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Contents P r o f e s s i o n a l M a r i n e r     O c t o b e r / N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 3

Towing 18 U.S. Coast Guard issues list of 10 common towing vessel deficiencies

by Susan Buchanan



Trends & Currents 46 Marine engine makers gear up for stiffer emissions standards

by Gary Wollenhaupt

53 LNG marine fuel backers form a new association

Industry Signals 4 Audit: Coast Guard falls short in its casualty investigation role

10 Coast Guard seeks comments

by Jonathan Berr

on rule requiring PFDs aboard barges

12 Seamen’s Church expanding Merchant Marine oral history project

14 NOAA seeks permanent rule for ship speed limit in whale zones

46 A Mariner’s Notebook 56 Stowaway rats, biohazards point to need for health inspections aboard ships

By Capt. Kelly Sweeney



Leading the Way



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Gulf Coast Photographer/ Correspondent Brian Gauvin

West Coast Photographer/ Correspondent Alan Haig-Brown Columnist Capt. Kelly Sweeney


Photo: Peter Rodriguez

West Coast/Canadian/ International Susan W. Hadlock

East Coast Charlie Humphries

Gulf/Midwest Arthur Auger

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Subscription Services 1-866-918-6972 PROFESSIONAL MARINER (ISSN 1066-2774)

This magazine is printed in the U.S. Professional Mariner is published in February, March, 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 November 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 © 2013 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 (nine issues) in the U.S. and its possessions. Canadian subscription rate is $44.95 U.S. funds. Other foreign service is $49.95 U.S. funds. Overseas airmail is $94.95 U.S. funds. Multi-year discounts are available, call 866-918-6972 for details. 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 2013

Contents P r o f e s s i o n a l M a r i n e r     O c t o b e r / N o v e m b e r 2 0 1 3


24 Repowered Long Island ferries take on weather, seaweed, The Race  by Dom Yanchunas 30 Maritime Casualties 30 Deck hand drowns when towboat drifts, flips over Minnesota dam 32 Carnival cruise ship blackout blamed on poor engine-room firefighting 35 Probe: Watchkeeping breakdowns aboard both ships caused collision 39 Laker hits drawbridge after drunk bridge tender lowered the span 41 OSV sinks after running into Gulf oil platform; 23 people evacuated 42 Texas crabber dies after boat collides with barge on Sabine Lake 43 Coast Guard: North Carolina dinner boat ran aground as result of engine failure

Vessels at Work 28 Fully equipped Florida research vessel a ‘Swiss Army knife’ of boats



By Brian gauvin

ON THE COVER Capt. Rosanne Weglinski lowers the starboard stern drive platform aboard Florida State University’s R/V Apalachee. See story, Page 28. Photo by Brian Gauvin



Signals Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

A Coast Guard boat patrols alongside the damaged Cosco Busan after the ship struck a bridge in 2007. The casualty probe, which resulted in guilty pleas and medical reforms, illustrates both the Coast Guard’s strengths and shortcomings.

Audit: U.S. Coast Guard falls short in its casualty investigation role he U.S. Coast Guard does not develop enough qualified people T to investigate maritime accidents,

resulting in a backlog of 6,000 open cases awaiting action, according to a federal audit. The report by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said inadequate policies and career development ultimately mean that the maritime industry waits too long to receive casualty analysis and safety lessons.


In May, DHS’s Office of Inspector General issued an 18-page audit on the Coast Guard accident investigations function. The review included visits to about 12 of the busiest Coast Guard marine casualty investigations offices plus other sites. Auditors reviewed whether personnel meet the Coast Guard’s own qualification standards. About twothirds of the inspectors and investigators didn’t meet the standards. The Coast Guard reported that the short-

age will be exacerbated when the Subchapter M towing vessel inspection rules go into effect. “The USCG does not have adequate processes or sufficient personnel to investigate, take corrective actions and enforce regulations related to the reporting of marine accidents as required,” the auditors concluded. “These conditions exist because the USCG has not developed and retained sufficient personnel,

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

The USCG states that thousands of preventable maritime accidents are caused by operator inattention, citing this twice as frequently as the next leading factor. Understandably, the International Maritime Organization is requiring the installation of Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm Systems (BNWAS) aboard mandated vessels to monitor operator fitness. The Furuno BR500 BNWAS is designed with a wide selection of sensors, timer reset units and cabin alarm panels. Our external processor offers flexible positioning, providing ample space to easily secure all cable connections, including operator fitness inputs from existing Furuno and other similar bridge equipment. A single cable connects the easily accessed processor to a compact control head, significantly reducing installation time and expense. That’s great news for vessel operators, as the mandatory IMO fitting dates are rapidly approaching. Implementation Schedule of Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System (BNWAS) July 2010

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established a process with dedicated resources to address corrective actions and provided adequate training,” they wrote. “As a result, the USCG may be delayed in identifying the causes of accidents ... and

providing the findings and lessons learned to mariners, the public and other governmental entities.” The audit further said the backlog “may also delay the development of new standards that could prevent

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future accidents.” The audit urged the Coast Guard to do more to promote the casualtyinvestigation specialty as a more attractive career commitment. In a written response, the Coast Guard agreed with the audit’s recommendations and promised corrective action. The problems ring familiar to mariners who study maritime casualties. The Coast Guard’s military structure, officers’ path to promotion and expansion of the agency’s role during an era of federal budget cuts pose challenges to improvement. “The findings are completely correct,” said Joseph Murphy, professor of marine transportation at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. “It does highlight a deficiency that the Coast Guard has. Coast Guard inspectors relocate every couple of years, and once they’re up to speed, they go somewhere else and have to start all over again.” Bob Couttie, a seafarer-education developer and founder of Maritime Accident Casebook, said the U.S. Coast Guard ranks “near the top” of the world’s coast guards that have casualty investigation duties. The rotation of personnel in and out of the safety role, however, stymies the agency’s ability to develop competencies to aid the industry. “This is part of the militarized style,” said Couttie. “In a military context, it may very well be the right thing to do, whereas when it comes to maritime accident investigation, how committed can somebody be? Guys are getting trained and then they move on to something else. So that’s a lowering

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

of institutional experience.” The U.S. Coast Guard ranks below the U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and other civilian-based casualty investigators, in Couttie’s opinion. That’s because the non-military, non-punitive agencies are structurally in a better position to zero in on facts that can lead to better prevention analysis. The educational aspect is made more difficult when the investigators know they could end up in a courtroom. “The Coast Guard is an enforcement agency, so it’s not really an independent investigation,” Couttie said. “If you’re talking to a seafarer, you want to get the truth out of him. You’re likely to get much better insight in the dynamics of a situation than if you’re acting as a policeman.” Top Coast Guard brass have known for years that their casualtyinvestigations function was substandard. Industry criticism grew more vocal in the years following 9/11, after which the Coast Guard was tasked with a deeper security role at the nation’s ports. Service to the maritime industry declined. In response to that criticism, in 2007, then-Commandant Thad Allen promised to bolster the uniformed Coast Guard marine safety ranks by hiring hundreds of civilian casualty investigators. Allen called for the “blended work force” and a renewed respect for commercial mariners as partners instead of targets. “The Coast Guard acknowledges the concerns of industry and others that our operations in the wake of these (9/11) events have placed great-

er emphasis on our security missions, sometimes at the expense of marine safety activities,” Allen told Congress. In 2009, the Marine Safety Enhancement Plan was issued, with a framework for additional hiring and

training for inspectors and investigators. That same year, however, came the Great Recession, followed by the recent federal sequester and military spending cuts. Allen’s successor, Adm. Robert Papp, is managing a

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Coast Guard with tighter resources. The recent Inspector General’s audit said an “absence of dedicated resources” has caused a backlog of more than 6,000 open investigations. “If there are 6,000 outstanding,


it’s a situation there that certainly needs looking at,” Couttie said. The audit offered seven recommendations to improve personnel training and retention and to adopt policies that enhance the develop-

ment of expertise and track results better. In a written response, the Coast Guard agreed with all the recommendations and said it would implement them in the 2014 fiscal year or sooner. The Coast Guard has “initiated a prevention curriculum at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to bring new officers into the program, and issued career guides to assist personnel in planning their careers, as well as showing junior officers that repeated tours in inspections and investigations may lead to positions of progressively greater responsibility within the program,” according to the written response. “The Coast Guard is currently developing a Maritime Prevention Enhancement Plan that will ... refine our improvement efforts, including a consistent focus on retaining prevention professionals,” the Coast Guard wrote. An example that illustrates both the Coast Guard’s investigative deficiencies and also its good work on lessons learned is the Cosco Busan accident in 2007. The containership struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and spilled 53,000 gallons of heavy fuel. Couttie said the Coast Guard initially didn’t gather data from the navigation electronics and onboard computers, leaving open the opportunity for the ship manager to falsify evidence. The activity eventually was discovered and the management company pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors. “It’s a case where the Coast Guard did not secure certain documents — like charts — and the

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

plots were added later,” Couttie said. “If the documents had been secured, or at least copied, that would never have happened.” From an industry safety standpoint, Murphy said a positive outcome from the same investigation resulted from the uncovering of issues with the Cosco Busan bar pilot’s health and medications. The Coast Guard tightened its merchant mariner medical reviews at the National Maritime Center. Murphy said he would like to see the Coast Guard focus more on prevention rather than so often catching up with hazards after a bad accident has occurred. “They’ve made some

progress on medical standards, and they have been able to improve safety,” said Murphy, author of a biennial study guide for deck officers. In an era of austere federal budgets, the Coast Guard’s ability to improve its investigative performance and reduce the backlog may prove acutely challenging, the audit acknowledges. “Safety recommendations cannot be addressed until the Coast Guard closes the associated investigations,” the auditors wrote. “Therefore, the USCG will be unable to address these safety recommendations in a timely manner without dedicated resources.”

