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Contents Professional Mariner

September/October 2010

Towing 20 Crowley, Intercon team up in new class of powerful oceangoing tugs BY GREG WALSH


Trends & Currents 49 Rescue 21: Coast Guard’s


modernized national distress call system BY CHRIS BERNARD

ASR update 51 Canada funds 30-year plan to build icebreakers, Arctic supply vessels BY MICHEL DROUIN

Industry Signals 6

NOAA sends a fleet of its research vessels to assess damage from oil spill in the Gulf

10 Salvage industry confident it can recover blowout preventer needed by investigators

14 $5.8 million gift provides ‘Big U’ with a reprieve from the scrap heap


17 IMO updates of STCW rules will bring new training requirements as of 2012

53 Inland Rules of the Road migrate

18 NOAA cancels contract, removes SWATH vessel from Halter Marine

to a new code BY CRAIG H. ALLEN SR.

A Mariner’s Notebook 56 Onboard systems don’t always provide clean, safe water BY CAPT. KELLY SWEENEY



30 Maritime Casualties 30 Two killed when tug and barge overrun anchored duck boat 35 La. towboat company faces criminal charges in collision with tanker 36 Two fishermen die in collision with towboat, barges on the Tennessee 38 Hard grounding of Mass. tour boat prompts evacuation of 174 39 Seabulk Tankers, Tesoro Alaska settle claims over Cook Inlet grounding 42 Loss of steering causes grain ship to ground in St. Lawrence Seaway 43 Grain carrier spills fuel in Seaway when anchor breaches hull 45 Maine ferry hits ledge in narrow channel while operating in dense fog 46 Logging boat rescues 2 after tug sinks in swift Fraser River currents 47 Reefer ship survives blackout at mouth of Columbia River 48 Bulk ship grounds in Columbia River after steering fails

Vessels at Work 28 Powerful new vessels bolster Boston Towing’s escort tug fleet BY BRIAN GAUVIN

ON THE COVER Mate Ed Swalkowski at the controls of Boston Towing and Transportation’s new 5,400-hp ASD tug Justice. The tug was designed to escort tankers serving an offshore LNG terminal. See story, Page 28. Photo by Brian Gauvin


24 Feature 24 B.C. pilot boat navigates rocky waters and narrow passages during cruise season BY ALAN HAIG-BROWN



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Advertising West Coast/Canadian/ International Susan W. Hadlock East Coast Charlie Humphries Midwest/Gulf/Florida Tony Napolitano Texas Bruce Cole Interactive Media Tony Napolitano Publisher Alex Agnew

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Reprints Betsy White 877-394-7350

PROFESSIONAL MARINER (ISSN 1066-2774) This magazine is printed in the U.S. 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 Š 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 October/November 2010


Signals Photos courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Elizabeth Crapo

Left, Jason Sadler, of Dade Moeller and Associates Data Intake, shows proper sample labeling techniques to Jasmine Cousins, an ensign aboard the NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson. Below the 208-foot hydrographic vessel Thomas Jefferson under way during the Deepwater Horizon spill response effort. The ship was one of seven NOAA vessels working to assess the impact of the oil spill. During its second mission, the ship worked close to the wellhead, testing for submerged oil in deep water.

NOAA sends a fleet of its research vessels to assess damage from oil spill in the Gulf or the crew of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 208foot hydrographic vessel Thomas Jefferson, switching its mission from ocean mapping to helping



evaluate the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill meant a little improvisation. “We had to come up with some expedient solutions to short-term problems,” said the ship’s master,

Cmdr. Shepard Smith, who also serves as lead scientist. Taking water chemistry measurements and water samples was part of a three-week mission that began when the vessel left Galve-

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

ston, Texas, on June 15. One problem: Thomas Jefferson did not have sample coolers. So the crew went to Home Depot, bought two refrigerators and a chest freezer, lashed them on deck and put a strap on them to keep the doors from opening. Thomas Jefferson is one of seven NOAA vessels working to assess the impact of the oil spill. NOAA operates a fleet of about 20 research and survey vessels that are crewed by a combination of NOAA commissioned officers and civilian mariners. Many serve both as deck officers and scientists, according to Smith.

Each vessel has between five and eight officers and between 12 and 24 crew, according to David Hall, spokesman for NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. Depending on the ship and the mission, each vessel also carries between four to 15 scientists. The sheer magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has kept NOAA vessels busy. “The scope of having this many NOAA ships working in coordination on a single project is unprecedented,” said Smith. The other NOAA-operated vessels working on the spill are all fisheries research vessels: the 224-foot

Gordon Gunter, the 209-foot Pisces, the 209-foot Henry B. Bigelow, the 187-foot Nancy Foster, the 170foot Oregon II, and the 155-foot Delaware II. Thomas Jefferson’s first mission was focused on the Loop Current, a stream of warm Caribbean water that enters the Yucatan Straits, heads north, and sometimes extends to the Gulf Coast, where it exits into the Florida Straits. Following the spill, a major concern was whether this current could provide a means for the oil to reach Florida and perhaps the Atlantic. During a second mission, Thomas Jefferson did continued testing for

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industry signals

submerged oil in the deep water and worked within about 1,000 yards of the wellhead. “It felt like you were sitting next to a campfire — there was that much heat coming off,”

Smith said. “The air quality in the vicinity of that wellhead was pretty nasty.” As the vessel was circling the wellhead and came on the downwind side, all ventilation systems



were shut down and all crew were brought inside. They monitored the air quality and found that even on deck, the air did not exceed federal work standards for safety, “but we didn’t want to expose our crew any more than necessary,” Smith said. This work was focused on understanding the mechanics of subsurface oil right from the wellhead. Gordon Gunter conducted an eight-day oil detection mission near the wellhead in late May and early June. On its next mission, from June 14 to Aug. 8, the vessel surveyed marine mammals. Scientists were taking water and biopsy samples for analysis, and also tagging some animals to find out how they move between polluted and unpolluted waters. Scientists are specifically looking at the impact of the spill on the endangered sperm whale. Henry B. Bigelow monitored subsurface oil from the spill and also collected water samples from 2,600 to 4,000 feet. The first missions of Pisces and Oregon II were to survey reef fish, bottom-dwelling fish and shrimp in the eastern and western Gulf. The two vessels also took water samples. From July 14 on, Pisces was using echo sounders to test for oil and gas releases right near the wellhead, to help with testing of the wellhead’s integrity. Oregon II embarked July 26 on a mission to collect samples of fish and shrimp off Louisiana in water depths of between 30 and 360 feet.

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

Nancy Foster conducted a July mission in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Straits. Scientists examined oil, dispersants and tar balls in the water column and to collect zooplankton samples in areas impacted by the spill. Scientists also counted different fish larvae found in the upper ocean. At the end of July, a remotely operated vehicle was being used to investigate the impact the oil/dispersant mixture was having on deepwater bottom habitats. Delaware II conducted a twoweek mission in June and July catching tuna, swordfish and sharks to find out how the spill is affecting these species. Their research was part of NOAA’s larger effort to determine what has happened to the oil. An Aug. 4 report released by NOAA came up with a surprising conclusion: the vast majority of the approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf had been removed or had dispersed. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA’s administrator, said at an Aug. 4 press briefing that much of the dispersed oil is rapidly degrading and is very dilute. The report suggested that the environmental damage caused by the spill might be less than had been feared early on. About 25 percent of the oil was directly removed, burned or skimmed; 25 percent naturally dissolved; 16 percent was naturally dispersed; and 8 percent was chemically dispersed. About 26 percent of the oil remains. Lubchenco cautioned, however,

that the harm was still substantial and the overall impact still largely to be determined. “But diluted and out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean benign,” Lubchenco said. “We remain

concerned about the long-term impacts, both on the marshes and the wildlife, but also beneath the surface, and are actively studying that.” David A. Tyler


industry signals

Salvage industry confident it can recover blowout preventer needed by investigators or investigators trying to determine why the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could not be stopped at the source, the case may hinge on recovering the blowout preventer — a bus-sized device that failed on the sea floor when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and burned on April 20. Salvaging the 325-ton piece of equipment from 5,000 feet below the surface, a depth at which divers cannot operate, will present an array of technical challenges. But experts say the key to the operation


goes beyond technology to something much simpler: money. “We could put (it) on the moon if the need was there,” said Daniel Schwall, managing director of Titan Salvage, based in Pompano Beach, Fla. “Today, nothing is impossible. It is just a matter of funding.” When Deepwater Horizon exploded and burned, the blowout preventer — a series of valves, shears and rams housed in a 53foot-tall tower — did not activate automatically as designed to seal the

drill pipe and cut off the flow of oil. Rig operator BP Plc. then attempted to activate the unit electronically from a ship and manually with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), but the efforts failed. The resulting spill, estimated by federal officials at more than 200 million gallons, has become the largest in U.S. history. To prevent a similar disaster, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Minerals Management Service have called for the recovery and analysis of “critical drilling and blowout preventer equipment.” That will require removing the tower from the drill

pipe, securing it and lifting it to the surface, a painstaking operation, but one that can be accomplished given the scope of today’s technology, Schwall said. “The challenges all have solutions that can be provided by salvage engineering,” he said, declining to discuss

Photos courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

Right, the blowout preventer before it was installed. Below, an ROV tries, without success, to activate the blowout preventer two days after the accident occurred on April 20.

specifics of what the operation would entail. “Technology has made nearly everything possible in regard to marine salvage, but at a price.” While the depth of the water will present difficulties, equipment already deployed in the gulf shows that the recovery

operation can be successful, said Richard Fredricks, director of the American Salvage Association. “Certainly this is a deep case, but it’s not the deepest case,” he said. “This blowout preventer, frankly, is not all that large an object compared to other vessels and structures.” Undersea work below 1,000 feet — the limit for divers — falls to ROVs controlled by operators on ships. A typical ROV is about 11 feet long and 5 feet wide and weighs 8,500 pounds. They can dive to 10,000 feet and carry payloads of 900 pounds. ROVs equipped with propulsion thrusters, lights, cameras and manip-

industry signals

ulator arms have been in the spotlight during the Deepwater Horizon disaster, taking the lead in attempts to cap the well and relaying digital imagery to the world above. Most news organizations have received underwater video of the spill from an ROV controlled by operators aboard Skandi Neptune, a Norwegian offshore support vessel. “Today’s technology includes dynamically positioned vessels, listening equipment and winches, and inspection and work ROVs,” Fredricks said. “The technology is there and it’s available, and we see it in the field right now working to control the current (problem). ... Sal-


vaging the blowout preventer is certainly possible and is a function of funding more than anything else.” Paying for the operation will likely be the responsibility of BP, which has agreed to set aside $20 billion to cover the costs of stopping the spill, cleaning it up and compensating victims. Neither Schwall nor Fredricks would estimate how much the operation might cost; officials at BP did not respond to calls for comment. The technology available to recover the blowout preventer could also be used to raise Deepwater Horizon, but Schwall and Fredricks both questioned the need to do so. The rig sank after being damaged by fire.

