Monday, April 23, 2012


 Watch this YOUTUBE video of a spontaneous dolphin rescue on a Brazilian beach.  Less than forty yeas ago this event probably would have ended quite differently. The Dolphins for some inexplicable reason cruise into the beach and strand on the surf line. This is usually a fatal event for the entire school of dolphins. This time humans, immediately come to the rescue. Notice the total lack of fear of the beach goers around these large toothsome mammals. But perhaps the most amazing aspect of this event is that no matter what went wrong with the dolphin's built in sonar directional system, once they are physically turned around by the humans they know the way out of the surf line and don't repeat the stranding. We want to popularize this video as much as possible in the hopes that the next stranding on a populated beach will go the same way. Time is critical. Worrying excessively over the right or wrong way to handle the animals can mean death. The beach goers quickly figure it out and grab the animals by the tail and pull them to safety where they can be seen swimming off to deeper water apparently none the worse for wear.

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Monday, April 16, 2012



Reference: Our Blog of March 28, 2012 "Wanted Another Richard Henry Dana"

 On March 28, 2012 we alerted our readers to the publication of the National Mariner's (NMA) report #R-370,Rev.4 which is now circulating in Congressional offices detailing the third world like working conditions overtaking 126,000 American seamen serving in the inland towing, off shore service vessel industry, and several other domestic "work boat" sectors. In that blog we noted that most of the domestic commercial  "work boat" fleets are manned by American Merchant Seamen and Officers who do not have union representation. We lamented the thirty plus year history of employer abuse of seamen in these fleets and the lack of media, Coast Guard,and  Department of Homeland Security Inspector General attention to this sorry state of affairs. In that blog we wished out loud for a modern day Richard Henry Dana and a modern version of his historic TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST . Nothing being written today, unfortunately including the graphically detailed but matter of fact presented reports of the NMA  is awakening a public which should be justifiably angry over governmental inattention to conditions that are inexcusable. These conditions according to NMA reports have not only negatively impacted the health of the pertinent seamen but have also induced chronic fatigue problems in the pilothouse and among designated look outs resulting in dozens of deaths of ordinary members of the American public engaged in such non maritime activity as simply trying to drive across a bridge over navigable water. In keeping with our commitment to provide coverage of the latest attempts by the NMA to correct these long standing problems we present in its entiriety the NMA's second request to Congress exactly as it was hand delivered last week to the offices of key committee members in the House of representatives. 

"DATE: March 29, 2012

FROM: Richard A. Block, Secretary , National Mariner's Association

TO: All Senators and representatives, U.S. Congress

SUBJECT: Second request for action to relieve certain U.S.Merchant Mariners from Third World like working conditions and to protect the U.S. Public from Harm by fatigue related marine accidents.

  • The National Mariner's Association represents approximately 126,000 American Merchant Mariners in our Cabotage and OCS trades working mostly aboard tugs, towboats,, offshore supply and support craft, ferries, and excursion craft, and other work boats generally of 1,600 gross registered tons and smaller.  We speak for both officers and ratings. Our Association is not a union but a professional association that monitors , researches, and advocates for our members and the public.
  • On February 14, 2003 our Association, by letter to 102 members of Congress, requested Congress to address meaningful work hour limitations for our mariners. The Congress did require the Coast Guard to study the issue and to eventually produce meaningful regulation. As we write, the Coast Guard has published highly useful scientific information on the effects of fatigue induced by a two -watch system upon our mariners. We have, in turn, produced a 16 -chapter spiral bound technical report titled : Abuse of Mariners Under the Two-Watch System, NMA Report #R370, Revision 4, which contains much of the information presented by the Coast Guard, exemplar cases of collisions and allisions resulting from fatigue. After our request of 2003 , the Congress also tasked the Coast Guard with enforcing regulations requiring the recording of working hours in the ship's log. Due to a lack of follow up regulation , poor oversight of Coast Guard marine safety functions, and lax enforcement, our mariners continue to suffer unacceptable working conditions. Damage to marine infrastructure and injury to non-maritime citizens continues to happen at unacceptable rates.
  • The International Maritime Organization (IMO) provides a model standard of minimum weekly rest period 77 hours and a standard 8-hour work day. Our mariners generally work 12 to 15 hours at a minimum per day and rarely are able to find 70 hours total rest within a work week. Through the International Convention on Standards of Training and Watch Keeping (STCW)  , mariners in similar trades in developed nations, and indeed in most of the third world that is signatory to the Convention, enjoy much healthier working hours and conditions than American work boat crews on average. Within our report #R-370, Rev.4, we present Coast Guard generated research that indicates that our exhausted work boat mariners are daily delivering supplies  and personnel to offshore rigs, and approaching bridges with large barge flotillas while fatigued impaired. The average level of impairment of judgement, perceptive, and decisional powers has been compared to that of a driver with a blood alcohol level near the mark where such a driver would be guilty of "driving under the influence".
  • yet, we have seen no corrective action by the Coast Guard and our pleas to the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General for more professional oversight of the Coast Guard marine safety functions have actually been met by a deliberate diminishment of professional maritime personnel from that office (see page 13-2 of our report) and reassignment of remaining maritime professionals to non maritime assignments.
 Since these dangers and abuses continue, we respectfully ask all Members of the 112th Congress the following:

