Wednesday, May 30, 2012

THE NAMAZU SCHOOL REVISITS THE BONN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

OCEANOGRAPHY , Climate Change

The Namazu School Revisited

The United Nations Conference On Climate Change In Bonn

 

Photo Credit: www.SeeMeHunt.com  Thank you Chris Avena for permission 2/16/2014

American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies   EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEAD

Not as Bad as It Could Have Been, But Not Good.

EDITOR'S NOTE 2/23/2015: 
This was first published in April of 2012. Since then we have received , reviewed, and published our analysis on the global warming debate. Clearly the overwhelming evidence is that the very minor global warming that first started the debate more than 20 years ago was not a trend but a typical weather cycle. The increase in global temperatures ceased for nearly 200 months though visible evidence of the slight warming continued until about three years ago when we clearly entered a cooling cycle predicted by solar flare activity. Then the Atlantic Ocean temperature inversion cycle manifested its self. This is a cooling event that affects the globe but especially North America and Europe. The Temperature inversion typically lasts up to about 18 years. The truth is no one really knows if we are emerging from a three year solar flare induced cooling trend, or a longer more complex cooling trend. But global warming stopped increasing years ago, and global average temperatures, subject to the usual local variations, started falling about three years ago. Still the main point in the the analysis that we published following  the global climate change conference three years ago holds. Mother nature is quite capable of inflicting on us massive climate change without any input from us and governments should put some effort into planning for societal survival not if, but when, we are next visited by natural massive and sudden climate change.  

Previously on March 22, 2012 our guest blogger Vic Socotra introduced our readers to the mythological Japanese giant catfish named NAMAZU. The Namazu of legend was a mythological explanation for Tsunamis and coastal earth quakes , pictured as the results of the wiggling of the giant catfish named Namazu. Vic used NAMAZU as an entertaining vehicle for an exploration of the causes, effects, and record of severe, sudden, climate change. He described for us such climate game changers as sun spots, orbit wobble, axis rotation irregularities, volcanic activity, meteor strikes, and various combinations of such. The point of the original NAMAZU article was that catastrophic climate change has happened in the past with no warning signs and has overtaken life on earth with catastrophic results.

 In our second installment in the Namazu series we noted that the present climate crisis comes with lots of warning that it is on going. Unlike orbit wobble, or volcanic activity, we in theory, could do something about it if global politics and economics could for once work in tandem for the planet's health. There appears to be little time but there does appear to be time. In our second article built on the original NAMAZU article, we asked the question of what if we actually dodged the present clearly visible on coming bullet? Isn't it a mathematical certainty that one day when we least expect it one of the previous causes of massive climate change such as orbit wobble, sun spots, volcanic activity, axis rotation irregularities, or some combination of similar elements will again strike us as in the past? Our considered scientific answer is yes there will one day in the future regardless of how we handle the present self imposed crisis occur a massive climate change about which we can do nothing in terms of prevention or mitigation.



 We called that certainty the NAMAZU CERTAINTY. Around that certainty we launched what we called the NAMAZU SCHOOL.  The "NAMAZU SCHOOL" is a school of thought that we intend to apply to discussion of climate change in this blog. The first principal of this school of thought is that the NAMAZU CERTAINTY is indeed a certainty and that real politics makes it unlikely that the world will be able to respond in an efficient global way to mitigate the agricultural, economic, biological, and human costs of such a global disaster. 


 So we feel the most important thing to discuss is how local, state /provincial, and national governments along with certain corporations and private citizens can prepare to mitigate the most deadly results of such a sudden shift in climate to reduce suffering among heavily urbanized human populations. We requested our readers to join in the discussion by submitting guest blogs and comments on real measures that real governments might take to insure adequate food supplies and other necessities for a protracted period in the years when most outdoor crops based on existing climate zones are lost. We haven't had much participation so far but recent news out of Bonn indicates to us that the NAMAZU SCHOOL is on the right track.


 On May 25 Reuters reported that more than 180 countries agreed on a agenda for work on a new climate treaty by 2015. So after much discussion in Bonn 180 countries have finally agreed (after how many years?) to set an agenda for a possible new climate treaty by 2015. The headlines indicate that mistrust between blocks of nations remain a part of the on going debate. Last year in South Africa the United Nations conference on the climate agreed to a package of measures that would extend the 1977 Kyoto Protocol after it expires at the end of this year. At that time the conference agreed that a new legally binding accord to cut greenhouse gases should be inked by 2015 and go into effect by 2020. While trying to arrive at this future agreement the squabbling between nations continues. The European Union and others have accused China along with other developing nations of "procedural blocking" or trying to backtrack on the deal inked in Durban ,South Africa last year. Developing nations accuse the United States and the European Union and other "rich" nations of trying to avoid making deeper cuts and dodging increases in financial help to poorer nations to help them deal with climate change.

 The science that all this is working against is this. Unless emissions of green house gases are cut enough to keep the rise in average global temperature to less than 2% Celsius over pre- industrial levels a threshold that scientist say is the minimum required to avert catastrophic effects will be exceeded. While we know this; some nations appear poised to miss their emissions reduction goals for 2020 and the world seems set on a course for a 3.5 degree Celsius rise in average global temperature before the century is out. 

 Hello? Did anyone really believe that the world "community" was going to solve this problem?  That is not to say that the present situation is without hope. Politics aside, economics might cause us to eliminate the internal combustion engine as the primary engine of surface transport which all by itself might bring the needed reductions in green house gases. War or economic disaster might reduce human carbon consumption in time. But does anyone really believe that global politics or a global political process will actually avert disaster? 


 But suppose it does? Missing this train now rushing at us doesn't mean that another unforeseen climate change won't suddenly overwhelm us without any contribution to causation on our part. Remember orbit wobble, axis rotation, meteor strikes, volcanic activity can happen at any moment. Do we wait for the disaster to be upon us and expect the type of global political process that is now failing to do anything decisive about the on coming but relatively slow moving crisis to save us from starvation in the year following such an event?  Will the global government community even be able to accept that these things happen and man is powerless to prevent them or will they lapse into a "blame game"? Now is the time to start looking at legal and technological regional and local solutions to post sudden climate change food security problems, flood control, drought relief. We don't need to wait on the global statesmen to wake up to the NAMAZU CERTAINTY. 


 We the people, you know us common expendable folk who won't have safe houses and stored food supplies that will sustain the heads of government and governing elites, need to start thinking along these lines and making technologically and economically feasible demands on our local and regional governments, then our national governments; and simply hope for the best beyond that and take a lesson from history,  International cooperation does happen, but generally only slowly; too slowly to deal with a real global catastrophe. If the global governors can actually forestall the on coming man made crisis we can save whole species of wild life and whole regions of agricultural production. But we will not be able to do so with the faster climate changers that nature can and eventually will throw at us.