“I would think, again, that it’s a function of funding, but I would have to first ask why anyone would want that damaged vessel recovered from such a great depth of water,” Fredricks said. “What need would be great enough to justify going to the expense and challenge of recovering such a large vessel, considering the fire and the damage it must have suffered or may have suffered on impact with the bottom?” Schwall agreed, saying investigators can obtain forensic evidence about the explosion by recovering portions of the rig without raising the structure in its entirety. Rich Miller

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

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industry signals

$5.8 million gift provides ‘Big U’ with a reprieve from the scrap heap S United States — which holds the record for the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing by a passenger liner — will not be sold for scrap, thanks to a $5.8 million donation by a Philadelphia philanthropist. The SS United States Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the ship’s preservation, announced the gift on July 1, saying it plans to undertake further fund raising and partnership efforts to preserve the ship as a stationary attraction. The donation, made by H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, represents an

numerous donations to universities and arts organizations. He had made a matching gift of $300,000 to the Conservancy in 2009, but the most recent gift still came as a surprise to the group. “It was unexpected,” said Susan Gibbs, president of the Conservancy’s board of directors. “I think he felt, like many of us did, that we were on the verge of losing a very important part of our American maritime heritage.” The gift has enabled the Conservancy to purchase an exclusive option on the vessel


11th-hour reprieve for the ship. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), which has owned the vessel since 2003, had been trying to sell it for over a year, and had received a bid of $5.9 million from scrap metal dealers. Lenfest, who sold his cable television company, Lenfest Communications, to Comcast in 2000 for $6.7 billion, has made


Gregory Shutters photos

Owned by Norwegian Cruise Line since 2003, SS United States has been sitting at a Philadelphia pier awaiting its fate to be decided. When NCL’s plans to revive the former ocean liner as a cruise ship fell through, the company began considering bids from scrap dealers.

through January 2011, although it hopes to finalize the sale as soon as it completes a review of the vessel’s title. The funds will also pay the operation and maintenance of the ship for up to two years. The organization envisions the ship as a stationary attraction, most likely either in Philadelphia or New York. Gibbs cited an approximate cost of $300 million to convert the vessel to some combination of museum, retail, hospitality and entertainment space. Such a conversion would necessarily involve a public-private partnership; the ship’s eventual resting place would depend on pier space, investment capital and political support. “It’s not a certainty that the ship is going to stay in Philadelphia,” Gibbs said. “We’re delighted with the interest that has been expressed in Philadelphia.” Launched in 1952, United States put a Cold War spin on trans-Atlantic opulence. The U.S. Navy underwrote the vessel’s construction cost with the intention of converting her to a troop carrier in the event of another global conflict. “Big U,” as she came to be called, was capable of transporting an entire infantry division of 14,000 troops up to 10,000 miles without resupplying. However, it was the ship’s

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speed, more than her strategic value, that earned her a berth in the history books. Big U’s top speed was classified for many years, but the Navy eventually revealed that she reached 38.32 knots in sea trials. (She was capable of making 20 knots in reverse.) On her maiden voyage, she broke the transAtlantic speed record set 14 years earlier by RMS Queen Mary; she broke the westbound record on her return voyage, setting a record of three days, 12 hours and 12 minutes that still stands today. Shunted into obsolescence by the rise of commercial passenger jets, United States passed through a succession of private owners after her retirement in 1969. NCL purchased her in 2003 with the hope of transporting passengers to Hawaii from the West Coast, but eventually gave up the idea of returning the ship to service. Constructed to military standards, the ship’s hull is overbuilt and retains 92 percent of its original strength, according to surveys conducted by NCL. Remediation work performed in the early 1990s cleared the ship of asbestos and her interior is stripped and ready for renovation. “We’ve been given an extraordinary opportunity to make this happen, but we don’t have the investment capital at the ready yet,” said Gibbs. “The clock is ticking.” Alden Robinson

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

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industry signals

NOAA cancels contract, removes SWATH vessel from Halter Marine he National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has removed a vessel under construction at VT Halter Marine and canceled its contract with the

shipbuilder. NOAA maintains that Ferdinand R. Hassler, the small waterplane area twin hull (SWATH) boat designed for coastal seafloor charting, is overweight and will be unable to perform its mission. NOAA has moved the nearly completed ship from Halter’s yard in Moss Point, Miss., to the Port of Pascagoula, a few miles away. Removing vessels from a ship-


Courtesy VT Halter Marine


Launched in September 2009 at VT Halter Marine’s yard in Moss Point, Miss., Ferdinand R. Hassler was designed for charting the coastal sea floor. NOAA fears the SWATH vessel’s weight may jeopardize that mission.

yard sometimes occurs when a yard gets into financial difficulty. If a shipyard is heading into bankruptcy, owners may want to remove their property so it won’t be caught up in the legal proceedings. But in this case VT Halter Marine has a $1 billion backlog, so there do not seem to be any fiscal problems. The problem, according to NOAA, is the ship’s weight. “Halter built a ship that is too heavy to fit into its intended port, currently 17.8 tons overweight and unable to fulfill the coastal mapping mission for which it is being built,” said

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

Mitchell J. Ross, director of NOAA’s Acquisitions and Grants office. “We have seized the vessel, transported it to the Port of Pascagoula, where we will conduct a detailed assessment of the vessel and plan to correct the ship’s deficiencies with another shipyard and commission the ship into service.” Halter Marine sees it differently. “As of now we are now in the dispute resolution clause provided for in the contract,” Bill Skinner, Halter Marine’s chief executive, said in late July. “The key dispute is one of weight of the vessel over its 25-year life. We say that because of change orders and other factors, the weight problem is NOAA’s and they say the responsibility is ours.” “This is a very unusual situation,” said Skinner, noting that the vessel is 98 percent complete. “We are only talking about a few inches of draft and are trying to resolve this issue.” The vessel was launched Sept. 19, 2009. NOAA said it expected the vessel would be delivered in March 2010, but that date came and went without the ship being delivered. Then NOAA announced on July 16 its decision to pull the ship. Hassler is 124 feet long with a width of 53.8 feet at the main deck and 60.7 feet at the pontoons. All of the propulsion equipment is located in the two long, slim pods. Each one holds a Caterpillar C32 engine rated at 1,450 hp and a Reintjes WGF 762 gearbox with a reduction of 7.838:1 driving a Rolls-Royce 90-inch diameter, five-

blade propeller. Electric power is supplied by a Caterpillar C9 genset rated at 250 kW. Dominating the 01 level is the charting laboratory and its five computer workstations, with mission

data storage and an electronics working area. The multibeam side-scan sonars are the heart of the charting system and are located forward in the • twin-propulsion pods. Larry Pearson




by Brian Gauvin

Crowley, Intercon team up in new class of powerful oceangoing tugs ith a minimum of 150 metric tons of bollard pull and an Intercon towing winch with 500,000 pounds of pulling power, Crowley Maritime’s new Ocean-class tugs are designed for the future. The company, based in Jacksonville, Fla., expects the new vessels to establish Crowley as industry leaders for many years. “Over the lifetime of the boats, they will be towing anything and everything that anyone wants to move to wherever,” said Ed Schlueter, vice president of vessel manage-


ment services for Crowley. The first two of the 146-foot, 10,880-hp tugs, Ocean Wave and Ocean Wind, are scheduled to be delivered from Bollinger Marine Fabricators in Amelia, La., in late 2011 and early 2012. Two additional vessels, Ocean Sky and Ocean Sun, have been added to the contract. “Our customers are looking

for a minimum of 120 tons of bollard pull for their drilling rigs and barges and whatever else that they would want to tow,” said Schlueter. “So we picked 150 metric tons of bollard pull as the goal to shoot for.” Regulation has become a growth industry, it seems, so predicting and designing propulsion, safety and environmental systems that will be compliant over the years is difficult. The

Caterpillar-powered vessels will be Tier 2, as required now, but they are configured to allow for upgrading to higher tiers as regulations are stiffened in the future. “When you look back at the environmental concerns we had 25 years ago,” said Schlueter, “and you fast forward to today and think of what it might be 25 years from now, it’s just going to be staggering.” The vessels will also be double-hulled and designed to prevent any overboard discharges of fuel or fluids. They will be DP1 and FiFi-1, as is becoming expected in the oil field service market. “Crowley really stresses safety,” said Steve

Courtesy Crowley Maritime Corp.


Professional Mariner October/November 2010

Rheams, Gulf Coast marketing and sales manager for Intercon. “And they are really striving for cleanliness. They really want these boats to be green.” Crowley chose Intercontinental Engineering-Manufacturing Corp. (Intercon) for the winches. The company is based in Kansas City, Mo. “We have a very good history with Intercon and we feel very comfortable with them,” said Schlueter. “We are one of the last surviving manufacturers of deck machinery that is still designing and building in America,” said Rheams. Intercon’s president, Brian Everist, has made a conscious decision to continue to

operate from the heartland of America, according to Rheams. Each Intercon shipset will consist of a model DW275H double-drum, reversewaterfall-style towing winch for the stern and an ESW-125D windlass, mooring winch and 21-inch capstan for the bow. In-Mar Systems is supplying Norwegian-built Triplex shark jaws and towing pins. The Gonzales, La., based company is also supplying the FiFi1 firefighting systems, also manufactured in Norway by FFS. Crowley chose a waterfall winch instead of a side-by-side winch because the wire runs off the drum at a straighter line through the shark jaws and towing pins straddling the centerline of the aft deck. “We wanted to reduce that angle considerably and the waterfall winch does exactly that,” said Schlueter. The choice to go with a reverse-waterfall Virginia Howe illustration

Above, a generic rendering of a waterfall winch. The Crowley Ocean-class tugs (facing page) will each have an Intercon doubledrum, reverse-waterfall winch, which will provide a lower center of gravity and increased stability.


towing winch instead of the standard double-drum waterfall winch was to lower the vessels’ center of gravity (VCG). The winch, with wire on both drums, weighs 114 tons. The towing drum, with 4,200 feet of 2.75-inch wire, weighs 29 tons, while the 3,000 feet of 2.5inch wire on the second drum weighs 17.5 tons. On a typical waterfall winch, the towing drum is above the lighter drum. The


reverse waterfall winch flips that weight distribution, thereby contributing to a lower VCG. The reverse waterfall is also underwound as opposed to over-wound on the standard unit. The result is that the wire runs off the drum closer to the deck, effecting a straighter vertical lineup with the shark jaws and towing pins. “The reverse winch in the towing mode adds considerably to the stability of the

boat,” concluded Schlueter. “We designed the winch specifically for these vessels,” said Rheams. Although the design is based on Intercon’s 600-hp hydraulic DW275H double-drum waterfall winch, they performed some heavy modifications, not the least of which was reversing it. Another modification is the installation of wheelhouse winch controls with a touchscreen information

panel. The system allows the captain or operator to control the winch, shark jaws and towing pins from a safe vantage point and eliminates the need to have crewmen in harm’s way on the aft deck, especially in heavy seas and inclement weather. The emergency-stop controls are close at hand. “We really feel that the captain has got to have complete control over the vessel and the wire,” said Schlueter. The touch-screen

