Ship Traffic as Seen From Space

Here is an animation of global ship traffic as seen from space. Mesmerizing and beautiful.

Global ship traffic seen from space – FleetMon Satellite AIS and FleetMon Explorer

Two thoughts immediately come to mind. Continue reading

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Media Announces Discovery of Cook’s HMS Endeavour — Again

endeavour1The news has been full of announcements about the discovery of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour by the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (RIMAP) near the harbor at Newport, Rhode, Island. Much of the reporting has been somewhat confused. The Daily Mail, for example, provides a map which shows the location of the  wreck as being in deep water in Rhode Island Sound generally between the Elizabeth Islands and Block Island, which doesn’t make any particular sense as the wreck is described as inside or near Newport harbor.

This seems oddly familiar. Haven’t we heard all this before? Continue reading

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Carnival’s Fathom Adonia Docks in Havanna, Cuba

adoniaAfter more than a half-century, American cruise passengers have returned to Cuba. Carnival Corporation’s MV Adonia docked in Havanna, Cuba today carrying hundreds of Americans including a few dozen Cuban-born Americans returning to the island for the first time in decades. The arrival of the Cuban-born passengers had been a topic of some contention as a there is a Cuban regulation barring anyone born in Cuba from entering or leaving the Communist-ruled country by sea. Under pressure from the US, Cuba agreed to lift the ban.

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Draken Harald Hårfagre — First Day at Sea and Detour to Lerwick

draken1The Draken Harald Hårfagre, the largest Viking longship in the world, is on her way, hopscotching across the Atlantic, to raid and plunder visit the United States this summer.  After departing Haugesund, Norway and sailing for a day at sea, the longship had to put into Lerwick in the Shetland Islands to repair a broken shroud.  The task was made significantly more difficult by modern electronics. Electronic cabling for antennas running down the backside of the mast complicated the repair.  This is not the first time that the longship has diverted to Lerwick. In 2014, the put in to replace a broken mast.

The goal of the voyage is to explore one of the most legendary of all sea voyages – the Viking discovery of the New World. Draken Harald Hårfagre and her crew will sail for Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland and then through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes before returning to the US East Coast in the late summer.

Draken sets course towards America

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Missing Boys’ Boat Found, Restarting Tragic Family Saga

missingboatA 19-foot boat, which has been missing since last July, has been recovered in the Atlantic, restarting the saga of two families’ tragedy involving their two missing sons, lawyers, lawsuits, and suggestions of abduction and foul play.

On Friday, July 28th, 2015, two fourteen-year-old boys, Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, headed out the Jupiter Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean in a 19-foot open boat powered by a single outboard motor. That afternoon there were reports of squalls and high winds. The boys did not return to the inlet that evening.

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Charting by ASV

Here is an interesting video about how NOAA is using Automated Surface Vehicles (ASVs) to map the bottom in areas where larger survey craft cannot go.  They are essentially drone boats used to update NOAA’s publicly available nautical charts.

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Harriett Tubman and the Great Combahee Ferry Raid

Harriet TubmanThis is an updated repost from 2014. Now that it has been announced that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackon on the US $20 bill, it seems worthwhile to recall the Great Combahee Ferry Raid, which Harriet Tubman helped plan, scouted and ultimately help lead, becoming the only woman to lead a military raid in US Civil War.

Born a slave, Harriet Tubman escaped and would become a leading “conductor” on the “Underground Railroad” which helped slaves escape from  bondage in the South to freedom in the North and in Canada, prior to the Civil War.  Nicknamed “Moses,” she is said to have made more than nineteen trips back into the slave-holding South to rescue more than 300 slaves.  Her greatest rescue mission, however, came during the Civil War, when she planned and help lead a Union riverboat raid at Combahee Ferry in South Carolina on the second of June, 1863, freeing over 720 slaves.

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New York’s Working Harbor Committee Seeking Executive Director

whcbannerLast year, John Doswell, the Executive Director of  New York’s Working Harbor Committee, died after a long illness. The Committee is now seeking an Executive Director to continue the great work that John and his colleagues have undertaken. For those interested, click on the link below for the complete job description.

