face filter mask or an air-supplied breathing apparatus to protect the nose, throat and lungs. As of July, crews at the well site and conducting controlled burns are

provided respirators as a precaution. Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the EPA conduct regular air sampling over the spill. Cleanup workers are required to attend free training classes based on the job to be performed and the level of oil exposure expected. Watkins said DHH advises workers to follow federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines. Along with physical ailments, the oil spill may cause psychological detriment to those who rely upon Gulf waters for their livelihood. Some watermen may


industry signals

become prone to mental illness as they face the loss of jobs and, more importantly, their way of life. Mariners and their spouses already have needed counseling, said Michele M. Many, assistant professor at Louisiana State University’s Department of Psychiatry and a licensed clinical social worker. Many said she is witnessing a range of emotions, including “anger, concern for family, anxiety, stress and fear of the unknown. ... From a clinical standpoint, those in affected areas are in a hyper-aroused

state. They are putting all of their energies into the cleanup, trying to do what they can. It’s the one thing they can control to minimize the impact.” During her counseling sessions, Many includes “teaching coping skills, self-care and relaxation techniques and simply allowing them to ventilate.” She said mental-health professionals are following lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez disaster and Hurricane Katrina. “Since there are now limited resources, a once tight community may become vulnerable to in-fighting, as evidenced in

Prince William Sound after the Valdez spill,” Many said. “By building on the strengths of the community and emphasizing positive mutual support, we hope to counterbalance that phenomenon.” When that time comes, it will be imperative to have adequate mental health resources available. “As the full effects of the spill hit and the extent of the impact becomes known, the emotional mitigation the mariners have been employing while working on the cleanup may no longer serve as a coping mechanism,” Many said. Susan Abbotts

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Shipyards get busy as Gulf spill boosts demand for skimmers


said Trinity Offshore in Gulfport, Miss., is building five to nine skimmers to Kvichak’s 30-foot design. “We’re working three shifts around the clock,” he said. In Ocean Springs, Miss., Overing Yacht Designs announced a venture to construct 14 40-footers in June and christened its first, built at High Tech Steel Products in Amelia, La., in mid-July. One company that has been rushing skimmers into the Gulf since the blowout is Slickbar, of Seymour, Conn., the oldest manufacturer of skimming equipment. “The most successful one down there has been our Minimax 30,” said Steve Reilly, Slickbar’s chief executive, referring to a brush skimmer. “We’ve been outfitting the shrimp boats,” he said. “We have a heavy-duty screw pump, and that screw pump and brush combination is working very well in this heavy oil.” Peter Lane, president of Applied Fabric Technologies, of Orchard Park, N.Y., has a double perspective on the oil spill. His company makes the belts for Kvichak’s skimmers, and he is chairman of a committee that writes the standards for oil spill response for the American Society for Testing and Materials.

“The problem is the stuff comes up from 5,000 feet,” he said. “By the time it gets to shore 50 miles away … it’s already a tar ball.” In the trade, Lane said, the oil that’s left floating around is called chocolate mousse. “Down there they just call it pudd’n.”

Courtesy Kvichak Marine Industries

n a normal year, Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle builds two or three 30-foot oil skimmer vessels, five tops. Now, since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Kvichak is deep into a production run of 45. “The challenge is they need the skimmers now,” said Keith Whittemore, Kvichak’s president. “There are people out there who would like us to deliver one skimmer a day, seven days a week.” Skimmers work by funneling oil in the water towards a belt, brush or other device that separates it out and stores it for removal. Hundreds are at work right now; one of the biggest is a HOSS barge (high-volume opensea skimmer system), a 174-foot unit with four built-in skimmers. “It was built to sit downwind of an oil platform with big booms out, and then you’d let the oil blow into the barge and recover it,” said Whittemore. The typical market for skimmer vessels is the U.S. Navy and oil industry cooperatives such as New Orleans-based Clean Gulf Associates. Existing skimmers from Kvichak and manufacturers such as Rozema Boat Works of Mount Vernon, Wash., have already been deployed. At least two Mississippi companies are starting production lines of their own. John Dane III, president and chief executive of Trinity Yachts,

Kvichak Marine Industries has ramped up production of its 30-foot oil skimmer vessels as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Normally it takes the Seattle company 90 days to build a skimmer, but Kvichak accelerated the process to six weeks due to the Gulf emergency.

As well as skimmers, Lane says a Norwegian system called Current Buster, that is in use by the U.S. Navy, is very effective. And so is setting fire to the slick. “You take the oil that’s on the surface and you sweep it up between tow boats and you set fire to it,” he said. “We’re talking about flames 50 to 100 feet high.” Peter Meredith


industry signals

Navy to crew initial Joint High Speed Vessels with civilian mariners he U.S. Navy has decided to crew the first five ships in its Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program with civilians. Civil service mariners employed by Military Sealift Command (MSC), which runs the program for the Navy, will crew the first two, and civilian contract mariners the next three. MSC Commander Rear Adm. Mark Buzby said the civil service crews will provide insight about operating and maintaining the vessels. MSC employs both crewing models throughout its fleet of


more than 100 civilian-crewed noncombatant ships. Crewing the next three vessels with civilian contract mariners provides MSC an opportunity to evaluate the advantages of each crewing model, said MSC Public Affairs Director Tim Boulay. “Since civil service mariners work directly for MSC, we have more control over figuring out exactly what the needs are,” Boulay said. “These ships are a new class of ship for the Navy. There are many requirements that need to be ironed out,

including crew requirements. One model may be more costeffective than another, but until we do the real world evaluation, we won’t know. There are too many variables.” The Navy plans to have 21 crewmembers on each ship, Boulay said. The 338-foot catamarans, designed by Austal USA, can hit speeds of 45 knots, and cruise around 35 knots. They cost an estimated $160 million apiece. Though the ships are unarmed, noncombat vessels, they can carry

and support as many as 300 Marines for up to four days. Each vessel has a flight deck for helicopter transport and a mission bay substantial enough to carry M1 Abrams battle tanks. The JHSV was the result of a 2005 merger of the U.S. Army’s Theater Support Vessel and Marine Corps/Navy High Speed Connector programs. The joint, multiservice system will provide rapid transit and deployment of troops, military vehicles, equipment and supplies. The initial contract calls for the construction of 10 JHSVs to be split between the Navy and

the Army. The Navy has expressed interest in purchasing nearly two dozen of the highspeed ships, with the first, USNS

Increments and corrections An American Tugboat Review 2010 article featuring McAsphalt Marine Transportation Ltd.’s new articulated tug-barges incorrectly stated in which nation the tugboat Everlast was built. T. Yamaguchi of Taisei Engineering Consultants Inc. contacted Professional Mariner to clarify that Everlast was built in Japan. Taisei provided the Articouple coupler for the vessel.

Vigilant, scheduled for delivery in 2013. Randi Ciszewski, government fleet representative for the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MMP) and the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA), said the decision to employ civil service mariners is good news. “We are thrilled they’re going to use MSC civil service mariners on the first two vessels,” she said. “The other vessels will not, but we hope they at least continue to be crewed by MEBA and MMP members.” • Chris Bernard



by Gregory Walsh

The tugboat Alejandro undergoes final fitting at the American Boat Inc. yard in Alton, Ill. The former U.S. Navy tugboat was converted for terminal, towing and salvage work in Puerto Rico for American Tugs Inc.

Courtesy Brandon Durar

Puerto Rico towing company augments its fleet with conversions of older tugs he newest tractorstyle tugboat about to appear on the south coast of Puerto Rico is a former World War II Navy tug recently reduced in size and converted to z-drive propulsion by local entrepreneur

T 18

Pedro F. Rivera, founder of American Tugs Inc., based in Yabucoa. Rivera, who has already brought back to life half a dozen former U.S. inland river towboats and workboats, was putting the finishing touches on his lat-

est conversion at a shipyard in Alton, Ill., in mid-June. The tug, now with twin azimuthing zdrive propellers, was due to make its inaugural voyage to Puerto Rico, by way of New Orleans, in mid-summer.