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

panel indicates such data as static and dynamic wire load, the speed and amount of payout and rewind load, the wire slippage and hydraulic pressure amounts and an alarm for both. There is also a set of controls on deck, local to the winch. For miscellaneous rigging tasks, a separate independently driven shaft turns an auxiliary drum on the port side and a capstan on the starboard side. The bow unit is a

combination of windlass, mooring winch and 21-inch capstan. The wildcat is sized for 1.25-inch chain, and the mooring winch drum takes up to 600 feet of 1.25-inch soft line. It is electrically powered. However, a variable frequency drive (VFD) unit, installed in a cabinet below deck, affords the vast range of control similar to a hydraulic system. There are two sets of controls for the unit,

one local to the winch and the other mounted in the wheelhouse. An emergency backup switch can be employed to bypass the VFD panel and operate at reduced power. Seattle-based Jensen Maritime Consultants, a subsidiary of Crowley Maritime, worked with Schlueter to design the Ocean-class tugs. Schlueter said that the tugs are ideally suited to work with Crowley’s new 455 series of heavy lift deck barges

being built at Gunderson Marine in Portland, Ore., but they are designed as overall general-purpose vessels, outfitted for rig moves, oil field support, emergency response and firefighting. The original deployment for the tugs is expected to be in the Gulf of Mexico. “But over the lifetime of the vessels, they could be anywhere in the world. There are no restrictions on the boats at all,” said Schlueter. •


B.C. pilot boat navigates rocky waters and narrow passages during cruise season Story and photos by Alan Haig-Brown

n the West Coast, summer is Alaska cruise time with ships leaving from southern bases in both Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. Most schedules out of Vancouver depart on the weekend and do a one- or two-week round trip. Vancouver-based and some Seattle-based cruises travel up the sheltered waters inside Vancouver Island. This route takes them up the first 225 miles of the 500 miles north to Alaskan waters. The scheduling is determined by the tides of the infamous Seymour Narrows. About halfway up the east coast of Vancouver Island, Discovery Passage narrows to about 2,500 feet causing extreme tides of up to 15 knots. All of this is made more challenging by a bend in the channel with rocky outcroppings setting up dramatic and conflicting whirlpools and currents. While the speed of tide at which the British Columbia

O Above, deck hand Gary Nicholson helps B.C. Coast Pilots Capt. J.P. Farley make the transfer from a cruise ship to the pilot boat R.D. Riley. Right, Capt. Lloyd McGill, who is also the owner of the pilot boat, steers through a narrow passage as Nicholson looks on. The area is notable for its extreme tides and powerful currents.


Coast Pilots will transit the narrows is dependent on conditions and the individual pilot’s discretion, cruise ships will try to make the passage as near to slack water as possible. The B.C. Coast Pilots have one of the largest pilotage areas in the world. Stretching nearly 600 miles northwest from the southern tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border as the crow flies, the coast has over 15,000 miles of actual coastline. While much of the pilots’ work

centers on the Port of Vancouver, year round there is regular pilotage work taking ships to secondary ports such as Prince Rupert and Kitimat, B.C. In the summer, the demand for pilots to service the Alaska cruise industry adds considerably to the coast-wise voyages. Some of these cruises go all the way to Alaska via British Columbia’s Inside Passage and so require pilots for the full 500 to 600 miles to the Alaskan border. However, a significant

number opt for going “outside” for the approximately 300 miles from northern Vancouver Island to Alaska. As a result, they require B.C. pilots for only about 225 miles of the waters inside Vancouver Island between Vancouver and Pine Island, a storm-wracked lighthouse station near the northern end of Vancouver Island. From that point, the cruise ships will be far enough offshore that they can navigate without a pilot. This takes them on a northwesterly course across Queen Charlotte Sound and through Hecate Strait, which, even at its narrowest, is nearly 40 miles wide. They then pick up their Alaskan pilot after crossing Dixon Entrance. Although the outside route denies their passengers the sights of much of the spectacular Inside Passage, it contributes to significant savings on pilotage fees. However it also requires that a pilot boat service be available to take northbound pilots off and put south-

bound pilots on at Pine Island. This service is the responsibility of Lloyd McGill and the 65foot pilot boat R.D. Riley. McGill purchased the boat from the Riley family, who operated a pilot boat service for three generations, first from Port Alberni on the west coast of Vancouver Island and then, starting about 1995, out of Port Hardy. McGill bought the business and the boat 10 years ago. Riley was one of four or five sister ships built by John Manly Shipyard in Vancouver in 1976 to a crew boat hull design by Breaux’s Bay Craft of Loreauville, La. In winter months it is only the occasional deep-sea ship that requires a pilot transfer. This is typically seven or eight ships per month. In the 2009 six-month cruise season, there were 324 transfers, of which all but 50 were cruise ships. This number will be down a bit for 2010, as more cruise ships are based in Seattle and go first to Victoria, to satisfy

Jones Act requirements, and then many go up the west coast of Vancouver Island. A former fisherman and logger whose family has generations of life on the coast, McGill is as comfortable handling Riley as most commuters are taking their car out of their driveway. On May 30, the pilot boat was scheduled to pick up a pair of pilots from the northbound 965-by106-foot, 1,970-passenger Coral Princess. Riley left the dock just before 0800 for a scheduled 0915 rendezvous with the cruise ship. Once clear of the harbor with its extensive fish unloading docks, McGill pushed up the throttles on the twin 600-hp diesels to bring the boat up to a planing speed. The GPS indicated 20 knots. That would bring the boat up on Coral Princess, which, according to the AIS,

Above, the 65foot pilot boat heading out. Below, the chart shows the narrow pass between Hurst and Bell islands on the route to the pilot pickup point in Queen Charlotte Sound.


was making 14 knots and was already showing well off to starboard. As the pilot boat came abeam of Point Duval, just three miles from the pilot boat’s dock, the ship disappeared behind a line of islets. McGill pointed out that Pine Island could be seen 18 miles away through a very narrow pass between little Hurst Island and still smaller Bell Island, which are part of a forested string of islands separating these more sheltered waters from Queen Charlotte Sound. It hardly looked like there was enough room for a rowboat. “We always use this little pass so Victoria Traffic Control has named it Legend Pass because it never had a name before,” explained McGill, as he put the boat through a slalom

course between seaweed-covered rocks revealed by the low tide and a few others whose location he knows from years on these rock-strewn waters. “But even at low water we have 17 feet of water under the keel,” added deck hand Gary Nicholson. Once the pilot boat was through the pass, Coral Princess showed again off the starboard bow. Another 10 or 15 minutes and Riley was abeam of the port side of the ship. McGill slowed and turned the pilot boat so that it followed in the 100-foot-wide wake coming off the ship’s broad aft waterline. While the seas were relatively calm on this day, following a ship for the short distance until it is abeam of Pine Island can be a lot more comfortable than pitching

alongside the ship with the often stormy conditions that exist here. “We have transferred pilots in 60knot winds,” said McGill, “The ship turned to make a lee, but it was then moving at 4 knots sideways!” As the ship drew abeam of Pine Island Light, it slowed to 10 knots and the pilot boat came up on the starboard side, where a door had been opened about 15 feet above the waterline. A short ladder extended down to match the height of Riley’s deck. The boat crew had donned inflatable life jackets and rescue harnesses for the transfer and, as requested, passed three life jackets over to the pilots on the ship. The pilots transferred from the ship to the pilot boat quickly and safely. The

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Professional Mariner October/November 2010

pilot boat then turned away from the ship, as passengers snapped pictures from the upper decks. Coral Princess had sailed from Vancouver at 1630 on the previous evening and the Pine Island transfer was done just after 0900 the next morning. The 16.5-hour voyage requires two pilots, Captains J.A. Demosten and J.P. Farley. In this case, they were accompanied by Capt. Ken Wright, who, although a licensed B.C. Coast Pilot for five years, was only now permitted to make the qualifying trips that would earn him his unlimited license and allow him to pilot cruise ships. The pilots retired to Riley’s saloon set low midships in the hull. There they exchanged accounts of challeng-

ing jobs. Farley told of a man overboard on a cruise ship about to enter Seymour Narrows some years ago. “We were just north of Separation Head on the Star Princess when a crewman jumped overboard,” he recalled, “I asked the captain if he wanted to turn or go though the narrows. He opted to turn the ship. I couldn’t believe the actions of that crew. There was no panic, no yelling. Someone was on the searchlight, the rescue boat went over and they pulled the crewman, who was swimming, out of the water. It was an excellent rescue, and fortunately it was near slack water.” Asked on how much tide he would take a cruise ship through Seymour Narrows, Farley said, “It would

depend on visibility and other traffic, but I wouldn’t go through over 5 knots. It is all about scheduling. Sometimes there are several ships wanting to get through on that tide, so someone has to go first when there is still some current.” After the short run back to the dock, the two pilots would await another pair of pilots coming up from Seattle on Norwegian Star and then all four would ride a chartered flight back to Vancouver. Wright would board the southbound Island Princess with two pilots flown up from Vancouver to complete another of his qualifying voyages. McGill and his crew would go home for a few hours before doing • it all over again.



At Work

Powerful new vessels bolster Boston Towing’s escort tug fleet Photos and story by Brian Gauvin

assachusetts has two more reminders of its association with the concept of freedom. Independence and Justice joined Reinauer Co.’s Boston Towing & Transportation fleet this past year. The 98-foot ASD tug Justice is a condensed version of the 128-foot Independence (featured in American Tugboat Review 2010). Justice was built as the backup vessel to Independence on Suez Energy’s Neptune terminal, an LNG project located 10 miles offshore from Gloucester, Mass., and as a general assist tug in


Top, Justice is a 98-foot ASD tug designed to escort tankers delivering LNG to a terminal 10 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. Above, Mate Ed Swalkowski at the controls. 28

Boston Harbor. As part of the harbor duties, Justice will assist the LNG tankers calling at the Distrigas terminal on the Mystic River in Everett, Mass. Although smaller, Justice is no less powerful. With two MTU4000, M-61 mains and RollsRoyce Aquamaster 2600 mm, US255-CP 4150 z-drives producing 5,400 hp, the tug achieves a bollard pull of 70 tons. The CP propellers’ pitch can be feathered to reduce engine power requirements while firefighting. Professional Mariner October/November 2010

That allows the mains, through a PTO, to power the FiFi-1 system. The configuration eliminates the need for two additional engines to run the Nijhuis fire pumps, saving cost and space. Justice is equipped with a Markey VFD, DEPC-52 single-drum shiphandling winch on the foredeck and a JonRie InterTech model 512 single-drum towing winch aft. Robert Allan Ltd., of Vancouver, British Columbia, designed the vessels. Derecktor Shipyards, of Bridgeport, Conn., built Independence, and the J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding yard in Tacoma, Wash., built Justice. Besides size, the main difference between the two vessels is the hull design. Independence, with the sea conditions of a North Atlantic winter in mind, has a RAstar hull with sponsons, while Justice is a RAmparts 3000 • design, without sponsons.

