Battleship Texas, Barely Hanging on — Closes, Reopens, & Hunkers Down for Tropical Storm Cindy

We have been following the continued slow disintegration of the historically rich, but budget poor, Battleship Texas for several years now. The over 100 year old battleship is the oldest remaining dreadnought battleship and only one of six surviving ships to have served in both World War I and World War II.  She is also continually on the verge of sinking at her berth in the Buffalo Bayou in Harris County, Texas.  

Recently, the Houston Chronicle reported, Battleship Texas closed until further notice, crews working to repair leaks. A week later,  the headline was more cheerful — Battleship Texas Leaks Fixed, Retired Ship Reopens Saturday.  Now, the media is reporting that the grand old ship is hunkering down for Tropical Storm Cindy, which is heading her way.

None of this is new. Back in 2012, we posted — Update: 100 Year Old Battleship Texas Shutdown Indefinitely by Leaks.  The good news is that all that is needed to save the old ship is money. That may also be the bad news.

Battleship Texas: 100 Years (Narrated by Lyle Lovett)

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Hokulea, First Voyaging Canoe in 600 Years, Completes Three Year Circumnavigation

Hokulea, the first voyaging canoe in 600 years, sailed back to Hawaii last week, completing an epic three year 40,000 mile circumnavigation. Hokulea and her crew were greeted by fellow voyaging canoes, hundreds of other water craft and an estimated 25,000 well wishers.

Tens of thousands gather at Magic Island to welcome Hokulea hom

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Sailing-Time Warp in Bermuda — AC50 Foiling Cats and J Boats

While the big show at the America’s Cup races in Bermuda are the AC50s, the high-tech foiling catamarans literally flying across the courses, one might be excused for a sense of falling into a time warp, as just off the island, a fleet of J boats, grand racing yachts from another era, compete against each other, as if from another time.

After a lively competition, in a replay of the 2013 America’s Cup, the AC50 foiling cat, Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), was chosen again as the challenger to Oracle Team USA. And also like 2013, ETNZ has started off beating the defender in the first four races. It remains to be seen if Oracle can make a dramatic comeback, as they did in 2013 to retain the Cup. Racing between Oracle and  ETNZ begins again this weekend.

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The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault. This Is Why — Commentary by gCaptain’s John Konrad

gCaptain’s Captain John Konrad has a excellent post today that describes in detail why he believes that the destroyerUSS Fitzgerald was at fault in its recent collision with the container ship ACX Crystal.  He suggests a simple rule for avoiding collisions with Navy warships is missing: “If it’s grey stay away.”

Konrad details the likely communications failures on the Fitzgerald, which are endemic on most Navy ships. He also describes the difference in training and focus of the merchant versus the naval captain, as well as the resources available to and responsibilities of each. And, no, he does not argue that the USS Fitzgerald was solely at fault. As he points out, “Under COLREGS, whenever two ships touch each other, both ships are to blame.”

Rather than quote specific passages of the post, go to gCaptain to read it in full. It is worth reading.

The USS Fitzgerald Is At Fault. This Is Why  

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Conspiracy Theories Spring Up Around the USS Fitzgerald — ACX Crystal Collision

Graphic: NYTimes

The one thing we can say for certain is that we do not have all the facts surrounding the collision between the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald  and the Philippine container ship ACX Crystal . The collision nearly sank the destroyer, killed seven sailors and injured three more, including the ship’s captain.  Of course, facts, whether we have them or we don’t, do nothing to inhibit the conspiracy theorists. Conspiracy theories are already developing about the recent collision.

The “American Thinker” blog expresses their concerns in almost apocalyptic terms:

The USS Fitzgerald, an anti-ballistic missile destroyer that was part of the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group, will no longer be ready to defend the carrier and other ships from missile attacks launched from North Korea, should push come to shove in the current confrontation with the rogue regime on the threshold of the capability to attack New York, Los Angeles, and our power grid with nuclear missiles.  This is an incident that could affect the outcome of a nuclear confrontation of historic moment.

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Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Nearly Sank Following Collision — Seven Sailors Died Below Deck

We now know that the USS Fitzgerald came perilously close to sinking  following its collision with the Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal, early Saturday morning off the Japaneses coast near Tokyo.  
“Heroic efforts prevented the flooding from catastrophically spreading, which could have caused the ship to founder or sink,” said Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet. “It could have been much worse.”   The seven sailors initially reported missing have since been found in their berths where they died in the flooding which followed the collision. 

The Japanese Coast Guard is now reporting that the collision took place around 1:30AM rather than an hour later, a s previously reported. Apparently, the collision was reported for close to an hour. The authorities are investigating the cause for the delay in the reporting. Based on the revised time of the collision, the container ship ACX Crystal  appears to have been maintaining a constant course and speed prior to the collision.  Previously, it was reported that the container ship dramatically changed course prior to the collision. It now appears that the course changes took place after the impact.  

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The Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2017

Despite the rain the mermaids and denizens of the sea still came out to play at the 35th Annual Coney Island Mermaid Day Parade. Photos by For more images, some NSFW, check out Gothamist.

