Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blood on Brown Water, Chapter 2 g


Delta Towing Told Captain Verret to Train His New Mate in Anchor Handling Techniques.

 In late 2000, Delta assigned Mr. V to act as Captain Verret's relief Pilot (sometimes referred to as "mate" in this publication, in reality in a two watch system the position is second captain. The position is supposed to be filled by an officer competent to take over any and all of the duties of the master) aboard the M/V MOHAWK EAGLE, and was the first anchor- handling vessel on which Mr. V had ever worked. Since Mr.Vhad little or no experience in anchor handling operations, Delta directed Captain Verret to train him. But Delta had no program , procedures, tests, or written materials of any kind on how to train newly licensed mates to become relief pilots on anchor handling tugs.
Additionally, Delta did not give Captain Verret any help to train his own "relief" pilot while training Mr. V. Both Captain Verret and his experienced relief (had one been assigned) could take turns training MR.V. However , Delta chose the less expensive route and left the full burden of training Mr.V. with Captain Verret Alone. 

 Captain Verret had to teach Mr.V to use the winch controls, hook buoys, and pick up anchors. Captain Verret first let Mr. V watch him perform these tasks, then try them himself so his mate could get the feel for it. One M/V MOHAWK EAGLE deckhand recalled that since Mr. V did not know how to perform anchor -handling operations, "the old man (Captain Verret) had to be up long hours showing him, teaching him, you know"

News Alert:

Russian think tank wants Arctic Ocean 

to become 'Russian Ocean'

Moscow-based conservative “Institute of Expert Assessments”: It is time to recognize Russia’s
overwhelming presence in the Arctic and rename the 
Arctic Ocean the ‘Russian Ocean’. 

 Source: Barent's Observer
 See News service for Hyper Links to full story and additional details

Japan To Give Philippines 12 New Coast Guard Vessels and Signs Security Agreement with Philippines 

SOURCE: The Japan Daily, July 30, 2012 and July 31, 2012

 The Japan Daily reported yesterday that Japan is giving the Philippine Coast Guard 12 new purpose built Coast Guard patrol craft. The vessels will include ten 131 foot patrol vessels as developmental aid, and two larger craft as grants. Japan and the Philippines have been cooperating more in recent days in the face of Chinese aggression over out lying islands through out the China Sea area. Today the Japan Daily announced that Japan and the Philippines are entering a mutual security agreement, and the government spokesmen specifically named Chinese naval aggression in the region as the primary cause of concern.

OPINION: The American Admiralty Information Service (AAIS, operators of American Admiralty Books) believes that this is a positive development in terms of bringing China to the bargaining table over the final codification of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the China Sea. China continues to claim the entire sea as as its territory including islands that are situated well within the EEZs of other nations. China has killed Vietnamese naval personnel over the issue. China has intruded into the EEZ waters of both Japan and the Philippines but has so far avoided exchanges of fire with these two U.S. allies, who are now allies in their own right. 

 This development which no doubt Chinese naval intelligence was well aware of as under discussion may be a driving force behind recent Chinese rapprochement attempts relative to the Indian Navy.
India and China have on going land border disputes, and India is suspicious of Chinese naval power projection into the Indian Ocean. However India has no territorial claims in the China Sea. India recently held joint naval exercises with Japan. India has an increasingly powerful navy that is experienced in aircraft carrier operations. If India were to join with Japan in a formal alliance the "dragon" might be effectively checkmated while offering China the face saving position of not being forced to the bargaining table by the U.S. Pacific fleet. 

 China's misbehavior is a major dampener on the proper leasing and licensing of oil exploration and production in what is thought to be an oil rich sea. An energy starved world needs  a peaceful and orderly legal resolution to the conflicting claims in this area, the worst of which is China's legally insupportable claim to the entire area coupled with their attempts to use military and thinly disguised military muscle to enforce their will on weaker neighbors. Sometimes the best anecdote for an aggressive dragon is an assertive Tiger.

NOTE: We don't normally provide a hyperlink to the JAPAN DAILY in our News service section since it is a general interest vice maritime publication, but there is one today (July 31, 2012) in our headline service.


SOURCE: Boston Herald.com
See News Service Section for hyperlink to full story

ON LINE BOAT SHOW RIGHT HERE OCTOBER 5-8, 2012 Mark Your calendar, Admission free to anyone in possession of a mouse. Cutting Edge Designs

Monday, July 30, 2012




July 30, 2012
TOKYO—As a territorial dispute strains bilateral relations between Japan and China, Tokyo Tuesday criticized Beijing's expansionary maritime strategies, and called for beefed up surveillance and defense capabilities around remote islands in contested waters.

In the latest edition of its annual Defense White Paper, the Japanese government said for the first time that the relationship between Beijing's political elite and its military leadership has been growing complex and that "the degree of military influence on foreign-policy decision has been changing." That, in turn, creates challenges for Japan's crisis management, the defense ministry said.