Top, Chief Engineer Pat Palmisano in the engine room with the MTU-4000, M-61 main engines. Above, the Markey single-drum ship-escort winch. Right, Boston Towing docking pilot Dick Brady decending the pilot ladder from an oil tanker. Left, Justice with a line up to tanker Nor’easter. Below, left to right, AB Mark Noonan, Capt. Paul Fini and Chief Engineer Palmisano.



Casualties AP/Matt Rourke

The Ride the Ducks tour boat is lowered onto a barge after being salvaged from the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

Two killed when tug and barge overrun anchored duck boat


As the tug and barge approached from about 400 yards downriver, the tugboat crew didn’t answer radio warnings from the disabled tour boat, witnesses reported. Also attempting to get Caribbean Sea’s attention was the tugboat Freedom, whose operator issued a frantic radio call to the towing vessel as it neared the passenger boat. “Hey! Ferry! Ferry! FERRY!! Whoa! Whoa! WHOA! WHOA!!” the Freedom crewman shouted

Virginia Howe illustration/Sources: PortVision, NTSB

ederal authorities are investigating whether anyone on a tugboat was paying attention when its barge ran over a duck tour boat, killing two passengers, in the Delaware River in Philadelphia. Caribbean Sea was pushing the 250-foot sludge barge The Resource when it plowed into the tour boat DUKW 34 at 1437 on July 7. The duck boat had been anchored in the shipping channel for five to 10 minutes after experiencing a mechanical problem, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.


The chart shows the approximate tracks of the duck boat and the upbound tug and barge, and the spot where they collided. The duck boat had drifted after losing power, and then anchored.

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

before reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard: “One of the duck boats over on Penn’s Landing looks like it just got run over by barge. I’m going over there to pick ’em up.” Moments later, he added: “This is Freedom. We’ve got people in the water!” After several minutes passed, the Caribbean Sea crew could finally be heard on the audio recordings, which the Coast Guard released to the public. “We’re the ones that, I guess, capsized the duck boat,” the voice from Caribbean Sea said, before offering to stick around and try to provide assistance. “We do have a

barge alongside, so there’s not too much we can do.” DUKW 34, which sank in 55 feet of water, was carrying 35 passengers and two crew. They were wearing life jackets as a precaution after the mechanical breakdown about 150 feet from shore. Good Samaritan vessels, police boats and one U.S. Navy vessel rescued the survivors within a few minutes. Two passengers — both Hungarians on a student trip — drowned. The 2,400-hp Caribbean Sea is owned and operated by K-Sea Transportation Partners LP, based in East Brunswick, N.J. The Resource, which was empty, is

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

maritime casualties

owned by the city of Philadelphia. A duck boat is a restored amphibious military vehicle that is used for city street and water tours. Originally built in 1945, DUKW 34 is owned an operated by Ride The Ducks, a division of Herschend Family Entertainment Corp. of Norcross, Ga. It is a Coast Guardinspected passenger vessel. The NTSB interviewed the duck boat’s captain and deck hand. They reported that they

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Professional Mariner October/November 2010

U.S. Navy sailors from Special Boat Team 20 responded to the accident and rescued nine of the duck boat’s passengers from the water.

tried to communicate with Caribbean Sea on the radio. They also attempted to sound the tour vessel’s horn, which didn’t work. “They told investigators that their radio calls to the Caribbean Sea received no response,” the NTSB said in a statement. “The NTSB also interviewed the operators of several vessels in the area at the time of the accident, and they stated that they recalled hearing the DUKW 34’s radio calls on Channel 13.”

Caribbean Sea had a crew of five: master, mate, engineer and two deck hands. The mate and one deck hand were on watch at the time of the accident. The deck hand was not assigned as a lookout. The NTSB said it interviewed everyone who was awake when the collision happened. The mate, who was in charge of piloting the tow, didn’t cooperate. “When the NTSB sought to interview the mate, he exercised his Fifth Amendment right and refused to meet with investigators,” the NTSB said. The NTSB is studying harbor video footage to determine whether anyone was in the Caribbean Sea’s

upper or lower pilothouses. Darrell Wilson, a spokesman for K-Sea, declined to say whether the company believes that anyone was keeping a lookout in either of the pilothouses. Wilson said the company would have no comment until the federal investigation is completed. The duck boat captain reported that he turned the boat’s engine off because smoke was detected. The company noted that the NTSB statement confirmed that the captain made an effort to warn the oncoming tow. “It indicates that our captain made calls to the tug that went unanswered, but were heard by oth-


maritime casualties

ers,” said Bob Salmon, a vice president at Ride The Ducks. The tug and barge were traveling upriver at between 5.5 and 5.9 knots when the collision happened, according to vessel

traffic data provided by PortVision. Caribbean Sea was made up to the port side of the barge, near the stern. K-Sea suspended the mate, with pay, pending further find-

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ings, said William Harrigan, president of the Local 333 of the United Marine Division of the International Longshoremen’s Association. The union also is probing the incident, which happened in clear weather. “It was daylight, so I don’t know what happened that he wasn’t able to see that boat sitting there,” Harrigan said of the mate. “Anytime you’re in the upper wheelhouse, because of your line of sight, it’s usually a little better. If you’re in the lower wheelhouse, your sight is more restricted.” Ten duck boat passengers had minor injuries, the NTSB said. A crane barge from Weeks Marine recovered the sunken duck boat in 55 feet of water. Investigators were continuing to assess the damage in August. After the accident, the city suspended its contract with K-Sea and gave the barge work instead to McAllister Towing and Transportation Co., a New York-based company with boats at nearby Gloucester City, N.J. McAllister had the contract for about 10 years before recently being outbid by K-Sea. Harrigan said K-Sea was operating with the proper number of crew, in accord with the union contract. He said the company has a good record of following the contract. “Lookouts are going to be something that’s going to be talked about a lot after these incidents in the industry,” Harrigan said. “You have deck hands doing all sorts of things inside the boat.” Dom Yanchunas

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

La. towboat company faces criminal charges in collision with tanker


levels below those determined by the Coast Guard to be necessary for safe navigation.” DRD Towing also is accused of “paying licensed captains to operate a vessel for 24 hours a day without a relief captain, knowing that the Coast Guard viewed the use of over-fatigued mariners operating tugboats and barges to be a hazardous condition that would not allow for the safe operation of the vessel.” The company also was charged with the illegal negligent discharge of oil. The obstruction charge against Dantin stems from investigators’ efforts to confirm whether the crews had been working too many hours. Dantin, of Marrero, La., allegedly concealed documentation from a laptop computer. Dantin “did corruptly obstruct and impede the due and proper administration of the law ... by intentionally causing the deletion of DRD Towing ‘electronic payroll records’ (that he knew) were material to the Coast Guard hearing,” prosecutors said. If convicted, Dantin could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. DRD Towing and Dantin both pleaded not guilty to the charges July 15, 2010. The company’s

attorney, David Courcelle, didn’t return a phone call from Professional Mariner. Dantin and his attorney, Bob Habens, couldn’t be reached for comment. Federal regulations require roundthe-clock boats to carry relief crews.

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer Chris Lippert

he company operating the towing vessel Mel Oliver faces criminal charges of not crewing the pushboat with enough licensed mariners when it was involved in a collision and major oil spill near New Orleans in 2008. Federal prosecutors accuse DRD Towing of violating the Ports and Waterways Safety Act and the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Coast Guard has said Mel Oliver wasn’t operated by a Coast Guard-licensed pilot when its fuel barge collided with a 600-foot tanker on July 23, 2008. A co-owner of DRD Towing, which is based in Harvey, La., was charged separately with obstruction of justice. Randall Dantin, 46, is accused of intentionally destroying payroll records during the Coast Guard casualty investigation. An estimated 282,686 gallons of fuel oil spilled from Mel Oliver’s barge into the Mississippi River after the tow turned into the path of the Liberian-flagged tanker Tintomara, the Coast Guard has said. The river was closed for two days. Coast Guard investigative hearings revealed that an apprentice mate was operating Mel Oliver while the captain was ashore visiting his girlfriend. Jim Letten, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Louisiana, filed the felony charges in July. The prosecutors said DRD Towing violated federal law “by assigning employees without proper Coast Guard licenses to operate certain vessels thereby causing these vessels to operate … with manning

Towing vessels hold up a barge that split into two in the collision between a pushboat and its barge and a tanker in the Mississippi. Over 280,000 gallons of oil spilled from the barge.

The two sets of mariners usually alternate six hours on, six hours off. DRD Towing is accused of violating this rule, but the prosecutors didn’t specify how many incidents they believe occurred. The U.S. Attorney’s charges state that DRD Towing violated the rules “by requiring operators to work hours far beyond safe operating limits which far exceed the hours set forth in Title 46 ... which prohibited operators from working more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period.” If convicted, the company could face $700,000 or more in fines. Dom Yanchunas


maritime casualties

Two fishermen die in collision with towboat, barges on the Tennessee wo fishermen were killed when a 200-foot hopper barge plowed into their disabled recreational boat on the Tennessee River. The accident involving the towboat Bearcat happened at about 1730 on June 19 just upriver from Chattanooga, Tenn. U.S. Coast Guard investigators said Bearcat was pushing nine barges when a lead barge struck the fishing boat, which was drifting in the navigation channel. One of the three fishermen aboard the 16-foot runabout survived, but only after being trapped underneath



a barge before eventually popping up to the surface. The three men had been laying trout lines in 30 to 40 feet of water in the pool above Chickamauga Dam, said Chief Warrant Officer John Hoesli, a casualty investigator at the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Detachment Nashville. “They were in the process of checking the trout line and resetting it,” Hoesli said. “When they do that, they actually turn the engine off and they kind of pull themselves along. When they went to start the engine

again, it wouldn’t start.” At that point, Bearcat’s tow was only 100 yards away. The barges, some of which were 200 feet long and others 195 feet, were arranged in three rows. Seven of the barges were empty, while the other two contained dry cargo, Hoesli said. The 1,500-hp triple-screw Bearcat was sailing at 5 mph, Hoesli said. The fishermen never radioed to the towboat crew. A state marine patrol flagged Bearcat down a short time after the collision, and investigators interviewed the crew.