 All we will be able to do in the face of the NAMAZU CERTAINTY is to try and save human urban populations from starvation by making a certain portion of our agricultural production not so weather dependent. We may be able to save a certain portion of the earth's wild species and most of a breding remnant of our domestic stocks. But what NAMAZU can throw at us over night is more than we can deal with in terms of saving the planet's existing environment and web of life. In past climate change events life changed and it survived. The human race has to make plans to join the rat and the cockroach among the sure fire survivors The report of the meager progress on the current crisis should serve as an inducement to enter the NAMAZU SCHOOL and start thinking and perhaps writing about the needed mitigation planning for the NAMAZU CERTAINTY..  
Click on the hyperlink below for a video on the climate change debate. Press the return arrow in the upper left hand corner of the YouTube tool bar to return here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


NEW ADDITION TO OUR INTRODUCTION SECTION:

Check Out This Hyperlink To Our New Promotional Video:

http://www.youtube.com/embed/AFw32RRJY98

 At the Introduction section we still tell the new visitor what they can expect here at American Admiralty Books,.However, we now give the visitor the choice of wadding through several paragraphs of print for the rock bottom basics of clicking on a hyperlink , kicking back and enjoying a really stunning maritime video. Those of you counted among our earliest visitors have probably already read the introduction, but if you have a minute click on the above hyperlink to our "promo".  We didn't contract this out, the "promo" was done by one of our own "library elves", who just happens to be a graduate oceanographer and accomplished navigator. Like all of us here in the American Admiralty Books work shop our videographer has a connection to the federal maritime establishment. Since we make no promise to toe any government line, corporate line, publisher line, and frankly take kinder to "suggestions' than "rules" we don't often use the real names of our library elves working so diligently on constructing this site.   This way no overbearing "Fed" can claim that anything any of us has written could possibly be confused with any official position we may have to adopt in our day jobs. But if you like what you see on the "promo" keep in mind that the responsible library elf owns production equipment, is not adverse to outside income,and may be reached through this site. Just reference "Video Elf" in your comment or e-mail and we'll put you in contact with our video guru.

 Finally if you are a fan , and we hope you are please help us spread the word about our blog by copying the above hyperlink and sending it to anyone on your e-mail address book with a professional or recreational interest in things watery.

Thank you,

Chief Library Elf (CLE)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

OCEANOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN UP:
WE ARE VISITED BY THE ROZALIA PROJECT
"EGO ALLEY", ANNAPOLIS , MARYLAND

They came, They found Trash, They Shook It under Our Noses, Some of it was 150 Years Old.

American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies   EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEAD

 Back in February 2012 in a blog titled "The Rozalia Project -Ocean Adventures in Clean Up" inspired by our member "Teanna" we described the Rozalia Project, an enterprise serviced by two human and two non human regular staffers and periodic volunteers. The Rozalia project is about sea floor and coastal water bottom debris, finding it, determining the hazards created , and removing or mitigating such hazards. Rozalia invests in ROV technology for finding the trash and in some cases for removal. They do technology demonstrations often traveling about on a sixty food sailboat, which of course doesn't leave much of a carbon foot print. With two of the staff being canines, there is also less demand for formal berths aboard so they get a lot done in sixty feet.Rozalia is a model of maritime efficiency.

 Those of us who make up American Admiralty Informational Services which includes American Admiralty Books hold some pretty heavy credentials in the maritime professional world. These include Merchant Marine Officer licenses, degrees in oceanography, marine engineering, nautical arts and science, and admissions to practice in various areas of maritime law. All that aside, we are all motivated by one single desire....we can't stand the thought of holding "real jobs", which we define as anything that takes us off the water or away from the water front or beach. All of us in our heart of hearts are basically unrepentant boat bums. As such we have some favorite and frequent haunts most common among them are the Central Gulf Coast of the United States, Hawaii, and my personal favorite Annapolis , Maryland, touted as "Sailing Capitol of the United States", Home of the U.S. Naval Academy, and as "A drinking town with a sailing problem". Whenever I could get away with it, I have spent as much as eleven months a year there in recent years, though techno legally I'm a legal resident elsewhere. It is a very nautical and fun place. Recently Rozalia founder Rachel Miller and education coordinator Rebecca Moffa showed up at city dock presenting two interactive educational sessions for school-aged children and other larger folk of indeterminate mental age like myself.
  
  As part of the Rozalia educational project Miller and Moffa launched an ROV (Remotely Operated Vessel) to search for trash on the bottom of Annapolis Harbor. The pair located and retrieved items that included a shoe, a pair of pants (there has to be an interesting story behind that), a crab trap, numerous plastic and aluminum cans and containers. But the object that struck home to me was a 150 year old glass jug. I immediately felt I knew its story.

 Surely about a century and half ago one of my ancestral brothers in the international society of boat bums was ambling, or stumbling along the quay enjoying the water view and thinking of times past, or looking for his next berth out when his jug of joy juice went dry. So he did what we boat bums have been doing since the Romans created the wine "tun"; when the joy juice was gone the container went into the drink, out of sight , out of mind until Miller and Moffa one hundred and fifty years later brought it up from the bottom and figuratively shook it under our collective noses.

 I personally got religion at that moment and will never toss anything over the side again, even if it has been eaten first. It struck me that if there has been any improvement in the amount of similarly discarded objects in the inner harbor of Annapolis it is probably thanks to Annapolitan open beverage container laws. Natives, boat bums, and tourist alike are allowed to slake their thirst in Annapolis but your beer bottle has to stay in the beer joint.

 Probably running a close second for the place where American Admiralty crews spend the most time is New Orleans. Visibility is zero in the brown waters of the Mississippi at the city front but I'm sure a probe of the area around the ferry and excursion boat docks would reveal chipping hammers and deck chairs along with enough booze bottles to pave Canal street all the way to Lake Pontchartrain where the recovered bottom debris has included a small submarine. New Orleans passed an open container law a few years ago, but like most law in New Orleans  it was pretty much taken as a "suggestion". 

 In New Orleans the closest thing to the Rosalia project is the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Association which has done a fantastic job with non-point pollution such as agricultural run off, and has at least pin pointed sources of urban pollution. But so far The Association has been somewhat limited in its clean up of solid debris to removing it from beaches, marshes and other accessible shoreline areas. Getting the stuff off the bottom requires technology that Rozalia demonstrates. 

 One of the things I like about American Admiralty Books as a forum for discussion is that naval professionals, merchant mariners, oceanographers, and other professional boat bums meet here with surfers, sailors, fishermen, recreational divers and other affectionados of the same stuff we professional boat bums like. We are all either full or part time consumers of what the oceans and coasts have to offer. Could we set aside for a moment the issue of who is a paid professional and who is an amateur and focus on our common play ground? Let us all support through volunteer hours, and cash donations, moral support, and reformed behavior organizations like the Rozalia Project and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. 

 Now if I may be so bold, let me suggest that we all try to buy our maritime reading material here. Our humble little blog has ambitions of eventually becoming one of those big rich  "dot coms" that everyone resents. When that happens we intend to spread the wealth to organizations that protect oceans and coast lines. We will do this out of enlightened self interest. After all, if the sea doesn't stay fishable, swimmable, and navigable we would be forced to seek out the dreaded "real job". Thank you, and please don't throw anything in the water unless its a fishing lure properly attached to a line. Below is another link to the Rozalia Project send them some money , volunteer some time, or just pen them a fan letter. But never ever take any friend of the ocean for granted. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

NAVAL INTEREST:

HOW FAR WILL THE DRAGON SWIM?