Rivera calls it his own entrepreneurial form of recycling. The newly-named convert, Alejandro, is what is left of the former U.S. Navy tug Allegheny (ATA179) built in 1944 towards the end of World War II. After initial deployment in the South Pacific, the tug served in the Navy for almost 25 years before undergoing conversions for alternate uses. For close to a decade, it was a training vessel for the Great Lakes Maritime Academy. Allegheny was originally a diesel-electric, single-screw vessel with overall length of 143 feet and displacement of 835 tons. Today the vessel is considerably lighter, having lost about 30 feet of hull and carrying a much

Professional Mariner September 2010

tug, Marilyn R., is a former Mississippi River workboat converted to offshore towing capability and upgraded with z-drives at the same Illinois shipyard in 2004. Rivera acquired that former Navy tug in 2006 when it was in disrepair and near-abandonment in Puerto Rico. Soon after, one of his tugs was dispatched to tow it to Illinois for an extended refurbishment project. Alejandro, in its current configuration, will be the sixth z-drive tug operating in Puerto Rico, although other tugs have come and gone from previous charters and assignments. In addition to these two American Tug tractors, the others are Hector P., operated by South Puerto Rico Towing; Don Alfredo, operated by Harbor Bunkering in San Juan; ZOne operated by Great Lakes Towing’s Puerto Rico Towing & Barge Co., and at least one z-drive tug typically kept in San Juan by McAllister Towing and Transportation. Alejandro, newly outfitted with twin EMD 16-645 diesels and Schottel z-drives, can turn in a reported 3,900 hp with bollard pull in excess of 55 tons, according to Rivera. The blue-hulled tug has a robust appear-

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lighter complement of equipment, machinery and crew. The tug, originally much more ship-like in appearance, was constructed for the Navy at Levingston Shipbuilding Co., which is, itself, a story of historic entrepreneurial success. The Orange, Texas, shipyard was established by Irish immigrant Samuel Levingston in the 1850s. Many decades later it evolved into the Far East Levingston Shipbuilding (FELS) now a part of the international maritime group Keppel FELS, based in Singapore. Work on Alejandro’s renovation and conversion was done at American Boat Inc. in Alton and at National Maintenance & Repair, in Hartford, Ill. Rivera has also made use of his own employees working on this and other vessels at the shipyard. Rivera, a former manager for Crowley Maritime in San Juan, got started with his own business in the early 1990s. At first he competed against his former employer and others in San Juan, and then he relocated to the south coast of Puerto Rico. Rivera already has one other z-drive vessel in his fleet of nine tugs plus a 250-foot deck barge. That

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ance with high bulwarks, raised fo’c’s’le deck, elevated pilothouse and plenty of deck gear on both ends to handle a variety of assignments. The tug also has substantial firefighting capability, with a Skum monitor above the pilothouse, as befitting a tug that will frequently be assisting LNG tankers into the berths at nearby Guayanilla. Kelly Sprague of Design Associates Inc., in New Orleans, was project engineer for the conversion. He said approximately 30 feet was cut from the stern, with a new flat bottom, sloping down at about a 19° angle extended forward and down to meet the original keel. A small skeg was attached to that flat bottom section, with z-drives installed just aft of the skeg. While most of the rest of the hull was left untouched, all of the machinery spaces were gutted and much of the tankage was refurbished or altered. The current tugboat retains its original round-bilge configuration forward of amidships. Rivera said the tug, with both z-drive and offshore capability, will fulfill a variety of local, coastwise and offshore opportunities within its operating area. He said total costs of the

project for Alejandro will be close to $3 million. “I think that is a pretty good price,” he said, “especially if you compare it to the costs of some tugs being built today in the range of $10 million or more.” Significant clients and assignments of American Tugs consist of assisting barges in and out of the Shell refinery at the southeastern Puerto Rican town of Yabucoa, assisting LNG tankers in and out of the gas-fired power plant in Guayanilla Bay, and assisting ships and tugs at several other coal or oil fired power plants on the south coast. At the LNG facility, which has been operating since 2000, American Tugs operates in partnership with South Puerto Rico Towing, which operates the ASD tractor Hector P., and Svitzer Americas, the international towage company supplying logistical and technical support for marine operations. Guayanilla, towards the western end of the south coast, is Puerto Rico’s second busiest port, after San Juan. Aside from his LNG work in Guayanilla, Rivera said his tugs mostly operate towards the eastern end of the island, with little competition since

Professional Mariner September 2010

most of the harbors have fairly low maritime volume. His tugs, he said, are engaged in a variety of coastwise and offshore assignments, while his 250-foot deck barge, Thor III, is employed transporting up to 5,000 tons of construction equipment, building supplies, scrap steel and other heavy items around the Caribbean. Rivera reported that he had to use another tug in his fleet as collateral to finance the purchase of ASD drives for Alejandro. That tug, on paper at least, had little intrinsic value at the start of the project, other than its historic significance. Rivera anticipates that Alejandro will be a versatile vessel for terminal operations and a capable towing vessel and salvage tug. It has ASD maneuverability and a heavy windlass on the bow with two anchors, plus hawser winch, towing winch, capstan and towing bar across the stern. The tug also has 5,300-gpm firefighting capability, with a Nijhuis fire pump directly powered by a 16V-92 Detroit Diesel engine and the Skum monitor aloft. Also in the engine room are a pair of 8V-71 Detroit Diesel generators producing 100 kW each of auxiliary power.

On deck, Alejandro retains some original Almon Johnson equipment, including the dualdrum anchor windlass and the aft capstan, both now repowered to hydraulic. Just aft of the anchor windlass forward is a JonRie InterTech hawser winch with 350,000 pounds of braking power and 450 feet of 7-inch circumference braided line. The aft towing winch has been converted to a hydraulic package by JonRie InterTech. A 100-hp electric motor drives a pump to supply central hydraulic power. Navigation gear aboard the reconfigured tug includes Furuno NavNet radar, JRC AIS and heading sensor, Standard Horizon VHF radios, Simrad autopilot and electrical control panels provided by Bass Products. Rivera, 52, owns American Tugs Inc. together with his wife Marilin Hernåndez, who helps operate the office. He said he is proud to have two sons working with him, including his eldest, Pedro F. Rivera Jr., a graduate of Texas Maritime Academy, and his youngest, Alejandro Rivera, assisting with day-to-day operations. The youngest son is the namesake for the newest tug. •


Technology by Chris Bernard

Compulsory ECDIS carriage rule creates need for training t has been two years since the International Maritime Organization (IMO) moved toward adopting mandatory carriage rules for Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS), and the first implementation date is approaching. In 1995, the IMO first announced performance standards for ECDIS, which integrates with other shipboard systems to provide a wealth of information not available through traditional paper chart or basic electronic navigation. Seven years later it made ECDIS a suitable option for vessels under SOLAS requirements, provided they also carried a reliable backup. In 2008 the IMO accepted recommendations to make ECDIS compulsory, and adopted the new regulations a year later. They take effect on a rolling schedule that begins in 2012. The rules require



vessels to have both a primary ECDIS and a backup arrangement that can duplicate the additional functions ECDIS offers over paper charts. The regulations mandate changes in the provision of charts and shoreto-vessel corrections. Charts can be updated by CD-ROM/DVD or by satellite or Internet connection, and new charts can be purchased online. Prior to a ship’s departure, crew must obtain updated charts — which include additional, relevant information — for the intended voyage. ECDIS does more than just replace paper charts, said Lee Alexander, a research associate professor of electronic chart technology at the University of New Hampshire who chaired the group that developed the type-approval tests for an IMO-compliant ECDIS. It provides a new — and potentially much better — way to navigate.