The 482-page document was released weeks after bilateral tensions flared up with a confrontation between patrol vessels from the two nations in the waters near a chain of disputed East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

Blood on Brown water Ch.2 f



 Collins' stroke was probably the last thing on the minds of the executives of the large corporation that he worked for as December 2000 turned into January 2001. Only recently had R&B Falcon consolidated when they were forced to turn over control of their vessels to another large company.Delta Towing ,LLC, operators of a 202 vessel fleet of inland tugs and towboats, offshore tugs, crew boats, and service barges, with ten crew boats under construction. Transocean Sedco Forex merged with R&B Falcon Corp.creating a firm with a mega fleet and world wide operations.At the time both Transocean Sedco and R&B Falcon were Houston, Texas based firms. Transocean Sedco Forex while based in Houston, is a foreign owned corporation.Under the terms of the Jones Act they were required to either spin off the R&B Falcon marine transportation fleet or limit its ownership to no more than 25 percent.

 The requirements were met by the formation of Delta Towing LLC as a joint venture between Transocean Sedco Forex, R&B Falcon, and Edison Chouest Offshore. While the mergers, ultimately integrating the R&B fleet into the Chouest organization improved the fortunes of R&B Flacon, Collins Verret's employer, the disabled Captain would only know grief from the improved financial power of his employer.

 The full story of the merger is recorded in the WATERWAYS JOURNAL in a story by Bill Evans on Feb. 19, 2001, pages 3,6. This story is reprinted in its entirety in the bound volume of BLOOD ON BROWN WATER but intellectual property considerations require us to not repeat it here as we have no separate permission from the WWJ relative to this serialization. There is a link to the Waterways Journal in our News service Section and they have an archive. The short version is that before a law suite was filed on behalf of Capt. Collins Verret his former employer R&B Falcon became part of the fleet of Edison Chouest Offshore which operates more than 120 vessels world wide and employs 3,000 people. All of the wheeling and dealing provided no care or comfort to Capt. Colin Verret who was disabled and turned out to not very verdant pastures.

The Lawsuit 

 In December 2000, Antoine Collins Verret was a 59 year old resident of Houma, Louisiana, a life long licensed mariner and captain of the anchor -handling tugboat M/V MOHAWK EAGLE , a vessel then operated by R7B Falcon Marine. In January 2001, R&B Falcon and two other marine companies became Delta Towing LLC.
 Earlier, in late 2000,mate Leroy "V" began to work aboard the anchor handling vessel M/V MOHAWK EAGLE. Mr. "V" obtained his mate's license in February 2000, but had little or no experience handling Anchors. As more fully explained below, Delta's decision to burden Catain Verret with an untrained "relief" pilot forced Captain Verret to work well over 12 hours a day. This stress in turn eventually caused Captain Verret to suffer a stroke on December 2, 2000 that left him wheel chair bound and permanently disabled. (AAB Editor's Note: "Mr. V" on a "two watch system" boat like the MOHAWK EAGLE was the only relief that the Captain had. By placing an inexperienced mate aboard the company forced Captain Verret into a situation where he had no reliable relief at all, working pretty much a 24 hour day) 
Into the Black Sea and Beyond

 Two Chinese naval vessels have passed through the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean Sea. These were the LUHU class destroyer QINGDAD and the JIANGKAI-II class frigate YANTAI. Both ships were recently relieved as part of the 11th Chinese anti- piracy task group in the Gulf of Aden now reconstituted as the 12th. It appears these ships are returning the long way via a series of goodwill port calls and may return to China eventually via an Around the Horn trip with stops in Africa.
The supply ship WEISAN also part of the 11th did not enter the Med with the war ships. According to Suez Canal officials the ships are carrying some aid cargoes for Black Sea Ports, fueling added speculation as to the whereabouts and future movements of the supply ship WEISAN. Frigates and destroyers are not noted for their cargo carrying capacity. 

Source: American Admiralty Informational Services (AAIS) any news media accounts will be posted in the News section when available.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


A Reprint of an Earlier Post Related to:


The Contents of The National Mariner's Association's Second Request to Congress

 This posting relates to our serial presentation of the book BLOOD ON BROWN WATER.  This book  describes working conditions in America's domestic work boat fleets. You may recall that we mentioned the National Mariner's Association's (NMA) "Second Request to Congress"was already submitted. This request addresses the working conditions revealed in the pages of BLOOD ON BROWN WATER and makes specific requests for correction. We actually posted the full text of the NMA's " Second Request" within days of its delivery to Congress. At the time of delivery the "Second Request" it was supported by NMA Report No. 374, Rev.4 part of which is reprinted in the book BLOOD ON BROWN WATER . We think we have now gone far enough into the serial presentation of the book that you might want to look at the Second Request which is explained and presented in its entirety below.


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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Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details


China Builds Something Very Similar To A High Endurance Coast Guard Cutter

Beijing, July 28 (IANS) "China launched its largest and most advanced patrol vessel Saturday in a bid to maintain its marine sovereignty and enhance its rescue efficiency, Xinhua reported.
Launched in Wuhan, a city in Hubei province, the ship -- Haixun01 -- is the first Chinese patrol vessel to simultaneously incorporate marine inspection and rescue functions.
It can accommodate 200 people rescued at sea and will be equipped with devices to offer basic medical treatment and surgeries. It also has a helipad so airborne search and rescue missions can be carried out from it.
The vessel will carry out missions regarding maritime inspection, safety monitoring, rescue, oil spill detection and handling, said Xu Guoyi, head of the Shanghai Maritime Bureau, which will manage the ship.
It is expected to be put into service by the end of this year, Xu added.
The 5,418-tonne Haixun01 is 128.6 metre long and has a maximum sailing distance of 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 km) without refueling, said Tang Gongjie, general manager of Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Company Ltd, the builder of the ship."
Analysis: China seems to distinguish between its Naval and Coast Guard functions and is
 attempting to utilize armed civilian agencies as much as possible in pushing its claim to all 
of the South China sea. The armed vessels of the "Ocean Surveillance Service", Shanghai Marine  
Bureau, and at least one agency engaged in fisheries enforcement carry out their activities as if 
sovereignty were already achieved. Obviously the Chinese intend to argue "effective control" vice 
possession by conquest. But it is conquest none the less. Rather than submit to an international 
arbitration the Dragon muscles out the other claimants with armed vessels obviously planning on
 making claims much later before any international tribunals arguing "effective 
control". Naval conquest by any other name is still naval conquest. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blood on Brown water Ch.2 e

Lies, Ignorance, or Just Plain Incompetency?