  •  Amend 46 U.S. Code 8104(h) and other statutes if necessary to ensure an effective limit of 12 -hours of work in any 24 - hour period applicable to all officers and unlicensed mariners serving on every U.S. -flag inspected vessel, and provide appropriate statutory penalties applicable to corporate officials who require seamen to work beyond such limits and immunity from prosecution to ship's officers who comply with such orders but report the infractions to enforcement authority.
  • Require that  each inspected vessel in 24 hour service be manned by at least three (3) fully qualified, credentialed officers regardless of the length of the voyage.
  • Require that each inspected vessel in 24 hour service be manned by two complete crews that are capable of performing their duties without disturbing crew members who are off duty except in a bona fide emergency that could not have been anticipated through proper planning.
  • Address the issue of requiring a trained cook to manage food service on each inspected vessel in 24 hour service.
  • Express concern over the apparent lack of enforcement of section 607 (logbooks) of the USCG  authorization act of 2010.
  • Carefully scrutinize any audit reports of the under reporting of marine accidents by the DHS OIG Office as we have lost confidence in their maritime expertise and we believe that accidents are widely under reported within the fleets our members serve.
  • Examine why the Coast Guard internally denigrated its scientific research on hours- of- service and continues to allow 6 on and 6 off watch schedules that are scientifically unsupportable.
  • Examine our allegations of long standing lack of formal safety and vocational training for limited tonnage engineering personnel on OSVs, towing and small passenger vessels.
  • Examine our allegation that the DHS OIG no longer employs employees with sufficient technical background to audit Coast Guard safety programs

                                                                         Very truly yours
                                                                         Richard A. Block , B.A., M.S. Ed
                                                                         Master # 1186377, Issue #9
                                                                          Secretary, National Mariner's Association

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

File:Ocean park wiki.jpg
Photo by Ninjakeg, licensed under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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

  Follow the Hyperlink in this Posting for an Educational and Relaxing Lesson in the World Ocean Currents System.

 In our last blog post we described just a little of the miserable working conditions in certain sectors of the American Merchant Marine documented by the National Mariner's Association (NMA). It was some pretty depressing news which we will have to follow up on. Before that we invited you to think, speak and write in reply to our challenge regarding climate change, a fact of life affected by ocean currents, a challenge that is still open. The state of climate change has been pretty depressing and we will have to revisit that issue again in the near future. Meanwhile, we don't want you to be "bummed out" and we certainly don't want to leave you with the impression that we only carry bad news. So here we present some good clean dry fun with a wet subject.

 Every Fall the TV weather guys and girls give us all something of a micro lesson on ocean currents as they speculate over the relative severity of the on coming winter. El Nino, La Nina, the Gulf Stream all have parts to play. But these most famous ocean currents are but a tiny fraction of the oceans circulatory system, which in turn is part of the earth's heat management system. Understanding the whole system seems like a Herculean task. In fact, to the extent that being able to visualize it is understanding, understanding can be fun and relaxing.

 Some earth scientists at NASA have put together a computerized visualization aid on the planet's global ocean current system. It is even set to relaxing music. So sit back in your favorite barco lounger, hit the hyperlink, kick back and enjoy a God's eye view of the ocean as it circulates. The NASA guys posted this to You Tube and we link you because that's what we do, review and post the information on all things maritime because we like the maritime world and we know how. We'll get back to the news of the issues of the day soon, but this show reminds us why we went into the marine professions in the first place, all lousy working conditions, pay issues, and under and over regulation disputes aside.