ECDIS units can use two types of electronic charts, vector and raster. Raster charts are simply paper charts digitized with a scanner. Vector charts are standardized navigational databases created digitally. Vector charts that conform to International Hydrographic Organization specs are called electronic navigational charts, or ENCs, and often contain additional information over paper charts. The IMO permits the use of approved raster charts when ENCs are not available, and some ECDIS units can also use private charts, which are not IMO-approved. Currently more than half of all SOLAS vessels carry ECDIS equipment, but many aren’t using official ENCs, either through circumstance or choice. That means, essentially, that they’re not using the units as ECDIS. “Mariners are going to have to start using the approved charts,” said Alexander, drawing the analogy to

Professional Mariner September 2010

how personal computers replaced typewriters. They’re more than just a new way to type documents, and when you add an Internet connection, they become portals for tremendous amounts of information. Like computers, which are limited without links to the Internet, ECDIS units are dependent upon good data and hydrographic offices in some parts of the world are struggling to provide approved ENCs, he said. “The data is going to be a problem in some areas, but hopefully not for major shipping routes and ports,” he said. Another concern for the maritime industry is training. In June the IMO was voting to adopt revisions to the

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) for Seafarers that included requirements for ECDIS certification, said Christian Hempstead, an associate professor at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy who contributed to the revisions. “The training requirements are saying, look, if you’re on a ship as a watch officer at any level — in terms of STCW, that means management or operational — and that ship has ECDIS on it, you’ve got to have a certificate,” he said. “That’s a big shift in the training requirements that hasn’t been fully appreciated yet. I think the carriage requirements are going to take second fiddle to this

when it hits the street.” Specifics of the STCW requirements or implementation schedule were not available at press time. Capt. Jerry Pannell, director of training at the Simulation, Training, Assessment and Research Center in Florida, said any time you introduce new equipment onto the bridge and ask people to use it, there’s going to be a learning curve. Pannell points to the rise in accident rates after radar became ubiquitous in the 1950s. “We knew what it could do, but we didn’t know what it couldn’t do,” he said. “It led to a fixation with the equipment, relying on the computer. I fully expect that as we • integrate ECDIS.”



At Work

New B.C. ferry: views are great for passengers and crew

Photos and story by Brian Gauvin

hen the British Columbia Ferry Services named the third and last of its new Super C-class vessels, Coastal Celebration, it turned out to be a prophetic choice. All three vessels were brought in on time and under budget by the German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft. Coastal Renaissance and Coastal Inspiration preceded Celebration in 2008. The 525-foot Super C-class vessels are the largest double-ended ferries in the world. Coastal Celebration has four 5,361-hp MaK 8M32C diesels feeding power to two 11,000kW electric-drive motors that turn, depending on which one is engaged, a 16-foot, four-bladed propeller at either end of the ship.



“There is a rudder at each end so she tracks beautifully, especially turning a corner,” said Second Officer Terry Pommer. Pommer was at the helm on a scheduled run from Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver, to Swartz Bay, near Victoria, on Vancouver Island. The two bridges are located on No. 5 deck, which is the passenger deck above the upper car deck, No. 4; and below the upper passenger deck, No. 6. That is lower than the pilothouses crowning the upper decks of other BC ferries. “At first I was a little worried about its being too low,” said Capt. James Pomphrey. “But now I like it. We’re closer to things and it gives us a better per-

spective of the shore in Active Pass.” Active Pass is just what the name implies, requiring full attention from the bridge crew negotiating a tight and swift body of water popular with boaters and other island ferries, especially on weekends. Pomphrey said the key safety features of the vessels are maneuverability and the fully integrated navigation system provided by SAM Electronics, which is based in Hamburg, Germany. A Marioff Hi-Fog water mist system is installed in the passenger and machinery spaces and the car decks have a high-volume, lowpressure drencher system. In addition, there are six fully equipped fire lockers and 42 video camera monitoring locations. Professional Mariner September 2010

Left, Coastal Celebration, a 525-foot Super C-class double-ended ferry, docks at Tsawwassen, British Columbia, south of Vancouver. The BC Ferries vessel operates across the Strait of Georgia between the British Columbia mainland and Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island near Victoria.

Four inflatable evacuation slides and 22 100-foot life rafts aboard allow a full load of 1,600 passengers to evacuate the ship in 25 minutes. “And there are the milliondollar views,” said Pomphrey, referring to the huge picture windows in the passenger lounges. For the passenger sailing through the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia, the big view is perhaps the most memorable feature offered by Coastal Celebration and the Super C• class ferries.

Top, Second Officer Terry Pommer (left) at the helm, while Third Officer Aaron Hook keeps a careful lookout in Active Pass. Left, Senior Chief Engineer Michael Ball in the engine control room. Above, one of the four MaK 8M32C mains.

Above, passengers enjoy the views of the islands afforded by large windows in a lounge area. Above left, a slide allows children to pass the voyage in active play. Left, Liana McOrmand, from the Catering Service Dept., sets up the salad bar for the buffet in the Coastal Cafe. Right, the ferry displays elegance in its design right down to the wave patterns on its stack.


Casualties Photos courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Crew of LNG tanker that lost power lacked training in restarting engine manually liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier experienced a five-day blackout off Massachusetts in 2008 because of dirty relays that caused a low-water level in the boiler and because of inadequate training of the crew on how to restart power manually, U.S. Coast Guard investigators have determined. Catalunya Spirit lost power from both main generators Feb. 11, 2008, and drifted in the Atlantic Ocean about 50 nm southeast of Boston. Z-drive tugboats were able to bring the loaded 932-foot ship under tow, averting a grounding on Stellwa-



gen Bank shoal, the Coast Guard said in an investigative report. The incident prompted the Coast Guard to recommend a more frequent component-cleaning regimen and improvements in engineer training, according to the report, which Professional Mariner obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Spanish-flag ship lost power during a voyage to the Distrigas LNG terminal in Everett, Mass., from Trinidad and Tobago. A problem was detected on the vessel’s feed water pump, the chief

engineer reported. Other alarms were triggered, and Catalunya Spirit lost its main and emergency generators. “Lloyd’s Register and technicians attended the vessel and found two relays to be dirty. As a result, the main boilers shut down due to low water level,” the Coast Guard investigators wrote. “Once the crew cleaned the oil mist detector, they restarted the main diesel generator, but were unable to engage it on the main switchboard,” the report said. “Two ABB technicians did find that the crew failed to properly reset the diesel generator breakers which resulted in the generator not being able to be engaged on the main switchboard.” Top, tugboats escort Catalunya Spirit after the LNG tanker lost propulsion in the Atlantic Ocean off Massachusetts in February 2008. Below, a problem with a feed water pump in Catalunya Spirit’s engine room prompted the Coast Guard to recommend weekly cleaning of the oil mist detector.

Professional Mariner September 2010

maritime casualties

The crew was accustomed to operating the circuit breakers using computer software and not manually, the Coast Guard said. “The engineer was not familiar with the physical reset of the 3.3-kv breakers due to the nature of the engineering system being active all the time,” the Coast Guard investigators wrote. “The system is a computer ‘point-and-click’ system. The engineer was not familiar with the actual reset of the breakers in the main bus room due to the fact that they hadn’t had to use them before.” The point-and-click nature of the system “makes the crew so dependant on the computers that they became


incapable of effectively using the manual controls on the system,” the report said. What should have been a short power failure lasted five days because of “inadequate training,” the investigators determined. “If the crew had reset the breaker properly, then the vessel would have restored power in less than an hour,” the report said. The Coast Guard investigators said the crew should clean the relay components more often. “The diesel generator oil mist detector, according to the current maintenance plan, must be cleaned monthly,” the Coast Guard said. The

report recommends that “the company amend the maintenance plan to require a weekly versus monthly cleaning of the oil mist detector.” The Coast Guard also recommended that the Catalunya Spirit crew install two additional alarms for monitoring pressure on the auxiliary steam to provide advanced notice of a problem. The operator also needs to develop a procedure on how to properly reset the diesel generator’s breakers after a blackout. Catalunya Spirit’s owner is Teekay LNG Partners. The company, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Dom Yanchunas

Professional Mariner September 2010

USCG crew accused of not posting lookout, face charges in fatal crash our members of a U.S. Coast Guard small-boat crew face criminal charges as a result of a 2009 collision with a pleasure boat in San Diego Bay that killed an 8year-old boy. The coxswain of the 33-foot Coast Guard boat has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. Two boatswain’s mates were charged with negligent homicide. The Coast Guard said the boat was operating at an unsafe speed, with no lookouts. The accident happened at 1745 on Dec. 20 during a holi-


day boat parade west of Harbor Island. The Coast Guard special purpose craft-law enforcement, or SPC-LE, was responding to a reported grounding when it struck the stern of a stationary 24-foot Sea Ray recreational boat. The boy was sitting near the stern of the recreational boat when the Coast Guard vessel crashed into the boat, momentarily went airborne and struck him in the head. The National Transportation Safety Board said five other Sea Ray occupants were injured. In July, charges were brought

against the Coast Guard personnel under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They face possible court-martial and dishonorable discharge, the Coast Guard said. The 21-year-old coxswain was charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, negligently hazarding a vessel and dereliction of duty. If convicted of manslaughter, he could face up to 10 years in prison. “He negligently failed to complete a risk assessment or designate lookouts, prior to getting underway as coxswain of the vessel,”