 Somewhere around 11:30 on the evening of December 2, 2000, in very rough weather while returning to the pipe-laying barge they were servicing, the mate of the tug MOHAWK EAGLE on reaching the pilot house found the tugboat plowing through heavy seas on automatic pilot with Captain Collins Verret lying on the pilothouse floor.One deckhand was told later that morning that he heard that Collins ..."was laying on his knees by the chair holding on." The mate asked if Collins hurt himself and Collins reportedly said "no" and that he was simply tired and just wanted to sleep. The mate found this highly unusual, said he suggested that Collins go below to his cabin but reported  receiving a reply that it was too rough to go below. The mate gave him a pillow and left him lying on the deck. Collins had suffered a stroke that the mate apparently did not recognize.

 For the next six hours, Collins continued lying on the pilot house floor, apparently asleep. It was only when the pipe-laying barge called at 05:30 the next morning to start the day's work that the mate attempted to arouse Collins but was unable to do so. When his deckhand reported for duty at watch change, he had him call the cook and asked him to bring Collins sleeping bag to the pilot house.  The cook examined Collins and immediately concluded that he was seriously ill. He, thereupon, reminded the mate that the mate was now the Captain of the vessel, and urged him to call the barge Captain to ask the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) assigned to the lay barge to examine Collins-which he did as well as calling his office.

 The mate maneuvered the tug near the barge and the EMT made a harrowing leap in 6-8 foot seas and proceeded to examine Collins on the deck of the pilothouse and, following a detailed examination, declared that he had suffered a stroke. The barge captain, who knew and had great respect for Collins, immediately called for a commercial evacuation helicopter set out promptly for the barge. Three riggers and three tug crew members put Collins in a litter basket, carried him down to the after deck, and transferred him by personnel basket to the lay barge from which the helicopter brought him ashore.

 The delay in determining that Collins had suffered a stroke was critical to his recovery and could have taken his life. according to the expert testimony of Dr.Meyer: "The delay of six hours prior to his receiving medical attention, more probably than not, denied him the benefits of TPA therapy, as the earlier the TPA treatment is administered within three hours for ischemic stroke the better the outcome:

 The family was told , and believed , that Collins had suffered a stroke in his stateroom sometime during the night. It only became apparent in a deposition given under oath more than two years later that Collins had really collapsed in the pilothouse as the vessel was running on auto pilot and was left to lie where fell for more than six hours without summoning medical attention from the nearby barge or from the Coast Guard. One story recited by one of the deckhands indicated that he sat for a while in the pilothouse with the mate in the dark while Collins lying on the deck and that Collins responded to their questions. Collins recalls nothing of the events after about 11:00 in the evening or of his stroke until he was revived in the hospital. The mate, however denied that the deckhand ever sat in the pilot house that night.  When Catherine heard the mate's statement under oath in the deposition two years after the fact, it was "as if they cut my heart out".

 Dr. Meyer, a renowned stroke treatment specialists, stated clearly in his testimony that  giving TPA therapy after the initial three-hour window of opportunity passes can clearly endanger the life of the patient. However, it appears that there was no clear transfer of information as to when the stroke occurred- was it 11:30 p.m. or 5:30 A.M.? Consequently, Collins received the TPA treatment far beyond the "window of opportunity" on his arrival at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. This late treatment alone could have killed him-but fortunately did not.

 The irony is that the mate had taken two complete first aid and CPR classes earlier in the year during his licensure and later as a part of his STCW training. Yet, he either failed to recognize the signs of stroke that he should have learned in school or failed to take decisive action and call either the barge or his home office for six hours. was it gross incompetence or just plain ignorance ... we may never know-but there certainly were a number of lies and other misleading information needed to be unraveled.

Sunset Docks by Fr Antunes
 All you need is a mouse to get in. The theme is the cutting edge, designs you're not likely to see in Annapolis.

Link Checked 2/23/2015  Its Saturday Morning, we decided to leave the "Swimming Dragon" and the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean treading water for a while. Everyone needs a little recreation and we've paid too little attention to our non-maritime professional visitors of late thanks to the antics of the Dragon, and Ivan, and that project known as BLOOD ON BROWN WATER. So here's a pleasant little video on someone's home built and then rebuilt boat. Watch as the little boat is first constructed, then goes into use, and is later remodeled even prettier and more utilitarian than before and visits some new scenic waterways. The star of the video is a  simple boat, built with simple tools on a suburban patio. If this gives you the boat building bug there are more hyper links to progressively more complex videos on boat building in our Boat Building section as well as a number of books to get you started. If you haven't visited our Boat Building section in the last 48 hours, you haven't visited it. Click on the hyper-link below for a very pleasant introduction to the hobby of home boat building.