Working Harbor Committee – Executive Director Job Description

The Working Harbor Committee is a nonprofit organization with a the goal of strengthening awareness of the working harbor’s history and vitality today, and its opportunities for the future. It seeks to involve people in learning how the harbor works and what it does; to educate about the rich and challenging history of the harbor, and to make people aware of the need to build and sustain the working harbor.

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NTSB Locates El Faro’s Voyage Data Recorder

vdrelfaroThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that “cargo ship El Faro’s voyage data recorder was located early Tuesday morning in 15,000 feet of water, about 41 miles (36 nautical miles) northeast of Acklins and Crooked Islands, Bahamas, by a team of investigators and scientists using remotely operated undersea search equipment. 

The investigative team is comprised of specialists from the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Coast Guard, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Tote Services, the owner and operator of El Faro.

At about 1 a.m. EDT the team aboard the research vessel Atlantis located the El Faro’s mast where the VDR was mounted. After examining numerous images provided by undersea search equipment, the team positively identified the VDR.

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Ngoc Nguyen, From Boat Refugee to Maersk Captain

maerskcaptainIn 1981, Ngoc Nguyen was 13, one of the at least 800,000 of the so-called Vietnamese “boat people” who fled Vietnam by boat after the end of the war. He was crammed in an overcrowded boat with his family, among 65 other refugees adrift in the South China Sea, when they were picked up by the Arnold Maersk. Now 34 years later, took to the bridge of the container ship, Thomas Maersk, as its captain.

From Maersk.com: Nguyen remembers his family’s escape in 1981 as if it were yesterday: “Two days had passed since the patrol boat had chased us away from the shores of Vietnam. With only a compass, a dwindling supply of gas and no food or water, our chances of reaching land safely were looking bleak.”

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“Bubble Man” Reza Baluchi Tries Again — Coast Guard Says ‘No’

bubblemanuscg“Bubble Man” Reza Baluchi is at it again, but this time, the Coast Guard told him to turn around not far from shore  before putting himself or others in danger. After warning him not to leave port without a support vessel, the US Coast Guard intercepted Baluchi in his inside his Hydropod, a home-made inflatable plastic bubble with a metal frame, about 7 miles off the coast of Jupiter, Florida.  Baluchi had announced his intention to run inside the bubble craft on a 3,500-mile five-month trek between Florida and islands in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

In October of 2104, we posted about his attempt to run inside his inflatable bubble, which looks a bit like an aquatic hamster cage, on a 1,000-mile voyage from Florida to Bermuda. The Coast Guard rescued him roughly 70 miles off the Florida coast after he became dehydrated and disoriented and triggered an emergency beacon. That rescue cost taxpayers around $140,000, according to the Coast Guard.

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SS Great Britain — “The Greatest Experiment Since the Creation”

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I recently visited the museum ship SS Great Britain, in Bristol, UK.  When she was launched in 1843, the iron-hulled luxury passenger steamship SS Great Britain was described as “the greatest experiment since the Creation.”

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Loch Ness Monster (Movie Prop) Located in the Loch

Photo: Kongsberg Maritime

Photo: Kongsberg Maritime

At long last, Nessie has been located on the bottom of Loch Ness! The monster is, however, not the legendary beastie, but instead a 30-foot long movie prop which sank in the Loch almost 50 years ago.  The prop was to be used in the filming of “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes,” directed by Billy Wilder. The model featured a neck and two humps. Director Wilder asked that the humps be removed which adversely affected the model’s buoyancy, causing the model to sink to the lake bottom, where it has been since 1969.  A new model, without humps, was built and the scene was shot in a tank rather than the loch.

The model monster was discovered by a robot drone operated by the Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime, which has been working with VisitScotland and Adrain Shine’s The Loch Ness Project.  The Loch Ness Project is gathering scientific information on the loch’s ecology, as well as keeping an eye out for the legendary monster.

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Sinking of MV Cemfjord with Loss of Eight Entirely Avoidable

In January of 2015, we posted about the capsize and sinking of the Cyprus-registered cement carrier MV Cemfjord while attempting to navigate the Pentland Firth in extremely rough weather. Eight officers and crew aboard died in the sinking. The UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) issued its report on the casualty stating that the sinking could have been avoided if the captain sought refugee rather than continuing.