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maritime casualties

even though congested parade and holiday lighting created navigation challenges, the Coast Guard said in an affidavit. “He negligently failed to maintain a safe speed as coxswain of the vessel ... in order to take proper and effective action to avoid collision and stop within a distance appropriate for the prevailing circumstances,” the document said. Witnesses said the Coast Guard boat was traveling at 30 to 40 mph at the time of the collision, said Michael Neil, a San Diego lawyer representing the victim’s family. “Obviously he should not have been driving the boat as fast as he

was driving it and in the manner in which he was operating it,” Neil said. “Speed must be safe in the circumstances, and you have to post a lookout. The oncoming boat has to give way if you are approaching the aft end of a boat.” Two boatswain’s mates were charged with negligent homicide, aggravated assault and dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to fulfill lookout duty. One was additionally charged with “negligently suffering a vessel to be hazarded” for allegedly failing to advise the coxswain to maintain a safe speed. A 3rd-class machinery technician was charged with dereliction

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of duty, also for allegedly not performing his duty as a lookout. A fifth crewmember was not charged, said Coast Guard spokesman Dan Dewell. The defendants’ attorneys could not be reached for comment. “It’s clear that it wasn’t intentional. They just didn’t see (the pleasure boat),” Neil said. “They had no lookout posted.” Dewell said the accused will appear at an Article 32 investigation — an approximate military equivalent to a grand jury hearing — later this year to determine whether they should be court-martialed. Dom Yanchunas

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head-and-guts fishing vessel that sank in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands in 2008, killing seven crewmen, was overloaded and wasn’t kept watertight, and the captain made a poor decision to sail into hurricanelike conditions, U.S. Coast Guard investigators have determined. The accident involving Katmai has prompted federal authorities to consider requiring operators of such fishing vessels to hold Coast Guard licenses. They may also broaden the definition of what may be considered a “fish processing” vessel for the purposes of safety inspections. The 93-foot Katmai flooded and sank in stormy seas Oct. 22, 2008, in Amchitka Pass. Four of the crew were rescued, five bodies were recovered and the remains of two were never found. The vessel had lost steering in 55- to 90-knot winds and 25- to 35foot seas, when the crew discovered that seawater was flooding the lazarette, fish-processing area and engine room. Based on witness statements and other evidence, the Coast Guard investigators determined that watertight doors had not been closed properly. The load of Pacific cod was twice as heavy as earlier stability tests had considered. “Primary causal factors that led to this casualty ... include imprudent voyage planning, failure to maintain watertight boundaries, excessive loading of cargo in the vessel’s fish hold and exposure to heavy winds and


high seas,” the Coast Guard said. The vessel was owned an operated by Seattle-based Katmai Fisheries Inc., which has financial ties and equity overlap with the ownership of All Alaskan Seafoods. Michael Barcott, a Seattle lawyer representing Katmai Fisheries, said the company had no comment on whether it agrees with the Coast Guard’s findings. The lost ship was the company’s final vessel, and family patriarch Lloyd Cannon died recently, Barcott told Professional Mariner in June 2010. While being battered by heavy weather, Katmai lost steering at about 0800. A crewman checked the lazarette and found that it was flooded with water and a door leading to it was open. Water was accumulating on the aft deck. Flooding also occurred in the engine room and in the fish-processing area, where a witness reported that the aft door had been left open. The water in the lazarette had caused the steering system’s electric motors to fail, the investigators said. Katmai listed to starboard, and the crew donned immersion suits and deployed life rafts. Good Samaritan fishing vessels Courageous and Patricia Lee picked up the survivors. The investigators said Katmai was headed to Dutch Harbor to offload the largest load of frozen cod that the vessel had ever held — twice as much as was assumed in its most recent stability report. The captain

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn Eggert

Overloading, watertight integrity and failure to wait out storm cited in Alaska sinking

Coast Guard Cmdr. Malcolm McLellan, left, and Michael Karr, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, examine a life raft aboard Miss Amy during their probe of the Katmai sinking in 2008. Miss Amy was a very similar vessel to Katmai, with several common features.

was aware of impending bad weather, but the weather fax was out of ink, preventing the captain from receiving the latest National Weather Service surface reports and ascertaining the storm’s true scope. Before a sleep break on the evening of Oct. 21, the captain instructed the engineer to sail at about 7.5 knots to make enough headway to avoid the teeth of the storm. When the captain awoke and resumed his watch, he discovered that Katmai had been able to make only 3.5 or 4 knots. The Coast Guard investigators said the master should have waited out the storm instead of sailing through it.


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Professional Mariner September 2010

maritime casualties

“The captain’s decision to proceed to Dutch Harbor instead of seeking shelter and waiting for the storm to pass unnecessarily exposed Katmai to the severe weather conditions,” the report said. The Coast Guard said no one aboard the 148-gross-ton Katmai had a merchant mariner’s credential, although the captain was in the process of seeking a 200-ton license. He had no formal training in vessel stability. Another aggravating factor was crew exhaustion, the report said. They worked an average of 16 to 18 hours per day and usually slept two to six hours. Survivors’ testimony indicated that “all crew on board were deprived of sleep and most likely suffered from fatigue.” The “chronic fatigue” may have contributed to the captain’s decision to sail to Dutch Harbor and to diminished physical capabilities of the crew upon abandoning ship, the investigators wrote. The crew also should have had better training in the use of immersion suits and life rafts. The investigative report emphasizes the need to maintain the

watertight integrity of a vessel at all times. In addition to the open doors, witnesses said the fish-processing area may have had an insufficiently repaired weld seam and a corrosion problem. “Close and dog all watertight doors, especially those exterior doors facing aft or leading into the house and processing spaces,” the Coast Guard wrote. “Do not allow these doors to be tied open while at sea. Masters should enforce closure discipline anytime the vessel is away from the pier.” Mariners also need to be intimately aware of the vessel’s stability characteristics. “Owners and operators should know safe loading limits, and should periodically consult a naval architect to become completely knowledgeable about the limits of their vessel’s capability,” the Coast Guard said. “Masters aboard vessels with stability instructions should closely adhere to all guidance and conditions.” Alarms are necessary to provide early indications of a breach. “Bilge alarms serve as the first warning of trouble and are especially critical in unmanned spaces. ... Test

bilge alarms at least weekly. Repair or replace them when they fail,” the Coast Guard recommended. Masters should avoid allowing multiple tanks containing fuel or other fluids to be only partially full, the report suggested. “Free surface refers to the condition when the surface of a liquid or liquid-like load is free to move. Think of it as the side-to-side energy of the sloshing. A free surface has the effect of raising the vessel’s center of gravity, an impact which is almost always undesirable,” the Coast Guard said. “Minimize the number of tanks that are not either completely full or drained empty. If the vessel has instructions from a naval architect for the order of fuel tank consumption, follow those orders.” The Katmai disaster has prompted the Coast Guard to look at ways to improve the head-and-guts captains’ training and professionalism. “We are considering safety and stability training requirements for fishing vessel masters as part of a fishing vessel safety rule-making project currently underway,” the Coast Guard report stated. Dom Yanchunas

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maritime casualties

Pilot boat rescues injured OSV deck hand from Gulf of Mexico our mariners are being praised for their swift response after an offshore supply vessel (OSV) crewman fell into the Gulf of Mexico nearly 28 miles off the Louisiana coast. Investigators have not said how the deck hand fell from the 97-foot Ms. Mia and suffered serious cuts on the morning of May 20. The U.S. Coast Guard said the combination of luck, timing and the


Courtesy Lake Charles Pilots

The Lake Charles Pilots boat crew used this sternmounted mesh platform to rescue the victim in the Ms. Mia incident.