Whatever the funding level, the key to improvement will be convincing Coast Guard personnel that becoming an inspector or investigator will be an attractive future career track worthy of their aspirations, Murphy said. “Investigations does not have the promotion path for them, and they avoid it, and I think they put lesserquality people in there,” Murphy said. “They’ve got to get away from the desire of their people to have their foot in every piece of Coast Guard operation. Today’s world is too technical, and they have to have the expertise to do the job.” Dom Yanchunas

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Coast Guard seeks comments on rule requiring PFDs aboard barges


proposal to require the use of personal flotation devices (PFDs) aboard uninspected commercial barges has generated concern among some marine operators, but a U.S. Coast Guard official calls it a “low impact” provision in line with policies that most companies already have in place. Before 2010, lifesaving devices were required on uninspected barges and commercial sailing vessels — those not “propelled by machinery” — only if they carried passengers for hire. In 2010, Congress passed legislation requiring lifesaving devices on those vessels even if there are no passengers on board. In July, the Coast Guard filed a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to align its enforcement with the act. More than 35,000 barges would be affected; there are currently no sailing vessels in operation that would be subject to the provision. Martin Jackson, staff engineer in the Coast Guard’s Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division, said aligning with the rule change has not been a high priority because of the low number of PFD-related fatalities aboard uninspected barges. A Coast Guard review of casualties from 2000 to 2010 found only one case where someone on a barge fell overboard and died because he was not wearing a PFD. The death occurred despite a company policy requiring use of the devices. “It’s strictly to bring everything in line with the Coast Guard


Authorization Act of 2010,” Jackson said. “It’s a low-impact requirement because most companies already have a policy that you should wear a PFD or life jacket when you go on board an uninspected barge, especially one that is underway in a tow.” Brian Vahey, government affairs manager for the American Waterways Operators (AWO), praised the Coast Guard for publicizing the issue and said it seems intent on drafting a regulation that is consistent with best practices in the industry. Despite that, Vahey said there is some concern among AWO members. “Right now, I would characterize the reaction to the proposed rule as a little bit wary,” he said. “I think it goes without saying that our members are very quick to embrace any new regulation that they believe will improve safety on their vessels. I don’t think that they are necessarily against the rule in principle, but there are a lot of questions about how it is going to be implemented and what sort of flexibility operators are going to have.” The proposed rule calls for each crewmember on a barge to wear a PFD approved under Title 46, Subchapter Q of the Code of Federal Regulations — “pretty much any inherently buoyant PFD,” Jackson said — with the PFD used in accordance with the conditions on the label. Deferring to standard industry practice, the rule would allow PFDs for barge personnel to

be stowed on the towboat. “If a barge operator … ensures that each individual dons the equipment before boarding the barge and keeps it on for as long as the individual remains on board, they can use the PFDs stored on the towing vessel in lieu of maintaining a set on each barge,” the Coast Guard states in the NPRM. “Presumably, a crewmember coming from a towing vessel would wear the PFD that was originally stored on the towing vessel. … Therefore, we estimate that there is no additional cost to purchase or install new PFDs in response to the proposed rule.” Vahey said some AWO members question requiring barge personnel to wear PFDs if they are performing a job that does not subject them to falling overboard — for instance, if they are working in the middle of a multiple-barge tow and they aren’t exposed to water on any side, or if they are working in the internal spaces of a barge where a PFD would be cumbersome. “I think those are the type of questions that (the NPRM) doesn’t entirely answer and that we would like to get more clarity on,” he said. Vahey said AWO officials will be continuing their dialogue with members about what to include in the group’s response to the proposed rule. The Coast Guard is accepting comments until Oct. 15. To see the NPRM or to comment, go to Rich Miller

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

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Seamen’s Church expanding Merchant Marine oral history project


fter a “suicide run” across the Atlantic in a convoy that lost 17 ships, American John Ludwick and a fellow Merchant Marine were ready for a day in the city. They left the tiny Soviet port

Merchant Marine, told these and other stories to John Thayer, an archivist at the Seamen’s Church Institute. Ludwick is one of 17 Merchant Marine veterans interviewed for the institute’s American

Courtesy Seamen’s Church Institute

city of Molotovsk for Arkhangelsk on New Year’s Eve 1944. Although the first leg of the trip went smoothly, the men ended up on the wrong train coming home and found themselves bound for Moscow, some 800 miles south. After realizing their mistake, they boarded a new train that would bring them back to the White Sea, where their supply ship was frozen in. They never made it. “We got hornswoggled into a labor camp,” Ludwick, 88, said in a recent phone interview. “We were forced labor; maybe not slaves, but forced labor.” Russian soldiers, for reasons that aren’t clear to this day, ordered the Americans off the northbound train. Instead of rejoining their shipmates, they were taken by truck to war-torn Leningrad to clean the city and bury the dead. Ludwick, who wrote a book about his experiences in the U.S.


Rev. David Rider of Seamen’s Church Institute, far right, visits with a New Jersey chapter of American Merchant Marine Veterans. That chapter will be interviewed for an oral history project in 2014.

Merchant Marine Veterans Oral History Project. Seamen’s Church Institute, founded in 1834, is dedicated to assisting mariners worldwide. That mission, Thayer said, includes making sure Merchant Marine veterans’ stories don’t go untold. “A lot of these folks are older,” he said. “It’s either do it now and get it on tape now or (these stories) are going to be lost forever. The Merchant Marine has not been completely forgotten, but it has been overlooked in its contribution to U.S. history.” The Bay and Paul Foundations, of New York, awarded the Seamen’s Church a $5,000 grant earlier this year to support the project. “We are going to use the money to expand the project to get more interviews from different places,” Thayer said. “I have been doing the work as part of my daily job. With this extra money we are

going to be able to expand.” Many existing interviews have been uploaded to the institute’s website. The stories are riveting. In one segment, Merchant Marine veteran Richard Weir recalls traveling at the back of a convoy in an exposed position known as “coffin corner.” He and his shipmates had no idea another vessel in the convoy had sunk. “I was on the watch of the bow at night at about 1 or 2 a.m. and all of a sudden I saw little lights off in the water around us,” said Weir, now a retired English professor. “Then I realized each of those lights represented one man who had turned on the little red light on his life jacket. These were seamen on this ship that had been sunk ahead of us.” Weir, who was interviewed in January 2012, never learned the fate of those men. Between 215,000 to 285,000 men served in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II, according to the website usmm. org. The men worked on ships that carried troops, armaments and other supplies for the war effort. While Merchant Marine veterans still don’t qualify for full federal veteran benefits, they suffered the highest casualty rate of all the branches during World War II, according to the website. Gabriel Frank, who served in the Merchant Marine from 1945 through 1968 and has worked for Seamen’s Church for many years,

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

hopes the project will remind people about the role Merchant Mariners played in the war effort. “A lot of seamen are passing on and a lot are getting up in age and (Thayer) is keeping us going with the memories of the Merchant Marine voyages,” said Frank, a retired probation officer interviewed in December 2011. Ludwick, who now lives in Lyons, Kan., said his ship was harassed by submarines and air raids while crossing the Atlantic. He and his friend volunteered for double watch duty to spend New Year’s Eve in Arkhangelsk. Although their luck soured on

the train ride back to the ship, they caught a break when they arrived in Leningrad. The Russian officer in charge, who had spent time in the U.S., recognized them as Americans. He kept them separate from the other workers during four long weeks in Leningrad. The officer and his wife ultimately helped the Americans escape. The plan was simple: Ludwick and his friend would speed away on a snowmobile reserved for Russian dignitaries and find the railroad that would bring them back to their ship. The men learned to operate the machine from instructions translated from

the Russian officer and his wife. One clear night in late January 1945, the Americans went for it. “They said it was 480 miles, but it was farther than that,” Ludwick said. “We got on it at night and we rode all night, all the next day and the next night without any sleep.” They ultimately reached the tracks and later “bought (their) way back to the ship,” Ludwick said. They were missing for 30 days. About six months later, his time in the Merchant Marine was over. Two years at sea was enough. “I came back to Kansas and said I’d never go to the ocean again.” Casey Conley


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NOAA seeks permanent rule for ship speed limit in whale zones


temporary U.S. rule to reduce the number of North Atlantic right whales struck by ships could soon become permanent. Yet some in the commercial shipping industry caution that the rule — which requires commercial vessels to slow down to 10 knots in right whale zones — is too inflexible. North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered mammals in the world, with just 450 of the species left in the population. The whales are migratory and

marine mammalogist with the New England Aquarium in Boston and the Canadian Whale Institute in Wilson’s Beach, New Brunswick. “If there is a kid who ends up in the road and they detect the car, they have more time to get out of the way of a car going 20 or 30 miles per hour than they do one going 60 miles per hour,” Brown said. But there’s a caveat: The timing of the slowdown depends on the whales’ estimated location along


The body of a Bryde’s whale is stuck on a cargo ship’s bulbous bow. NOAA seeks regulations along the U.S. East Coast that would protect right whales, right, from similar ship-strike accidents.

Courtesy NOAA

Fernando Felix

travel between Florida and Canada. Females take a decade to reach sexual maturity and then only have one calf per year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service implemented the temporary regulation five years ago. The rule is like a school zone, said Moira Brown, a

in the migratory corridor since the rule went into effect — down from about zero to two strikes per year, said Gregory Silber, NOAA’s coordinator of recovery activities for endangered whales. NOAA estimates that the probability of a fatal rightwhale ship strike has dropped by 80 to 90 percent. Mandatory slowdowns have cost the shipping industry about 6 cents for every $1,000 of goods, Silber acknowledged. That’s due to numerous factors, from missed transit connections to the added time it takes to get goods to port. NOAA says the cost is justified. “If you look at it across an entire industry and multiple types of industry,” Silber said, “those impacts are very, very small.” Not everyone agrees the rule should go into effect as is, though. Of particular concern is the timing of slowdowns. “All right whales have departed the Savannah area by St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, for the past

the corridor. For instance, the rule would not be in effect in Florida and Massachusetts at the same time. No right whales have been struck

several years but the speed restrictions continue until April 30,” wrote Thomas Wright, a member of the Savannah Maritime Association in

Professional Mariner October/November 2013


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Georgia, on NOAA’s public docket for comments on the proposal. The comment period closed Aug. 6. There’s a difference between seasonal management areas and dynamic management areas, explained Kathy Metcalf, director of maritime affairs at the Chamber of Shipping of America in Washington, D.C. While the seasonal areas in this rule reflect historic whale sightings, dynamic areas depend on actual, recent sightings. Dynamic areas would be the norm, Metcalf said, were it not for the exorbitant cost of continuous monitoring. Metcalf’s agency, which is drafting its final comments, will likely propose

a compromise — seasonal management in the north and south and dynamic management in the midAtlantic region, where there are no historic reports of strikes. At least one vessel operator wrote in support of extending the current rules. Deb Ridings, captain of a whale-watching boat in Massachusetts, submitted comments to NOAA emphasizing the ongoing need to accommodate the whales’ recovery. “The restrictions created for North Atlantic right whale seasonal and dynamic management areas contribute to a safer habitat for these marine mammals. The

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population is still subpar although showing signs of growth. Continuing protective measures is prudent for this species,” Ridings wrote on the docket. Ideally, the U.S. would simply reroute ships, Brown added. In Canada, for instance, shipping routes in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin south of Nova Scotia allow ships to run parallel to right whales. But in the U.S., she said, “if you look at the angle of the midAtlantic and Boston and Florida, the vessels are crossing that migratory corridor perpendicular to the path of the whales.” Sujata Gupta

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U.S. Coast Guard issues list of 10 common towing vessel deficiencies


he U.S. Coast Guard has created a handout containing 10 common deficiencies found during its exams of uninspected towing vessels. The list, compiled by the Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise (TVNCOE) in Paducah, Ky., was done in conjunction with the Towing Vessel

Photos courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

A Coast Guard team boards a towing vessel near New Orleans to conduct an industry-initiated safety examination under the current bridging program. Left, examiner MST1 Kevin Cador checks the data plate on an unfired pressure vessel inside the boat.