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

“According to them, they did not realize they had hit anything,” Hoesli said. The 76-foot Bearcat and barges are owned and operated by Serodino Inc. of Chattanooga. Company owner Pete Serodino, through his secretary, declined to comment on the accident. The shipping channel is at least a half-mile wide in that area and is marked by buoys. Visibility was clear, Hoesli said. The 1977 Glastron recreational boat had a 70-hp outboard motor. After the towboat T-boned the fishing boat, one of the trio of fishermen went under the port lead barge,

Hoeli said. He bounced along underneath, possibly the entire length of the barge, before emerging at the surface. The fishing boat also popped up, with its bow sticking out of the water. The man swam over to the boat and grasped the bow. He was rescued by a pleasure boat after being in the water at least 15 minutes. The body of one of the dead fishermen was picked up by a recreational boat a short time later. The second body was found three days later. None of the trio had donned life vests while they desperately tried to get their engine started, Hoesli said. The survivor was the nephew of the fishing boat’s operator. The fami-

ly’s lawyer, Jerry Summers of Chattanooga, didn’t respond to a request for comment. The other fisherman who died was a friend of the family. The towboat carried a crew of seven — two pilots, three deck hands, one engineer and one cook. They all had the necessary licenses and passed drug and alcohol tests. They cooperated with investigators. Hoesli said the Coast Guard is investigating whether the Bearcat captain assigned a proper lookout. “The recreational vessels and the commercial vessels both have a right to be on the rivers,” Hoesli said. “But they both have to be mindful.” Dom Yanchunas



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maritime casualties

Hard grounding of Mass. tour boat prompts evacuation of 174 he U.S. Coast Guard is investigating what caused a tour boat on a whale-watching trip to run aground and begin taking on water in Boston Harbor, forcing the evacuation of the 168 passengers and six crewmembers. The 87-foot Massachusetts, owned and operated by Massachusetts Bay Lines Inc., struck Devil’s Back Ledge near Deer Island shortly before 1000 on July 3. The Coast Guard received


Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard/Auxilarist Imants Ansberg

Coast Guard boats and other rescuers evacuate occupants from the passenger vessel Massachusetts after it ran aground near Deer Island, Mass. A total of 168 passengers and six crew were taken off the stricken boat.

a distress call from the vessel at 1004 stating that it was hard aground just outside the President Roads channel leading into Boston. Petty Officer 3rd Class James Rhodes, spokesman for the Coast Guard’s First District, said seas were about 1 foot with 10-knot winds when the incident occurred. Skies were clear and all aids to navigation


in the channel were correctly positioned and working properly, the Coast Guard reported. Massachusetts, which has an aluminum hull and a 7-foot draft, ran aground about an hour before low tide. Boston Harbor has an average tidal range of about 9 feet. The Coast Guard would not comment on the depth of the water at Devil’s Back Ledge at the time of the grounding. The vessel, which left Rowes Wharf in Boston at 0930 for a fourhour outing, was resting bow-down when rescuers arrived. A 47-foot Coast Guard vessel from Station Point Allerton in Hull, Mass., responded, as did fishing boats and vessels from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) and the state police. The Coast Guard dispatched a Falcon jet crew from Air Station Cape Cod. The passengers were removed from the tour boat and taken to Pemberton Pier in Hull, the Coast Guard said. Two passengers were injured when the boat ran aground. One sustained a knee injury and the other a back injury. They were then taken to local hospitals. Pumps were deployed aboard the vessel, which was refloated with the incoming tide and towed by two Acushnet Marine tugs to Fitzgerald Shipyard in Chelsea, Mass., arriving at 2300. Oil was removed from the vessel before it was taken from the water for repairs. The Falcon jet crew observed a slight sheen around Massachusetts while it was grounded, but no further pollution was reported.

According to the Coast Guard’s Maritime Information Exchange, the vessel’s keel “was found to be broken beginning at frame No. 3 in the forward void space and extending to the collision bulkhead.” Repairs were completed by July 14, according to the report. Officials at Massachusetts Bay Lines did not respond to calls for comment on the incident or the extent of the damage. Drug and alcohol tests were conducted on the crewmembers. The Coast Guard said it would not release the results until its investigation is complete. According to Coast Guard records, Massachusetts has been involved in two other casualty incidents in Boston Harbor in the past five years. In July 2007, the vessel — also used by the MBTA as a commuter ferry between Boston and Hingham — collided with the 101-foot ferry Laura in early morning fog. Both vessels sustained damage above the water line, but did not take on any water. There were no injuries. In June 2006, an engine room fire resulted in two minor injuries and $800,000 in damage. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause was the ignition of diesel fuel coming into contact with a hot engine surface, which occurred “because a fuel line attached to a fuel injector was not properly connected during engine maintenance by a contract mechanic.” Rich Miller

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

Seabulk Tankers, Tesoro Alaska settle claims over Cook Inlet grounding esoro Alaska and Seabulk Tankers will pay about $430,000 to settle claims stemming from a 2006 grounding and gasoline spill in Cook Inlet, the Alaska attorney general’s office has announced. The 46,000-dwt tanker Seabulk Pride was carrying nearly 5 million gallons of petroleum products when flowing ice caused it to break away from a Nikiski dock as it was being loaded. Snapped cargo lines resulted in a spill of 84 gallons of gasoline onto the ship’s deck and into Cook Inlet. The ship then grounded on a nearby beach. The hull was damaged,


but cargo tanks were not breached. “To operate tankers in state waters, and to load or unload oil, a vessel has to have an oil spill contingency plan, said Breck Tostevin, senior assistant attorney general for Alaska. “In this case in Cook Inlet, Tesoro Alaska had a contingency plan approved by (the Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC) and Seabulk was operating under the terms of that contingency plan.” The lion’s share of the settlement, $360,000, is an assessment of what Seabulk saved by not complying with crew readiness provisions in that plan.

Other components include an oil spill civil assessment of $5,000, and $64,870 in reimbursement for the state response and investigation. Tesoro also agreed to produce a training video costing at least $35,000. “The state brought the case because it was concerned about the violation of the pollution prevention requirements,” Tostevin said, “and obviously, if a tanker goes aground, it threatens a larger spill.” The Feb. 2, 2006, incident began when fast-moving ice enveloped the ship, forcing it away from the dock. Tesoro said engines were operational,

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Professional Mariner October/November 2010

but the crew could not control the tanker in the onrushing tide. But the state said broken mooring lines fouled the propeller, preventing the crew from starting the engine. It also claimed there was no captain on the bridge, the engine room was unmanned and operations were not in a state of immediate readiness. In a report made public by the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council, Tesoro said the incident was due in part to a hand-spliced line weakened by repeated dockings and a ship’s line showing signs of wear. In late 2006, the U.S. Coast Guard tightened ice rules for the region, requiring moored vessels to

maintain propulsion systems on “immediate standby” during severe ice conditions. The following January, Seabulk Pride nearly separated from its moorings a second time when thick ice broke a mooring line at the same dock. The crew was able to maintain control of the remaining lines using winches. After the second incident, Tesoro Alaska chartered a 5,500-hp tug from Crowley Maritime through the winter at the Nikiski dock. Under the settlement, “neither Seabulk nor Tesoro Alaska admitted liability, nor that they violated the oil spill contingency rules,” said Tostevin. “The DEC did an investi-

gation and found that they did.” Bob Shavelson, executive director of the advocacy group Cook Inletkeeper, said a 1993 study of oil spill contingency plans found that not using support tugs at the Nikiski dock was “an unacceptable risk.” “From ’93 to 2007, (Tesoro Alaska) avoided the cost of a tug,” Shavelson said. “To see a fine just over $400,000 and no liability — they can absorb that as the cost of doing business, as a slap on the wrist, and move on.” Florida-based Seabulk Tankers, a subsidiary of Seacor Holdings, did not return calls requesting comment. Chris Bernard

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maritime casualties

Loss of steering causes grain ship to ground in St. Lawrence Seaway Canadian bulk grain carrier ran aground in the St. Lawrence Seaway after a generator fuel module failed and the ship lost steering. Algobay grounded July 4 at about 0900 on Superior Shoal, 0.35 nautical miles west/northwest of Light 165 in the seaway. The spot is just east of Singer Castle off Chippewa Bay, N.Y., in U.S. waters. The 740-foot grain carrier was downbound en route to Prescott, Ontario, with a cargo of corn when it lost steering, causing it to drift outside of the shipping channel and ground on the shoal. The master dropped anchor, but was unable to prevent the grounding. Vicki Garcia, spokeswoman for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., said further inspection revealed hull damage consisting of bent frames and punctures to the forepeak that required temporary repairs before the ship proceeded to Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines, Ontario. Garcia said that the cause of the accident was a failure of the generator fuel


module which led to a steering failure. Neither weather nor visibility appeared to play a part in the grounding, she said. The master reported the grounding to the St. Lawrence Seaway vessel traffic control. A U.S. Coast Guard crew from Station Alexandria Bay was the first to respond and provided a 100-yard safety zone around the vessel. Other agencies responding included the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment from Massena, N.Y., the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. (U.S.), St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (Canada) and Transport Canada. The ship grounded at the bow with the current moving northeast, against the stern, said Lt. Cmdr. Carl Kepper, from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Division in Massena. There was no pilot aboard. The Coast Guard and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. worked with Canadian officials to develop a plan which utilized two tugs, Wilf Seymour, owned by McKeil Marine Ltd.,

and Vigilant I, owned by Nadro Marine, to free the vessel. The Coast Guard response team found the vessel’s tanks to be above the water line and not punctured. A containment boom was employed as a precaution. Algobay was successfully refloated at 2200 on July 6. The vessel proceeded to Prescott to offload its cargo of corn under its own power. No pollution or injuries were reported. Algobay is operated by Seaway Marine Transport of St. Catharines, Ontario. The ship had returned to service this past winter after being laid up. It was recently repaired in China, where it received a new bow section. In April 2010, the ship ran aground in the St. Mary’s River near Soo Locks, causing significant hull damage. Seaway Marine Transport didn’t respond to a request for comment. The cause of the July 4 accident is still under investigation by both the U.S. Coast Guard and Transport Canada. John Snyder

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Professional Mariner October/November 2010

Grain carrier spills fuel in Seaway when anchor breaches hull bulk carrier full of wheat experienced a propulsion casualty and spilled fuel into the St. Lawrence Seaway near Montreal. An investigator said the 712-foot Richelieu struck the side of the seaway channel, and the hull was punctured by one of the vessel’s own anchors. The accident happened within the South Shore Canal just above the Cote Ste. Catherine lock July 12. The Canadian Coast Guard reported that about 528 to 2,112 gallons of Bunker C spilled from Richelieu. Initially officials indicated that the vessel had grounded, but the Trans-


portation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada later determined that those reports were incorrect, said Bernard Breton, a senior marine investigator. The 22,734-gross-ton Richelieu is operated by CSL Group Inc.’s Canada Steamship Lines, based in Montreal. A press release from CSL said that Richelieu experienced propulsion problems while outbound near Ste. Catherine at 1930. Following standard emergency procedures, the vessel dropped anchors to regain control. A sudden squall caused the vessel to shift position and possibly strike one of

the anchors, puncturing a fuel tank, the company said. “The vessel never ran aground. He just made contact with the side of the seaway — (the) channel wall,” TSB’s Breton said. “He overrode one of his anchors while backing into the center of the channel.” Until recently known as Lake Erie, Richelieu is a “saltie” that had loaded at Thunder Bay, Ontario, and was en route to Quebec City. The vessel was carrying 24,700 metric tons of prairie wheat for the Canadian Wheat Board, said wheat board spokesman John Lyons.