proximity of a specially-equipped pilot boat probably saved his life. “Everything seemed to align here to help this guy out,” said Lt. Clint Smith of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Lake Charles. “The fact that the pilot heard the distress signal, the fact that the pilot boat was out there, the fact that these guys had just gotten a brand new safety platform on board for this very type of situation — all the circumstances lined up in this guy’s favor.” Michael Danos, captain of Ms. Mia, issued a mayday call for a man


overboard at 0626. Danos and First Mate Anthony Cantrelle made separate attempts to swim out to the crewman, who was in his early 20s and weighed more than 200 pounds, but neither could bring him back on board. They were able to place a lifering around the unconscious crewman’s waist. The victim was not wearing a life vest when he fell, the Coast Guard said. As Danos and Cantrelle worked to rescue the deck hand, John “Buck” Stephenson, a senior boat captain with the Lake Charles Pilots, had just dropped off a pilot roughly three miles from Ms. Mia. The OSV was moored to an oil rig in the West Cameron block 198 when the crewman fell in. The pilot, Capt. Brett Palmer, heard the call and alerted Stephenson, who had already started heading back to shore. It took Stephenson and First Mate Carson Fasske about eight minutes to reach Ms. Mia, which had already disconnected from the oil rig and was floating alongside the crewman. When they arrived, the injured crewman had been in the water for almost 15 minutes. “The man in the water was unconscious floating in the water with a big pool of blood around him,” Stephenson said in a phone interview. Stephenson’s 75-foot pilot boat Calcasieu Pass Pilot, which Gladding-Hearn shipbuilders delivered only a month before the accident, was equipped with a sternmounted mesh platform designed for water rescues. Stephenson, who

hadn’t ever used the device in an emergency, attempted to retrieve the victim by placing the mesh net underneath him. On the second try, he said a wave carried the crewman right onto the platform. The rescue platform “worked really well” Fasske said. “We would not have been able to get him out of the water without it.” Once on board, Fasske administered first aid while Stephenson steered toward a Coast Guard helicopter that was already en route from Air Station Houston. Almost 45 minutes later, when Calcasieu Pass Pilot was just about five miles from shore, the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter arrived. A Coast Guard rescue swimmer was lowered onto the pilot boat. A rescue basket was lowered, and the swimmer and the injured crewman were hoisted back onto the helicopter. Minutes later, the crewman arrived at St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Beaumont, Texas, where he was treated for undisclosed injuries. The crewman is recovering with family outside Pensacola, Fla., Smith said. An official with C&G Marine Service, which owns Ms. Mia, declined to comment on the accident, but confirmed that the crewman survived. Smith said the accident remains under investigation and is being handled by Coast Guard Sector Mobile. Stephenson, Fasske, Danos and Cantrelle are being considered for Coast Guard awards for their roles in the rescue, Smith said. Casey Conley

Professional Mariner September 2010

60 hurt when cruise ship turns sharply to avoid drifting buoy t least 60 passengers were injured when a Carnival Corp. cruise ship listed hard to starboard during a sudden turn to port in the Gulf of Mexico. Carnival Ecstasy was en route to Galveston, Texas, from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on April 21 when the officers encountered an object in the water. As they swerved to avoid it, the 855-foot ship tilted, the U.S. Coast Guard said. “It was a buoy that was adrift, and they went to dodge it, and turned, and the boat listed over,” said Petty Officer Richard Brahm, a Coast Guard spokesman in Houston. The accident occurred at 1255. Passengers reported that the force of the tilt flung them out of chairs and sent people sliding across decks. Plates, glasses and liquor bottles smashed. Water poured out of swimming pools. Casino chips slid off of tables. Passenger Mike Williams, of Plainview, Texas, was in a buffet restaurant on the top deck when he felt the vibration from what he


thought were the bow thrusters and then a hard sway. “I was looking out the right side of the ship, and you could see the water coming up, and if you looked to the left, you could see the sky coming,” Williams said. “It felt like the ship just fell into a hole.” In a statement, Carnival officials said the cruise ship “was forced to perform a maneuver” to avoid the floating obstruction, which almost went unnoticed. The weather was sunny, and seas were very calm. “The object was a large buoy which was adrift and mostly submerged, thereby preventing it from being detected by the ship’s radar,” Carnival’s statement said. The Miami-based company said the starboard list was 12°. The incident caused minor injuries to 60 people. Three passengers were treated at a Galveston hospital. “It was pretty scary. It was quite a shock,” Williams said. “Do we go and get life jackets? Do we jump off the ship? It really felt like the ship was turning over on its side. ... Peo-

ple were running and screaming, and dishes were falling off the stacks and breaking, and food was all over the floor. Stainless steel serving carts turned over and hit people in the legs, and one lady had her leg bashed open.” Company officials declined to be interviewed about the incident. Neither Carnival nor the Coast Guard would reveal the location of the accident or the exact speed and heading of the ship. Williams said he thought it was in the middle of the voyage, roughly halfway between Cozumel, Mexico, and Galveston. The Panama-flagged Carnival Ecstasy’s cruising speed is 21 knots, according to the company’s Web site. The 70,367-gross-ton ship is part of the cruise line’s Fantasy-class fleet. It was built in 1991. Carnival Ecstasy was carrying a full booking of 2,340 passengers and 900 crew, Carnival said. The Galvestonbased vessel was returning on the final leg of a five-day cruise to Cozumel and Progreso. Dom Yanchunas


maritime casualties

Captain manages to survive after his boat disappears under barge o the astonishment of rescuers, a towboat master managed to survive after his vessel was pulled by currents underneath a large segmented barge in the Mississippi River. While underwater, the master managed to escape from the wheelhouse and then popped up to the surface at least 150 feet from the vessels. Gabriel J was building a platform out of Flexifloat segments June 1 at a riverside construction business near downtown St. Louis when the trouble began. A strong current trapped the 730-hp boat against the custom-made barge and dragged it under at 1459. Gabriel J’s deck hand was able to leap onto the platform and was unhurt. The captain, however, didn’t have time to flee the wheelhouse and went down with the boat, said St. Louis Fire Department Capt. Michael Pickett. The captain exited the submerged towboat and managed to find daylight and swim out from under the platform, Pickett said. The 49-year-old victim could hardly breathe when he was rescued by a good Samaritan boat.



“The operator was inside the pilothouse when the boat got caught in a cross-tow or an undertow, and it sucked the whole boat under the barge, and the boat stayed under,” Pickett said. “You can imagine a whole boat being sucked under a barge. It was almost unbelievable.” Gabriel J and the construction yard are owned and operated by Alberici Constructors Inc., which is involved in bridge construction in the region. The company’s senior vice president, Jim Frey, said the deck hand was wearing a life vest, the captain was not and was not required to. “They were working to push some Flexifloat barges together,” Frey said. “It’s a dock that we use to load materials in barges to take some steel down to a project.” The river was high at the time, said Lt. Rob McCaskey, an incident manager with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sector Upper Mississippi River. McCaskey said the segmented barge was 150 feet by 140 feet. Two men on an outboard Jon boat witnessed the entire episode and res-

cued the victim in the nick of time. Pickett identified the good Samaritans as Dean Presley and Steve Christian of Humboldt Boat Service. The fire department responded with its Boston Whaler rescue boat and an ambulance to pick up the struggling towboat master, whose survival was amazing, Pickett said. “He went down with the boat, and he came up on the other side, 150 feet to 200 feet from where he had been,” Pickett said. “When he surfaced, he was in dire distress. He couldn’t have lasted much longer. He had water in his lungs, and even when we talked to him in the ambulance, he was still coughing up water.” The captain was treated at a St. Louis hospital and released. Frey said his own crews salvaged Gabriel J. The 69-gross-ton vessel was out of service in June awaiting unspecified repairs. “The exact cause of the incident has not yet been determined and remains under investigation,” McCaskey said. Dom Yanchunas

Professional Mariner September 2010

Diesel fuel spills after twisted I-beam pierces ro-ro ship’s hull he U.S. Coast Guard is trying to determine how a steel fender beam twisted and punctured the hull of a roll-on, rolloff vessel, causing 6,500 gallons of diesel fuel to spill into the Savannah River, which forms most of the border between Georgia and South Carolina. The port at Savannah, Ga., was closed for more than 24 hours following the March 21 accident. The 625-foot Liberty, owned by American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier LLC of Park Ridge, N.J., reported a hull puncture while departing the Ocean Terminal at approximately 1130. “The vessel was getting underway and when it departed the pier, part of the fendering system, which is an I-beam, twisted and punctured the hull of the ship,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Rohland, one of the investigators in the incident. How the I-beam became twisted is still under investigation.