Friday, July 27, 2012



Chinese Ships Leave Mischief Reef

 A large fleet of Chinese fishing boats left the waters near Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands on Wednesday night and are returning to China, state media said.The vessels used the Philippines-claimed Mischief Reef as shelter during a storm earlier in the week. They are being escorted by Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command vessel Yuzheng-310.

Source: ABS CBN News.com

See our News Section for a hyper-link to the full story and previous coverage as the incident unfolded.

Into the Territory of its Neighbors
Philippine Naval Forces West chief, Commodore Rustom Peña said Thursday that Navy ships are on standby, ready to sail to the Spratly Island's Pagasa Island to inform the Chinese fishing vessels in the area that they are within Philippine territory and that they should leave. Pagasa is occupied by Philippine civilians and garrisoned with Philippine troops. There are presently 20 Chinese vessels in the lagoon. 
In a phone interview, the Commodore said the 20 Chinese fishing vessels were monitored to be around five nautical miles from Pagasa island, Philippine Territory.
“We will just investigate and then if situation warrants, we will advise them (20 Chinese fishing boats) that that’s our territory and they should leave," said Commodore Peña.
The Commodore noted that the Navy ships could not presently sail to the location of the Chinese fishing boats because of rough seas. He said the Navy ships will sail for the area as soon as the weather condition improves.
“We are monitoring them. They are not actually fishing, they are just seeking shelter…There were instances in the past where Vietnamese [vessels] also took shelter in the area because there are portions there that can [provide] cover for waves,” said Peña.
Commodore Peña added that two Chinese ships were also monitored near Mischief Reef, a Chinese-occupied area which is about 130 nautical miles from Puerto Princesa Cit, Phillipines.
Pagasa island is largest among the nine areas that are occupied by Filipino forces in the Spratly Islands. The Chinese claim the entire Spratlys. 
Due to mineral and fisheries wealth , the Spratlys is being claimed in part by the Philippines,  Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Brunei and is being claimed in its entirety by China . — DVM, GMA News
AAction could start as early as later _._,_.___

Blood on Brown Water Ch2 d

  A letter From Rita (To the NMA)

  Ungrateful Company Owners and Officials
The Letter of Rita Billiot to the NMA

 I am prompted to write this letter after what happened to my brother-in-law, Collins Verret. Collins has been a mariner all his life. He's in his late 50s. He was working on the boat when he had a stroke. Crewmembers found him on the deck in his room, where he had gone to try to get some rest after working far beyond his normal shift. He is left-handed; now he is paralyzed on his left side and confined to bed and a wheelchair.[Editorial notes (1) See "Lies, Ignorance, or Incompetence? below(2) The "truth"is that he had worked for almost 48 hours without meaningful relief. This was revealed in depositions taken two years after his stroke

 He was being overworked on the job. Nobody cared that he could not get the rest he needed, and he did not eat right. He is now a man that is not able to to do anything for himself anymore. He is depressed all the time, feels useless because he can not support his family anymore. His son had to drop out of school to help his mother take care of his dad. She is not well herself.

 What gets to me the most is that not one of the company owners or officials from the company office ever went to the hospital to see about him. They have not as much as called. They even tried to get out of paying his benefits by saying that it was not an "at fault"incident (AAB Editorial note: Admiralty law requires vessel owners to pay "maintenance, cure and lost wages" for any seaman who is injured or takes sick "while in the service of the ship", no fault is required.) Might I say though, that members of our Association did go see about him and have kept up with his progress.

 With all I have seen with my husband being a mariner (and my brother and brother in law are also mariners), these company "higher ups" are the most unappreciative, ungrateful unconcerned bunch of employers I have ever seen. They could care less about what happens to these men when they get hurt while working for them or get fired for a stupid reason, as once happened to my husband. As long as they have their bills paid, drive their nice vehicles, go home to their fancy houses in the best neighborhoods, eat at the finest restaurants, they simply don't care. They need to remember one thing though. It's our husbands, the men who sweat and risk their lives and licenses that make possible the owner's big fat paycheck. [R&B Falcon fired her husband for refusing ti leave port on an international voyage until his tug's navigation equipment was repaired. He finally sued and recovered for wrongful termination.]  

 Who am I? I am a concerned wife of a seaman who is fed up with the abuse and the neglect from these companies. I am staying in contact with our Association to try to put a stop to these companies that are abusing and neglecting their employees. Since there "rules and regulations"for the mariners to follow and there should be "rules and regulations" for these companies to be held accountable for as well. They need to be held accountable for breaking the rules just like the seamen are when something happens on a boat.

Rita Billiot

Next installment "Lies, Ignorance, or Just Plain Incompetence"



 Photo US Army Signal Corps

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

 We recently received an E-mail with the hyper-link below attached. There seem to be many photos of the Japanese surrender ceremony at the close of World War II. But film footage with a sound track seems to be a bit rare these days. The hyperlink below includes not only film footage of the surrender ceremony but also some of the actual voices of the participants including some very rare recordings of General Douglas MacArthur's remarks. If you are a history buff, especially a naval history or battleship buff, click on the hyper-link below for a rare treat.