 The "Dragon" of course is China, or more specifically, the PLAN or people's Liberation Army Navy" which recently announced its completion of the conversion of a former Russian air craft carrier into their own training and experimental carrier. It will probably be another one to two years before this new carrier is seen in a foreign port and the Chinese, probably truthfully describe the carrier as intended for coastal defense, training, and experimentation vice force projection. This is probably true because of the long learning curve that is associated with full fledged carrier operations. China has a long way to go and they know it but the direction of travel of the dragon is definitely seaward. Not only is China locked into several controversies over the ownership of a number of islands in the North and South China seas, but the Middle Kingdom has recently expressed serious concern over the Arctic, a region where the conventional wisdom says they have no dog in the race. It is clear that China means to become a global naval power at some point in the not so distant future.

 Since China , like the United States has global economic interest this development need not be viewed as a direct threat to the United States but the potential future rise of an actual naval peer can not be ignored. This is why so many naval thinkers are focused on the PLAN right now. As usual, what is on the mind of those in the naval establishment who "dare to think speak and write" is also on the mind and in the publishing program of the U.S. Naval Institute. If you would like to "read up" on the swimming dragon the Naval Institute has at least three books that should be on every "navalists" summer reading list, these are:

Red Star Over The Pacific by Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes, ISBN 978-1-59114-390-1

China The United States and 21st Century Sea Power, Defining a Maritime Security Partnership, edited by Andrew S. Erickson, Lyle J. Goldstein, and Nan Li, ISBN 978-1-59114-234-0

The Great Wall at SEA , Second edition by Bernard D. Cole, ISBN 978-1-59114-142-6

People's Liberation Army Navy, Combat Systems Technology 1949 -2010, by James C. Bussert and Bruce A. Elleman, ISBN 978-1-59114-080-1

 These three works plus some of the back issues of the Naval Institute's PROCEEDINGS which has been following the wake of the "dragon" for years will bring you up to speed on all of the PLAN issues. The books are priced from roughly $37 to $48 and are immediately available from the Naval Institute. The Institute may be contacted at www.usni.org by phone at 800 233 8764. The books are discounted if you are a member. We will try to get a review and a hyper link for instant purchase up in our "Naval Interest" section as soon as possible. However when we review books published by the Naval Institute it is simply to provide the prospective reader with a better understanding of the contents, if a book made it through the editorial board of the Naval Institute we think naval professionals should read it. In fact we think real naval professionals should be members of the institute. If you are not willing or able to acquire a copy of these works for you professional library we've included the "ISBN" number, this is the International Book Binding Number which will help your lending library find copies for you. Read about the" swimming dragon" with the Naval Institute and if you haven't already done so, join the Institute and "dare to think, speak, and write".    


Friday, May 18, 2012

OCEANOGRAPHY, MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY :

TWO HUNDRED YEAR OLD SHIP WRECK FOUND IN THE GULF OF MEXICO



                                                               File:Underwater Archaeologists, 19th Century Shipwreck.png


Links checked 2/23/2015

EDITOR'S NOTE 2/23/2015 We still have no identity to report on these wrecks but do not find that unusual in such cases. Once the physical archaeological data is found the library research must begin, often involving foreign libraries and archives with records in foreign languages. These research costs are more unpredictable than the costs associated with dives on the wreck sites, and often go through long periods awaiting funding.

 Shell Oil discovered an unknown anomaly on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico in 2011. Recently the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration ship (NOAA) OKEANOS EXPLORER conducted a protracted expedition in the area and confirmed the Shell discovery as a nineteenth century ship wreck. The Huff Post for May 18, 2012 carried a story and clear as a bell photos and even a video of the wreck. the NOAA ship OKEANOS EXPLORER also discovered, and NOAA is investigating a total of three ship wrecks in the general vicinity of the wreck you may view through the below hyperlink to the HUFF POST story.

While the name of the vessel and the date of the sinking are not yet known, dating the vessel to the early to mid nineteenth century was fairly easy due to the water clarity and the nature of the items in the hull's remains and debris field.  The lower portion of the hull is sheathed in copper, a typical shipbuilding practice of the era. The debris field has muskets and cannon scattered about, these weapons are generally identifiable by type for a particular era, actual manufacture dates may be available when one is recovered. China plates were noted of a type well known to be popular between 1800 and 1830. Also noted in the underwater photography is a ship's stove which to our eyes appears to be a very small  masonry construction. Only a few such stoves have ever been found , this we think is the second one in the Gulf of Mexico. We have other interesting ship wreck photos scattered about in the OCEANOGRAPHY and MERCHANT MARINE INTEREST pages of blog.

 As the collection of ship wreck images grows we will review them and eventually organize them to determine which ones we may retain in the long term and post them in an organized manner in probably the OCEANOGRAPHY section under a subheading such as MARINE ARCHEOLOGY. Meanwhile, the  monthly blog log still carries pictures of the wreck of the COSTA  CORDOVIA. By the way, have you ever wondered about NOAA, and what type of ships and aircraft they have, and what they do and who operates them?  Keep watching the blogs, in the near future we'll tell you about America's smallest uniformed naval service that finds and protects historic ship wrecks, charts the world, maps the ocean bottom, protects marine mammals and coral, researches ice burgs, and dozens of other arduous sea research tasks and while it has been in service to America since about the time of Louis and Clark is still mostly unknown and unseen by the average American, the NOAA CORPS.  Click on the hyperlink below for the full story, photos and video from the Huff Post.

  
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

MERCHANT MARINE INTEREST:

ANOTHER TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST?

FLASH! This Isn't Your Grandfather's NMA REPORT 370 Rev.4

You gotta read "BLOOD ON BROWN WATER "

 We've been following this for a while and have reported on it in these pages twice. It's worth saying again. As you read this, approximately 126,000 of America's 200,000 plus merchant seamen are working under third world conditions. On March 28, 2012 we described how the National Mariner's Association (NMA) had described these conditions in great detail in their new report to Congress Report No. 370 Rev. 4 which deals with working conditions in parts of the inland towing and off shore work boat industries where the "Two Watch  System" prevails. Crew members on such vessels work at a minimum under present rules, 12 hours per day for officers, and 15 hours per day for men. What's sad is that these excessively long work days were intended by Congress to be maximum working hours, not minimum; but lax regulatory enforcement and profit motives by shipping management have combined to make these horrific hours floors and not ceilings on long work days. NMA Report 370 rev. 4 describes the working hours and other abuses in detail, outlines the status of the existing laws and regulations, and provides graphic details on examples of particular abusive practices. This report has been circulating through the halls of Congress since late March. On April 16, 2012 we described in full the resulting "Second Request to Congress by the NMA where in the NMA proposed specific legislative actions for the relief of these seamen. Back in March we asked in our blog if it wasn't time for another Richard Henry Dana whose nineteenth century book TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST launched decades of reform of working conditions in America's deep sea fleets. We have long felt that the long suffering segments of America's Jones Act fleets needed a book that appealed to the general public and clearly described the working conditions in the unreformed fleets.

