15 Feb 2021
Government Update: Coast Guard Authorization Act
On January 1, 2021, in an unusual New Year’s Day session, the Senate (following similar action by the House) overrode President Trump’s veto and enacted into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 6395). In addition to the provisions relating to the Department of Defense, the bill contains numerous maritime sections, including Authorization Acts for the Coast Guard (USCG), the Maritime Administration (MARAD)…
30 Dec 2020
Cosmic Rays, the 'Unseen Menace' for Maritime
Most people these days are aware of risks inherent in our increasingly electronic maritime industry. There is malware, ransomware, and spear phishing to name a few. But a new one has been recently identified – cosmic rays.Cosmic rays are high-energy protons and atomic nuclei which move through space at nearly the speed of light. They originate from the sun, from stars outside of the solar system, and from distant galaxies. They are capable of penetrating and passing through almost any material.
10 Dec 2020
Top Maritime Trends 2020: Owners and Operators can Do the Right Thing for Seafarers
Due to a confluence of factors, COVID-19 has adversely impacted merchant mariners more than virtually any other profession. The merchant marine is an international profession from a wide variety of countries, so there is no one nation standing up to represent them.The ships on which they sail are registered in numerous nations, heavily weighted toward small countries with limited influence on the world stage.
10 Nov 2020
The Global Positioning System (GPS) has become vital to the maritime community. Proper use of properly functioning equipment can allow ships to safely navigate worldwide. It’s signals are now integrated into a variety of shipboard items, including the automatic identification system (AIS) and the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS). It has been copied by Russia’s GLONASS, Europe’s GALILEO, China’s BeiDou, India’s IRNSS, and Japan’s QZSS.
30 Sep 2020
History and Overview of U.S. Cabotage Laws
The United States domestic maritime sector recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage by Congress of the Jones Act. It is considered the most significant of various US cabotage laws. Few mariners though appreciate the long history of cabotage laws in this country.Cabotage laws here are older than our nation. The British Navigation Acts and its predecessors were designed to develop, promote…
06 Aug 2020
Container Losses in the Rolling Seas
Cargoes have come off ships at sea it seems like forever. Some years ago a ship suffered a casualty transiting the English Channel in a storm. Much of its cargo of lumber and other floating items washed ashore on the southwest English coast. Before the authorities could arrive, enterprising local residents gathered it up.Nowadays, the majority of non-bulk cargo is carried in containers. Container ships have gotten larger and are capable of carrying thousands and thousands of containers.
06 Jul 2020
Opinion: Shame on Port States for the Treatment of Seafarers
Port states benefit greatly from the vessels that call at their ports, loading and unloading cargoes with great efficiency and speed. The items manufactured in those states and sold overseas keep many of their citizens gainfully employed. The items imported supply stock for the stores of their nation and provide goods for their citizens. The physical ports utilized by the vessels are employment magnets…
24 Jun 2020
Marine Salvage and SMFF Regulations
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA, often called the Clean Water Act), as amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90), provides:If a discharge, or a substantial threat of a discharge, of oil or a hazardous substance from a vessel, offshore facility, or onshore facility is of such a size or character as to be a substantial threat to the public health or welfare of the United States (including but not limited to fish…
15 Apr 2020
USCG Polar Security Cutters: The History and Future
The good news is that work has commenced on the first new heavy polar icebreaker for the United States Coast Guard in 43 years. The bad news is that when it enters service, projected to occur in FY2024, it will be the first new heavy polar icebreaker for the USCG in 47 years.Meanwhile, Russia has approximately 30 active polar icebreakers, including four that are nuclear powered. Arktika, the first of a new class of three heavy polar icebreakers…
14 Apr 2020
This Day in Maritime History: RMS Titanic Strikes Iceberg
Late on the night of April 14, 1912, the “unsinkable” passenger ship RMS Titanic, on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, struck an iceberg. It sank about three hours later, at about 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912. Of the 2,224 persons on board, 1,514 lost their lives.In the century that followed, ships are better-constructed. They carry more lifeboat capacity than there are persons on board. They have radios for instant communication with shore and with other ships.