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Namazu School videos

The Namazu Film Festival

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

Climate Change System Dynamics
Climate Change System Dynamics by James Childs 

 Namazu the mythological Giant catfish of ancient Japan whose wiggling was credited with causing earthquakes and tsunamis is the name we have adopted for our on going discussions of climate change. The most immediate effect of climate change that must be dealt with in the maritime sector is of course the opening of the High Arctic to navigation. Departing a bit from our usually laser sharp focus on things maritime we said that we'd open the Namazu discussions to other changes like food security that may not appear so maritime in nature, yet it is grain exports that provide a little less than half of the cargoes for the American towboat and barge industry. Its a connected world and waterborne transport does a lot of the connection.

 The other thing that makes the Namazu School a different type of climate change forum is that we aren't concerned with the source of climate change. The entire series began with a guest blog posting describing the Namazu legend and the many ways that climate can change radically, suddenly, and without any input from man. While we debate the present situation surrounding our own influence on climate through our industrial, and transportation, and domestic consumption activities solar flares, a wide spread outbreak of vulcanism, axis wobble, ocean current changes or any combination of these and other elements can generate a massive global climate change over night. The Namazu school notes that this has happened before in the earth's past, all of the climate change elements still exist in nature, so it can happen again. What we have been soliciting comment on is the measures that governments national, regional, and local should take to mitigate the effects of a radical and unexpected climate change. We want to focus on this vice the present arguments over what to do to reduce any effects that human activity may be having on climate change. If we are successful in neutralizing our own effects on the atmosphere, that doesn't eliminate the probability of climate change, and it can be sudden, radical and dangerous and caused by cosmic forces over which we have no control. 

 The Namazu School started back in March of 2012 when the blog was just starting up. There have been a few postings on the subject since but many of our visitors have missed the previous postings so we repeat our basic focus again here. The previous postings are up, if interested, scroll through the postings starting in March 2012 and look for "Oceanography, Climate Change". Meanwhile to fuel discussion below we present a number of videos on climate change and security in face of climate change , especially rapid, massive, change that we can do nothing about.

 To get through the NAMAZU selections with the least amount of unnecessary roaming click on the hyper-links below and at the end of the video click on the return arrow in the upper left corner of the YouTube tool bar. That will bring you right back here where you can click on the next video in the series.

First a look at the science behind current debate over the effects of our carbon foot print: The presenter at least touches on some of the other causes of climate change but is not focused on how rapid and violent these cosmic and natural causes can be.


Our next selection features a World bank figure on agriculture and climate change. It is obvious from the presentation that the speaker believes that a carbon emissions driven climate change is underway. His suggestions for dealing with its effects on agriculture are based on the idea that the worse effects are still a decade or more away. His suggestions all involve voluntary actions by industrialized nations to self limit carbon emissions and to set up funds to compensate poorer agricultural nations. Such "cures" have nothing to do with the what the NAMAZU school is seeking in the way of food security comments. By contrast with the speaker in this video we are looking for the type of measures that would keep urban populations from starving to death in the face of virtually over night massive climate change. We are asking what we should do if orbit, or axis change, or massive vulcanism, solar flares, a meteor strike, or any of dozens of other causes and combinations of causes confront us , with our need to feed massive urban populations. THIS VIDEO IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE TYPE OF CIVIL READINESS DISCUSSIONS THAT ARE GOING ON NOW, NOT THE TYPE WE WANT TO START. YOU WILL NOTE THAT THE SPEAKER COMES FROM A POSITION THAT ASSUMES THAT TREND IS FUTURE AND THAT WE ARE HEADED FOR A MAN CAUSED GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE OF UNKNOWN PROPORTIONS OVER A PERIOD OF DECADES. The Namazu School seeks your comments on what we should be doing acting on the assumption that climate change can and does happen, often suddenly and from causes that we can't control. We simply are not about the usual debate. But here is an example of the typical thinking today on civil preparedness for climate change. 


Here is an example of the type of technology that could help secure urban food supplies in the event of sudden climate change.


If our little "film festival" has clarified you idea of what the "Namazu school is all about and how it differs from today's climate change discussions let us have your comments on what governments, corporations, and individuals should be doing to create a world less susceptible to damage by sudden, drastic climate change. Comment on any related subject such as food security, transportation, communications, or the economy. But remember our focus is not on the current debate but on what to do to build a less vulnerable world in the face of the one uncontested fact; climate change happens, often suddenly, and we are not the only potential cause. We could conceivably emerge from the present situation in a much cleaner world and still face extinction as a species from any one or a combination of cosmic (such as solar flare activity or meteor strike), or natural (such as vulcanism) climate change causes. If you find another forum where this discussion is taking place please alert us via the comments section. Welcome to the NAMAZU SCHOOL!

Chapter 2 c
  Finally, in February 2003, our Association pulled the problem from the Coast Guard and brought it directly to the attention of the media and two Congressional oversight committees and have kept our focus on the problem ever since.(Refer to NMA Report R-350, Rev.6].

 Here are some problems a seriously injured mariner faces to obtain the care and attention he rightfully deserves following a serious job-related accident.

 Collins' sister in law , Rita Billiot called us on behalf of her family for advice. Our Association recommended that her family seek legal counsel from Mark L. Ross, Esq. who is well known by our mariners. Mr.Ross visited with the family at the hospital in Lake Charles, LA on the day after the accident and took charge of the situation to ensure that Collins' immediate and long term medical needs were attended to. In doing so, he sought to work with the company, R&B Falcon, and its insurer. The vessel itself was in the process of being transferred from one owner to another.