 It happened! Capt. Richard Block the Secretary of the National Mariner's Association and author / editor of NMA Report 370, Rev. 4  has made his appeal in print to the general public with the publication of his BLOOD ON BROWN WATER. The reader who wonders just how such primitive and unhealthful working conditions could survive in twenty first century America need no longer wade through the grim but dry statistics of an NMA report, or skim over legal citations.  BLOOD ON BROWN WATER is the agony, and the injustice, the courage, and the pain of the real world on the wet side of the levee and beyond the beach line without submitting the reader to the dry text of an OSHA report. We urge the general public to read this and then call your congressmen and senators. For information on how to obtain a copy of BLOOD ON BROWN WATER contact the National Mariner's Association at www.nationalmariners.us  or Marine Education textbooks at:  http://marineeducationtextbooks.com/

U.S.Merchant Marine Shop Hats, Shirts, Jackets, Watches, Jewelry, Decorations, Etc.
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Merchant Marine and Naval Interest: UPDATED 3/11/2016

 HOW IS THE WORLD MERCHANT FLEET DOING?

Photo by Paul Brennan 


See Our related Postings of March 9, 2012 and May 4, 2012 on the Economic Health of America's "Jones Act Fleets and Yards" (updated) 

 UPDATES FOR 2016: As we review the end of the first fiscal quarter of 2016 we find the state of the World's merchant fleet not very far different than the below published assessment from 2012. New in recent months of 2015/16 ; some of the World's largest container ships are being idled, some are for sale and a few are reported as candidates for scrapping. The world wide shortage of trained certified, and competent mariners continues to shrink, yet marine wages are not rising. In a world dependent on shipping changes are afoot, but we do see as yet a pattern emerging other than the continued patterns of automation, improvement in the durability of coatings and other technologies, and the related shrinkage in crew size. Some how the shrinkage in both individual ship crew size on average, and the total global fleet size has not yet met the falling supply of trained mariners. Shrinking fuel costs have not improved shipping company profitability sufficiently to make up for falling revenues from shrinking carriage demand and rates. At the end of the first quarter of 2016, ocean shipping continues to simply muddle through.

 Previously in March and earlier in May we reported on the health of America's "Jones Act" or domestic fleets, those American owned and operated fleets that carry waterborne commerce coast wise or via interior waterways between destinations within the United States. We described how America has, since colonial times actually conducted more water borne trade between and among the states than between our nation and all other nations. In both March and May the short term economic indicators for the reserved and protected domestic trades looked promising. We noted then that the major threat to the domestic fleets was the looming labor shortage caused by adverse working conditions. In other postings we described some of these conditions and actions being requested of Congress for corrections. Today we report on the economic health of the world merchant marine, the trans-ocean shipping lines of the various national carriers and the open registry nations from the over all view of a global ocean trade carrying system. The Global system has problems as we head deeper into the second quarter of 2012.

 In a recent article titled U.S.Merchant Marine and World Maritime Review published in the May 2012 issue of the Naval Institutes's PROCEEDINGS (page 94) Capt. Shashi Kumar, Master Mariner, and founding Dean of the Loeb-Sullivan School of Business and International Logistics at Maine Maritime Academy described the "global outlook on shipping" as "somber". In the short term we agree, though like Capt. Kumar we also have to note a few bright spots. 

 As has been the case for a while now, the cruise ship industry in Europe and North America remains strong. The fleet today, if we consider all flags, numbers over 350 vessels carrying in excess of 15 million passengers. Not one of which is seriously using the cruise ship as a means of transport. The ships today are floating resorts that visit other resorts; virtually everyone is on some sort of vacation experience. Nonetheless, these floating hotels are important vessels in emergencies as was demonstrated in the 2005 response to the shortage of housing for emergency relief workers, fire service and police officers in New Orleans after the passage of Hurricane Katrina, or their use by the United States Armed Services in the Middle East during the Second Persian Gulf War as R and R facilities. Their potential as quickly converted hospital ships is obvious. The continued health of this industry sector appears linked to the general health of Western economies and the amount of discretionary income in the hands of the middle and upper middle classes. The health of the cruise ship industry is in marked contrast to the health of bulk commodity and liquid cargo shipping. 

 During the past year the U.S. stock market delisted eight U.S. carriers including the venerable American Commercial Lines, and other well known carriers such as K-Sea Transportation Partners,and  Trailer bridge. Continuing market uncertainties in Europe and elsewhere, and adverse economic pressures generally consisting of rising operating expenses and falling cargo availability and freight rates plagued much of the general cargo industry segment for the last year and the first quarter of 2012 with no real end in sight for the short term.  Globally new ship deliveries in the general cargo segment exceeded trade growth and overall utilization rates for the world combined merchant fleet fell below 84% as reported in the 2012 R.S. Platou data base. The container ship sector fared particularly poorly with nearly one fifth of the fleet severely under utilized. According to the Moore Stephens annual survey the average ship operating cost rose 3.8% in 2011and is expected to double by 2015. Crew wages and the costs of lubricants lead the upward charge in operating costs while fuel costs continue to be almost unpredictable. There has been a general global decline in the asset value of ships and consequently the value of ship owning and operating companies. 

 The bulk commodity sector picked up a bit during the second half of 2012 mostly due to increased demand for iron ore and coal by China. The tanker market was adversely affected by an influx of new ships from mostly Asian yards. In addition to the increased carrying capacity there was a decrease in demand for product due to the mild North American winter. World oil production is increasing as is world oil demand so with some tanker retirements, the tanker market should adjust to more favorable business conditions in the relatively near future. 

 In our two previous reports on Jones Act Fleets and their "Second Tier Shipyards" we reported relatively robust health. However our report was based largely on the performance of the WORKBOAT INDEX of common stocks. We did not notice until the global maritime trade picture began to emerge that the Jones Act fleet's relatively few large ocean transports mostly in the Continental U.S. to Puerto Rico, Alaska, or Hawaii trades had a positive effect on larger American ship yards. New Alaskan crude oil tankers for the Prince William Sound to U.S. West Coast trade helped keep the order books in certain of the larger U.S. ship yards out of the red. Unfortunately the larger vessel Jones Act fleet took a hit in the U.S.-Puerto Rico Jones Act trade where three of four carriers are in trouble and the Commonwealth Government is calling for a review of the effect of the Jones Act on the Puerto Rican economy.

 The World bank has lowered its world wide GDP forecast by about 1.5% while the International Monetary Fund is predicting a significant decline in world trade. Meanwhile new ships continue to enter the market. It appears that the global ocean shipping industry is braced for a long period of adjustment before corporate performance will be able to increase. In such conditions few merchant marines fare as poorly as the United States Merchant Marine which starts with a crew cost rate that is 2.7 times higher than its typical foreign competition. American Admiralty Books continues to point to the importance of the health of the domestic Jones Act sectors as the only viable "reserve" of American Merchant Marine labor, know how, and ship building capacity from which we as a sea faring nation will have any hope of recovery of this aspect of our sea power when favorable market conditions once again return. It is not just the American Merchant Marine that is suffering but all of our competitors as well. Unfortunately we have the least staying power for the large ship trans-ocean trades. If we fall too far we have nothing to build up from except our military sea lift reserves and our Jones Act assets. Our Military sea lift funds are severely constrained and the Jones Act is under attack in the U.S. Senate as we write.


