Wednesday, December 31, 2014


"Hijacked" Ship Taken to Italy

 Italian Coast Guard Responded To Call About Armed Migrant Passengers But Boarded Without Incident And Discovered No Armed Passengers:

"A cargo ship carrying nearly 1,000 migrants near the Greek island of Corfu has been escorted to Gallipoli by the Italian coastguard.
Yesterday, Greek officials reportedly received a distress signal from the Moldovan-flagged Blue Sky M cargo ship. There were also reports that armed migrants were aboard the ship, raising fears that the ship had been hijacked.
This morning, a spokesperson for the Italian coastguard confirmed to IHS Maritime that coastguard personnel had approached the ship by helicopter and boarded the ship. On board, they counted 970 migrants, but none were armed. The spokesperson said the nationality of the migrants and the port of their embarkation are not known" COMPLETE  STORY by Complete Story by Girija Shettar

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


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Get Water Temperature, Stream Velocity, Discharge, Gauge Height, Specific Conductance, Salinity, and other data from numerous monitoring stations operated by the U.S. Geological Survey around the nation. You can pull it up on your laptop, tablet, or I phone. The data site can read your position from your computer and pulls up a regional map for you showing its closest reporting stations.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Oscar Elton Sette.
 Photo: NOAA


  Many commercial maritime organizations have bought into the global warming concept despite contraindicative facts and are investing in planned future High Arctic Operations. While we are highly skeptical of future growth in through transit cargo operations in the High Arctic we believe that destination cargo, cargo bound for actual Arctic destinations will increase over time and in fact is increasing now. There are special risks associated with cold region navigation and increasingly the marine insurance industry is having to ascertain and consider insuring against these inherent risks. Affordability of insurance is always a factor in the growth of a trade route. At this stage of development the balance between risk and reward for insuring against the inherent risks of ice region navigation is still evolving. Some insurance companies are underwriting some risks based on information that they would like to see improved. One of the IMO's 2014 initiatives has been the "Polar Code" a set of minimum safety standards for vessels operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters. It is thought that by 2016 it will be impossible to insure a vessel that is not Polar Code compliant for Ice region voyaging. Many standard marine policies today preclude travel above 72 n. 

 Most ship owners need special riders on policies for travel north of 72 n, and many insurance companies are reluctant to underwrite such voyages. The "Polar Code" is expected to change that. Most insurers don't believe that properly equipped ice capable ships will incur significantly more losses in terms of accident than those transiting more temperate sea routes. But insurers fear that costs of salvage and environmental clean up in the High Arctic will be astronomical. The remoteness, lack of existing salvage resources, and difficult weather all indicate that the insurers are right to worry about the these enhanced costs. The evolution of the High Arctic Shipping routes requires more than just increased ice free weeks if they are to become competitive with the various toll canals as "paths between the seas".  It is going to take quite a while for insurers to feel comfortable in these waters. More over, trend is so often not future. The climatic indicators for the last 18 years have not been as convincing of Global warming as those who have invested on that premise would like us to believe. The climatic indicators for the past 36 months and looking into the next 24 months are not conducive to trust in ever lengthening ice free seasons.   We have long advised our commercial readers to not invest heavily in plans that rely on increased High Arctic through traffic. You can't rely on the long term climatological conditions or the business conditions at present.  Logistical support to increasing numbers of High Arctic out posts will increase. These are specialty operations carrying "destination' cargoes". Before buying into schemes that purport to be based on increasing High Arctic cargo statistics, check carefully to insure that what you are looking at isn't inflated by cargoes that are delivered to the Arctic, vice through an arctic shipping route. As always we advise that if you are responsible for spending other peoples money that you avoid the Al Gore Cool Aid.

                    ICE NAVIGATION BOOK SHELF
At the "Ice Navigation Book Shelf" You May Find Titles On Technical Ice Navigation And Also Epic Stories Of Arctic And Antarctic Navigation Both Ancient And Modern, Including Voyages Under Sail And Under The Ice By Submarines.



12/28/2014 1430 CST

 Rescue Boats Have removed many of the passengers, some escaped via life boat and Helicopters are evacuating many now. It is thought that the original passenger count was about 476 passengers. At last count 131 were clear of the danger zone by boat evacuation about 150 are clear of the ship in a near by life boat. Helicopters are removing passengers in relay fashion to a nearby ship. Rescue is hampered by high winds, seas, and cold temperatures. More details:

UPDATE 12/28/2014 

1 Confirmed dead , Hundreds stranded as rescuers face a rough night:

UPDATE; 12/29/2014: 0950 CSTThis morning, the number of people still waiting to the rescued was reduced from 120 to 83. However, the area is being hit by gale force 8 winds and the ship is emitting vast amounts of smoke, hindering rescue efforts.