 When the attorneys for the new owners, Delta Towing, made things difficult in a number of ways, Attorney Mark Ross filed a lawsuit and brought the matter to a head. In the meanwhile, Delta Towing procrastinated and failed to come forward with the Mate, a key witness to this tragic event, for almost two years. During this time, Collins and Catherine and their family were left to their own limited means to do their best to try to cope with their shattered lives. This part of the story was absolutely unforgivable on the part of Delta Towing (as successor to R&B Falcon) but is not uncommon in the maritime industry. Our Association condemns the type of unnecessary hardship that this company and its attorneys perpetuated.

 In acknowledging the referral of this case, Attorney Ross reminded our Association's officers that he owed his undivided allegiance to his client, Collins Verret and his family, and that he would do his best to secure a fair and full monetary settlement for them so that they could try to pick up the pieces of their lives.

 Since this was the most horrendous example of a violation of the 12-hour statute we had witnessed to date, we hoped that a victory in court based on violations of the 12-hour rule would prove once and for all that all licensed mariners were clearly entitled to protection under the law. This did not happen in this case, like so many others finally was settled quietly "out of court". Consequently, in its final settlement, the towing company could assert that it had broken no laws, is guilty of nothing, ans settled amicably with their former employee. It's the truth, but certainly not the whole truth. This is why we examined this case so carefully so that we could share its findings with our mariners.

 Nevertheless, the final settlement did ensure that Captain Verret and his family would receive compensation for damages-following 2 1/2 years of intense privation, anxiety over medical bills and their future, additional stress, and suffering. sadly, the damage done to Collins and his family can never be repaired or restored. In viewing Collins after his accident, the cold hard cash from the settlement is both cold and hard. 

  If a judge had arrived at a decision after court proceedings, his decision might have set a clear precedent all injured mariners could look to. But, at this point, we believe it would be best to replace the existing 12 hour statute by "scientifically based hours -of -work regulations" not only for officers but also for other crew members as well. A twelve-hour workday limit takes into consideration certain "human factors" that can not be denied. But  Congress rather than the Coast Guard, will have to order a 12-hour workday for unlicensed crew members because the Coast Guard lacks the authority to do so. Our Association formally requested that Congress take this action because unlicensed crew members need the same consideration as their officers (Refer to NMA Report #R-350 Rev. 6, Issues "H" and "K").

 Our Association asserts that any new work -hour statutes should be based on suitable scientific studies. Congress ordered and received a Coast Guard Crew Endurance Management Study (CEMS) in 2005. While the science was excellent, the results did not justify using CEMS procedures as a substitute for adequate vessel manning. In public meetings , in October 2011, industry leaders continue to show no willingness to find a way to provide for a proven human need for 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep for their mariners in any 24-hour period. For the present, the NTSB recommendation for scientifically based hours of service regulations are just that-recommendations. They will remain a pipe dream unless Congress takes action and the Coast Guard enforces it. Limited- tonnage mariners who take a stand on this issue and refuse to be a party to existing work-boat hour laws and regulations will fight a losing battle until the law is changed and the Coast Guard enforces it. The existing 84-hour workweek that employers violate with impunity and the Coast Guard refuses to enforce must change. Unfortunately, it often takes a disaster to bring about changes. Even then, the last clear work-hour disaster that took out the I-40 Bridge at Webbers Falls, OK along with 14 lives and $30,000,000 in damages apparently was not enough.

To be Continued



At 12:00 GMT yesterday July 23, 2012 eight Russian war ships passed Gibraltar inbound for Syria. These included the ROPUCHA class landing ships ALEXANDER OTRAKOUSKIY, GEORGIY POBUDONOSETS, and the KENDOPOGA believed to be carrying marines. This would give Russia the instant capability of landing ground forces in Syria.The landing ships were accompanied by the Baltic Fleet Frigates YAROSLAV MUDRIY and NEUSTRASIMIY, the salvage tug SB- 921, and the tanker LUNA. These vessels will be joined by  
destroyer SMETLIVIY, landing ships NIKOLAI, and  TSESAR KUNIKOV, and possibly the tanker IVAN BUBNOV and the salvage tug MB-304 from Russia's Black Sea Fleet. The Black Sea landing ships are also suspected of carrying marines. On arrival in Syrian waters this fleet provides Russia with an instant capability to put thousands of Russian troop on the ground in Syria in support of the beleaguered government thwarting NATO, UN, US, Israeli intentions for the region.

SOURCE: American Admiralty Information Services Correspondents (parent organization of American Admiralty Books) quoting Russian language sources and ITAR-Tass Agency. Check our NEWS SERVICE page in this blog for more details.  AAB is not a journalistic organization, we monitor English language maritime news sources for you and some foreign language sources through our organizational net work. Occasional flash alerts are posted to the blog postings, see our News Service Page for daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly news service via hyper-links to the major English language maritime news services and for our own headline service.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chapter2a Blood on Brown Water: Our Apologies as this installment was published out of sequence. The entire serialization in proper sequence is being collected at the bottom of the "Merchant Marine Interest" page.