Bridging Program. That program was launched by the Coast Guard in 2009 to help owners and operators correct problems and prepare for new safety rules under Subchapter M. Subchapter M regulations, authorized under the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2004, are unlikely to be implemented this year. But the agency is on its way

to examining 6,050 towing vessels nationally. More than 5,700 exams have been done since 2009. From September 2009 to February 2013, staff at TVNCOE reviewed entries made by vessel examiners in the Coast Guard’s Marine Information for Safety and Law Enforcement (MISLE) database. The center identified 10 frequently observed defi-

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

ciencies and in some cases suggested corrective action. Applicable regulations are in parentheses: —Improper location of remote fuel shutoff valves. (As required by 46 CFR 27.207) Any line that supplies fuel directly to an engine or generator must have a shutoff valve that can be remotely operated from outside that space and as closely as possible to the fuel source. Mechanical linkages must be kept clean and lubricated. Valve controls must be labeled and must indicate actions, such as “Pull,” in 1-inch letters. —Improper installation of general alarms. (Required by 46 CFR 27.201) Missing placards, missing or malfunctioning visual indicators and inoperable audible indicators are frequent deficiencies. An alarm must be installed in the engine room and any other area where noise makes it difficult to hear. A

supplemental, flashing red light may be required, with a sign saying “Attention General Alarm – When Alarm Sounds Or Flashes Go To Your Station.” —Improper navigation lights. (Required by 46 CFR 25.10-3) Incorrect vertical arrangement and improper types are problems. Operators should test navigation lights before each voyage and inspect them periodically. Household bulbs aren’t acceptable. —Inadequate drug and alcohol testing and improper records of tests. (Required by 46 CFR 4.06-15, 16.230 and 16.401) Random testing, testing after a serious marine incident, employee assistance programs and record keeping on tests are all required. —Fire detection control panels that aren’t fully functioning. (Required by 46 CFR 27.203) A sys-

A Coast Guard examiner looks at structural damage on a towing vessel’s deck during an industryinitiated exam.



Cador takes a close look at fuel shutoff piping in the engine room. Mechanical linkages must be kept clean and lubricated. Valve controls should be properly labeled.

tem’s installation must be certified by an engineer or classification society. Owners should have relevant documentation on board. —Improper logbook entries or failure to record needed information. (Required by 47 CFR 80 and 33 CFR 164.80) Many vessels aren’t in compliance with regulations


requiring records on equipment tests, inspections and operational details. —Improper or nonfunctioning vessel compasses; and for Western River operators, improper or non-functioning swing meters. (Required by 33 CFR 164.72) Compasses must be illuminated, cardtype, magnetic and read-

able from the main steering station. Swing meters must be illuminated. —Malfunctioning marine sanitation devices. (Required by 33 CFR 159.7) Towing vessels must have a working Coast Guard-approved Type I, II or III system aboard. Operating instructions and treatment chemicals must be on board. —Improper installation of fire extinguisher brackets. (Required by 46 CFR 162.028(g)) Brackets must hold extinguishers securely in their stowage locations and must allow quick release of the extinguisher. Some extinguishers arrive from manufacturers with improper brackets that need to be changed. —Improper official number markings on vessels. (Required by 46 CFR 67.121) Commercial vessels in excess of 5 net tons must be documented under federal law. An officially assigned number

must be permanently fixed to a major structural part of the vessel in the format “No. XXXXXXX.” The number can be welded, tapped, scribed, engraved or otherwise fixed to a bulkhead, frame, beam or other structure so that it can be readily observed. The top 10 list was developed from compliance with regulations, and it doesn’t address specific operations or equipment that may pose hazards, the Coast Guard said. To view the list as it was first published in the TVNCOE handout, visit Documents/Handouts/ Top10defsMay2013.pdf. When asked which deficiencies are the most difficult to correct, Steven Douglass, national technical adviser at TVNCOE, said they’re dealt with on a case-bycase basis. “The most difficult to correct can vary with the construction

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

I590 Type S Cold Water Immersion Suit idiosyncrasies of each vessel,” he said. Some deficiencies cost more to correct than others, according to Michael White, New Orleansbased towing vessel safety coordinator in the Coast Guard’s Eighth District. “Firefighting systems and fire detection systems, for example, can be expensive,” White said. “And vessel owners are always concerned about costs.” At the American Waterways Operators (AWO) in Arlington, Va., Government Affairs Manager Brian Vahey said the Coast Guard’s top 10 list is a good one overall and a big step toward helping operators identify deficiencies that can be overlooked. “But the Coast Guard and industry recognize that not every deficiency included on the list has the same impact on a vessel’s safe operations. Things like logbook requirements are less important to overall safety than fire-detection control panels, general alarms and navigation lights,” he said. The Coast Guard and AWO have discussed expanding the top 10 list eventually to include some deficiencies that may be less common but have big safety impacts, Vahey said. Those deficiencies will

be identified through the bridging program, he said. “The tugboat, towboat and barge industry prides itself on its safe track record,” Vahey said. Pinpointing common deficiencies reinforces the notion that there’s always room for improvement. The Coast Guard partnered with AWO to develop its Towing Vessel Bridging Program. Phase I of the program, which began in 2009, focused on voluntary exams. Phase II started in July of last year and concentrates on reinspected towing vessels that haven’t had a voluntary exam. Upcoming Phase III exams will address Subchapter M implementation once final rules are published. Participation in the bridging program is voluntary, Douglass said. “Any uninspected towing vessel that’s had an exam has met the program’s main objective,” he said. In their inspections, towing vessel examiners are looking for compliance with Subchapter C, White said. Subchapter C covers uninspected passenger vessels. “We’ve been involved in this effort for quite some time and have a standard exam,” he said. Pass/fail rates do not apply to towing vessel

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towing exams. “We don’t fail them,” White said. “If we find deficiencies, we give the owner 30 days to make corrections and then we reinspect the vessel. After problems are corrected, we issue a decal good for three years, indicating that they’re in compliance with Subchapter C.” Vessel owners and operators are encouraged to have re-exams after their decals expire. “This isn’t required, but it’s a good practice,” White said. With 5,700 uninspected towing vessel exams conducted since 2009, about


350 exams remained to be done under the bridging program as of July 8. Most vessels inspected since 2009 have met and in many cases exceeded minimum Subchapter C requirements, Douglass said. Examiners have been busy in recent years. The Coast Guard inspected 354 towing vessels in 2009 and picked up its pace to 1,904 in 2010. In 2011, 1,585 exams were conducted, followed by 1,581 exams in 2012. Between January and July 8 of this year, 312 exams were done, the agency said.

In six districts out of the Coast Guard’s nine, over 80 percent of towing vessels had been inspected from the 2009 start of the bridging program through July 8 of this year. Two of those districts, D8 and D14, had reached 94 percent and 97 percent complete, respectively. D8, headquartered in New Orleans, is the largest district, covering all or part of 26 states, and it has 3,800 towing vessels. Three districts — D13, D5 and D17 — lag the other six in exam completions, the Coast

Guard said. Those districts were less than 75 percent done. As for Subchapter M, Vahey said if the Coast Guard decides to issue an interim final rule this year, the inspection regime will begin. “But the Coast Guard would plan to implement Subchapter M in a staggered way so that all towing vessels will not have to comply immediately,” he said. “And from everything I’ve heard, it’s unlikely that the next version of the inspection rulemaking will be published in 2013.” •

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

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The 260-foot car ferry Mary Ellen, backing upon final approach to its landing at New London, Conn. Below, the fast ferry Sea Jet, a wave-piercing catamaran.

Repowered Long Island ferries take on weather, seaweed, The Race Story and photos by Dom Yanchunas

A Mary Ellen engineer Gary Moore with a Caterpillar 3516B.


few minutes into a voyage out of Connecticut’s Thames River toward the North Fork of Long Island, Capt. Norm Spector commands helmsman Tyler Richards to maintain a course for fast ferry Sea Jet’s

transit of Long Island Sound. Using visual landmarks, the men guide the Cross Sound Ferry Services vessel through areas in which they may encounter various hazards including challenging currents, recreational vessels and other commercial traffic. “We always have at least two people in the wheelhouse,” Spector said. “The mate’s usually up here when we’re underway. In good weather we use a helmsman. It frees me up to do some plotting on the radar — and it’s an extra set of eyes.” The intense watchkeeping can be vital to safety. That’s because the 122-foot Sea Jet motors through the sound a

little faster than it used to. The 5,000-hp wave-penetrating catamaran is one of eight Cross Sound Ferry vessels that have been repowered in recent years. With a new pair of D-rated Caterpillar 3512 engines, Sea Jet manages a cruising speed of 30 to 32 knots. The company’s New London-based fleet of passenger and car ferries are workhorses of maritime transit across the Long Island and Block Island sounds. The boats ferry casinogoers, traveling salesmen, agricultural produce and other freight from Long Island to Connecticut and tourists from New England to the North Fork and Block Island.