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“There was no damage to the cargo,” he said. The puncture was to the No. 5 port bunker tank, Breton said. Water ingress pressurized the tank, venting fuel onto the main deck. With high winds and rain at the time, the spill could not be immediately contained. Divers inspected the damage and found no leakage from the fuel tank. The crew and shore-side management immediately implemented the vessel’s emergency response plan and notified all relevant authorities. The vessel’s crew deployed booms. St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC) staff activated the Seaway’s emergency response plan, deploying resources to seal the lock at Cote Ste. Catherine and halt the current in the canal. Oil spill response specialist Eastern Canada Response Corp. attended, deploying additional booms to contain the spill. “The pollution is mainly confined within the stockade and the cleanup will continue until it is completely cleaned,” said Sylvie Racine, executive assistant at Transport Canada, The spill was contained within the canal above the lock, with no oil entering the lock or moving downstream. Navigation was suspended in the South Shore Canal immediately after the spill. The balance of the Seaway — west of the South Shore Canal, extending to the Welland Canal — remained open to traffic. Traffic on the South Shore Canal was halted during the cleanup until about 1600 on July 15. Michel Drouin


Professional Mariner October/November 2010

Maine ferry hits ledge in narrow channel while operating in dense fog


less than 200 feet wide. After verifying that the ferry was not taking on water, the crew returned to the terminal at Carver’s Harbor and offloaded the 28 passengers, who boarded another ferry for the trip to Rockland. The Coast Guard verified that Everett Libby was seaworthy enough to return to the mainland and escorted the vessel to Rockland, where it was eventually hauled at South End Marine. Damage to Everett Libby included a bent propeller and port rudder, and surface scrapes to the hull. Ferry service officials did not have a cost estimate for repairing the vessel, but said it should return to service in July. Coast Guard investigators declined to say what might have caused the grounding, citing a pending investigation. Dan McNichol, Rockland port captain for the Maine State Ferry Service, characterized the incident as a handling error. “He used too much rudder and the stern swung out,” McNichol said. “The boat is very slow to respond to the rudder.” Built in 1960, the 104-foot Everett Libby currently serves as a relief vessel when primary ferries are unavailable. Governor Curtis, for which Everett Libby was substituting, was scheduled to return to service the day of the grounding and

picked up passengers stranded as a result of the accident. Navigation equipment aboard Everett Libby includes GPS, chart plotter, and dual radar systems. Ferry service officials said the ferry’s captain

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maneuvering error in dense fog led to the grounding of the Maine State Ferry Service car ferry Everett Libby on June 3, shortly after the boat left Carver’s Harbor on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. Everett Libby ran aground on a ledge near Strawberry Island, in a passage between Carver’s Harbor and West Penobscot Bay known as the Reach. The ferry’s captain turned the vessel eastward to avoid ledges to the northeast of the island, which are marked by Wreck Point Light. In turning to starboard, the stern of the vessel swung outward to port, hitting a submerged ledge on the western margin of the channel. The U.S. Coast Guard reported that visibility at the time was less than a quarter mile in fog. According to ferry service officials, the ferry’s captain described it as one-sixteenth of a mile. Everett Libby draws 9.3 feet of water. Coast Guard investigator Lt. Mason Wilcox described the grounding as “more of a skidding than dead on the bottom.” “The vessel never really came to a stop,” he said. State ferries transiting the Reach ordinarily round the red No. 2 buoy at the mouth of Carver’s Harbor, turning northward to leave the Strawberry Island light to port. Once abreast of the island, ferries turn slightly to the west, leaving a green No. 5 buoy to port before entering the wider part of the channel. Water depths range as low as 14 feet; the channel at its narrowest is

The car ferry Everett Libby sailed on this track when it ran aground in fog along Strawberry Island. The Maine State Ferry Service said the grounding bent the vessel's port propeller and rudder and scraped its hull.

was conning the vessel while one crewmember monitored the radar and another acted as lookout. McNichol stressed that there was nothing unusual about the voyage on June 3. The factors that contributed to the accident could have befallen any other captain on any other vessel, he said. “I made two trips through there with the Governor Curtis later that day, and I thought if the captain of Everett Libby ‘can go aground, I certainly can, and I better keep my eyes open.’” Alden Robinson


maritime casualties

Logging boat rescues 2 after tug sinks in swift Fraser River currents wo crewmen were rescued from British Columbia’s fast-moving Fraser River after their tugboat sank while the river was swollen during a spring freshet. River Queen was sailing near the Delta Cedar Products sawmill when it capsized at 0830 on June 2. The 230-hp vessel was dragged down when the strong current caused the tow to overtake the tug, investigators said. Bill Dutrizac, a senior investigator at Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, said River Queen was delivering a log boom from Annacis Island to the sawmill when it got into trouble. “They got in some slack water and the current caught the boom itself. The boom went past them and they got girded over,” Dutrizac said. “They were girded over on the starboard side and they sank in about 10 feet of water.” River Queen was just outside Delta Cedar Products sawmill when it capsized. A boom boat operator from Delta Cedar Products witnessed the sinking and rushed to rescue the pair,



said Marc Proulx at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria. “They had only been in the water for a few seconds as the boat sank so close to the mill that their own boom boats went out,” Proulx said. “It happened right off the mill and they had the people on board almost simultaneously.”

A boom boat operator from Delta Cedar Products witnessed the sinking and rushed to rescue the pair.

The investigators didn’t know if the victims were wearing life vests. Proulx said the Rescue Coordination Centre’s involvement was essentially to call an ambulance, as the rescue had already occurred when the report was received. “We heard from Victoria Coast Guard that a fellow from Delta

Cedar Products had called and said that a tug had sunk and a Delta Cedar tug had recovered the two people on board,” Proulx said. The two River Queen crewmen were uninjured, but the crew at Delta Cedar Products convinced them to accept medical attention. The British Columbia ambulance service took the duo to a hospital for observation, and they were released. The owner of River Queen is Forrest Marine Ltd. in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Representatives for Forrest Marine and Delta Cedar Products declined to comment on the incident. River Queen is registered at 25 feet long, with a gross tonnage of 8.8 tons. The vessel was built by John Manly Ltd. in Vancouver in 1972. The steel carvel/flush hull River Queen has an 11.1-foot beam and a draft of 5.75 feet. The exact circumstances of the accident are still under investigation. The vessel was recovered and was undergoing unspecified repairs in July. Michel Drouin

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

Reefer ship survives blackout at mouth of Columbia River break-bulk reefer ship lost all power at the entrance to the Columbia River after a head gasket in an air compressor blew, and a bar pilot brought the wayward ship to a safe halt by ordering the anchor dropped. The blackout occurred aboard Luzon Strait at about 0340 on May 27, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The 548-foot vessel began drifting across the channel and needed to be brought under control. The Columbia River Bar Pilot on board, Capt. Robert Johnson, ordered the anchor dropped about one mile west of the North Jetty. Engineers later discovered that one of the two air compressors had blown a head gasket, causing both generators to overheat. Johnson said he had boarded the vessel by helicopter at 0305 about 10 miles offshore in fair weather. The ship was passing the end of the South Jetty and encountering a strong ebb and river flow that combined to form a 6-knot current, when a complete blackout occurred.


“The bridge went dark for about one minute,” Johnson said. “Then the emergency generator came on line.” Power was restored to the bridge, radar and steering, but the ship was drifting seaward and across the channel, and Johnson ordered the anchor manned for letting go. The chief engineer reported that repairs would take some time, so the anchor was dropped on the north edge of the channel in a depth of 60 feet with eight shots of chain — 720 feet — run out. Johnson credited his training with aiding his decision-making during the emergency. He had recently taken the Emergency Shiphandling course on the Pacific Maritime Institute simulator in Seattle. “This is a fabulous tool for training in bridge resource management,” he said. “Bar pilots retake the course every five years.” The Coast Guard Group/Air Station Astoria was contacted at 0342 and informed of the situation.

The repair was completed aboard Luzon Strait, and electrical power was restored by 0640, when the main engine was restarted. All systems were tested at anchor; at 0717 the pilot informed the Coast Guard that the ship was now seaworthy. A Coast Guard inspector conducted a brief sea trial, and the ship was allowed to continue on its way to load logs in Longview, Wash. The anchor was raised at 0843, and the ship proceeded four miles southwest to pick up the Coast Guard’s local inspector who arrived on a 47-foot lifeboat from the Cape Disappointment Station. For the next one and a half hours, the crew demonstrated engine stop/start, forward/reverse and full helm port/starboard. At 1039, the ship was allowed to proceed into the Columbia River. The Luzon Strait operator, Belgium-based Seatrade Reefer Chartering NV, didn’t respond to an email request for comment. Peter J. Marsh


maritime casualties

Bulk ship grounds in Columbia River after steering fails 648-foot bulk carrier lost steering and ran aground in the Columbia River near Kalama, Wash. The Hong Kong-flagged Pacific Flores had just departed Kalama with a partial load of steel coil. The ship was heading upriver for the anchorage at Vancouver, Wash., when it grounded at about 1330 on May 23. The Columbia River pilot had set a course upstream for the Kalama Upper Range. David Halmagyi, the spokesman for the Columbia River Pilots, stated that the helmsman found that the rudder was locked on 15 degrees of port helm. He alerted the bridge team to the steering failure by calling out “no steering.” The pilot then ordered “hard to starboard.” When the rudder didn’t respond, the main engine was immediately put on full astern and the starboard anchor was let go. The ship slowed, but continued on its original course


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and exited the 600-foot-wide channel at the turn. It ran aground on the mud bottom a short distance from Kalama Marine Park. The pilot notified the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Portland, which dispatched a boat. The Washington State Department of Ecology also responded. The ship was carrying about 600 tons of fuel oil, and all tanks were sounded by the crew. The initial damage assessment revealed no water ingress and no apparent pollution, so the pilot obtained permission from the Coast Guard to attempt to refloat the vessel. With the assistance of the 75-foot Foss Maritime push-tug PJ Brix and a second tug, Pacific Flores was successfully refloated, watched by a crowd that had gathered in the park. A 25-foot Coast Guard response boat arrived as the tugs were moving the ship to the Kalama North Pier. A dive survey confirmed