Oceanography and the Marine Environment:

The Arrest of the Sea Shepherd's Master of the STEVE IRWIN


ABC News (Australia) reported today that German maritime authorities had arrested Capt. Paul Watson , Master of the Sea Shepherd owned,  M/V STEVE IRWIN. Capt. Watson is the founder of the marine environmental group "Sea Shepherd", which should not be confused with the more widely known "Green Peace". Green Peace is known for some tactics in defense marine mammals that literally amount to deliberate collisions at sea. Some of their in port protests have created major headaches for vessel traffic authorities, causing one to wonder how tactics that actually increase the danger of a major tanker accident in a crowded port could possibly be in the defense of the environment.Of the two, Sea Shepherd has the better record for common sense and marine safety. It is a disappointment to see Guatemalan and Costa Rican maritime authorities working in concert over what appear to be trumped up charges brought by Guatemalan authorities apparently at the behest of powerful ship owners who were clearly operating outside the law. By contrast, the M/V STEVE IRWIN was actually cooperating with Guatemalan fisheries authorities until some sort of political intervention occurred, or at least is inferred by the subsequent events as reported by ABC (Australia"), Lets examine the "facts" as reported by ABC:
"Paul Watson, the founder of the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, has been arrested in Germany and will be extradited to Costa Rica.The activist group has labelled the arrest as "nonsense" and called for the charges against the Canadian-born Watson to be dropped. Sea Shepherd says Watson, who is the captain of the Steve Irwin ship, has been arrested on a Costa Rican warrant over an incident which occurred in 2002. 
"The specific 'violation of ships traffic' incident took place on the high seas in Guatemalan waters, when Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark finning operation, run by a Costa Rican ship called the Varadero," the group said in a statement. 
 
"On order of the Guatemalan authorities, Sea Shepherd instructed the crew of the Varadero to cease their illegal shark finning activities and head back to port to be prosecuted." Sea Shepherd claims that while it was taking the Varadero back to port, the tables were turned."A Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew," the group said.
 
"The crew of the Varadero accused Sea Shepherd of trying to kill them, while the video evidence proves this to be a fallacy. "To avoid the Guatemalan gunboat, Sea Shepherd then set sail for Costa Rica, where they uncovered even more illegal shark finning activities in the form of dried shark fins by the thousands on the roofs of industrial buildings."

 American Admiralty Books of course has nothing to go on other that the "facts" as reported by ABC (Australia) reprinted above. Assuming these facts prove accurate something is wrong within both the Guatemalan and Costa Rican fisheries authorities. Assuming the facts are correct, the M/V STEVE IRWIN was doing exactly what  Guatemalan authorities had asked them to do. There was no indication of collision threatening activity. Providing observation and reporting platforms is the safest and probably the most productive conservation enforcement assistance activity that such organizations can do. The activities that the M/V STEVE IRWIN observed and reported on off of Guatemala and in Costa Rica were illegal. Unfortunately, in the space of a few radio messages and obviously some phone calls from politically powerful commercial fishing vessel owners the M/V STEVE IRWIN goes from observer and reporter to the pursued. 

 Clearly the world fisheries resources and ocean environment needs some non governmental watch dogs.We have before us two models of non governmental watch dog tactics, the observe and report  and coordinate with governmental authorities model of the Sea Shepherd activities as reported by ABC (Australia) and the Green Peace model that so often presents environmental and public safety issues of their own. Guatemalan and Costa Rican authorities are exposing themselves to not only possible exposure of corrupt practices before a world audience but also they are suppressing the growth of the more sensible model of non governmental watch dog behavior. It's the sort of behavior displayed by the Guatemalan and Costa Rican authorities that drives the frustrations that drive the far more disruptive and dangerous Green Peace tactics. 
__._,_.___

Friday, May 4, 2012

Oceanography, Naval Interests, Merchant Marine Interests, Sailing:

A FREE VOYAGE PLANNING TOOL AND GUIDE CREATED ESPECIALLY FOR OUR VISITORS  Links Checked 2/23/2015
Photo credit: U.S. Navy

American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies   EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEAD



 One of the American Admiralty Informational Services members who helped originate this blog is an actively sailing officer aboard a scientific research ship. He recently submitted this voyage planning guide and tool from sea where he was actively using it in conjunction with his navigational duties. We hope this is simply the first in a series of  blogs of real navigational utility. In this blog "Cap'n Ben" describes and hyper-  links you to the best sources for weather information, sunrise and sun set calculation ( the first step in computing "star time": if you are navigating celestially), he then introduces the reader to Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) and hyperlinks you to a helpful site. "Cap'n Ben" then takes you to a remarkable site via hyperlink that  may be used to integrate your lap top into your voyage planning / navigational routine with elements like electronic chart overlays, eventually radar overlays, and AIS integration, all free and not difficult to use. "Capn' Ben" originally sent this with actual pictures from the hyper-linked sites. The pictures didn't copy to this format. But we think this tool is so useful that we intend to not just leave it here as a blog but to put the whole thing hopefully with illustrations in the Oceanography section, Navigation section, or eventually in a special page titled "Ben's tech spot" with cross references to other sections with navigational interests where "Cap'n Ben" can update and improve the tools he creates for you as time and technology change with the tides. While you're collecting "Cap'n Ben" laptop navigational tools, drop into the Oceanography section and look for "The Exclusive economic Zone (EEZ) and the Rights of Innocent Passage" There you will learn of some of the political complications involved in voyage planning when your ship must cross a coastal nations Exclusive economic zone (EEZ). You will also be able to use another "Cap,n Ben contribution a hyperlink to a site where you can see in navigational chart form the World's EEZs and disputed zones.

   If you have any problem with the hyperlinks please let us know via the Comments section, the editor on duty today is an old gnarled and grizzled Boatswains mate known for fat fingered and ham handed key stroking. If the links didn't come through we'll sober up the regular guy and get him on it by Monday, but we really wanted our actively navigating visitors to see this ASAP.  Welcome to:


Ben's Tech Spot
Ever notice how some things in the Maritime Technology world advance at a lightening pace while others are locked in a time capsule? A perfect example is some Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) equipment still runs on DOS based software. DOS is a software system from the 80s! Remember having to type commands in command windows before the time of point and clicking with a mouse! While some aspects of Maritime Technology have been locked in time or are released years after the shore side equivalents are released to the public, there are some cool new tech tools that every mariner can take advantage of.

 Internet at sea is becoming more and more available for both day sailors and the professional mariner alike. Internet at sea brings with it a whole slew of new and exciting tools that can help with planning, safety, navigation, weather, and communication. Many near coastal sailors are now able to simply tether their smart phone to a laptop and get real time weather updates, check vessel traffic, and even broadcast their AIS or positional information to free traffic servers so shore side family and friends can keep track of them along their voyage.Many links in today's blog are my short list of new cool technology and resources as well as some tried and true links that every mariner should know. Even if you aren't able to surf the web at sea, many of these links are great planning tools and software that can be used underway regardless of web access or not.