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

Operating under the marketing slogan “Cross Sound or Cross Your Fingers,” the vessels promise an efficient, relaxing water link that is a sanctuary for travelers who otherwise would endure the headaches of driving all the way across Long Island to New York City and up through southern Connecticut on highways notorious for gridlock. Spector and his officers, however, must be mindful of a different type of traffic as they crisscross Long Island Sound. “We have recreation boats from the Thames River and the Connecticut River. We see a lot of commercial traffic in some deep-draft ships to New Haven and Bridgeport and Riverhead Platform and some tugs and barges,” the captain said. On a summer Friday, as Sea Jet approached a channel near the sound’s easternmost end, the master and mate kept a keen eye out for small pleasure craft. With clear visibility, the crew concluded that it must not be a very good time to fish for striped bass or togs that morning, because not many boats were present. “This area we’re going through here — Plum Gut — is a major

recreational fishing area,” Spector noted. “It has all kinds of boats and we have to run the ferry through them. Most of the time it’s not a problem and everybody’s very cooperative. But if there’s fog, it can be a little bit of a challenge. At night we

Sea Jet’s captain, Norm Spector, left, gives commands as helmsman Tyler Richards steers the 122-foot ferry in Long Island Sound. Mate Kevin Murphy also stands watch.

use the night-vision camera to find the lobster pots. “But that’s in the summertime. In the wintertime, it’s just us.” Aside from the vessel traffic, the hydrodynamics can be treacherous because it’s a narrow strait where seawater pours in and out of the sound. On this day, the crew sailed through a 4-knot crosscurrent, aided by the modern Caterpillar engines Sea Jet’s chief engineer, Dick Donovan, monitors the vessel’s systems from the engineer’s control room. Electronic displays, video and alarms provide early warning if something goes wrong with fuel, oil levels, pressure, temperature, gears or hydraulics.

and a new ride control system that helps stabilize the vessel. “What you have here is a really strong current,” the master said. “All the water from Long Island Sound flows through here and Plum Gut and The Race, and you

can get 5-knot currents. You can get wind against the current, so I’ve seen 8- to 10-foot standing waves in Plum Gut.” In the engineer’s control room, the chief engineer, Dick Donovan, praised his new Caterpillars while monitoring the vessel’s bilge alarms, oil pressure, temperature, fuel level and video from the engine compartment. The engines replaced an aging set of Deutz 620s, which had maintenance issues and their top speed was only 26 to 28 knots. “We had a lot of mechanical problems, and it was hard to get parts,” Donovan said. “It was a state of constant repairs. Piston failures were very common, heads, a myriad of things and a constant battle.” The new Cats are “a big improvement — probably one-tenth of the labor that the other engines required,” he said. “They’re made for what we do — short run, pull ‘em down and a short run back.” 25

Almost all of Cross Sound’s ferries have been repowered since 2009, and the installation of Tier 2 engines has made the fleet cleaner and greener as well as faster and more efficient. All of the refits were done at the company’s own shipyard, Thames Shipyard & Repair Co., just upriver in New London. The company, controlled for three generations by the Wronowski family, also owns nearby Thames Towboat Co. “One of the things that helped

engines on the Susan Anne.” Susan Anne, a 49-year-old 250foot car ferry, was equipped with General Motors Electro-Motive Diesel engines that did not need to be replaced. Instead, an upgrade kit was available to modernize the existing engines and reduce emissions. “It went from Tier zero to Tier 2 without having to take the engine out of the vessel. It’s great because you’ve got a good, solid piece of equipment there, and instead of taking it all out you can do an A seafood delivery truck boards the 240-foot car ferry John H. at New London. Cross Sound Ferry’s fleet transports fish and agricultural and quarried goods as well as tourists back and forth between Connecticut and Orient Point, N.Y. Below, a long queue of mostly casino-goers boards Sea Jet.

us do the repowering is we have our own full-service shipyard that’s integral to our operation,” said Adam Wronowski, vice president. “My grandfather’s thought was, if you can’t fix it yourself, you shouldn’t be using it.” “Of the nine ferries we have, we’ve had eight of them out of the water (and) had the engines out to replace them or refurbish them,” he said. “We don’t have two vessels that are alike, so it’s really what fits the vessel best. We’re happy with the Cats on the Sea Jet and we’re just as happy with the EMD 26

upgrade,” Wronowski said. “Besides being much cleaner and greener, it’s faster and the ride is smoother and it is quieter. That gave the ferry a new lease on life.” Aboard the 250-foot car ferry Mary Ellen, engineer Gary Moore takes care of a pair of Caterpillar 3516s, which were installed in 2010. “This business is tough on the engines, because it’s start-and-stop,” Moore said of the one hour, 20 minute auto ferry crossing time at 15 knots. “We use foam pre-filters over

the Caterpillar (air) filters. These engines will probably last longer because they are a heavier-duty oil filter system, and there are more fuel filters than we had before,” Moore said. “After 12,000 hours, all we did was change a couple of injectors that went bad.” The Cross Sound auto ferries can accommodate tourists’ cars and commercial trucks — large and small. The boats regularly have carried fresh Long Island produce to farmers markets and grapes to New England wineries, then gravel for construction contractors on the return trip to New York. Sea Jet was built in 1989 at Nichols Bros. Boat Builders near Seattle, originally for service to and from California’s Catalina Island. It later operated from Boston to Nantucket, and then returned to Catalina service again before Cross Sound purchased the fast ferry in 1995. The vessel transited the Panama Canal a total of three times as its duties shifted between West Coast and East Coast trade. As Sea Jet approaches its landing at Orient Point, N.Y., the master retakes the controls from the helmsman. The dock is near the end of

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a tip of land that faces Block Island Sound to the east in addition to Long Island Sound to its north. “Orient Point is pretty unique because it’s very exposed,” Spector said. “It’s like a beachhead landing. There’s just a couple of dolphins there. In an easterly wind, you’re basically going to get ocean conditions at the dock.” Ensuring that his Long Islandbound passengers arrive safely, Spector turns the vessel and inches it astern, taking all precautions until it can be tied up at the berth. “I back into the dock and the guys get a spring line on,” he said, “and we work in from there with a couple of stern lines just in case something should happen.” After unloading at Orient Point, the Sea Jet crew prepares to welcome a long queue of New London-bound customers, most of whom plan a day of casino gambling at either Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun. The casinos offer free bus connections from the Thames River ferry terminus. Shortly after Sea Jet departs Orient Point, the crew encounters one additional problem with operating a ferry on the eastern end of Long Island Sound toward the end of the summer season. The crew apologizes to the passengers for slowing the boat for a few moments. Sea vegetation has accumulated in Sea Jet’s propulsion gear and is inhibiting operation. “Seaweed gets into the impeller and it obstructs the flow. It’s a common end-of-the-year occurrence,” Donovan said. “We simply reverse it and blow it out of there.” Then Sea Jet is up to cruising speed again, ready for another transit of Plum Gut and The Race. •


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At Work

Fully equipped Florida research vessel a ‘Swiss Army knife’ of boats Photos and story by Brian Gauvin


his past spring, the Florida State University Coastal & Marine Laboratory took delivery of the 64.75-foot-by-21.5foot R/V Apalachee, an aluminum catamaran built at Geo Shipyard in New Iberia, La. The lab is located at St. Teresa on

a lonely stretch of Highway 98 where Apalachee Bay forms a sweeping curve of beach that joins the Florida Panhandle to the pan. Apalachee is a well-equipped platform for scientists and students to conduct marine research on extended cruises along the Panhandle and in the deep water Above, R/V Apalachee, the new 65-foot aluminum catamaran operated by Florida State University’s Coastal & Marine Laboratory. Left, Capt. Rosanne Weglinski at the wheel, with Furuno radar and John Deere and Twin Disc engine controls.


of the Gulf of Mexico. The vessel has wet and dry labs, a McElroy/Catchot winch, Hydra-Pro knuckle boom crane, swing davit, dive platforms on each transom, hydraulic A-frame, Zodiac utility boat, 450-gallon-per-day Aqua Vista watermaker and dive support system. There are seven berths and two heads. The boat’s speed of 20 knots will save on transit times to offshore locations, time that is better spent conducting research. “Geo worked off the architectural plans but they did intuitive things that really improved the boat,” said Capt. Rosanne Weglinski, who, as captain, engineer and deck hand, draws on a long career as a shrimper Professional Mariner October/November 2013

Among the modern amenities aboard R/V Apalachee is the galley, left, which serves mariners and scientists during extended research cruises in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Right, the bow of the research vessel’s starboard pontoon.

and 13 years in the oil patch off the coast of Louisiana. Apalachee is powered by two John Deere 6135 SFM-2, 13-liter, six-cylinder mains with Twin Disc MGX-5114 SC gears at a 2.5:1 ratio. Electrical power is supplied by two Northern Lights 30-kW generators. “The knuckle boom crane is a great benefit to us,” said Weglinski. The crane is used for lifting shoreside equipment and supply transfers and for deploying the Zodiac utility boat offshore. “And the dive platforms on the transom lower to water level and allow us to do research work right at water level.” In mid-July, Weglinski was readying Apalachee for a 10-day deepwater shark research cruise, lead by the Marine Lab’s Dr. Dean Grubbs, associate director of research. For that cruise, the knuckle boom crane was put to good use lifting a long line winch onto the 780-squarefoot aft deck. The winch, used for hooking sharks, is bolted to the deck utilizing a grid of built-in bolt downs. “It’s a Swiss Army knife boat and I’m a Swiss Army knife captain,” said Weglinski. •

Above, the controls for R/V Apalachee’s 2-ton Hydra-Pro knuckle boom crane, right, including directionals for boom-up, boom-down, armin, arm-out, etc. Below, each of the boat’s pontoons houses a John Deere 6135 SFM-2 13-liter six-cylinder main engine.



Casualties Deck hand drowns when towboat drifts, flips over Minnesota dam

Courtesy Trussoni family


A salvage crew works to upend the towboat Megan McB after the vessel capsized at a Mississippi River dam. Deck hand Tyler Trussoni, below, was killed.

Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers


deck hand was killed when a new towboat sank after it apparently lost power and floated over a dam on the Upper Mississippi River near Dresbach, Minn. Three crewmembers were on board Megan McB, operated by Brennan Marine, when it floated over the roller gate on Lock and Dam No. 7. The boat came to rest on its side, wedged against the first roller gate. Two crewmen working on the top level escaped. The body of Tyler Trussoni, 22, of Genoa, Wis., was found on the second floor of the house by divers from Brennan Marine. Trussoni was a deck hand for Brennan Marine, working the Port of La Crosse in switching and fleeting operations, the company said. The incident occurred about 0615 on July 3 during high water on the Upper Mississippi. Water was flowing over the lock and dam at about 89,000 cubic feet per second, almost three times the normal rate, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mechanical failure was suspected, according to Mark Binsfeld, business manager for Brennan Marine. He thought the engine failed and the boat was swept over the dam. However, a final determination of cause has not been made

because the Coast Guard investigation is still ongoing. “Investigators are casting a wide net to explore all possible factors that might have been involved in the incident to try to help prevent something like this from happening in the future,” said Chief Petty Officer Joe Laverty. “We’re not able to rush to any quick judg-

ments until all the factors have been explored.” The 65-foot Megan McB was launched in November 2012 and christened in June before joining the Brennan Marine fleet. Built by Tell City Boat Works in Tell City, Ind., Megan McB was assigned to operate 24/7 assisting barges through the lock. It was the company’s first inland waterways towboat, although the company is experienced in building barges, casino platforms and other types of vessels and marine structures. A diver inspected the lock and dam and found damage, said Army Corps spokeswoman Shannon Bauer. Gary Wollenhaupt

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

maritime casualties

Carnival cruise ship blackout blamed on poor engine-room firefighting


adjacent A1 rod was ejected from the crankcase. Technicians located the B1 rod and found it bent and broken in two pieces. “The subject connecting rod failed by progressive fracture in the nature of high-cycle, low-stress fracture,” Carnival-contracted

A tugboat tows Carnival Splendor into San Diego Bay after the cruise ship experienced a blackout in 2010. The incident began as an engine-room fire, and an investigator said the firefighting effort was hampered by delays and equipment deployment errors.

was poorly designed. Scientists from Burgoyne Inc. determined that hot components flew from the cylinders, burning lube oil sprayed out and a pool fire sparked on floor plates. The amount of fire initially was about two-and-a-half times the size of

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard


Carnival Corp. cruise ship carrying 4,466 people went dead in the water off Mexico in 2010 because a connecting-rod fracture sparked an engine fire that was allowed to get a stranglehold on the vessel’s wiring due to crew error and firefighting-equipment failure, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The 952-foot Carnival Splendor was towed to shore after the Nov. 8, 2010, blaze in the two-year-old vessel’s aft engine room led to a blackout. The Panamanian-flagged ship has six main engines, grouped inside two segregated engine rooms that are supposed to prevent a total power loss. The fire started at the No. 5 diesel generator as a result of a thrown rod. In its report issued in July, the Coast Guard highlighted errors in the deployment of firefighting equipment, which was in poor condition to begin with. The engine compartment’s local HiFog system wasn’t activated until 15 minutes after the fire started, the investigators found. “This delay was the result of a bridge watchstander resetting the fire alarm panel on the bridge,” the report said. “This was a critical error which allowed the fire to spread to the overhead cables and eventually caused the loss of power.” The initial trigger in the incident was an undetected hydrolock event and stress on the B1 connecting rod in the No. 5 generator. The piston assembly failed and the

engineering firm Lucius Pitkin Inc. wrote. Referring to the exterior curve of the arch, the evaluators said the “fatigue crack most likely initiated as a result of increased surface stresses at the extrados after the connecting-rod shank was bent,” a condition that “was not present from the beginning of the diesel engine’s service life.” Corrosion and rust were found in heat-exchanger components, and “the poor condition of the air cooler on the B side (of the generator) contributed to the hydrolock event,” the Coast Guard said. The investigators further wrote that Carnival had been aware that the air cooler system

a “large fabric living-room chair engulfed in flames.” Because the Hi-Fog local fireprotection system was set on a 40-second delay and the bridge watchstander reset the alarm, the activation was delayed. By the time it was activated, the fire had spread to the cable runs. All primary electrical power was lost and none of the main generators could be restarted after that. “Since the Hi-Fog system was designed for local protection, the nozzles were positioned below the cable runs and the Hi-Fog system was not effective in suppressing or extinguishing the fire in the cable runs,” the Coast

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

Guard report said. Investigators said the firefighting effort was hampered by a lack of crew familiarity with the engine room, “poor isolation” of systems and maintenance of smoke boundaries, the use of dry chemical fire extinguishers instead of fire hoses and a captain’s decision to ventilate the engine room before the fire was fully out. The captain also failed to use water to cool the cables. “It took fire teams approximately two hours to locate the fire in the cable runs,” the report said. “Once located, the fire teams attempted to extinguish it with CO2 and dry powder portable fire extinguishers. However, the fire was not fully controlled by these agents due to a lack of cooling of the cable conductors which held heat and caused the cable insulation and jacket materials to continue to burn.” After five hours, the captain ordered the evacuation of the engine room in order to deploy the CO2 system. Both attempts to activate the CO2 — first remotely and then manually — failed. “After pressurizing the CO2 system, numerous fittings and hose connections within the CO2 system leaked,” the investigators said. “In the end, no CO2 was released into the aft engine room.” Seven hours after it had started, the fire was finally snuffed out because of a lack of oxygen resulting from the closure of watertight doors during the failed CO2 attempts.

The Coast Guard report stopped short of pinpointing a reason for the full blackout or the precise location of vulnerability. “Due to the extensive damage to cables and wire from the fire,

it was not possible to determine the exact cause of the power loss,” the investigators wrote. “However, the extent of the fire damage was significant enough to prevent vessel engineers from starting the for-

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maritime casualties

ward engine room diesel generators and/or closing the appropriate breakers to supply power to the switchboard.” As a result of the incident, the Coast Guard in 2011 issued two

safety alerts urging the industry to maintain and inspect its fixed firefighting systems and to train crews in their proper care and deployment. The Coast Guard investigated

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the casualty after being deemed a “substantially interested state” due to the Florida-based company’s sizable American operations and customer base. The 2013 report includes recommendations to Carnival Corp. and Lloyd’s Register to inspect the firefighting systems aboard all Dream-class cruise ships built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy. The report said Carnival has taken steps to rectify the problems with its fire-suppression systems. There is no longer a 40-second delay for automatic Hi-Fog activation, for example. In a statement, Carnival said the 40-second delay “was originally designed to avoid false positive signals.” Company executives said lessons learned from the Splendor failures led to improved firefighting responses during subsequent engine-room fires aboard other ships in the Carnival fleet. The company said it is spending $300 million on power upgrades that include “a reconfiguration of certain engine-related electrical components and rerouting of critical electrical cables.” Carnival said it has created a marine safety department and a fire safety task force. The company has made changes to the testing and inspection of its CO2 system. “We have reviewed all of our procedures and have reinforced our training at all levels for firefighting,” the statement said. Dom Yanchunas

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Professional Mariner October/November 2013

Probe: Watchkeeping breakdowns aboard both ships caused collision

A collision at sea resulted in a large gash in the superstructure of bulk carrier Seagate. Investigators say the accident was a result of poor watchkeeping and complacency on both vessels.

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard


t about 0515 on March 10, 2012, crew aboard the private yacht Battered Bull saw two large ships on radar that appeared to be on a collision course. Although the 557-foot Seagate and 492-foot Timor Stream were separated by more than 10 nm, their paths were quickly converging. It was clear to the yacht’s crew that one of the ships needed to change course. By 0532 the two ships were only 2.8 nm apart and closing in a patch of open ocean about 24 nm north of the Dominican Republic. Seven minutes later, according to an accident report compiled by British authorities, a lookout aboard Seagate shouted at the chief officer to “do something” to avoid a collision. By then it was too late. At 0540 Timor Stream plowed into Seagate bow-first, tearing a deep gash into Seagate’s hull and superstructure on the starboard side. A report issued by the United Kingdom’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch said the accident was caused by poor watchkeeping and cascading failures by crew on both Seagate and Timor Stream. “Poor watchkeeping standards, driven by complacency, led to the collision,” the report said. “The officer in charge of the navigational watch on both vessels failed to keep a proper lookout, did not assess the risk of, or take appropriate action to avoid collision.” Investigators found officers

aboard both vessels “failed to comply with some of the most fundamental elements of the (amended) International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972,” and ignored written procedures issued by their own ship managers. The British-flagged Seagate had left Beaumont, Texas, with a load of wheat on March 3 for a trans-Atlantic voyage to Lagos, Nigeria. The Liberian-flagged reefer Timor Stream left port at Manzanillo, Dominican Republic, on the day of the accident en route to Portsmouth, England, carrying a load of bananas and containerized cargo. The collision caused flooding in Seagate’s engine room and killed electrical power, rendering the ship’s emergency alarm inoperable. Timor Stream’s steel hull narrowly missed several sleeping crewmembers. Timor Stream suffered punctures to its bow but the bulkhead was not breached, according to the accident report. The ship’s anchors were destroyed, and a lifeboat from Seagate landed on its deck. All 20 of Timor Stream’s crew and

all 21 people aboard Seagate were unharmed in the collision, which Jeff Ridgway, captain of Battered Bull, has said was like nothing he’d ever seen before. However, the chief officer of Seagate fell overboard while trying to release a lifeboat. He was rescued by crew from the 171-foot Battered Bull, which was en route to West Palm Beach, Fla. As a result of the accident, about 3,300 gallons of diesel fuel and about 1,500 gallons of lube oil leaked from Seagate into the ocean. Investigators said both sides made mistakes leading up to the collision. According to the report, the chief officer aboard Seagate was repeatedly warned about a vessel approaching from the starboard side but mistakenly believed his own ship was being overtaken. He never verified the approaching ship’s bearing himself and reportedly dismissed the lookout’s warnings. Seagate’s chief officer substantially mistook Timor Stream’s bearing and never took a visual bearing of the vessel. He was unsuccessful in plotting the approaching ship’s radar