In his statement to the media, Steve Clinch, The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents stated:

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Sailor Grub — CHOW: Creamed Sliced Beef on Toast (S.O.S.)

chowYesterday, we posted about a project to recreate sailor’s grub from the 17th century. Food for sailors has improved dramatically in the last three hundred years. Or has it?  The Naval Historical Foundation has a new blog titled CHOW which explores the history behind U.S. Navy culinary traditions. A recent blog post looks at creamed sliced beef on toast, a Navy and Army breakfast, served for breakfast and universally known as “S__t on a Shingle” or “S.O.S.”

From their post: The exact origin of S.O.S. is fuzzy. According to Wentworth and Flexner’s 1967 Dictionary of American Slang, no specific origin is known. The dish, which consists of sliced dried beef mixed in a thick creamy gravy, appeared in military cookbooks at the start of the twentieth century. Some cooking sources, such as the online website “Seabee Cook,” claim the dish came from the Army. Steve Karoly, who authored an article on the subject, claims the “Army favorite” has become “the most popular version of SOS.” Some Navy veterans may disagree.

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Recreating 17th Century Sailor’s Grub on the Tall Ship Elissa

elissagrubWhat we know of the diet of 17th-century sailors comes from written records — log entries, diaries, and journals. Most accounts say that it was pretty bad.  Now, Grace Tsai, a Ph.D. student specializing in nautical archaeology at Texas A&M University, wants to investigate sailor’s grub, by recreating the food as accurately as possible. Ms. Tsai and her team have been working to prepare salt beef, ship’s biscuit, cheese, beer and wine as they were made and stored in the 17th century.  In August, Ms. Tsai and her team will embark with their period rations on a simulated three-month voyage on the tall ship Elissa in Galveston, Texas. The food will be sampled every ten days for nutritional and microbial analysis over a period of three months.

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“Boaty McBoatface” Wins in a Landslide & No, That Won’t be the Ship’s Name

We previously posted about how the British Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) was asking for suggestions for a name for the new polar research ship, currently under construction at Cammell Laird’s yard in Birkenhead. The suggestion period ended on April 16th and it has been announced that the most popular suggestion by a landslide is “Boaty McBoatface.” The tongue-in-cheek moniker won easily with 124,109 votes.

As reported by Sky News: “Second was RRS Poppy-Mai – named after a 16-month-old girl with terminal cancer – with 34,371 votes. RRS Henry Worsley, commemorating an Antarctic explorer who died in January, was the highest placed suggestion that had scientific links, coming third. RRS It’s Bloody Cold Here, and RRS David Attenborough came fourth and fifth.”

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Search Resumes for El Faro Black Box in Very, Very Deep Water

elfarowreckstern1Last November, we posted that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) had ended its search for the El Faro‘s Voyage Data Recorder (VDR), the so-called “black box,” which might have provided answers to questions about the sinking of the 790-foot long ro/ro-container ship.  El Faro was lost in Hurricane Joaquin with the loss of 33 crew in the beginning of October in 2015.  The wreckage of the ship was located off Crooked Island in the southeastern Bahamas. Now the NTSB has restarted the search using a “sophisticated autonomous underwater vehicle”, AUV Sentry.

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US Sailor Rescued 9 Times Sells Sloop Nora

Steve Shapiro’s frequently rescued sailboat Nora, has been sold. In January, we posted about a pair of American sailors who had been rescued nine times in sailing from Norwalk to Cornwell in the UK on a 40′ gaff rigged sloop named Nora.  The two sailors, Bob Weise and Steve Shapiro, both 71, had been attempting to sail across the Atlantic from Norway to Maine but had suffered a variety of breakdowns and groundings which resulted in calling for help from rescue teams from Norway, Scotland, Ireland and the UK.

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Civil Blockade Runner Agnes E. Fry Believed Found Off Oak Island, NC

agnesfryThe Confederate blockade runner Agnes E. Fry is believed to have been located off Oak Island, North Carolina. She is one of three blockade runners lost in the area during the Civil War, but the only ship longer than 200 feet.  The Agnes E. Fry was a 559-ton iron side-wheel steamer built by Caird & Company at Greenock, on the River Clyde in 19864. The blockade runner was 237 feet long by 25 feet in beam, with a depth of hold of 13 feet. She made two successful runs into Wilmington before being lost on her third attempted voyage, two days after Christmas 1864.

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