Weather
Most Mariners are familiar with NOAAs weather forecasts available on most marine radios or many go to www.weather.gov to get NOAAs near shore and off shore forecasts. NOAA has some other great links that aren't as well know.
National Data Bouy Center's Interactive Buoy Map
NDBC has an interactive Google Earth Map that has real-time information from a world wide array of meteorological buoys. Simply find a buoy, click on it, and get real-time info about wave height, wind speed and direction, sea and air temp etc. It's a great tool to compare what the forecasters predicted and what is really happening along your route or at your destination.
NOAA Current Forecasts
For worldwide current forecasts point your browser to the above address. This is another great tool for voyage planning. Want to take advantage of the loop current or avoid it, simply take a look at the current models for the region you will be sailing in.

Just as we should never rely on any one form of navigation alone, never put all weather forecasting faith in any one group or forecaster. Here are some other great weather forecasting sites to use and compare.

Weather Underground
A great site that is good to use for their Sever Weather section. During hurricane season, check out the "Compiled Model". Usually a hurricane forecast is the average of a bunch of different models that forecasters have developed over the years. They usually will average these or pick the route that most of the models seem to follow to use in their hurricane track forecast. Wunderground's compiled model lets you do the averaging by showing you all the major models prediction of the storm path.
Storm Surf
A forecasting site that was originally designed and used by surfers. In some parts of the world these forecasts have proven to be more accurate than local models. Easily find wind, surf, and sea forecasts for select regions of the world. A must have site for any surfers out there.
SailWX
SailWX is a great little site that has real-time meteorological observations from ships all over the world. Any ship that is a member of the Voluntarily Observing Ship (VOS) program is listed on the site. While the interactive map isn't as user friendly as some of the other sites it is still fairly easy to navigate. Simply click on a ship on the map to get real time observations for any meteorological readings the ship is reporting. The site is a great little "Ship Tracker" site that has a very high number of ships participating. Chances are if you're on a cruise ship, oceanographic ship, tall ship, or container/cargo ship, you're on the map. The site also has tide and current predictions.


Sunrise/Sunset Calculator
Google Map page that provides Sunrise Sunset calculations for any point on earth. Simply click on a spot on the map and get your calculations.
XM Weather
For anyone wanting real-time weather information and forecasts but don't have a weather fax or internet at sea, SiriusXM has the product for you. XM WX Marine Weather is a program that uses the XM Sirius Satellite system to broadcast weather products to your laptop. Coverage is for the majority of US waters. I'll provide a more detailed review of the Master Mariner version of the program later.

Automatic Identification System (AIS)
AIS is a technology that has propelled the bridge of ship's light years ahead. AIS is an automatic tracking system used by ships and vessel traffic systems for reporting a vessels identification and basic navigational information. It's a standard used throughout the world on vessels 300 GT and greater. Many smaller vessels have been equipped with AIS transceivers as well due to its benefits. The cost of AIS has come down considerably. As anyone who sails with AIS know it makes instantaneous identification of other vessels a breeze. Simple turn on your AIS overlay on your basic navigation software and you instantly see all reporting vessels around you. You can quickly get their name, navigation status, position, course, speed, as well as basic voyage information. Most navigation programs are able to overlay AIS contacts directly on the chart.
Since AIS information is free and can be received by anyone with a receiver there has been a push to unify and establish an online AIS system available to all for free. A few sites have tried to do this. One that seems to be way out front is http://www.marinetraffic.com This website uses a Google Earth map to display a large world wide database of real-time AIS information. Basically anyone with an internet connection and an AIS receiver can submit their data to a central server that Marine Traffic then uses. Marine Traffic has by far the largest network of receivers all over the world. It's nothing for the site to be tracking over 50,000 AIS contacts at one time throughout the entire world! The site does a great job of displaying them and making them interactive.
You can simply click on a ship on the map and get its most current information as well as see pictures of the vessel. Marine Traffic has one of the largest collections of ship photos I have seen. Most appear to have been uploaded by the general public.


Marine Traffic also lets you embed their AIS map directly into your webpage, has mobile apps for both iPhone and Android, as well as a really nice Google Earth overlay kml. Anyone with that wants to set up a base station can follow the directions on their site and begin adding to the overall coverage. There are even instructions on how to build an AIS receiver using a old marine radio!

OpenCPN
Is a great free open source navigation program that is by far the best on the market today. A quick google of "Free navigational program" quickly shows you the lack of programs out there that are really free. Most of the free ones out there are old and outdated as well as fairly buggy. OpenCPN has a great following and its open source code allows for others to develop addons. So the feature possibilities are fairly limitless. It already has AIS integration and can even accept a networked GPS feed. It can display both Raster and ENC Vector charts, is light weight, quick, and clean. Developers are currently working on a radar overlay function as well. Why spend hundreds on the name brand software packages when OpenCPN does almost everything they can for free.








Oceanography, Naval Interests, Merchant Marine Interests, Sailing:

A FREE VOYAGE PLANNING TOOL AND GUIDE CREATED ESPECIALLY FOR OUR VISITORS  Links Checked 2/23/2015
Photo credit: U.S. Navy

American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies   EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEAD



 One of the American Admiralty Informational Services members who helped originate this blog is an actively sailing officer aboard a scientific research ship. He recently submitted this voyage planning guide and tool from sea where he was actively using it in conjunction with his navigational duties. We hope this is simply the first in a series of  blogs of real navigational utility. In this blog "Cap'n Ben" describes and hyper-  links you to the best sources for weather information, sunrise and sun set calculation ( the first step in computing "star time": if you are navigating celestially), he then introduces the reader to Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) and hyperlinks you to a helpful site. "Cap'n Ben" then takes you to a remarkable site via hyperlink that  may be used to integrate your lap top into your voyage planning / navigational routine with elements like electronic chart overlays, eventually radar overlays, and AIS integration, all free and not difficult to use. "Capn' Ben" originally sent this with actual pictures from the hyper-linked sites. The pictures didn't copy to this format. But we think this tool is so useful that we intend to not just leave it here as a blog but to put the whole thing hopefully with illustrations in the Oceanography section, Navigation section, or eventually in a special page titled "Ben's tech spot" with cross references to other sections with navigational interests where "Cap'n Ben" can update and improve the tools he creates for you as time and technology change with the tides. While you're collecting "Cap'n Ben" laptop navigational tools, drop into the Oceanography section and look for "The Exclusive economic Zone (EEZ) and the Rights of Innocent Passage" There you will learn of some of the political complications involved in voyage planning when your ship must cross a coastal nations Exclusive economic zone (EEZ). You will also be able to use another "Cap,n Ben contribution a hyperlink to a site where you can see in navigational chart form the World's EEZs and disputed zones.