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there was no damage to the hull or breaching of any tanks. A full examination of the steering system was carried out, the manufacturers were consulted and all components were overhauled. Coast Guard Lt. Peter Raneri, a marine safety investigator at Sector Portland, confirmed that a class survey was performed by Lloyds, which was accepted by the Coast Guard as proof of seaworthiness. The exact cause of the steering failure was not available. Pacific Flores is owned and operated by Swire Shipping, a division of The China Navigation Company Pte. The company declined to comment on the grounding. Pacific Flores was allowed to proceed to Portland on May 29. The ship completed loading on June 8 and departed for sea on June 9. The vessel was built in Finland in 1984 for Hoegh and • launched as Hoegh Drake. Peter J. Marsh

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Professional Mariner October/November 2010

trends & currents

Rescue 21: Coast Guard’s modernized national distress call system by Chris Bernard

he U.S. Coast Guard is bringing its outdated National Distress and Response System into the 21st century with a new system that betters its ability to detect and pinpoint mayday calls and coordinate rescue operations. Rescue 21 represents a significant leap forward in technology over the legacy VHF system installed in the 1970s. Among the biggest advantages is its compatibility with Digital Selective Calling (DSC), which transmits a vessel’s name, location and nature of distress in conjunction with a GPS and Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number. Rescue 21 also gives the Coast Guard radio direction-finding capability for nonDSC-enabled vessels, and will close


88 known coverage area gaps identified in the existing system. “We took a look at the last 12 or 15 years or so, and found there were a couple of rather high-profile cases … that got some people thinking that we needed to do something,” said Eugene Lockhart, the Coast Guard’s acquisition project manager for Rescue 21. It began as the National Distress and Response System Modernization Program, he said, and after a bidding process, Arizona-based General Dynamics C4 Systems was selected to design and support the new system. “They brought in the name Rescue 21, and that’s what we’ve been running with ever since,” Lockhart said. The system covers 42,000 nautical miles of U.S. coastline, certain interior waterways, and the Great Lakes, Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, with 350 towers to be spread out across 46 Coast Guard sectors. A modified Rescue 21 system planned for sectors in Alaska and western rivers regions will have limited direction-finding capability and rely on DSC. The first sectors came online in 2005, in Atlantic City, N.J., and the Delmarva Peninsula. The first life was saved with the system in November of that year. Since then the Coast Guard has reshuffled its sectors, but 26 are complete and online. “Even with missing towers, those sectors have better capability than with the legacy system,” said Mike Monteilh, General Dynamics’ engineering manager for national communications and homeland security.

“We try to find the best tower sites based on location, how high we can get and environmental impacts. A lot of our effort with the Coast Guard is determining where’s the best place to put a tower so we can get the best coverage.” Tower location is critical to Rescue 21. Each tower contains directional antennas that measure the strength of radio waves — if a broadcast is within “sight” of two towers, broadcast location can be pinpointed to within two degrees of accuracy. “Eighty percent of the coastline can see two towers coming in,” Monteilh said. “You draw a line from each, and where they intersect is where (the broadcast) is coming from.” That means signals can be located to within about seven-tenths of a mile, which narrows a search area considerably. The direction-finding ability also helps eliminate human error. Lockhart cites a recent distress call in New Jersey in which mariners going into the water from a boat on fire reported a location taken from their GPS that didn’t correlate with the direction-finding system. “What we suspect is that he was reading a waypoint off the GPS (rather than his current location),” he said. “Our direction-finding system pegged them 10 miles off their reported location.” Lockhart said the time saved by not having to search an empty location may have meant the difference between life and death. An added bonus of directionfinding is the ability to find and prosecute hoax callers, which cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and pull resources 49

away from legitimate distress calls. “When a call origination point is over land, you know something is up,” Lockhart said. “We haven’t traditionally identified that as a major benefit, but it’s definitely added.” Monteilh said about 95 percent of tower locations have been determined to date. His company and the Coast Guard are working together with landowners and other stakeholders to identify the remaining sites and secure permission. Each tower contains six radios — one tuned to VHF channel 16, the international calling and distress channel, four to region-specific channels determined by the Coast Guard, and one UHF radio used for communications with the Department of Homeland Security and

other federal, state and local agencies. All five VHF radios can transmit and receive simultaneously, covering up to 20 nautical miles offshore. The system also ties into telephone networks, enabling radio-to-phone calls with emergency first responders and hospitals, and offers digital recording of distress calls for instant playback and archiving. In addition to the towers, Coast Guard command centers in each sector are being upgraded. Tower-monitoring under Rescue 21 is not dependent upon physical proximity, which means that in the event of natural disasters like hurricanes, command center crew can be moved to a safe location in another sector and monitor their coverage area from there.

What is Digital Selective Calling? Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is a feature of properly equipped VHF, MF and HF maritime radios that sends distress alerts by coded data transmission. Mariners using DSC-enabled radios obtain a discrete nine-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number for a vessel through the Federal Communications Commission. The Interna-

tional Maritime Organization requires DSC-equipped radios to be connected to onboard GPS or Loran systems to provide location information. In an emergency, a single push of a button sends a coded digital distress signal containing the MMSI and position over data-only channels, which can send and receive messages in conditions

“This happened recently in New Orleans,” Monteilh said. “We moved the physical watch-standers to West Virginia, where there was no hurricane, and they monitored the New Orleans system from West Virginia.” Mobile hardware can also be brought in during disasters or other emergencies, preventing any lapse in coverage. Currently Rescue 21 is operational on most of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and much of the Pacific Coast. Southern California and the Great Lakes are the next areas scheduled to come online. Full system installation is expected to be completed by 2012, with the Alaska and western rivers system online by 2017. In all, Rescue 21 is expected to • cost just over $1 billion.

that make voice messages difficult or impossible to understand. Once the distress button is pushed, the radio sends the information repeatedly until it is answered by the U.S. Coast Guard. Information about the nature of the distress can also be entered on some DSC units. Distress information is also sent to all other vessels equipped with DSC radios. In addition, mariners can use DSC-enabled radios to place direct calls to other vessels or

shore stations by “dialing” an MMSI like a telephone number. A brief hailing signal is accompanied by vessel information and location, and the working channel on which the caller wishes to communicate. “In our opinion, one of the smartest things professional and recreational mariners alike can do is equip themselves with (DSC) capability and integrate it with GPS,” said Eugene Lockhart, the Coast Guard’s acquisition project manager for Rescue 21. Chris Bernard

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Professional Mariner October/November 2010

American Ship Review


Canada funds 30-year plan to build icebreakers, Arctic supply vessels n an announcement that promises to keep Canadian shipyards busy for a quartercentury, the national government in June said it plans to spend $33.8 billion to build new icebreakers, supply ships and other vessels. The national ship procurement strategy is part of a long-term maritime plan that asserts Canada’s sovereignty claims in the Arctic Ocean and Northwest Passage. Ottawa said it will spend CAD $35 billion on new vessels over the next 30 years. The government announced in 2007 that it intended to build up to eight Polar Class 5 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships — armed 319-foot, 6,372-ton vessels capable of breaking ice over three-feet thick. Shipyards are thrilled at the prospect of staying busy for decades. “We could have significant employment in the industry and supply for 25 to 30 years. It is a very good opportunity,” said Peter Cairns, president of the Shipbuilding Association of Canada. “There is the whole issue of marine security, northern sovereignty and security on the high seas,” he said. “There is piracy


now that we didn’t have 25 years ago. There is a lot of tasking for Navy and Coast Guard, so it all has to do with an aggregate. All these things are factored into the decision, I believe.” The big prize will be two large projects that will be assigned to two of the shipyards that win the bidding process. One yard will work on combatant vessels (navy icebreakers), and the other non-combatant vessels (new supply ships). “What they are doing is looking for two shipyards,” Cairns said. “The two will have to qualify in the qualification process. Anyone who thinks they have capability will enter into the competition.” For the supply-ship construction, Davie Yards Inc. in Quebec may be favored due to its size. The Washington Marine Group, which owns both Vancouver Shipyards and Vancouver Drydock in North Vancouver, British Columbia, and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia, are expected to be the main contenders for icebreaker construction. Canada’s bold plan contrasts with the United States, where budget-deficit cutting threatens capital spending even while the nation’s

icebreaker fleet is aging. The U.S. has three polar icebreakers, only two of which are heavy icebreakers, and both are over 30 years old. One of the ships, Polar Star, is undergoing an overhaul to return it to operational readiness. In June, the U.S. Coast Guard said a major engine casualty has sidelined the 33-yearold cutter Polar Sea for the remainder of 2010. In February, then-commandant Adm. Thad Allen said that without new ships to replace aging assets, the Coast Guard would be a “hollow fleet.” Extending the service life of the existing cutters in the fleet is not a viable option, Allen said. A new icebreaker would cost $1 billion. No funding was included in the 2011 budget request to begin recapitalizing the U.S. icebreaker fleet, according to the American Shipbuilding Association. In Canada’s plan, the construction of smaller ships will be set aside for competitive procurement. The repair, refit and maintenance of ships in the government fleet will continue to be awarded through competitive tendering. The government says that strategy promotes the regional distribution of work and opportunities to shipyards across the 51

country. Selected shipyards will need to subcontract vast amounts of work to the broader marine industry and suppliers. George MacPherson, president of the Shipyard General Workers’ Federation in Vancouver, is optimistic, but he says the West Coast industry has to prove it can do the job. MacPherson says that if the Washington Group wins the icebreaker contract, the work will spread around to other yards in B.C. “If we are successful and are one of the two shipyards that get the contract, I see a very bright future for the industry,” MacPherson said.

“It’ll rejuvenate the bulk of the yards. It’ll put some work in Allied Shipbuilders, Victoria Shipyards and Point Hope Maritime in Victoria, and Nanaimo Shipyard.” The competition will be fierce, he added. “We think one of the yards will be Davie, in Quebec,” MacPherson said. “The ships we’ll be going after are the navy icebreakers, the ones they call A/OPS.” That stands for Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships — Canada’s planned armed naval icebreakers. John Shaw, vice president of Washington Group and chairman of the Pacific Coast Shipbuilders’

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Association, said that the association is very pleased the government recognizes the need to renew the Coast Guard and Navy fleets. “B.C. shipyards will compete very strongly based upon their experience, expertise and capabilities to bring one of the programs to the West Coast,” he said. On Canada’s East Coast, Steve Durrell, president of Irving Shipbuilding, said his company looks forward to participating in the process to select two Canadian Centres of Shipbuilding Excellence. “This is what we’ve been working toward and we are definitely ready to compete,” Durrell said. • Michel Drouin

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Professional Mariner October/November 2010


by Craig H. Allen Sr.