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target, the report said. “Had the (Seagate’s) chief officer established Timor Stream’s actual heading using his radar’s ARPA, he should have identified that his estimate of Timor Stream’s heading differed by about 50 degrees from its actual heading,” the report said. “He should also have realized that Seagate was in a crossing situation rather than an overtaking one.” Actions by Timor Stream’s crew also were criticized. Investigators said the ship’s master opted to keep watch alone, and failed to detect Seagate visually or on radar and only became aware of an impending collision moments before impact. Although VDR data indicated that the master remained on the bridge in the hour leading up to the collision, investigators speculated that he was seated in a position from which he could not look out properly for as long as 40 minutes before the accident. “His report that he saw nothing of Seagate until moments before the collision strongly suggests that he was not looking out of the bridge windows, or at the radar or AIS displays,” the report said. The master’s decision to take the watch alone and his failure to set the watch alarm “demonstrated extremely poor judgment, systematically overcoming each of the safeguards that should have been in place for keeping an effective navigational watch,” according to investigators. The report speculated that watchkeepers aboard both vessels had settled in for a long voyage and “might have drawn a false sense of security

from the good weather conditions and lack of traffic.” Indeed, winds were light and swells were moderate on the morning of the accident. The sky was cloudy with occasional periods of POWP_HALF AD outline5.pdf


light rain, the report said. Visibility was good. Despite ample warning in the 30 minutes leading up to the accident, “neither watchkeeper was aware that the two ships were on a collision


12:48 PM










maritime casualties

course,” the report said. The report praised Battered Bull’s crew for taking “early and substantial action” to avoid the developing closequarters situation by making a hard turn to port. There is no indication that the yacht communicated on radio with Seagate or Timor Stream. The British investigators said failing to keep proper watch, even on ships led by veteran mariners, is becoming more and more common. If nothing else, they said in the report, the accident should prove a wake-up call about the importance of “maintaining high standards of watchkeeping at all times.” The Marine Accident Investi-

gation Branch did not issue any recommendations as a result of the accident, largely because managers of both vessels took internal steps to prevent a similar mishap. Zodiac Maritime Agencies Ltd., manager of Seagate, bolstered training for watchkeepers, including new tests for regulations and navigation. Changes were made to the crew’s performance evaluation systems. Triton Schiffahrts GmbH, manager of Timor Stream, spread word about the accident to its fleet and reminded crew to be mindful of watchkeeping and bridge procedures. The company required the master to “re-familiarize” himself with watch-

keeping standards and company expectations while on the bridge. Neither company responded to e-mailed requests for comment. After the accident, Timor Stream sailed to Trinidad and Tobago for repairs and to Portsmouth to offload its cargo, the report said. Permanent repairs were completed in Europe. Most of Seagate’s crew was transported by a Dominican Republic naval vessel to that country, while senior staff returned to the stricken vessel a day after the accident. Although stable, the ship was towed to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and was ultimately scrapped. Casey Conley


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Professional Mariner October/November 2013

Laker hits drawbridge after drunk bridge tender lowered the span


n ore carrier struck a Rouge River drawbridge after an intoxicated bridge operator lowered the bridge right in front of the vessel. The laker and bridge were damaged. The 690-foot Herbert C. Jackson had whistled its approach to Detroit’s West Jefferson Avenue Bridge at 0212 on May 12. The self-unloader, carrying nearly 22,000 tons of iron ore for the Severstal North America steel plant in Dearborn, Mich., had nearly stopped while making the approach. As the green signal lit and the bridge raised, the captain

moved forward. As the vessel proceeded, the captain saw the bridge begin to lower. Thomas Wynne, general counsel for Interlake Steamship Co., owner of Herbert C. Jackson, said the vessel was moving about 2 mph when the captain saw the bridge begin to move downward. He radioed the mates at the bow and stern to drop anchors and ordered the engine into full reverse. As the vessel moved closer to the 91-year-old bridge, the captain rang the general alarm to ensure the crewmembers got

off the bow before impact. The bridge closed completely before the bow of the forward-house vessel struck it. There were no injuries reported among the 24-person crew. “He was within 30 feet of the bridge when it came to a complete close,” Wynne said. “From the standpoint of damage to the ship and the risk of personal injury, it could have been a whole lot worse if the bridge had closed on top of the vessel.” The laker suffered a 2-by-6inch gash above the anchor pocket 15 feet above the waterline on

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the starboard side. Repairs were less than $20,000, Wynne said. A local crew from service contractor Purvis & Foster repaired the damage at the Nicholson dock while the vessel waited for the bridge to reopen. The bridge was closed for about 24 hours, delaying the iron-ore shipment to the steel mill. The bridge was functional for vessels, but was blocked to vehicles. The bridge operator was tested for drug and alcohol, as was the crew of the vessel. The bridge operator was found to be intoxicated and over the legal limit for driving a motor vehicle, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Published reports said the bridge operator was terminated from her position with the Wayne County Department of Public Services Roads Division. The Coast Guard is recommending a civil penalty against the operator for failure to open a drawbridge promptly and fully for the passage of a vessel, said Dave Cornett, chief of marine casualty investigations for Coast Guard Sector Detroit. The case will move to a Coast Guard administrative hearing for adjudication. The maximum fine upon conviction for the civil infraction is $25,000. Pending repairs, the bridge was moved to the upright position to allow for traffic to move on the river, which sees five to 10 commercial vessels a week. Gary Wollenhaupt

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

OSV sinks after running into Gulf oil platform; 23 people evacuated he U.S. Coast Guard is investigating what caused an offshore supT ply vessel (OSV) to strike an oil plat-

form and sink in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana. A nearby supply ship rescued the 23 people on the damaged OSV before it went down. The 96-foot Celeste Ann struck the West Delta 73 D platform, located 15 miles west of Southwest Pass near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish, at about 0915 on June 14, the Coast Guard reported. The vessel, owned by B&J Martin Inc. of Galliano, La., was bound from Cut Off, La., to the platform with four crewmembers

and 19 offshore workers aboard. Petty Officer Carlos Vega, spokesman for the Coast Guard’s Eighth District, said Celeste Ann struck the platform amidships on the vessel’s starboard side just below the chine. Seas were about 3 feet in the area at the time of the incident, with winds of 14 to 18 knots, according to buoy data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The 150-foot Odyssea Endeavor responded and took Celeste Ann’s passengers and crew aboard uninjured, Vega said. Celeste Ann then sank in about 180 feet of water. Nobody was injured on the platform and the

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structure was not damaged. Lt. j.g. Tessa Clayton of Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans said an HH-65C helicopter was dispatched to the scene and reported a sheen, measuring one-half mile by 150 feet, from a small amount of fuel aboard the vessel. A boom was deployed by B&J Martin to contain the spill, Clayton said. Vega said B&J Martin hired Resolve Marine Group to salvage the vessel, which was taken to a scrap yard. Calls to B&J Martin for comment about the incident and salvage were not returned. Rich Miller

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maritime casualties

Texas crabber dies after boat collides with barge on Sabine Lake 56-year-old man died after his crab boat collided with A a tug and barge and sank in the

Intracoastal Waterway near Port Arthur, Texas. The July 7 accident on Sabine Lake claimed the life of John Tran of Bridge City, Texas. Tran was the only passenger on the 18-foot crabbing vessel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The tugboat Father Seelos was traveling east in a high-traffic section of the lake known as Thousand Foot Cut, which is part of the Intracoastal Waterway, when the accident occurred. The boat

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was bound for Lake Charles, La., with five barges, two of which were empty. They were carrying “hazardous materials,” the Coast Guard said. The captain of Father Seelos notified the Coast Guard of the collision at about 1430. Investigators are trying to determine how the collision occurred. That includes making sure the tug and barges were traveling in the proper part of the channel, said Wade Thomson, a marine casualty investigator with Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur. “There is a marked channel and

it’s basically for through traffic,” Thomson said. “That’s one of the items still under investigation.” It’s not clear if the lead barge or another barge in the tow struck Tran’s boat, Thomson said. A weather buoy at Texas Point, Texas, near where the accident occurred, recorded winds of 12 to 16 mph around the time of the accident. Wave data were not available. The 2,000-hp Father Seelos is owned by Marquette Transportation, which has offices in Kentucky and Louisiana. The company did not respond to requests

28 36

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

for comment on the accident. The Coast Guard dispatched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Houston and two response boats from Sabine Pass to search for Tran. The Port Arthur Fire Department dive team and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division assisted. A Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman declined to comment on the search. Tran’s body was found July 8, near where the collision occurred. His boat, which Thomson said “foundered” after the collision, has since been salvaged. Casey Conley

Coast Guard: North Carolina dinner boat ran aground as result of engine failure


dinner cruise ship carrying 46 passengers and four crew lost power and partially ran aground in the Intracoastal Waterway near Surf City, N.C. The 55-foot Belle of Topsail then drifted toward shore and dropped anchor with at least part of the vessel resting on soft sand lining the channel, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which responded to the incident. The ship’s captain disputes the official Coast Guard narrative of the June 28 incident,

claiming he steered toward shore and dropped anchor near the edge of the channel to avoid blocking the waterway. “The boat never ran aground. We dropped anchor in shallow water,” Capt. David Luther said, adding that while part of the boat bumped against the base of the channel it was “bobbing” the entire time. All 46 passengers were rescued about three hours after the grounding by a local fire and rescue boat crew. There were no injuries.


maritime casualties

Belle of Topsail was about 40 minutes into its two-hour dinner cruise when an engine component blew and nearly all of the engine oil escaped “in a huge spurt,” Luther said. The crew shut down the engine as a precaution. Luther notified the Coast Guard of the incident and made arrangements for an employee to tow the stranded Belle back to its docks about a mile away with a 38-foot sport fishing boat. Luther said the Coast Guard would not allow that tow, and instead made him and the passengers wait

nearly three hours for a 41-foot Coast Guard utility boat to arrive from Wrightsville Beach, N.C. “They made a huge production of the situation and acted totally against the wishes of the captain,” he said. Luther believes the Coast Guard’s decision to offload passengers, some of whom had been drinking, from his craft into smaller fire-rescue boats after dark was dangerous. The passengers were transferred from those smaller fire department vessels to the Coast Guard utility boat and the sport fishing boat Big Daddy

and taken to shore. “The solution would have been so simple, but they wouldn’t do it,” added Luther, who holds a 100-ton master’s license. Lt. Lane Munroe, command center chief for Sector North Carolina, said the agency’s actions were conceived wholly with safety of the passengers in mind. “Freeing a grounded and disabled vessel, and then towing it safely to port is never to be taken lightly, even under the most benign conditions,” he said in a written statement.