The spill of red-dye low-sulfur diesel came from the ship’s starboard fuel tank, which had a capacity of 65,000 gallons. The tank was drained after the accident. Some of the spill was captured by absorbent booms, Rohland said. “The crew did a fantastic job of plugging the hole,” he said. “It was squirting out the side of the ship because of the pressure, and the chief engineer and another engineer took some dunnage and broke it up to plug the hole. It was about 95 percent stopped in about five minutes.” The ship was carrying a cargo of heavy equipment such as backhoes and bulldozers. The only damage to the ship was the puncture — about 1 foot in diameter — and there was no other damage to the pier except for the fender. The shipping company completed permanent repairs to the hull before the Coast Guard allowed the vessel to depart,

Rohland said. American Roll-on Roll-off spokesman Darrell Wilson declined to comment on the incident. The Coast Guard, Georgia Ports Authority, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, National Park Service, O’Brien’s Response Management Group, Marine Spill Response Corp. and Crowley Maritime Corp. responded to the accident. Approximately 5,000 feet of boom was placed in the river to minimize the spread of diesel fuel. Additionally, 2,200 feet of absorbent boom and several skimmers were placed to recover as much fuel as possible. A sheen was visible from the Talmadge Memorial Bridge to Fort Jackson, S.C. Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz said eight vessels were queued up to enter the port and five were ready to leave when the river reopened. Bill Bleyer


maritime casualties

Barge flips, loses its load of scrap metal in Pacific Ocean 295-foot barge capsized off the Oregon coast, dumping 4,500 tons of scrap metal into the ocean. The crew of the tug General Jackson reported the barge it was towing had overturned about eight miles offshore of the Columbia River bar around 0730 on April 13. No injuries were reported. The barge held about 500 gallons of diesel fuel. A U.S. Coast Guard investigation has not been able to determine what caused the Canadian-owned barge to dump its load near Astoria, Ore. “We don’t know why it capsized in calm weather,” said Coast Guard


Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn. “The barge was flipped upside down, so we couldn’t do a thorough inspection. We were more concerned with getting it out of the area.” General Jackson is owned by Great Northern Marine Towing Ltd., of New Westminster, British Columbia. Todd Brown, the company’s operations manager, said the barge had yet to be righted as of late May. The barge was built with compartments designed to be deliberately flooded in port to help roll a load of logs off one side. Littlejohn said it’s possible one or more compartment flooded.

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board is conducting its own inquiry into the incident. Spokesman Chris Krepski said the TSB is still in the process of gathering information. “We’re trying to get aboard the barge to get a closer look,” he said. “Then we’ll determine what level of investigation we’re going to do.” The Coast Guard responded with an MH-60 helicopter and a 47-foot motor lifeboat. The air crew reported seeing “a light sheen” near the vessel. “Shortly after arriving on scene, the sheen dissipated,” Littlejohn said. “It was never determined how much

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Professional Mariner September 2010

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

A 47-foot Coast Guard boat approaches a capsized barge eight miles west of the Columbia River bar. The barge capsized and lost its load of scrap metal while it was being towed by the tugboat General Jackson.

exactly leaked, but it wasn’t the 500 gallons on board.” The Coast Guard prohibited General Jackson from towing the capsized

barge into the Columbia River. The tug’s operators made the decision to tow it back to Canada without righting it, Littlejohn said. “We required them to remain outside the boundaries of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary — between 25 and 50 miles from shore,” he said. The route took the vessel past the Washington coast and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Following the incident, the Coast Guard reported the oil sheen to both the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE). Neither agency pursued any action.

“Because it wasn’t in state waters, there was never any enforcement action taken by the state,” said Curt Hart, spokesman for the Washington DOE. A state-funded emergency tug stationed at Neah Bay, near the entrance to the strait, was put on notice but not deployed. The unsecured load of scrap metal sank to the ocean’s floor in about 300 feet of water. Coast Guard Petty Officer Kelly Parker said the barge’s owner, Amix Salvage & Sales, of Surrey, British Columbia, plans to attempt to recover the cargo. Amix did not immediately return calls to • confirm those plans. Chris Bernard

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Retired tanker at the center of ambitious plans for a N.Y. waterfront attraction Story by Dom Yanchunas Photos by Brian Gauvin

Top, the tanker Mary A. Whalen is the centerpiece of the PortSide NY project, which aims to develop a maritime center on Brooklyn, N.Y., Red Hook docks. Right, Carolina Salguero is PortSide NY’s founder. She lives on the boat. 40

he vintage refueling vessel Mary A. Whalen is playing the starring role in an effort to create a maritime center that would serve presentday professional mariners and the general public. Built in 1938, Whalen ceased operation in 1994. Still afloat today, the ship is tied up at Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Red Hook Container Terminal. While the 172-foot ship may be a symbol of a bygone era, a group called PortSide New York plans to use it as the centerpiece of a wideranging waterfront attraction at the Red Hook docks. The group already uses Whalen for cultural events and hopes the old tanker will be the focal point for other historical, educational and artistic presentations. The Brooklyn project, however, also intends to serve the working mariner. PortSide plans a maritime education center, where would-be


and current professional mariners could take U.S. Coast Guardapproved courses and obtain career counseling. The organizers hope their pier will become a landing for ferries and tour boats. They want to offer a so-called “Truckstop for Workboats” that would allow tugs to tie up while mariners take a break, walk around and resupply their galleys. Several Whalen alumni have signed up as volunteers, attracted by the idea of refurbishing the old tanker and serving future mariners. One volunteer is Rich Naruszewicz, who served as an AB tankerman on the vessel from 1992 to 1994. For decades, Whalen operated throughout the harbor, from Stuyvesant Terminal at 138th Street to Newtown Creek to the Gowanus Canal to the bay anchorages. Whenever oil tanker captain Naruszewicz visits Whalen, he fondly recalls his years sailing the distinctive old “bell boat” around New York Harbor. “She was a one-of-a-kind boat — a lot of memories,” Naruszewicz said. “We use to do anything and everything in the harbor that would take black oil: cruise ships, containerships, bulkers, freighters, terminal-to-terminal.” Mary A. Whalen began life as S.T. Professional Mariner September 2010

Kiddoo. The vessel, built at the Mathis shipyard in Camden, N.J., specialized in transporting gasoline and heating oil along the Atlantic Coast between Maine and Maryland. In its last years, Whalen stayed around New York Harbor, delivering locally for Eklof Marine. Naruszewicz, 53, now works as a captain aboard large tankers. As he reminisced on Whalen’s decks, he marveled at how the industry has advanced in less than two decades. Whalen was — and still is — equipped with a 450-hp, 300-rpm Fairbanks Morse 37E12, a six-cylinder, direct-reversing engine. The vessel is called a “bell boat” because the captain in the wheelhouse used conventional bell clangs to instruct the crewmen below how to run the vessel. After a bell signaled that a change of instructions was imminent, the engineer would hear different combinations of clangs to indicate slow ahead, half ahead, threequarters, full ahead or astern. “Every maneuver was a challenge because you had to slow down, stop and wait for the response of the engine,” Naruszewicz said. “The assistant engineer would be sitting here with a cigar or a cigarette in his mouth, and when he heard the command, he would come up to this engine telegraph, and he would stop (the engine) and then he would put it astern.” Another former Whalen crewman, Gulmar Parga, recalls learning many aspects of ship operations and seafaring life aboard the tanker in the 1990s, when he was starting out in the business. Now Parga, 43, serves as an engineer aboard New York City fireboats. “You had to be a pretty good captain, because there’s no throttle up

there. There’s only the bells,” Parga said. “It was pretty crazy doing those K-turn maneuvers up on the Gowanus Canal.” While touring the engine room recently, Parga had a laugh when he noticed one of the old pumps. “This was the bilge pump and the firefighting pump,” he said. “Back in the day, you’d be pumping out water on the fire, but you’d get oil for a second or two before you’d get seawater.” Carolina Salguero, PortSide’s executive director, said tours of Mary A. Whalen could ultimately nurture a deeper appreciation of the industry. “The motive is industrial advocacy and the desire to have better waterfront planning, in ways that are accessible and interesting to the general public,” Salguero said. “What we discovered is that she is an amazing teaching tool, because she seduces people.” Another friend of PortSide is Heidi Benedikt, an AB tankerperson aboard Whalen in 1987-88. It was only the second vessel on which Benedikt worked. She had not exactly received a warm welcome on the previous boat. “The first job I went on, (the crew) were trying to scare me. They said I had to hook up the hoses and load the boat all by myself,” she said. “They said, ‘Now we’re going to show you where you’re going to sleep’ — and they brought out a folding chair.” Thankfully, they were just kidding about the chair. The atmosphere aboard Whalen, however, was quite different. Benedikt was greeted by a nice group of guys, a spacious galley with super grub and a very comfortable bunk. “This boat was great. I thought I moved into a palace,” she said. “I

was so scared to live with the same people for seven days, but I liked the crew. I have a lot of fond memories on this boat.” Occasionally, the men hazed the vessel’s only woman. Benedikt would find girlie magazines in her locker, for example. No problem. She traded the magazines to ships’ crews during refueling jobs. In exchange, she would receive fresh pineapples and bananas or a bottle of vodka. Later her crewmates would wonder where their magazines had gone. Naruszewicz recalls how noisy the boat was. “You got very little sleep aboard this vessel. Your rooms were right here above the engine, and you had the bells, and when the boat would

Top, former Whalen crewmember Rich Naruszewicz demonstrates how the captain would give commands to the engineer on the “bell boat.” Above, Gulmar Parga reminisces in the boat’s engine room, where he started his maritime career.