Coney Island Mermaid Parade 2017

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Sail Boston 2017 — Parade of Sail

Delayed for an hour by fog, the Parade of Sail at Sail Boston 2017 was still breathtaking even if the weather did not cooperate.  The Sail Boston 2017 festival continues through Thursday, June 22. Click here for a list of events and activities.

Sights and sounds of Sail Boston 2017

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Destroyer USS Fitzgerald Collides with Container Ship — Seven Missing

Seven crew members are reported to be missing after the US guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine flag container ship, ACX Crystal, early Saturday morning. Three others aboard were injured, including the commanding officer, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, and were evacuated from the ship by helicopter. The collision took place at around 2:30 AM local time about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.  

USS Fitzgerald, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, was struck on the starboard side near the bridge and was damaged above and below the waterline. Flooding on the ship was stabilized with the assistance from the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey and the Fitzgerald returned to the Yokosuka Naval Base, assisted by tugs, around 6 AM local time on Saturday. 

ACX Crystal suffered bow damage but was able to proceed to Tokyo Bay unassisted.  US and Japanese rescue teams continue the search for the missing sailors.  Continue reading

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Bikini Atoll and the Sunken Fleet of A Nuclear Graveyard

A fascinating and sobering video about diving on the fleet of ships destroyed by 23 nuclear detonations by the United States between 1946 and 1958 in seven test sites on and near the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.  Over 90 warships and cargo vessels were destroyed in the testing. 

Bikini – The Sunken Nuclear Fleet

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Sailor Believed Lost Overboard from USS Shiloh Found Hiding in the Engine Room

Better a court martial than a funeral.  On June 8th, Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Peter Mims was reported missing on the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh, and presumed to have fallen overboard.  His disappearance triggered a a massive, 50-hour search-and-rescue effort off the coast of Japan that included Japanese Coast Guard and naval forces.  Presumed dead after not being located in the search, Mims was found to be hiding in one of the cruiser’s engine rooms. 

As reported by the Navy Times

It is unclear how Mims survived a week in the engineering space or where he was hiding. He will be flown off Shiloh for evaluation soon. …  Continue reading

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A Roomba For Lionfish — Underwater Robot Vacuum to Suck Up an Invasive Species

A year ago we posted, Invasive Lionfish for Sale at Whole Foods – If You Can’t Beat ’em, Eat ’em, about a new approach to combating lionfish which have been spreading rapidly along the southeast coast of the U.S., the Caribbean, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Native to the Indo-Pacific, the lionfish lack natural predators and have been laying waste to local fish and shrimp populations. Whole Foods, a high end supermarket, is started to sell lionfish in their stores to consumers as one way to help slow their spread.

Unfortunately, there are more lionfish than there are divers to spear them. Now a foundation, Robots in Service of the Environment (RSE ) has developed an underwater robot to suck up the lionfish, a sort of underwater invasive species Roomba.  If you are not familiar with the Roomba, it is a consumer robot vacuum cleaner. RSE was founded last year by Colin Angle, the CEO for iRobot, the maker of the Roomba. He was visiting friends and marine biologists on Bermuda and they explained how lionfish quickly became king of the Atlantic’s coral reefs. Angle, John Rizzi, and friends decided to take action and the Guardian LF1 robot was born.

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Wreck of USRC/USCGC McCulloch Found — Sank 100 Years Ago Today

Researchers are holding a news conference today to announce the discovery of the wreck of the USRC/USCGC McCulloch, a cutter of the United States Revenue Cutter Service and later the US Coast Guard.  Delivered in 1897,  just before the start of the Spanish-American War, she was initially transferred to the US Navy and served under Commander Dewey’s Asiatic Squadron in the Battle of Manila Bay.    

The McCulloch later patrolled the West Coast and later helped to enforce fur seal regulations in the Pribilof Islands off the coast of Alaska, where it also served as a floating courtroom in remote areas. In 1915, she was transfered to the US Coast Guard, the Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life-Saving Service were merged to form the Coast Guard.  In 1917 with the US’s entry into World War I, the McCulloch  was transferred back to the US Navy. 

The McCulloch sank on June 13, 1917, 3 miles northwest of Point Conception, California, after colliding with a civilian steamship.

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Update: Flying Clipper, World’s Largest Square Rigged Sailing Ship, Launched

We have been following the progress of Star Clipper‘s new ship, the Flying Clipper, since her announcement in May 2015, through her keel laying at the Brodosplit Shipyard in Split, Croatia, in December of that year. On Saturday the Flying Clipper was launched at the Brodosplit shipyard.  

When the Flying Clipper makes her first voyage, expected in early 2018, she will be the largest square-rigged sailing ship in the world. A five masted barque, she is 532 feet (162 meters) long, with a 60 foot (18.5 meter) beam and will have a sail area of 68,300 square feet (6,347 square meters). By comparison, the tea clipper Cutty Sark set less than half as much sail at around 3,000 square meters. 