UPDATE: 12/30/2014 0930 CST: Possibly as many as 40 passengers still unaccounted for:

UPDATE 12/31/2014 1130CST  All passengers off Adriatic ferry; investigation begins

"In the end, at least 10 people died, the Italian coast guardsaid on Monday. .... Dramatic cell phone images filmed by a passenger showed flames through shattered portholes, ..." 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Philippine Navy Wants 3 Submarines

Philippine Navy and Coast Guard craft exercising with a U.S. Navy war ship, Photo U.S. Navy

 The Philippine Navy facing ever more naval pressure from China to surrender its entire United Nations Law of The Sea  (UNCLOS) Authorized Exclusive Economic Zone , Contiguous Zone, and even portions of its 12 mile territorial sea wants to add at least three submarines to its navy. As a first step the Philippines has created a submarine office to start developing  the necessary skills and infrastructure. According to Philippine Navy Vice Commander rear Admiral Caesar Taccad the anticipated rule of thumb in creating a submarine service is 10 years. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that the Philippine Navy is in the midst of an expensive surface fleet modernization program and the nation is expanding its Coast Guard; expensive undertakings for a relatively small nation with a still developing economy and lots of social needs. But in order to develop economically the Philippines needs it soverignity and all of its resources including the sea based resources coveted by that old dragon, China.

 Starting a submarine service won't be easy because The Philippines closest ally , the United States uses only large nuclear submarines, too expensive for the Philippines to operate. The United states has no diesel submarine training school house to offer, and shrinking cash reserves. The Philippines will be searching the world market for diesel submarines and training resources. Considering that some Dutch legislators are predicting that the EU will be Muslim dominated in 12 years, each year that goes by shrinks the potential provider list for the largely Catholic Philippines, already plagued by Islamic insurgents in some quarters. This in no small measure is another factor in the recent Philippines / Japanese rapprochement.  While Japan invaded the Philippines and administered a brutal occupation two generations ago, today they face a mutual enemy in China. Japan, however regards Islam, and we think correctly, not as a religion but as an evil world domination ideology intent on mayhem and has outlawed it within Japan where no mosque may be built and no Muslims are granted permanent residency and Arabic may not be taught. Japan reliably will not be Muslim at the moment that the Philippines is in need of an ally against China or an Islamic attack or both.

 The Philippines are starting up a submarine office today knowing that it may take ten years to put the first submarine to sea and that each passing year increases the level of difficulty. However there is a reality based logic to their endeavor. The submarines are only one contemplated part of a second phase of their naval modernization program which starts with a greater and more capable surface fleet of naval and coast guard vessels. The anticipated three submarines would be part of a surface fleet protective force that would come to the aid of embattled surface ships. This protective force would consist of anti-ship missile equipped surface vessels, anti-ship/anti air missile shore batteries, as well as a limited number of submarines. Intended for war in the national littorals, Philippine submarines need not be long range, or high duration. They must be stealthy and deadly. We know the Philippine people. They are capable of great self sacrifice and courage. We predict that they will elect to make such sacrifices as need be to create an effective naval defense on time, even if they must sacrifice economically and socially. Philippine soverignity has never been surrendered without a fierce fight. More over ,the Philippines have never been friendless in the world. Unlike China, that old much feared dragon and  thug, the plucky Philippines is admired. Through nearly a century of seafaring service within the U.S. Navy Philippine ties to the U.S. are more than diplomatic, they are blood ties of families that share citizens in both nations and of shared mutual military resistance to a fierce enemy in the not so distant past. As arrogant as the Dragon is at some level it knows that it can't dominate or occupy the Philippines without being dealt a crippling blow. Let's hope wiser heads come to power in China before it is too late.  


Monday, December 22, 2014

JMO Lecture| Cmdr. James Kraska: Law of the Sea and Maritime Security Law

 Photo USN

 Cmdr James Kraska was a faculty member of the U.S. War College at the time this lecture was taped. in 2012.. The lecture begins with a  review of the major naval historical events of the U.S. Navy that involved use of force. The lecture is focused on the role of public international law relative to armed naval operations and the actual use of force in such operations. Use of force situations of course include war but also many actions other than war. This is an excellent introduction to maritime international law and highly recommended for those starting to study the subject of maritime international law. To listen in on this one hour and twelve minute lecture and view the instructional slides click here:



Friday, December 19, 2014



Workers splicing 20″ hemp cable at HMC Dockyard in 1941 image courtesy Library and Archives Canada

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Editor's Note: This post has been updated since original publication and is being established for constant up dating and expansion in the MERCHANT MARINE SECTION. Last update as a post 12/21/2014. For the latest version of this post check the Merchant Marine Interest Section