  On December 4, 2000, Rita Billiot called to tell us that her brother in law Antoine Collins Verret, master of the anchor-handling tug M/V MOHAWK EAGLE owned at the time by Double Eagle Marine, was found unconscious in his cabin after suffering a stroke on the vessel while returning to an anchor -handling job for the pipe-laying barge MIDNIGHT BRAVE 60 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. She reported that Collins was evacuated by helicopter to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. The company called Rita's sister Catherine, Collin's wife, at about 6:00 a.m. and told her that her husband was "rather sick". She would later learn that this understatement clouded the reality that Collins was close to death.

  A company representative, in trying to minimize the seriousness of the illness, provided additional details to Rita over the phone indicating that Collins' condition was extremely grave. Somehow, Rita in a near panic, managed to drive her sister, Catherine, at speeds approaching 80 mph, more than 150 miles to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where Collins now lay in intensive care partially paralyzed, incoherent, and just barely conscious.

 After several days as his condition stabilized, Collins was transferred to Terrebonne General Medical Center several miles from his home in Houma, LA, where he would spend several weeks in the rehabilitation unit. It was at this point where friends , family, and eventually our Association's (NMA) officers first viewed the devastation caused by the stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. He is wheelchair-bound, unable to walk without direct supervision, and cannot write or use his left hand Much water has passed under the bridge in the years after his stroke. Collins Verret's story should provide food for thought for any mariner who chooses or is forced to do the work of two men, work excessive hours often under harrowing conditions and to the point of exhaustion on the job.

 According to testimony taken under oath, Collins was an exemplary mariner. During his 45 years of service in the marine industry, he had a clear Coast Guard record, a clean driving record, had never been involved in a serious accident. He was well liked by his company personnel manager who considered him a "friend" and was respected by both his crew as well as the customer he was working for. One crew member went so far as to say that both of the barge captains on the MIDNIGHT BRAVE "loved'him.

  It was clear that when Barge Captain Nini heard of Collins stroke he moved heaven and earth to get an evacuation helicopter into the air and en route to the scene - with no delay and without any inane questions as to who would pay the bill. Collins is friendly and soft -spoken and dedicated to perforning whatever job he is given to the very best of his ability... as he proved by sacrificing his health in this case that should provide several very important lessons to our mariners. One of those lessons involves the stress and fatigue that working on commercial and largely unregulated towing vessels can cause (1)[ Refer to NMA Report # R-403].

 In the mid-1990s, Captain John  R. Sutton , President of the American Inland Mariners Asociation (AIM), made inquiries of many knowledgeable masters and river towboat pilots, searched obituaries of friends and other mariners who passed away and found that their average lifespan was only slightly over 57 years. His study was as through as possible under the circumstances although admittedly not "scientific".

 For "science" in Captain Verret's case, we rely on the sworn testimony of Dr. John Stirling Meyer, a researcher on stroke at the Veterans administration Medical Center and Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX. Dr. Meyer presented an expert opinion that stated in part: The fatigue, sleep deprivation, and stress experienced by Captain Verret, more probably than not, aggravated or contributed to his stroke. This testimony given in a 115 page deposition is so convincing that we forwarded a copy to the National Transportation Safety Board to consider as supporting evidence in their ongoing "scientific hours of work" project. (NTSB Recommendation M-99-1)

 Captain Verret was 59 years of age at the time of the stroke that left him permanently and completely disabled. "Disabled" has meant that Collins spent the next twelve years in a wheelchair dependent upon his wife, Catherine, and other members of his immediate family as caregivers. His future is bleak.  

  Our association hears of many mariners who worked on boats all of their lives with the intention of retiring  from the industry someday-as Captain Verret planned to do in several years. Regrettably , many mariners develop health problems that force them out of the industry before they can reach an age covered by Social Security and / or Medicare. This is a result of the aging process accompanied by stressors unique to this industry including:

  • unreasonably harsh working conditions that become unrelenting when applied to older mariners;
  • long term vessel undermanning
  • working with untrained crewmembers including "green deckhands prone to accidents, and inexperienced Mates not capable of standing their watch alone;
  • working excessively long hours to make up for shortcomings of other crewmembers;
  • running the boat in the stress of rough weather,during hours of darkness and in fog with limited visibility;
  • enduring years of poor diets;
  • drinking unsanitary and impure drinking water from rusty and decaying water tanks;
  • frequent interruptions of sleep by noise, vibration, and vessel motion;
  • years of smoking or being forced to live with exposure to second -hand tobacco smoke in close quarters.
  • high accident rates caused by dangerous and largely unregulated working conditions on towing vessels that still do not undergo Coast Guard inspections (refer to NMA Report # R-276,Rev.10).
 These conditions help explain why the "average" life span of a towing vessel officer may be shortened by years.


North Korea Deploys Attack Helicopters Near Baengnyeong Island

  North Korea has placed about 50 attack helicopters at an air force base near the disputed island of Baengnyeong Island in retaliation for South Korea's deployment of anti aircraft weapons to their northwestern Islands. The helicopters have been practicing for ground assault and high mobility operations and are bomb mission and anti tank capable. More details in our news service section. (See "Headline Service" and click on the hyperlink following the headline "North Korea Deploys...)