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OSTAR & TwoSTAR Races Battered by Storm — Dismasting, Sinking and Mid-Atlantic Rescues

Graphic: RWYC & YachtingWorld

Sailors competing in the Royal Western Yacht Club’s Original Singlehanded Transatlantic Race (OSTAR) and the Twohanded Transatlantic Race (TwoSTAR) were battered by a North Atlantic storm with 60 knot winds and 45′ seas, 900 miles miles east of Newfoundland. One boat sank, two were abandoned and several competitors retired from the races. Fifteen single-handed sailors set off from Plymouth in the UK bound for New port, RI on May 29th. Twelve sailors also set off in six boats in the doublehanded race.

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The Mariner’s Guide to the Port of New York and New Jersey

New York Harbor is the busiest port on the east coast of the United States. Here is a fascinating video about the challenges and dangers of the being on the water where cargo ships, tugs and barges, ferries, sailboats, power boats and kayaks all try to share the same space. 

The Mariner’s Guide to the Port of NY and NJ from John Rako on Vimeo.

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Navy Retrieves Cannon from Perry’s USS Revenge off Watch Hill, RI

US Navy archaeologists have retrieved a cannon which they believe came from USS Revenge, a schooner commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry in 1811. The schooner struck a reef and sank off Watch Hill in Westerly, RI in 1811.  Navy divers raised the cannon on May 24.  The cannon has been taken to the Washington Navy Yard to be desalinated and stabilized. As reported by the Westerly Sun

There are not many examples of early naval guns of this type, said George Schwarz, an underwater archaeologist with the Naval History and Heritage Command. The command oversees the identification and management of sunken naval vessels. “It’s a tangible reach back through naval history,” he said. Schwarz said he has a high level of confidence that the cannon is from the Revenge.

Perry’s career languished after the wreck until he was sent to the Great Lakes during the War of 1812. He’s remembered as the Hero of Lake Erie for defeating the British navy. He was famous for reporting simply, “We have met the enemy and they are ours,” after the decisive battle in 1813. Continue reading

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China Opens Floating Solar Power Farm

This is only slightly nautical, but I find it interesting, nevertheless. China has opened a floating solar power farm.  Unlike offshore wind power, the facility is not at sea.  The 40-megawatt solar power plant is floating over what was once an open-pit coal mine, which has now flooded forming a lake. The plant is more efficient because the lake’s water provides to the panels, inverters and other mechanical components.

Several news sources have billed it as the “world’s largest floating solar plant.” This looks like harmless hyperbole, or a backhanded way of commenting on how unusual a floating solar power plant really is, as the 40 MW plant is not overly large in absolute terms.   

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Onrust Returns to the Connecticut River

In 1614, the Onrust, captained by Dutch merchant explorer Adriaen Block, was the first European vessel to explore the Connecticut River. This summer, a replica of Block’s ship is returning to the river in a collaboration between the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, CT and the Onrust Project, offering cruises on the river and educational programming at dockside.   

The original Onrust was built by Block and his crew in the winter of 1614 somewhere in New York harbor. The ship, Tyger , on which Block had sailed from Holland to New York, had been destroyed by fire the previous winter.  Onrust , which means “restless” in Dutch, was the first ship to be built in what is now New York State. Sailing the Onrust into Long Island Sound, along the coast of Rhode Island and on to Cape Cod, Block drew the first accurate charts of the southern New England coast. In October of 1614, Block rendezvoused with another Dutch ship on Cape Cod and sailed back to the Netherlands.  The Onrust, however, would go on to be used to 1616 to explore the Delaware River under the command of Cornelius Hendrickson. 

The replica Onrust was built by the non-profit Onrust Project between 2006 and 2009 at the Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction, NY, using traditional Dutch shipbuilding techniques. Since 2009, the Onrust has served as a floating museum providing the public with a living history experience of 17th century life and maritime exploration. 

The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex, CT 06426.  To learn more, click here.

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World Oceans Day on the Lilac — Answering the Ocean’s Call: Stewardship of Our Ocean, Our Future

If you are around New York harbor on Thursday, June 8th, from 6 — 7:45 PM, stop by the historic USCG Cutter Lilac at Pier 25 on the Hudson River to celebrate World Oceans Day. The Lilac Preservation Project is hosting “Answering the Ocean’s Call: Stewardship of Our Ocean, Our Future” a program featuring ocean advocates, conservationists, performers and educators who are striving to connect citizens with the waters that sustain us. Speakers will include Mary Crowley, Betsy Damon, Tanja Andrejasic-Wechsler, David Thoreson, and Nina Hitchings. The program is presented in partnership with the Geoversiv Foundation and Our Humanity Matters.  Please register if you plan to attend.  Admission is free, but space is limited.

Lilac is a retired 1933 Coast Guard cutter that once carried supplies to lighthouses and maintained buoys. Decommissioned in 1972, USCGC Lilac is America’s only surviving steam-powered lighthouse tender and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is eligible to become a National Historic Landmark.

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