 Marlinespike seamanship includes but is not limited to knot tying and splicing, it covers the entire subject of the use of "line" (fiber rope) and wire rope in the realm of seamanship. This is not a subject that one can truly master by reading a book but to become a true master some study of certain books and rigging manuals is necessary. That level of skill is rarely needed by the recreational boater. At the professional level the subject includes some important mathematical computations like the computation of breaking strain and safe working load and safety factors. Certainly when hoisting anything of value or human beings using "running rigging" a mariner wants to know that the rigging will safely hold the load. Another computation that especially the professional must master is the computation of mechanical advantage in rigging blocks and tackles. This computation will tell you how much force will be needed to hoist or pull a load rigged for block and tackle. 

 We have scoured the internet and will continue to do so find the free instructional videos that will help anyone to learn basic marlinespike seamanship as it applies to the ordinary or able seaman or the recreational boater. We have also tried to assemble the videos available to help the basically competent gain skills in the more professional levels of splicing, rigging and decorative "fancy work". This video  library is designed to be used as a course of self paced self instruction and as a ready reference work when attempting something unfamiliar. It is meant as a resource for professional mariners including Navy and Coast Guard rated boatswain's mates and recreational boaters alike. Use whatever you need or like. We have divided the videos into various topics and we indicate their approximate lengths. This is a perennial work in progress we post new works when we find them , expand on subjects as new free videos are posted and occasionally may have to pull and replace videos. Check back often and good luck with your mastery of marlinespike seamanship: 

 PD, sailors learning knotting & splicing in a rigging loft

COILING: (about 2 minutes)

"TAMING YOUR ROPES" (5 Minutes, more on coiling and stowing) _

HOW TO FLEMISH A LINE: (about 1 minute)

The Figure 8 Flake: (38 seconds)



7 Basic Knots: 7 minutes

Quick Release Knots: 8 minutes

9 most useful sailing knots; 9 minutes

Tying A Mooring Line To A Cleat 2 Minutes 


Old Training Film covering numerous knots, rigging boatswain's chairs, etc., 24 minutes


 Image USN


Mooring Eye with Thimble: 14 minutes:


Computing Mechanical advantage and understanding pulley systems: 19 minutes

The Crosby Group Basic Principles of Block and Tackle Training Video  35 Minutes


Some examples : 2 minutes

How to make the "monkey's fist: 1minute

How to Tie the Spinal Sinnet by TIAT


Many more links to videos on "Fancy Work" with any of the above selections. coxcombing and the Monkey's fist are the most commonly known and useful aspects of "Fancy Work " for sailors.



Hats, Shirts, Jackets, Watches, Jewelry, Decorations, Etc.
Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details

Philippine Navy and Coast Guard Beefing UP

 The Philippines with at least one shoal within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) illegally occupied by Chinese naval forces is building up its naval and coast  guard forces. Recently the Philippine Navy announced the pending purchase two frigates, two helicopters, and three gunboats. All are slated for deployment in the South China Sea where the Dragon is presently running roughshod over watery territory of the Philippines. There is a sense of urgency in these acquisitions. These purchases come hard on the heels of a number of moves by the Philippines to harden potential defenses against China. The Philippines, despite a past history of brutal occupation by Imperial Japan, last year announced that the Republic had no objections to Japan increasing the size and power of the Japanese Naval Self Defense Force, which is actually now among the world's top five navies. Additionally the Philippines has accepted gifts and loans of naval equipment from Japan.  Japan has its own disputes with China over Chinese claims to islands that are Japan's by tradition, long administration, and formal treaty.

 China claims virtually the entire South China Sea and rejects claims by the Philippines,Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan. These nations have sea border issues among themselves near the margins of their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) as recognized under the current United Nations Law of the Sea Convention. However all of these disputes are based on legal arguments well recognized in the presently applicable international law and it does not appear that any of these nations claim boundaries extending farther seaward than the law allows nor have these disputes come to serious military confrontation. China, however treats the entire South China Sea, an important international shipping route as its exclusive national territory. Not surprisingly the region is full of oil, natural gas ,and rich fisheries.

 The Chinese/Philippine confrontation has been particularly intense since June of 2012 when China illegally seized a rocky semi submerged formation known as Scarborough Shoal, a known rich fisheries resource and a geological feature believed to contain oil and gas. Unable to dislodge the Chinese from this stronghold within their EEZ the Philippines has embarked on a 15 year $2 billion dollar naval modernization program.