   If you have any problem with the hyperlinks please let us know via the Comments section, the editor on duty today is an old gnarled and grizzled Boatswains mate known for fat fingered and ham handed key stroking. If the links didn't come through we'll sober up the regular guy and get him on it by Monday, but we really wanted our actively navigating visitors to see this ASAP.  Welcome to:


Ben's Tech Spot
Ever notice how some things in the Maritime Technology world advance at a lightening pace while others are locked in a time capsule? A perfect example is some Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) equipment still runs on DOS based software. DOS is a software system from the 80s! Remember having to type commands in command windows before the time of point and clicking with a mouse! While some aspects of Maritime Technology have been locked in time or are released years after the shore side equivalents are released to the public, there are some cool new tech tools that every mariner can take advantage of.

 Internet at sea is becoming more and more available for both day sailors and the professional mariner alike. Internet at sea brings with it a whole slew of new and exciting tools that can help with planning, safety, navigation, weather, and communication. Many near coastal sailors are now able to simply tether their smart phone to a laptop and get real time weather updates, check vessel traffic, and even broadcast their AIS or positional information to free traffic servers so shore side family and friends can keep track of them along their voyage.Many links in today's blog are my short list of new cool technology and resources as well as some tried and true links that every mariner should know. Even if you aren't able to surf the web at sea, many of these links are great planning tools and software that can be used underway regardless of web access or not.

Weather
Most Mariners are familiar with NOAAs weather forecasts available on most marine radios or many go to www.weather.gov to get NOAAs near shore and off shore forecasts. NOAA has some other great links that aren't as well know.
National Data Bouy Center's Interactive Buoy Map
NDBC has an interactive Google Earth Map that has real-time information from a world wide array of meteorological buoys. Simply find a buoy, click on it, and get real-time info about wave height, wind speed and direction, sea and air temp etc. It's a great tool to compare what the forecasters predicted and what is really happening along your route or at your destination.
NOAA Current Forecasts
For worldwide current forecasts point your browser to the above address. This is another great tool for voyage planning. Want to take advantage of the loop current or avoid it, simply take a look at the current models for the region you will be sailing in.

Just as we should never rely on any one form of navigation alone, never put all weather forecasting faith in any one group or forecaster. Here are some other great weather forecasting sites to use and compare.

Weather Underground
A great site that is good to use for their Sever Weather section. During hurricane season, check out the "Compiled Model". Usually a hurricane forecast is the average of a bunch of different models that forecasters have developed over the years. They usually will average these or pick the route that most of the models seem to follow to use in their hurricane track forecast. Wunderground's compiled model lets you do the averaging by showing you all the major models prediction of the storm path.
Storm Surf
A forecasting site that was originally designed and used by surfers. In some parts of the world these forecasts have proven to be more accurate than local models. Easily find wind, surf, and sea forecasts for select regions of the world. A must have site for any surfers out there.
SailWX
SailWX is a great little site that has real-time meteorological observations from ships all over the world. Any ship that is a member of the Voluntarily Observing Ship (VOS) program is listed on the site. While the interactive map isn't as user friendly as some of the other sites it is still fairly easy to navigate. Simply click on a ship on the map to get real time observations for any meteorological readings the ship is reporting. The site is a great little "Ship Tracker" site that has a very high number of ships participating. Chances are if you're on a cruise ship, oceanographic ship, tall ship, or container/cargo ship, you're on the map. The site also has tide and current predictions.


Sunrise/Sunset Calculator
Google Map page that provides Sunrise Sunset calculations for any point on earth. Simply click on a spot on the map and get your calculations.
XM Weather
For anyone wanting real-time weather information and forecasts but don't have a weather fax or internet at sea, SiriusXM has the product for you. XM WX Marine Weather is a program that uses the XM Sirius Satellite system to broadcast weather products to your laptop. Coverage is for the majority of US waters. I'll provide a more detailed review of the Master Mariner version of the program later.

Automatic Identification System (AIS)
AIS is a technology that has propelled the bridge of ship's light years ahead. AIS is an automatic tracking system used by ships and vessel traffic systems for reporting a vessels identification and basic navigational information. It's a standard used throughout the world on vessels 300 GT and greater. Many smaller vessels have been equipped with AIS transceivers as well due to its benefits. The cost of AIS has come down considerably. As anyone who sails with AIS know it makes instantaneous identification of other vessels a breeze. Simple turn on your AIS overlay on your basic navigation software and you instantly see all reporting vessels around you. You can quickly get their name, navigation status, position, course, speed, as well as basic voyage information. Most navigation programs are able to overlay AIS contacts directly on the chart.
Since AIS information is free and can be received by anyone with a receiver there has been a push to unify and establish an online AIS system available to all for free. A few sites have tried to do this. One that seems to be way out front is http://www.marinetraffic.com This website uses a Google Earth map to display a large world wide database of real-time AIS information. Basically anyone with an internet connection and an AIS receiver can submit their data to a central server that Marine Traffic then uses. Marine Traffic has by far the largest network of receivers all over the world. It's nothing for the site to be tracking over 50,000 AIS contacts at one time throughout the entire world! The site does a great job of displaying them and making them interactive.
You can simply click on a ship on the map and get its most current information as well as see pictures of the vessel. Marine Traffic has one of the largest collections of ship photos I have seen. Most appear to have been uploaded by the general public.


Marine Traffic also lets you embed their AIS map directly into your webpage, has mobile apps for both iPhone and Android, as well as a really nice Google Earth overlay kml. Anyone with that wants to set up a base station can follow the directions on their site and begin adding to the overall coverage. There are even instructions on how to build an AIS receiver using a old marine radio!

OpenCPN
Is a great free open source navigation program that is by far the best on the market today. A quick google of "Free navigational program" quickly shows you the lack of programs out there that are really free. Most of the free ones out there are old and outdated as well as fairly buggy. OpenCPN has a great following and its open source code allows for others to develop addons. So the feature possibilities are fairly limitless. It already has AIS integration and can even accept a networked GPS feed. It can display both Raster and ENC Vector charts, is light weight, quick, and clean. Developers are currently working on a radar overlay function as well. Why spend hundreds on the name brand software packages when OpenCPN does almost everything they can for free.








Merchant Marine Interests:

THE ECONOMIC HEALTH OF THE JONE'S ACT FLEETS AND YARDS


American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies   EU VISITORS WARNING POSSIBLE COOKIES AHEAD

Image : US Army Corps of Engineers
Posted: May 4, 2012
Report No. 2, last report March 9, 2012
Updated 3/11/2016

 The "Jones Act Fleet" refers to the commercial vessels registered in the United States and manned by, or at least officered by Coast Guard documented members of the United States Merchant Marine and providing transportation and other services on our near coastal and interior waters . Typically the fleet includes tugs, towboats, barges, off shore service and support vessels, the Great Lakes grain and iron ore boats, ferries, dredges, excursion boats and a variety of other vessels. All totaled this fleet employs over 126,000 American merchant mariners and an uncounted number of personnel not documented by the U.S. Coast Guard in the inland towing trades below the level of licensed officer or certified tankerman. For a more complete description of the Jones Act fleets and yards and their economic and security importance to America see our first report on this subject dated March 9, 2012. The latest available information on the economic health of this fleet is up to date through February 2012. 