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Professional Mariner October/November 2013

“The Coast Guard made decisions surrounding the Belle of Topsail casualty with these considerations in mind, to ensure that a stable situation did not become otherwise, and all passengers were returned safely ashore,” Munroe said. Fire department emergency response boats ferried the passengers from Belle of Topsail to the larger boats near the middle of the channel due to shallow water, he said. The accident occurred during a period of light winds of about 12 knots, and a small craft warn-

ing had been issued for the area. The passengers were offloaded at Belle of Topsail’s docks around midnight. At that time, Big Daddy towed the disabled boat back to shore. Luther, whose wife Sharon owns the vessel, said Belle of Topsail is about 29 years old and was built from a converted barge-style houseboat. They bought the 49-passenger vessel about six years ago after private companies operated it in Kentucky and Montana. The Coast Guard declined to comment on the cause of the

engine failure. Petty Officer 1st Class Brandyn Hill, who is stationed in Norfolk, Va., said the case was still under investigation. The incident shelved Belle of Topsail for about 20 days while a new engine was installed. Luther said he replaced the former 109-hp Isuzu diesel engine after the oil leak. He has since installed a 150-hp Isuzu diesel engine. Belle of Topsail has since passed a Coast Guard inspection and has resumed its cruises. • Casey Conley

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Marine engine makers gear up for stiffer emissions standards by Gary Wollenhaupt


s marine engines that meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 3 emission requirements enter the market, manufacturers are preparing for Tier 4 standards on large marine diesels using technology comparable to that found on highway engines. Depending on the size of the engine based on displacement per cylinder, Tier 3 requirements phase in through 2014. The EPA calls Tier 3 a “near-term” standard. According to manufacturer representatives, moving from Tier 2 to Tier 3 requirements is an incremental step compared to upcoming requirements for larger engines. The EPA requires newly constructed vessels to use engines that meet the emission requirements in force at the time. Replacement engines are required to meet the standards also, with substitutions allowed if no comparable engine is commercially available. There are few visual cues that an engine meets the Tier 3 requirements because manufacturers have been able to meet the requirements with incylinder technology. Most Tier 3 engines use high-


Photos courtesy Cummins Inc.

trends & currents

pressure common-rail fuel injection, electronic controls and engine management with ultra-low-sulfur fuel to reduce particulate matter and nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions. “The look and feel and transient responsiveness should be transparent,” said Michael Aufdermauer, chief engineer for commercial marine at Cummins Inc. “If you’re on a crew boat that has 50-liter engines at 1,800 hp, moving from Tier 2 to a Tier 3 you should not see any difference in the operation.” The higher pressure of the common rail fuel injection allows the engine to atomize the fuel and air mixture better so more of the fuel burns in the cylinder, reducing particulate emissions, said Jeff Sherman, marine sales manager for MTU. The goal was to reduce emissions in a way that’s transparent to marine operators while delivering power, maintenance and durability. “The high-pressure com-

mon rail makes the engine a little more responsive from an operational standpoint and maybe less smoke of course, but there won’t hardly be any difference to the operator,” said Carl Micu, manager of original-equipment engine and drive train sales in North America and South America for John Deere Power Systems. However, some engines may see a small decrease in fuel economy, in the 1 percent to 2 percent range. “When you climb into higher tiers of emissions requirements, you have a fuel penalty because it takes more fuel to clean the engine when it’s running hotter,” Sherman said. Other tweaks included changing valve timing and optimizing engine airflow. For example, John Deere boosted the power Above, a Cummins QSK38 Tier 3 engine, with environmental mitigation taking place on the side. Left, a Cummins QSK19 Tier 3 engine, which became available less than a year ago. Professional Mariner October/November 2013

of its 4.5-liter engine to equal the previous 6.8-liter turbocharged version. “We increased the power by going to more efficient charge air cooling, more efficient common rail injection, optimizing the turbocharger for the size and displacement,” Micu said. Fussy fuel Maintenance intervals and durability are unchanged in most cases. But there is one significant caveat. For engines with the high-pressure common rail injection, fuel cleanliness will be critical for durability. Contaminated fuel could clog the highpressure injection system that has very tight tolerances. Older engines had

filters in the 7- to 10-micron range. The new engines have filters in the 2- to 3-micron range, along with the larger filters fitted on previous models. Instead of a single filter, an engine might have two or three filters to inspect and change. “As all manufacturers increase the pressure of the fuel system, it’s very important that the fuel is clean,” Sherman said. “Unlike the old days when you could run anything through the engine, it will cause failure to the fuel system if you don’t pay attention to the fuel quality and fuel delivery to the engine.” Operators should check the fuel supply for contamination before it’s

pumped onto the vessel. “We’re seeing operators sample fuel when it comes off the truck and sampling it again before it reaches the engine,” Sherman said. “It’s important to verify the fuel at delivery to ensure that it meets the standards required by the engine manufacturer.” However, early testing has shown that while Tier 3 engines are designed to run on ultra-low-sulfur diesel, they may not be overly finicky about fuel quality. Cummins has Tier 3 engines operating off the coast of West Africa and it has done testing with high-sulfur diesel and some low-quality fuel and found no

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trends & currents

Tier 3 timelines, requirements, exemptions EPA regulations timeline Tier 1: 2004 Tier 2: 2007-2013 0.9-7.0 liters per cylinder Tier 3: 2012-2014 0.9-7.0 liters per cylinder Tier 4: 2014-2017 max. power greater than 600 kW/804 hp Tier 3 timeline Displacement L/cyl <0.9 L/cly >75 kW 2012 0.9-1.2 2013 1.2-2.5 2014 2.5-3.5 2013 3.5-7.0 2012

Existing vessel requirements Emission standards generally apply only to new vessels, except in these cases:

Vessel refurbishing: Modifications that exceed 50 percent of the value of the modified vessel must use an engine that meets current guidelines.

Engine remanufacture: Replacement of all cylinder liners, either in one maintenance event or over the course of five years. Affects Tier 2 and earlier engines, larger than 600 kW/800 hp built after 1972 with a certified remanufacturing kit available.

Great Lakes exemption Emissions regulations for the U.S. flag-Great Lakes fleet depend on the size and type of a vesselâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s engine and the fuel it uses.

Engine replacement: Replacing with a new or in some cases an existing engine.

Smaller Category 1 and Category 2 engines with displacement less than 30 liters per cylinder must meet Tier 3 and Tier 4 emission standards using low-sulfur fuel. Category 3 engines with

displacement over 30 liters per cylinder must meet emissions standards set by MARPOL and use fuel that meets sulfur limits of 10,000 ppm, reduced to 1,000 ppm by 2015. However, vessel operators may seek economic hardship and fuel availability waivers to use fuel that exceeds the sulfur content limits until 2015. Steamships in service on the Great Lakes or Saint Lawrence Seaway prior to Oct. 30, 2009, are exempted from the fuel regulations.

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Professional Mariner October/November 2013

problems, Aufdermauer said. Regardless, manufacturers have worked to keep maintenance requirements the same as on Tier 2 engines. “The service intervals are the same, but there are more filters to check,” Aufdermauer said. For a newbuild or a repower, the fuel system will require greater scrutiny than it has in the past. “Optimizing the fuel system is crucial,” Sherman said. “If it’s taken care of properly it shouldn’t be a problem, but if it’s not taken care of and filters are not changed or there’s a limited filtration system, vessel operators will see injector failures and things of that nature.”

However, failure of injectors or other components due to fuel contamination won’t be considered a warranty item. “A warranty is a way for manufacturers to cover defects of workmanship and components, so if we determine a failure is not based on workmanship or a component, then it’s not a warranty situation,” Sherman said. Vessels that refit older engines may see some operational benefits from engines with the new technology.

“We hear that when ships repower, they see fuel consumption and performance improvements and maybe gain a little bit of boat speed because the engines may be lighter,” Micu said.

John Deere Power Systems offers a range of Tier 3 compliant diesels, including this one, from 75 hp to 750 hp for genset use. Courtesy Deere & Co.


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trends & currents

Depending on the size of the vessels, some operators adopted Tier 3 engines ahead of the requirements to meet more stringent local conditions. For instance, Norfolk Tugs installed Tier 3 engines in its vessels that operate in New York Harbor. “There are some customers going to Tier 3 because they want to reduce their emissions, and there are certain companies where that fits their corporate mission and vision,” said Scott Rath, sales manager for

Courtesy MTU

This MTU 8v4000m54 arrived on the market in mid-2013. Accompanying models in the product line are available in 8, 12 and 16 cylinders for offshore supply vessels, towboats and large yachts.