 The Contracts were announced on board the Philippine Navy's most powerful ship the BRP GREGORIO del PILAR, which is a former U.S. Coast Guard Hamilton Class Cutter. As the Philippines attempts to build up, China is reclaiming land and creating man made islands over certain shallow shoals, building air strips and even ports on certain islands belonging to her maritime neighbors. The Philippines, a close has brought international arbitration cases against China seeking peaceful settlement of these territorial disputes in accordance with existing international law. China refuses to participate in the arbitration. None the less a ruling is expected in the case sometime in 2015. Vietnam, a virtual Chinese vassal state also filed a case with the UN against China and drew an angry and threatening response from the Dragon

The United States will be supplying Coastal Radars for this build up but South Korea, Spain, France, Taiwan and Indonesia are the bidders so far on the ships and helicopters. The Philippines is building her naval and coast guard defenses as rapidly as her tax revenues and foreign aid allow. Fortunately some of her maritime neighbors are also trying to contain the Dragon to its own waters and are competent small combatant ship builders, so some of the defense spending will contribute to the regional economy. The animosity of the Dragon has done positive good for the Philippine / Japanese relationship and provides Japan with a situation in which her government can explore how best to promote regional collective security while operating within the  essentially demilitarized constitution of Japan.

 PD: by Tomwsulcer

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Curiosity Rover Detects Martian Methane Burps

A Image courtesy NAS

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NASA's Curiosity Rover originally seemed to confirm that Mars had  a pretty much methane free atmosphere. Then recently it has detected short bursts of methane from near by localized sources. These short lived methane burps seem to suggest that something below the Martian surface is producing methane. Our own Namazu introduced our readers a long time ago to the major source of methane in our own atmosphere ...termite flatulence.
File:Termites inside of a mound-Tamilnadu17.6.jpg

Is the subterranean methane escaping into the Martian atmosphere of biological origin  or the more rarely observed source of water interacting with certain rock types? Martian versions of termites? But then what do they feed on? Or is the methane detected evidence of underground liquid water? Either way this could be potentially big news. below are links to stories carrying more details. 

Top of Termite Mound by தகவலுழவன்  Creative Commons Lic..

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Denmark Lays Formal Claim To The North Pole


 Image courtesy CIA WORLD FACTBOOK

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Denmark, however may be the first to file a formal claim with the UN. Yesterday Denmark's Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard filed a formal claim with with the UN for roughly 900,000,000 square miles of the Arctic Ocean which includes the geographic North Pole. 

Russia has been loudly asserting its claim to the North Pole and virtually the entire Arctic Ocean which it wants to rename the "Russian Sea". But Russia has not filed a formal claim with the appropriate United Nations forum. Canada has also more quietly announced a claim that extends to and includes the North Pole but maintains it is gathering evidence for its claim and has not filed yet. Denmark beat everyone to the court house steps. The U.S. would like to see some element of the commons maintained in the Arctic ocean and be able to enjoy its UN recognized exclusive economic zone off of the Alaska coast undisturbed. Greenland and the remaining High Arctic stake holders have yet to forcefully articulate positions as yet.  

This move by Denmark  comes amid fears that geopolitical tensions are rising in the Arctic.Things had been rather cooperative until oil was not only discovered, but Russia actually began production in the High Arctic. Prior to the Russian production activity, the countries bordering the polar region — the five Nordic states, Canada, Russia and the US — set up the Arctic Council to which they invited states such as China, South Korea and Japan as observers.

Russia is increasing its military presence in the Arctic and animosity on both side over the Russian seizure of the Crimea is fueling concern that the High Arctic may cease to be an area of relatively peaceful cooperation. At present the recognized international regime is that each Arctic coastal nations has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extending roughly 200 miles offshore from their coast line. But now three nations are claiming overlapping extended EEZs and Russia, in bear like fashion, is claiming almost the entire ocean. Russia is building Arctic military bases, and actively drilling for and producing oil. Russia has an abundance of ice breaking ships while the U.S. has only two, one relatively small and the heavy duty one past retirement age. Meanwhile the rival claimants to the North Pole are engaged in lawfare based on the United Nations Convention On The Law Of The Sea which the United States has still not ratified. 

 At the heart of the dispute is the roughly 2,000 mile long Lomonosov Ridge that runs from just off the coast of Greenland and Canada to the sea above eastern Siberia. Denmark claims almost the entire ridge while Canada and Russia claim parts. The conflicting claims appear to be exacerbating tensions beyond the High Arctic. Denmark and Russia are experiencing aircraft and vessel incidents in the Baltic. Last Friday a Danish commercial passenger plane had to take evasive action relative to a Russian military aircraft. Most analysts agree that Russia's response.

 Meanwhile the rest of the world still thinks of the North Poles as part of the global "commons", or if there is private ownership that would be Santa Clause and he wasn't consulted any more than the rest of us.