03 Mar 2020
The Maritime Industry and COVID-19
The COVID-19 epidemic, which was first called the novel Coronavirus and then the 2019-nCoV, is spreading fast around the world. It is more contagious than the 2002 SARS outbreak, its cousin, but not as lethal. Unfortunately, its impact on the maritime community seems to already be greater than that of SARS.Ships are being required to submit Maritime Declarations of Health prior to arrival. Ships that…
23 Jan 2020
Want to Cut Emissions? SLOW DOWN
Merchant ships traditionally operate in the open sea at or near full speed. This is hard on the engine, hard on the ship and hard on the crew. Slowing down reduces wear on the engine, improves fuel efficiency, reduces harmful air emissions and improves safety by providing the bridge personnel additional time to evaluate developing situations. Some marine engines, though, are designed to operate at near full load.
18 Dec 2019
Risk & Reward of The Internet of (Maritime) Things
The Internet of Maritime Things (IoMT) is coming! Start planning now.The Internet of Things (IoT) is already with us. You can get a doorbell camera that allows you to see on your smartphone who is at or approaching your front door. You can also get a refrigerator that keeps track of items inside and will advise you when you are running low (maybe on beer). It can also automatically place orders with your local grocery store for replenishment.
15 Oct 2019
USCG VIDA policy proposal
On 31 July, the US Coast Guard published a notice in the Federal Register stating that it is seeking comments on a draft policy letter that, if adopted, would establish the Coast Guard’s policy for acceptance of type-approval testing protocols for ballast water management systems (BWMSs) that render nonviable organisms in ballast water and may be used in addition to the methods under existing regulations.
07 Aug 2019
Maritime Recordkeeping is Serious Business
In addition to fuel, modern ships also run on paper or their electronic equivalent. Vessels are required to keep written or electronic records of many things – and the list is growing.There is the traditional Ship’s Log, which records the vessel’s position, course, speed, weather, and unusual events to name a few. The Oil Record Book (ORB) has been around for a long time and tracks all movement of oil throughout the vessel…
14 Jul 2019
Maritime Cyber Alert
For some years now, the maritime sector has experienced breaches of various computer and information technology (IT) systems. Primarily, these breaches have been collateral damage. The maritime sector has almost never been the intended target. That does not mean that the damage has been minor. In June 2017, A.P. Moller-Maersk suffered a major cyber-attack. The malware had been designed by Russian hackers to disrupt the Ukrainian power sector.
14 Jun 2019
Maritime, Measles & Quarantine
Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease. It is so contagious that 90% of non-immune persons will become infected if an infected person is in the immediate vacinity. It is an airborne disease spread through coughs, sneezes, and contact with saliva or nasal secretions. The virus can live for up to two hours in infected airspace or on infected surfaces. Individuals are infectious from four days before symptoms appear until four days after the patient is symptom-free.
10 May 2019
AIS Data: History & Future
The Automatic Identification System (AIS) was developed with the sole goal of improving maritime safety by allowing ships in proximity to one another to automatically exchange information regarding their name, course, speed, type, cargo, etc. The exchange of this information would allow conning officers on each ship to make better decisions regarding the possibility of close encounters and the need to change course and/or speed.
16 Apr 2019
Maritime Fatigue: Just another band aid?
On 24 January, the IMO issued updated guidelines on fatigue. This is just another in a long series of band aids that attempt to cover over the problem without providing a solution. Fatigue is a long-standing weakness in the maritime industry. It is recognized as a major or contributing causal factor in the majority of maritime casualties. As is well-known, fatigue is caused by a lack of sleep and relaxation. These, in turn, are the result of too few people being tasked with too much work.
14 Mar 2019
On this Date 1757: ADM John Byng Executed
On 14 March 1757, Admiral John Byng, Royal Navy, was executed by firing squad while he was kneeling on the forecastle of HMS Monarch in the Solent. Admiral Byng…