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Monday, July 23, 2012

Blood on Brown Water Ch.2 b

BLOOD ON BROWN WATER  Ch. 2 (continued)

  For survivors, career ending medical problems may occur long before the date when Social Security or Medicare kicks in. In addition, many "limited tonnage" mariners work "Off and on" for many different employers, live pay check to pay check, and have no viable plans to fund their retirement. Few boat companies offer pensions that have a reasonable expectation of rewarding years of loyal service! In fact, with so many mergers, buyouts, and other wheeling and dealing common to the industry, coupled with the cyclical nature of the towing and oil sectors, simply holding a job requires a high degree of good luck. "At will" employment serves as a stark reminder to do as you are told and never "rock the boat". It is virtually unheard of to question policies dictated by mid-level executives who like Collins' personnel director, never had any first -hand experience working on boats. Without this experience, it is easy to see why "the company's bottom line"
took precedence over assigning a second trained and experienced mate to assist with the training duties dumped on Captain Collins Verret.

  There are so many bumps and pitfalls in the job market facing our "limited tonnage" mariners that membership in an established union with training, insurance, and other plans that such membership can offer provides the the organized cure to these ills on the horizon. Above all, union membership requires mariners to face these issues squarely  and work together with other company employees and not at cross purposes to solve problems that employers and regulators ignored for years and, most likely, will continue to ignore as long as they are not called on the carpet for doing so. The proposed towing vessel inspection  regulations proposal published in august 2011 after seven years in the making offer very little in the way of improving working conditions. 

 This story reinforces and updates the letters written by dozens of our mariners relating the true stories of violations of the work-hours statutes in our association's "Yellow Book". We watched in shock and amazement as the Coast Guard at the Eighth District and at the national level ignored constant violations of the laws designed to protect our mariners. We heard the President of the Offshore Marine Services Association (OMSA), a trade association representing offshore vessel owners deny that work-hour violations even exist. We watched the National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee (NOSAC), a federal advisory committee appointed by the Secretary of Transportation , cater to industry wishes and do its best to sidetrack and dismiss our allegations of work -hour violations. This came to a boil in Aptil 2002 when a dozen of our Association directors and members traveled to Coast Guard Headquarters and dumped NOSAC's bungling mess into the Coast Guard's lap claiming, after wasting 11/2 years, that it didn't have the power to investigate our claims if it had chosen to do so. In spite of promises extracted from RADM Pluta, the Coast Guard never investigated a single one of the 57separate claims about the ongoing statutory violations. The Coast Guard obviously had no plan   to challenge the owners of uninspected towing vessels to "clean up their act" and adequately crew their vessels and stop overworking their personnel.
to be continued


 Early Fall is Boat show Time. If you are not able to get to Annapolis, or Monaco (we prefer Annapolis more human scale, too many Billionaires in Monaco) we will be having an on line boat show for you here. Ours will be different with a focus on innovation and well, just plain strangeness or extravagance, and entertainment. Its free all you will need for admission is a computer and a mouse. Watch this space for more information as the time approaches.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

BLOOD ON BROWN WATER  CH.2, Installment 1



  "America's "work boat men"generally work a "two watch system"meaning that there are only enough crewmen to operate the vessel around the clock divided into two watches. This means that each crewman , whether a licensed "officer" or unlicensed "rating" must cover 12 hours of vessel operation during each 24 hour period. Deep sea mariners by international convention work four hours on and eight hours off in a three- watch system. This is also the true of many foreign nations in their domestic or cabotage trades, including many third-world nations. By contrast most working mariners in the American towing industry work six hours on and six hours off around the clock for tours of duty that last two to four weeks but often last much longer.

 Not without good reason, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called for introducing scientifically based hours of work regulations as a "most wanted"improvement in maritime safety for over twenty years. To understand what years of such working hours and conditions can do to a man, we introduce you to Captain Antoine Collins Verret from the pages of a widely read report from the National Mariner's Association."

 The relevant report being "Report to Congress: abuse of Mariners Under the Two Watch System NMA Rpt# R 370. 176 pages $36.20 non member price. Hyperlink to NMA reports below:


Editor note: In the NMA's "Second Request to Congress" they have not yet asked for abolition of the two watch system. Instead in the "Second Request", and in their report # R-370 they detail how management has over the years removed from the crews certain positions that have shrunk total crew size and turned the 12 hour maximum work day into a minimum 12 hour day. The NMA seeks the restoration of those positions and a change in the two watch system to allow for the rest periods mandated by international convention for all other mariners. Such requests taken directly to the Coast Guard so that the issue could simply be addressed through regulation have been dismissed as a "labor management dispute". However most of the affected mariners are not union members and have no representation. There simply is no "labor management dispute" over working hours and conditions. With the affected crews being employees at will, and the Coast Guard unwilling to enforce the existing regulations against anyone but the captain of the vessel (also an employee at will); the working hours and conditions are whatever management chooses to impose.

EDITORIAL OPINION: The evidence is mounting that the two watch system as presently administered by commercial work boat management  presents a public safety issue. The various subcommittees of Congress which always hear the management side of any issue and find unorganized labor voices difficult to find, has often watered down needed regulation at the behest of industry lobbies. But because of a number of high profile bridge accidents involving fatigue impaired mariners, and the release of an official Coast Guard report affirming chronic fatigue is induced by the two watch system as presently practiced; the "Doctor's Caucus" of Congress and individual members of both parties from seemingly non maritime states that have have experienced bridge accidents and, are aware of and interested in the issues. 

 This is probably management's last chance to preserve the highly profitable two watch system before Congress imposes the internationally recognized Three Watch system. Management should actually second the NMA's Second request, bite the bullet and restore the average of two very specific crew positions and research a new split for the 12 hour MAXIMUM work day already mandated by present, but ineffectively enforced regulations.

To be continued