Left, Capt. Butch Kitchell, on the towing vessel Vulcan III, visits Mary A. Whalen at the Red Hook Container Terminal. Many mariners in New York Harbor are volunteers or supporters of PortSide NY, and maritime companies have donated funds or services. Below, Whalen’s paper Vessel Inspection Record is still aboard the 72-year-old tanker.

go astern, it would go ‘Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!” he said. The noise didn’t bother Benedikt. When she wasn’t on watch, she practiced playing harmonica. The constant racket from the engine and bells guaranteed that no one else was disturbed. “Now I feel really old that a boat that I worked on is a museum boat!” she said. Both Benedikt and Naruszewicz have vivid memories of tying the boat up to a bulkhead next to a supermarket along the Gowanus Canal. They usually tied up to a tree or to a tractor-trailer that made the grocery deliveries. Once, their makeshift mooring arrangement didn’t end well. “We tied the stern line on the back bumper of a car,” Naruszewicz said. “When we came out of the store, the bumper was still in the parking space, but the car was gone!”

Resupplying a round-theclock tugboat is a challenge for some operators, he noted. “We do need a ‘Truckstop for Workboats,’” he said. “The problem is, in between jobs, how do you get grub? You have to find a dock where you can get off the boat and get into a taxi and go to the supermarket somewhere. But some terminals don’t allow you to get off the boat, and they don’t want you to walk through, and they don’t want taxis going through.” The proposed Marine Career Center classroom would house Coast Guard-approved courses and career counseling for new and experienced mariners. Young people could learn about maritime career opportunities. It’s fitting that Mary A. Whalen lives on and may beckon new mariners into the industry, Benedikt

and Parga said. Many got their start on the omnipresent tanker. “Without the experience and what I learned on this boat, I would not be where I am now,” Parga said. PortSide already hosts occasional tours of Whalen, and the organization plans more community outreach. “When I try to explain what it’s like (to be a mariner) and how you live and what people do on the boat, just to be able to walk on it, to be physically out on the boat and touch things, is priceless in terms of education,” Benedikt said. One volunteer, John Weaver, is the son-in-law of Capt. Alf Dyrland, Whalen’s master from 1958 to 1978. “We have all these (Dyrland) notes, which were written in a very fine hand,” he said. “The navigation notes were folded up to about the size of a calling card, with all the navigation problems up and down the river — where there was a sunken tugboat, a barge that went down, places where there were rocks that you could only see at extreme low tide.” Although Mary A. Whalen sailed only along the East Coast, its name is familiar to mariners nationally. That’s because a maritime casualty involving Whalen led to the 1975 U.S. Supreme Court case establishing the ability of courts to divide damages

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based on degree of fault. On a night when Dyrland was away on leave, Whalen ran aground during a maneuver to avoid another vessel off Rockaway Point, N.Y. The Coast Guardmaintained breakwater light was out. The Supreme Court turned aside the precedents of “divided damages” and “presumption of causation” and instead adopted the concept that U.S. courts can allocate damage to parties “proportionately to the comparative degree of their fault.” The PortSide participants hope their project will be a tool for public advocacy for working mariners, whose interests are under-represented in city planning, Salguero said. The New York City Economic Development Corp. (EDC) is negotiating a lease with PortSide. The EDC is itself a tenant of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which will review the sublease. Thereafter, PortSide intends to raise funds from private foundations, industry donations and government sources. Maritime operators that have contributed services or advice to PortSide include Hughes Marine, K-SEA Transportation, Reinauer Transportation and Weeks Marine. American Stevedoring Inc. has provided the dock space, electricity and labor. “We’re trying to make the public aware and to make it a maritime hub and teach people how the waterfront works,” Naruszewicz said. Finally, there’s the dream that Whalen could sail again. PortSide is actively seeking parts for the old engine. Marine engineers say it needs five connecting rods for the Fairbanks Morse engine, a davit and expertise in crank repair. “Nothing but good things can come from this old boat. It’s a good steel hull, and the water’s still staying • on the outside,” Parga said.

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trends & currents

Extension of discharge waiver for smaller vessels approved by Rich Miller

he U.S. Congress has granted a reprieve for commercial vessels less than 79 feet regarding rules on routine discharges such as deck runoff and bilge water, extending a moratorium that was to expire July 31. Provisions of the Vessel General Permit (VGP), drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to a federal court ruling in 2005, went into effect in February 2009 for commercial vessels 79 feet or longer. The ruling ended the Clean Water Act exemption for discharges “incidental to the normal operation of a vessel” within three nautical miles of the U.S. shoreline. Legislation in 2008 granted fishing vessels and commercial vessels less than 79 feet a two-year exemption to the VGP, which establishes procedures for inspections, monitoring,



record-keeping and reporting of 26 discharges, along with recommendations for corrective action if effluent limits are exceeded. As many as 210,000 vessels in these two categories would be subject to the guidelines, according to the EPA. While the agency has reported significant steps toward compliance by operators of larger commercial vessels, industry officials say questions about enforcement and the ability of states to add stricter regulations have plagued the process. That gave rise to efforts to extend the moratorium for smaller commercial vessels until the problems can be resolved. VGP compliance is “a substantial undertaking” that typically involves additional training and expense, said Jennifer Carpenter, senior vice president of national advocacy for the American Waterways Operators (AWO), a towing industry trade group. “You have to have a program of inspections — routine visual inspections, comprehensive annual inspections, drydock inspections, etc.,” she said. “You have to keep very extensive records, and you have to take corrective action when you find violations.” Carpenter said that even though many companies have well-established record-keeping systems, VGP compliance requires additional operator oversight that can prove costly. “I’m aware of one company, and I’m sure they’re not the only one, that has hired a full-time VGP coordinator,” she said. “This person’s whole 40-hour-a-week-plus job is to manage VGP compliance for the company and to make sure that information is getting out to the fleet, that records

are coming in from boats and barges, etc. I know of other companies that have spent well into the six figures to put in place electronic documentation systems to keep track of the volume of record-keeping that’s required. And that’s before you get to any kind of physical modification of a vessel.” Ryan Albert, an EPA scientist, said approximately 70,000 vessels are subject to VGP guidelines, with the total cost of compliance under $100 million a year. Depending on the sector, the median cost per company can range from $4 to $1,598, according to the agency. “Many (vessel operators) are already doing these sorts of things under their existing environmental management systems,” Albert said. “For most operators we estimate the cost is relatively small, but there may be a few where the cost has been more significant.” Enforcement of VGP rules for commercial vessels larger than 79 feet has fallen to the EPA, and that would be the case for smaller vessels as well. Albert and industry officials said they are unaware of any penalties being assessed, however, and the EPA is working toward an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard to handle enforcement. Carpenter said a Coast Guard role is likely because it already has a presence on vessels and it has the assets to conduct inspections. “If the Coast Guard is doing a boarding, while they’re at it they’re going to look to see that your extensive VGP documentation is in place,” she said. “The EPA regions will also have a role in enforcement, but the Professional Mariner September 2010

rigor of that is not yet clear. They’ve got the ability to make it as rigorous and as extensive as they want, but they’re going to have to get some experience with this and determine the level of resources they want to devote to it.” Carpenter said that while the VGP provisions have not been enforced to date, vessel owners and operators should be aware that noncompliance could result in substantial civil and criminal penalties — up to $37,500 per violation per day, according to the EPA. “It’s in every vessel owner’s strong

interest to comply,” she said. Jonathan Waldron, a lawyer at Blank Rome LLP in Washington, D.C., said he fears that the lack of enforcement could breed complacency among vessel operators. “I am concerned about compliance because it has now been such a long time since this went into effect ... that operators are not really paying attention to this requirement anymore,” he said. “There is a good chance this issue will be extended for awhile (for smaller vessels), but it could ultimately happen.”