 The slow recovery of drilling activity in the U.S. Gulf in the wake of the British Petroleum disaster continues slow but relatively steady. WORKBOAT MAGAZINE 's April 2012 issue reported a 6% gain for work boat operators whose stock the magazine tracks as part of their "WORKBOAT  COMPOSITE INDEX". This recent (2012) 6% gain is part of an overall rise of 79 points in the "WORKBOAT COMPOSITE INDEX" of commercial work vessel operating, supply, and boat building companies since our last report. According to the April "WORKBOAT " The overall Composite Index rose 182 points in January.  For the month of January Workboat Composite Index stocks had "winners" out numbering "losers" by a ratio of more than 2 to 1. Update 3/11/2016 the offshore oil industry support vessel fleet is undergoing a period of idled vessels , shrinking revenues from both shortages of charter contracts and shrinkage of day rates as a result of the shrinking price of oil. Recent US discoveries on land particularly large shale oil finds have made offshore oil expensive by comparison and uneconomic in many cases given the total amount of oil on present markets. The WORKBOAT COMPOSITE INDEX IS PUBLISHED MONTHLY IN WORKBOAT MAGAZINE 

 Vessel operators were not the only "winners"in 2012. The supplier's index gained 5.7% and the "second tier" shipyards in the index rose 5.4%. Complete details on the performance of the Workboat Composite Index may be found on page 12 of the April 2012 issue of WORKBOAT. We have a hyperlink to the WORKBOAT website and information on how to obtain a free subscription in the "Merchant Marine Interest"section. By 2016 we see a fall in stock prices across the board in the index as the towing industry remains somewhat static, the offshore support vessel industry shrinks, and only the excursion boat and ferry sectors appear healthy.

 The Philadelphia Oil Service Index tracks some stocks that are redundant with certain of the Workboat Composite Index stocks but is more focused on oil exploration and production, major economic drivers of the offshore service and supply vessel industry and a major cargo source for the inland towing industry. The Philadelphia Oil Service Index may at times be something of the canary in the miner's cage for parts of the Jones Act fleets. Fortunately, at present, the index indicates a pretty healthy canary. The Philadelphia Oil Service Index gained 17 points on a slow but steady rise in the post BP oil disaster market that is now 9 points above its close of 245.12 in 2010. In 2016 this index like the WORKBOAT COMPOSITE INDEX does not show much in the way of promise for our Jones Act fleets. 

 The towboat and barge sectors are are predicted to have a good year for the export grain trade (2012). While U.S. harvests of late have averaged a bit below forecasts , the existing world inventories are relatively low. Foreign drought conditions have reduced this year's competitive pressures by nearly 25%. Grain cargo availability is is up while the excessive covered  hopper barge capacity of the past has been reduced. Hopper barge availability has been described this year as "tight", while grain prices are rising. It is difficult for us to imagine a better combination for profitable "ton mile" freight rates for grain. In 2016 ton mile rates for grain carriage remain favorable but there is no over all boost to the system since 2012, the towing sector is stable at best, exclusive of the offshore support segment within the towing sector.

 Another large cargo provider for the towboat and barge industry, particularly for open hopper barges  is coal. Domestic coal burns declined over the winter due to mild weather in the Eastern U.S.. Export coal is booming and a new cargo is appearing. Shale gas production fueled by the Marcellus shale gas boom is generating cargoes suitable for open hopper and deck barges related to the hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling required to extract natural gas contained in shale formations. Ton mile rates for open hopper and deck barges remain profitable and appear to be improving. In 2015/16 both mild winters continued as well as the trend towards the Marcellus shale gas boom. Unfortunately, gas can not be acrried in open hopper barges, so accommodating the transition requires more construction of expensive tank barges. One fleet of barges is being reduced while another is coming into being, while the number of towing vessels employed remains rather steady, a formula for static profits.

 In the tank barge sector heating oil consumption was down due to mild winter weather, gasoline, aviation fuels, and chemical transport volumes for the winter were apparently unremarkable. Despite the slow start to the year for the tank barge sector deliveries of inland tank barges certified for red flag cargoes reached 165 at the close of 2011. Transportation demand for crude oil being generated out of new fields in the Midwest are generating new south bound liquid cargoes that have more than made up for the reduction in north bound refined products due to the mild winter. Again these trends continued through the first quarter of 2016 to a large extent.

 Many of the "second tier" ship yards that service the Jones Act trades are doing well, especially barge builders. At the close of business in 2011; 165 inland tank barges had been delivered with more on the ways as 2012 opened. This is up about 49 hulls over the 2010. At close of Business for 2011 hopper barge construction was up 10% over the previous years with more hulls still on the way and many builders reporting decent starts in the first quarter for their order books. Tank barge giant Kirby Corp of Houston announced record net earnings for the fourth quarter of 2011 of $56.2 million or $1 per share, compared with #31.6 million , or 59 cents per share the year earlier period. The second tier ship yards are not doing as well in 2016 but barge construction continues, along with excursion, ferry, public service ( often fire boats ) hulls. SOme yards profit briefly from increased lay up work for idled offshore vessels but over all stock prices for many of the publicly traded second tier yards were down from 2012 levels. 

 For the offshore service vessel sector day rates and utilization rates were a mixed bag in February 0f 2012.  The larger supply vessels or "deep water" units reported an average day rate increase for February of $1,900 and a 1% increase in utilization rate. Large crew boats which compete not only with the passenger capacity of supply vessels but also with helicopters for the crew change trade experienced a $220 drop in the day rate and a drop in utilization of about 1%. More new drilling vessels are arriving on the Gulf Coast in response to the resumption of deep water permitting and these will require service vessel support.The Interior Department has reported a decrease in the review time for new drilling permits. This is also a positive indicator of future increased demand for offshore service and supply vessels. We were wrong in 2012. While there were the indications described and while such usually indicate future demand, we did not see the global oil glut, and its effect on the offshore industry. In the first quarter of 2016 the offshore service vessel sector continues to experienced reduced demand.

 The overnight cruise trade is returning to the rivers after the post 9/11 loss of the Delta Queen steamboat company. The Queen of the Mississippi is nearing construction at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury, Maryland. Its inaugural cruise will be in August from New Orleans to Memphis. American Cruise lines is beginning to fill the void left by the venerable Delta Queen line. America's reluctance to engage in recreational air travel due to the annoying security requirements continues to negatively impact inland passenger trades both for overnight and day excursion services but overall the industry is coming back from the worst days after "9/11". In 2015 news was received of a venture to return the venerable DELTA QUEEN to overnight service on the rivers, at this writing she is undergoing renovations in a Louisiana yard.

 Our conclusion (for 2012) was updated from our guardedly optimistic conclusion of March 9th. With the 2011 year end data in and the first two months of the first quarter complete, the out look for the Jones Act Sector for the remainder of 2012 appeared good with recoveries where needed finishing out that year, and real growth in several sectors. But we cautioned then that no one should make investment decisions on our analysis. We track and report on this sector for a variety of reasons none of which involve investment. Our 2016 analysis is not promising in the short term and as we have reported elsewhere Sen. John McCain and the usual suspects are busy again this season (2016) attempting to destroy the Jones Act. We will continue to track and report economic conditions in the Jones Act industries through out the year because things change and we don't trust our crystal ball , only God can really see the future and trend is often not future.

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