Inland Rules of the Road migrate to a new code n May 17, the U.S. Inland Navigation Rules, commonly known as the Inland Rules of the Road, were officially transferred from the U.S. Code (USC), which codifies statutes enacted by Congress and signed into law by the president, to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), which collects regulations promulgated by federal agencies — in this case, the U.S. Coast Guard. The move was authorized by Congress in the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004 (CGMTA). Congress further provided that the statutory Inland Rules currently in 33 USC §§ 2001-2038 are repealed as of the date the new regulations take effect. The new regulations that replace the statutes will be published in 33 CFR part 83, immediately before the related annexes on lights and signals, the pilot rules and the interpretive rules. Mariners will discover several “conforming” amendments to the Inland Rules when they appear in the CFR, such as subparagraphs and internal cross-references that have been renumbered. However, the substance of the rules was not changed. The change does not affect the statutory section setting out penalties for violating the


Inland Rules (33 USC § 2072). Nor does it affect the 1972 International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (ColRegs), which were implemented by Congress in the International Navigation Rules Act of 1977. Although the move was solely an administrative matter and did not result in any substantive changes to the Inland Rules, this development will have important consequences for mariners and maritime training centers in the coming years. First, future updates to the Inland Rules, which apply upon the inland waters of the United States and to U.S. vessels on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes when not in conflict with Canadian law, will be accomplished through rulemaking rather than legislation. Federal rulemaking is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which generally requires that an agency provide public notice of any new regulations or changes to or repeals of existing regulations, and that the agency provide the public an opportunity to comment on the changes before they are adopted. Mariners and others will therefore have a greater opportunity to participate in future rule changes initiated by the government and to petition the Coast Guard directly

(rather than Congress) for amendments to the rules (see 33 CFR § 1.05-20). The new approach is not without risk. Under Rule 1(b) of the ColRegs, countries that are party to that international convention are authorized to enact “special rules” for roadsteads, harbors, rivers, lakes or inland waterways connected with the high seas and navigable by seagoing vessels. Congress drew on that authority when it enacted the Inland Navigation Rules Act in 1980. ColRegs Rule 1(b) — and to some extent Section 303 of the CGMTA — require, however, that any special rules for inland waters conform as closely as possible to the ColRegs. To the extent that the Inland Rules might be easier (even if not quicker) to amend now that they are regulations rather than statutes, some risk is created that in the coming years the Inland Rules might depart even further from the 1972 ColRegs than they do now. That would exacerbate the risk of rule confusion, misunderstanding or misapplication by mariners who must operate under both sets of rules. An additional drawback to this development is that some courts (perhaps even some mariners) might be tempted to 53

give less respect to rules set out in agency regulations than they would accord to statutes enacted by Congress. Agency regulations are also subject to certain procedural and substantive challenges under the APA, which could be used to inject doubt into the effect of the rules and any amendments. Interestingly, one possible ground for challenging any new regulation is in section 303 of the 2004 CGMTA statute authorizing the Coast Guard to promulgate regulations, which expressly reinforces the ColRegs consistency requirement. The legal status of the new regulations might also be undermined by a somewhat surprising provision in the Coast Guard’s “federalism” analysis that accompanied the migration rule. Federalism statements are required by a presidential executive order, which directs the agency to determine whether the new regulation will have implications for federalism. Among other things, a regulation has implications for federalism if it will preempt state law. Although the Coast Guard concluded that the rule transferring the Inland Rules to the CFR “does not have implications for federalism,” that should not be read to suggest that any conflicting state navigation rules would not be preempted. Just as the statutory version of the Inland Rules preempted any conflicting state laws on waters where those rules apply, the regulatory navigation rules will have a similar effect. Two valuable information sources might also be in jeopardy 54

as a result of the move. First, it is unclear at this point whether the major legal publishing services will continue to collect court decisions construing and applying the Inland Rules. At present, services like West (a Thomson Reuters business) collect and publish such decisions in the U.S. Code Annotated compilation for the statutes in 33 USC §§ 2001 (Inland Rule 1) – 2038 (Inland Rule 38). Those statutes are now repealed and replaced by regulations. Regrettably, legal publishing services generally do not collect and publish annotations for agency regulations. As a result, our understanding of the Inland Rules could suffer a serious setback if the annotations, which currently run more than 300 pages in the U.S. Code Annotated, are discontinued. There is also a risk that the legislative history of the 1980 Inland Navigation Rules Act will be forgotten under the new regulatory scheme. When Congress enacted the 1980 Inland Rules, the House and Senate carefully explained in committee reports their respective understandings regarding the rules and their reasons for deviating from the ColRegs. When researchers analyze agency regulations, they typically do not think to consult the legislative history of repealed statutes. That would be a mistake in this case. Those seeking to understand the Inland Rules in the coming years, whether mariners, the Coast Guard, maritime training centers or the courts, must remember that behind the new regulations lies the 1980 Inland Navigation

Rules Act, and behind that Act lie some very informative committee reports that explain the intent of Congress regarding the Inland Rules. The decision of Congress to move the U.S. Inland Rules from the U.S. Code to the CFR is to be commended. The change brings needed adaptability and flexibility to this important rule set and will facilitate greater public participation in any future revisions. Although there is some risk that rulemaking authority could be over-used, to the detriment of consistency with the ColRegs (and with the Canadian rules for the Great Lakes), meticulous attention to the ColRegs Article 1(b) mandate by the Coast Guard and vigilance by the public in their comments on proposed rule changes should minimize that risk. Indeed, there are indications that the Coast Guard might in the near future initiate rulemaking to implement several pending resolutions of the U.S. Navigation Safety Advisory Council, with the goal of bringing the Inland Rules into closer alignment with the updated ColRegs. Hopefully, those amendments will not take as long to wend their way through the Coast Guard’s rulemaking process, as did the 2010 rule implementing the 2004 CGMTA authorization to • migrate the rules. Craig H. Allen Sr. is the Judson Falknor Professor of Law and Marine Affairs at the University of Washington. He is also the author of Farwell’s Rules of the Nautical Road (8th edition 2005).

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

continued from page 56

carcinogenic components such as benzene and toluene, while Corexit has a large percentage of petroleum distillates, propylene glycol and sulfonic acid. According to the material data safety sheets (MSDS) for both crude oil and Corexit, neither is supposed to be taken internally. Yet reports from the Gulf pointed out that no one was testing for their presence in the drinking water on board MODUs making water in the contaminated Gulf of Mexico oil spill area. The word among mariners at the scene was that when confronted with the possibility of U.S. Coast Guard inspections of the water systems on the rigs, fresh water from U.S. ports on the Gulf Coast was quickly delivered. The fresh water from shoreside sources met not only CDC guidelines, but U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations as well — and exemplifies the double standard of water quality that exists on commercial vessels. When an engineer takes on water at the dock in a U.S. port, he is assured that it meets EPA standards for chemical contaminants like benzene. When his ship uses its onboard watermaker to convert seawater to fresh water, however, those same standards don’t need to be met. A U.S. Navy study conducted several years ago recommended that, because of the risk of chemical contaminants in the seawater used to make fresh water on board, the Navy should monitor and test for these impurities in the shipboard drinking water on its vessels. In my opinion, the same should hold true for U.S.-flagged commercial vessels. There is no reason why mariners should have to drink water that is

unsafe or unhealthful. To help solve chemical contamination issues, additional filters could easily be added to existing evaporation or reverse osmosis systems on board. As part of a commercial vessel company’s International Safety Management procedures, regular maintenance or replacement of filters (in accordance with the watermaker manufacturer instructions) could be included. In addition, onboard water testing for contaminants and periodic third-party testing by labs ashore would help guarantee that the quality of water made at sea meets EPA standards. In the days before the Jones Act was passed, merchant mariners were often not provided clean and sanitary potable water. U.S. Code Title 46, Section 10902 is still U.S. law, and gives merchant mariners on inspected vessels the right to petition to have the vessel declared unseaworthy if they feel the water on board is unfit to drink. The U.S. government has established that safe drinking water must not only be disinfected, but essentially free of chemical contaminants as well. Thirty-six years after the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 was passed, it’s time that our government address the chemical contamination of drinking water made aboard ship. The EPA standards for clean water should apply to all American citizens — including those who work on U.S.-flagged commercial vessels. 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

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A Mariner’s Notebook

by Capt. Kelly Sweeney

Onboard systems don’t always provide clean, safe water ne morning while out on deck having my first cup of coffee, I started talking with Dan, a QMED (qualified member of the engine department) who was enjoying his usual breakfast of a cigarette and black coffee. We were on a ship working off the coast of Panama, so when conversation turned to the subject of coffee, I touted the fresh Panamanian brew the steward had brought aboard. He agreed, but then added, “Regardless of the coffee and the machine, Kelly, it’s good water that makes the best coffee — and you won’t find good water on merchant ships.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “The distilled water you engineers make on board is great.” He shook his head and said, “If the seawater



we take on board is loaded with chemicals, distillation won’t eliminate them. We have been making water within 12 miles of the coast, so the toxic pesticides and herbicides from the shore runoff and rivers ends up in our drinking water.” All of a sudden my coffee didn’t taste so good. Fresh water is vital on board, and making sure that the ship has an ample supply is one of the many important jobs the engineering department takes care of. Most seagoing vessels employ either an evaporator system that uses distillation or a pressurized screening/filtering system called reverse osmosis to convert seawater into potable water. In the evaporator system, seawater is heated and turned to steam, after which the fresh water condensate is collected and used for drinking, cooking, and washing on board. Reverse osmosis forces seawater though progressively finer filtering to produce fresh water. These two methods have been

used for decades, but nevertheless have definite drawbacks and limitations. For example, neither will remove volatile organic compounds such as benzene or trichloroethylene. Another time when I was chief mate on an oceanographic ship working off the coast of California, we took on fresh water while docked in port. After nearly three weeks at sea doing coastal research, and with nearly 50 scientists and crew aboard, it wasn’t long before we had to utilize our reverse osmosis system. One night, after a hard rainstorm, as we watched the local TV news in the lounge, the anchorman reported that the coastal waters had been declared unsafe for swimming because of the runoff. Hearing that, and remembering Dan’s remarks, I thought to myself, “Great, the same water that’s unfit to swim in we’re making drinking water from.” As part of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004, the government

established that the quality of potable water made on board merchant ships must meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. These guidelines essentially deal with filtering and the addition of a disinfecting agent, like chlorine, to keep people from getting sick from water tainted with bacteria or viruses. They do not, however, address the amount of chemical contaminants found in the intake seawater, such as petrochemicals from industrial areas, agricultural runoff, crude oil or dispersants used during an oil spill. Recently, water quality on commercial vessels was in the news when it was reported that Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs) working near the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster were using seawater tainted with crude oil and the dispersant Corexit in their shipboard watermakers. Crude oil contains several dangerous continued on page 55

Professional Mariner October/November 2010

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PM 140 October 2010  

Professional mariner ctober 2010

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