What the law regulates Incidental discharges covered under the EPA’s Vessel General Permit: • Deck runoff and above-water hull cleaning effluent • Bilge water/oily water separator effluent • Ballast water • Anti-fouling leachate from antifouling hull coatings/hull coating leachate • Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF)

• Boiler/economizer blowdown • Cathodic protection • Chain locker effluent • Controllable pitch propeller and thruster hydraulic fluid and other oil-sea interfaces, including lubrication discharges from paddle wheel propulsion, stern tubes, thruster bearings, stabilizers, rudder bearings, azimuth thrusters, and propulsion pod lubrication • Distillation and reverse

A larger and more complex problem involves the ability of individual states and Native American tribes to impose regulations stricter than the EPA’s guidelines, including “zero discharge” rules for gray water. Eric Johansson, an associate professor at the Maritime College of the State University of New York, said many commercial vessels would have to be refitted to store and properly dispose of the effluence, with no landbased infrastructure or federal funding to help them do so. “Any recreational boat can go into a marina and get pumped off for

osmosis brine • Elevator pit effluent • Firemain systems • Freshwater lay-up • Gas turbine wash water • Gray water • Motor gasoline and compensating discharge • Non-oily machinery wastewater • Refrigeration and air condensate discharge • Seawater cooling overboard discharge (including non-contact engine cooling water, hydraulic system cooling water,

and refrigeration cooling water) • Seawater piping biofouling prevention • Boat engine wet exhaust • Sonar dome discharge • Underwater ship husbandry • Welldeck discharges • Gray water mixed with sewage from vessels • Exhaust gas scrubber wash water discharge Note: Fishing vessels and commercial vessels less than 79 feet are exempt from VGP guidelines except for ballast water discharges. Source: Environmental Protection Agency

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free,” Johansson said. “What do they have for the commercial industry? They don’t have any pump-off facilities. Where are they going to come from? The industry wants to do whatever it takes (to comply) — there’s no doubt about it. It just can’t happen unless you have the facilities to do this.” Carpenter said state provisions that exceed federal standards could have significant costs for commercial vessels or simply be unachievable. “The state of New York, for example, in addition to a gray-water discharge prohibition, is requiring ballast water treatment systems capable of achieving a standard 100 times greater than the IMO (International Maritime Organization) standard,” she said. “Well, that technology just isn’t there. So every vessel operator in New York waters is in the process now of writing the state a letter saying we can’t do this. ... It’s at a state’s discretion to allow an operator to request an extension if certain provisions can’t be met. Hopefully the states will grant them, but they don’t have to.” To simplify compliance, the AWO and other industry groups have lobbied Congress for a uniform national standard. That hasn’t happened, but the House and Senate recently voted to extend the VGP moratorium for fishing vessels and commercial vessels less than 79 feet until Dec. 18, 2013 — the same day the EPA will need to re-issue its general permit for vessels 79 feet or larger. “We need to establish a new section of the Clean Water Act to deal with vessel discharges, because this just doesn’t work,” Carpenter said. “This state-by-state (enforcement) is just not workable when you’re talking about vessels in interstate commerce.” • Professional Mariner September 2010

continued from page 48

avoid a conflict of interest which could affect the safety of the ship and crew, the majority of companies operating MODUs have a policy where the licensed captain is also certified and serves as the OIM on board. This way the same individual is in charge whether the vessel is underway, on-station and drilling, or during an emergency. Many professional mariners I’ve talked with are shocked that Transocean allows someone besides a licensed master to be in charge of a MODU while drilling at sea. Unfortunately, there is no International Maritime Organization requirement mandating that an offshore installation manager be a licensed captain as well. The Marshall Island Registry, which only required Transocean to meet the less stringent international regulations, permitted an unlicensed OIM to be in charge of Deepwater Horizon during drilling operations on the day this disaster began — something that would be illegal under U.S. law. The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 46, 15.520, mandates that on U.S.-flag MODUs, the OIM must also carry a license as a master, and someone serving as master on a MODU must also be endorsed as an OIM. In my opinion, flag-of-convenience operators like Transocean

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should no longer be allowed to circumvent U.S. law. Every MODU working in United States territorial waters, without exception, ought to be registered in the United States and required to have a licensed captain serving as the OIM. I believe this would make things safer by ensuring that a competent master, who also carries an endorsement as an OIM, would be in charge. The days of “dual command” on MODUs, in my opinion, must come to an end. The Marshall Islands are half a world away from the Gulf of Mexico, where the oil spill is destroying lives and livelihoods. It could be generations before those impacted by this disaster recover. As the environmental, economic and health impacts we Americans will be facing — and paying for — are slowly realized over the coming years and decades, one thing is clear: the old “business-as-usual” is no longer acceptable. Till next time, I wish you all smooth sailin’. Kelly Sweeney holds the licenses of master (oceans, any gross tons) and master of towing vessels (oceans), and regularly sails on a wide variety of commercial vessels. He lives on an island near Seattle. You can contact him at captsweeney@

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A Mariner’s Notebook

by Capt. Kelly Sweeney

Mobile offshore drilling units in Gulf should be U.S.-flagged he night of April 20, two explosions on the Marshall Islands-registered Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon killed 11 men, and began the incident that would become the worst marine oil spill in United States history. As the weeks progressed and the extent of the catastrophe began to reveal itself, the news coverage of the disaster focused on the environmental and economic damage it is causing — which without a doubt will take a terrible toll. The full truth of what happened needs to come out. To that end, congressional hearings in Washington commenced in May, and joint United States Coast Guard/Minerals Management Service hearings were opened in Kenner, La. Soon after these investigations started, a key



question emerged: “Who was actually in charge on board Deepwater Horizon at the time the disaster began?” There are many ships at sea which carry individuals on board who are not licensed officers, yet have a great deal of say operationally — fishing and oceanographic vessels, for example. On fishing industry ships, there is often a “fishing master” who supervises the setting of nets and ensures that applicable laws pertaining to catching fish are followed.On oceanographic vessels a chief scientist directs all the scientific work done on board. I have experience on both of these types of vessels, and can say that although the men or women in these key positions are in charge of their respective operations and personnel, the licensed captain aboard those vessels always retains his or her authority as master. Evidently, as revealed in the hearings, that’s not how things ran on board Deepwater Horizon. Transocean owns and

operates drilling vessels, which they choose to register foreign-flag to avoid paying taxes to our country and where laws regulating mobile offshore drilling units are more lenient. On their MODUs the master is in command only while the vessel is underway or during an emergency. The chain of command shifts when the vessel is on-station and drilling. At that time an Offshore Installation Manager (OIM), who does not have to be a licensed master, takes over from the captain and is in charge of all vessel operations. Both the licensed captain and the OIM are Transocean employees. Further complicating the situation, a charterer’s representative who is an oil company employee, in this case from BP Plc., is also on board. The “company man” is rarely a licensed mariner, yet makes key operating and safety decisions while on-station and drilling. During the hearings and in media interviews after the disaster, crewmembers from Deepwater Horizon

detailed the difficult workability inherent in the complex chain of command that included the captain, OIM, and BP rig manager. When the gas pressure emergency occurred, the vessel’s International Safety Management Code procedures called for the two senior officials on board, not the captain but the OIM and BP representative, to go to the scene and determine the next course of action. In the crucial minutes immediately after the explosions, while precious time to confront the situation slipped away, the order to activate the emergency disconnect switch and shut down operations was not given by the captain. He admitted waiting to ask permission and verify it was OK with the OIM first. A number of crewmembers told how, in the pandemonium that followed the explosions, lifeboats were filled, lowered and released — all without the captain’s order. During the hearings it was brought out that, to continued on page 47

Professional Mariner September 2010

MTU – A Tognum Group Brand

Hickman Rowland, President Wilmington Tug, Inc. New Castle, Delaware

“My family has been in the shipping business on the Delaware River for at least 200 years. If we don’t have reliable engines we don’t have a business. So we have to have virtually 100% reliability. And with MTU we’ve found that at this point, quite frankly.”


Power. Passion. Partnership.

PM 139  

Pro Mariner 139