Cummins Commercial Marine. Because it’s a relatively short window until the Tier 4 regulations take effect for the larger engines, some manufacturers will limit how many engines they offer under Tier 3 while gearing up for Tier 4. For other manufacturers such as John Deere, Tier 4 won’t come into play because all their products fall into Tier 3. Next step The Tier 4 regulations begin to take effect in January 2014 for commercial engines with maximum power greater than 600 kW (804 hp). The EPA Tier 4 regulation represents a 90 percent reduction in particulate emissions and an 80 percent reduction in NOx compared to the Tier 2 standards. Because these largest engines pump out the most pollutants, the requirements start in 2014 with the largest engines, from 2,682 to 4,962 hp (2,000-3,000 kW). All engines in the class must meet Tier 4 standards by 2017. While the jump from Tier 2 to Tier 3 will be relatively easy, moving

to Tier 4 is “a game changer,” according to Aufdermauer. “It requires something more extreme than in-cylinder technology to get you to Tier 4,” he said. To meet the Tier 4 NOx emission regulations, marine diesels will use after-treatment systems to clean the exhaust gases outside the engine. A common method will be selective catalytic reduction (SCR), using urea treatment found on highway semi truck engines since 2010. A urea and water solution, or diesel exhaust fluid, scrubs nitrogen oxide to near-zero levels from the exhaust. Urea is also used as a nitrogen fertilizer in the agricultural industry. The urea solution is carried in a separate tank and injected as a fine mist into the hot exhaust gases, reducing pollution to near zero and providing a small boost in fuel economy. Urea bottles and pumps are a common sight at truck stops, and soon they’ll be part of marine fuel bunkering as well. Consumption of urea is about 3 percent of the diesel consumption. For marine manufacturers that also offer diesels for the highway

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market, urea injection is a familiar proven technology. “We see the on-highway products go through growing pains and the marine products lag on-highway and industrial off-highway for smaller products,” Aufdermauer said. Sherman with MTU said the company has been running SCR systems for about five years. “It’s something we understand really well,” he said. Additional engine tweaking will be required as well. For instance, the fuel system will have to operate at even higher pressures than Tier 3. “For Tier 3 injection, pressure is at 1,600 bar and we’ll have to go to


2,200 bar which is pretty consistent in the industry,” Aufdermauer said. “And we’ll do a lot of work with piston and power cylinder valve overlap so we can control particulate matter in the cylinder and the NOx will be handled through SCR.” High-tech is here Hybrid engines, another technology adopted from highway products, are making their way into the marine environment. In July, Caterpillar launched its Marine Hybrid System, which blends the Cat 3500 engine with an electrical propulsion system from Aspin Kemp & Associates. The hybrid system can operate

with either diesel or electric power or a combination of both. It offers a 25 percent fuel savings and reduced emissions. It’s targeted at vessels with requirements for long periods of low to medium power, such as workboats, platform supply vessels, research vessels and eco-tourism boats. First tested in tugboats, the hybrid is an option for many types of vessels. “Other applications, such as pleasure craft or offshore, will also find this an attractive proposition,” said Michael Braun, Caterpillar Marine Power Systems tug and salvage segment manager. “Essentially any vessel that sees a duty-cycle benefit would also benefit from a hybrid solution.”

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

trends & currents

LNG marine fuel backers form a new association by Jonathan Berr


s liquefied natural gas (LNG) gains in popularity as a ship fuel, the industry is trying to address the lingering unease some may feel about its safety. In May, the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO), which represents haulers of LNG, formed a new non-governmental organization (NGO) called the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) at its spring meeting in Houston. “We have a substantial safety record,” said SIGTTO General Manager Andrew Clifton in an interview. “Basically, we operate far in excess of the minimum standard.” LNG was first used to power marine propulsion systems when the 951-foot LNG carrier Provalys was delivered in 2006. There are currently 48 ships powered by LNG around the world, mostly in Scandinavia. They operate with dual-fuel and tri-fuel diesel electric propulsion. Another 85 LNG ships are on order. That figure will increase as operators deem LNG to be a cost-effective means of complying with increasingly stringent environmental standards both in the U.S. and globally. An analysis by ocean transport adviser Poten & Partners estimates that the demand for LNG as a marine fuel

will reach 1 million tons in 2020 and 8.5 million tons in 2025. “However, LNG as a bunker fuel faces a number of challenges — notably the investment required in ship propulsion and fuel handling systems and in bunkering facilities, plus development of new international safety regulations and LNG availability,” according to Poten. The society wants to encourage the development of facilities to deliver the liquefied gas to commercial vessels in the ports where they operate. “There is basically no current infrastructure outside of Norway/ Scandinavia and nothing in the U.S.,” Clifton said. “Cost estimates are difficult as it is dependent on location and size of intended operation, but will be many millions of dollars for sure.” These issues are not dissuading operators. Last year, Harvey Gulf International Marine ordered three LNG-powered offshore supply vessels for deepwater trade, becoming the first American company to do so. The Louisiana-based company will operate an LNG fueling facility at Port Fourchon. Totem Ocean Trailer Express Inc. of Princeton, N.J., is building the first LNG-powered containerships. Operators of ferries in Washington state and in Staten Island, N.Y., are 53

also studying the fuel. Safety remains an issue for some port operators when it comes to LNG. For instance, it’s illegal to transport in New York City because of an explosion on Staten Island 40 years ago that left 37 people dead. An investigation, however, laid the blame on faulty construction, not the fuel. “New York City is a little unique,” William Lindman, assistant professor in the Department of Marine Transportation at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, said in an interview. “They are going to have to address how they are going to refuel their vessels.” More LNG-fueled ships are likely

to be built because the North American Emission Control Area under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which established stricter pollution controls for ships trading off the coasts of the U.S. and Canada, came into effect last year. According to analysis done by Raymond L. Mathewson Jr., assistant professor of marine engineering and naval architecture at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, there are environmental benefits with LNG. Unlike residual fuel, marine diesel and ultra-low-sulfur fuel, LNG doesn’t emit sulfur dioxide or particulate matter and produces far less

carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Price is another factor in LNG’s surging popularity. As the U.S. exploits more of its shale gas, supplies will increase. That’s the case even though LNG infrastructure needs to be expanded, according to a report issued by Germanischer Lloyd and MAN Diesel & Turbo SE. Membership in SGMF is open to shipowners, bunker suppliers, bunker barge operators and other enterprises. The society promises to benefit the maritime community by developing guidance for LNG safety and vesseloperation best practices. It is seeking NGO status with the International Maritime Organization. •

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The reservoir of thought can now collect in the coffers of my cranium, as I rest with contentment.

Professional Mariner October/November 2013

continued from page 56

binding for countries that chose to be members of WHO, and then just to the extent they chose to follow the ISR protocols, because the organization itself had little if any enforcement capability to help ensure the regulations it had established were being adhered to. At first, being a signatory to the ISR, the U.S. Public Health Service kept a close eye out for rat infestations on board vessels entering U.S. ports. Deratting inspections were conducted at 18 major and nearly 100 smaller American ports, with certificates being issued to vessels passing inspection, and measures such as fumigation of rat-infested ships were ordered when necessary. Then, in the mid-1980s federal funding for inspections was cut. The CDC suddenly decided that there was no problem, announcing that it would no longer routinely conduct deratting inspections on ships calling at American ports, and that vessels arriving from foreign lands did not need to have a valid Deratting Certificate for entry. A 2005 study by the National Institute of Medicine concluded that the efforts of the CDC “no longer protect the U.S. population sufficiently against microbial threats.” Two years later, in 2007, WHO replaced the Deratting Certificate with a Ship Sanitation Certificate as part of the implementation of the revised International Health Regulations. Almost immediately, our government enacted a law continuing its longstanding policy of not requiring international ships coming into our ports to hold a valid health certificate. Countries such as Brazil, New Zealand and Singapore require international ships calling at their ports to

have a current Ship Sanitation Certificate — but not the United States. These days the CDC makes periodic ship sanitation inspections of cruise ships, but does not conduct routine health inspections of any cargo ships arriving here from other countries — and has no publicly stated plans to do so. Evidently, in these high-risk times of killer viruses and bioterrorism threats, the CDC has decided that health inspections for thousands of vessels calling at our ports are unnecessary. If a modern-day plague killed the same percentage of people today that died during the Black Death pandemic in the Middle Ages, close to 2.5 billion people would succumb worldwide — one in three Americans could die. That’s why I think it’s time for our government to stop playing “Russian roulette” with public safety, and revise its policies regarding health inspections of cargo vessels calling at our ports. In my opinion, all international ships should be required to carry a valid Ship Sanitation Certificate before they can enter our waters, and every cargo vessel arriving from overseas should have to pass a health inspection by the CDC before being allowed to dock in an American port. I believe that to mandate any less puts the safety of the American people at unnecessary risk. 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 Stowaway rats, modern biohazards point to need for health inspections aboard ships y first year as a cadet on California MariM time Academy’s training

ship Golden Bear, we were moored during a port stay in Pago Pago, American Samoa. After a long day of swimming and sightseeing ashore, I was making my way down the dock toward the gangway. It was about 2000 and night had already fallen as a warm drizzle was coming down. Nearing the bollard where the bowlines were secured, a movement in the shadows caught my eye. Looking over, I was shocked to see a rat the size of a small dog standing only a few feet away from me on the bull rail, the large wooden “curb” at the end of the pier. Even with the mediocre lighting on the dock, I could see his furry rat face and beady eyes looking right at me — appearing wary 56

but not necessarily afraid. As suspicious of him as he was of me, and not knowing what nasty diseases the rodent might transmit if he bit me, I eased back and we both went our separate ways. Rats have been associated with shipping for thousands of years. Roman ships brought the black rat to the British Isles over 1,600 years ago. The brown rat, commonly known as the wharf rat, is found on every continent in the world except Antarctica — much of the spread attributable to being carried on ships and boats. Rats are vectors for many nasty diseases, including murine typhus, salmonellosis, trichinosis, leptospirosis and the plague. According to the U.S. government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the bubonic plague was first introduced into the United States in the early 1900s by rodents transported on cargo ships, causing outbreaks in several U.S. West Coast ports,

along with two epidemics in San Francisco that killed hundreds of people. As late as the 1920s, rodents caused another plague epidemic in Los Angeles. Around the same time that plague epidemic was hitting Los Angeles, a survey of ships docked in the port of New York showed that nearly 50 percent were infested with rats. Because of these and other incidents, there became a great concern that rodents carried on vessels would cause a worldwide pandemic, spreading horrific diseases from port to port and resulting in the deaths of millions. Consequently, increased inspections by public health officials and the aggressive employment of fumigating chemicals became commonplace. In addition, the use of rat guards for vermin control became widespread on commercial vessels. These round metal “shields” were designed to fit over a mooring line, and made it nearly impossible for rats to climb over and get onto or off the vessel. Though

by Capt. Kelly Sweeney

the federal government did not mandate their use, after several plague outbreaks some U.S. ports began to require that ships use rat guards when docked. It wasn’t until 1951 that the World Health Organization (WHO) promulgated the new International Sanitary Regulations (ISR), which established official procedures to limit the spread of rats on board oceangoing vessels. For the first time in history, ships on international voyages were issued a Deratting Certificate, which was good for six months and required passing a full health inspection by government authorities before being renewed. Ships arriving from a foreign port that did not hold a valid Deratting Certificate could be inspected by health officials and issued a new certificate, detained and required to undergo a complete deratting/ fumigation protocol, or be placed in quarantine and denied entry until fully cleared. The new sanitary regulations were only continued on page 55

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October/November Professional Mariner