Site Guide and Indexes

SITE GUIDE and INDEXES and Temporary Archive

   "COOKIES NOTICE" : HOW GOOGLE USES DATA:                                                             AMAZON PRIVACY POLICY

American Admiralty Books does not use "cookies", Google as system provider, and third party advertisers on this site do use cookies as do sites we link to. There is no "block cookiesoption for Google, to visit this site is to agree to the Google privacy policy linked to above. By not clicking on links within the site you avoid third party cookies.  Visitors may read posts and special interest sections without incurring any cookies known to us other than those described in the Google Privacy statement linked above. Many posts and all special interest sections contain links to related Amazon books, videos and other related products. If you enter Amazon through our links you agree to the Amazon privacy policy linked above. Any links cited as "Read More" may take you to publishers on subjects addressed in this blog who may or may not use cookies. EUROPEAN VISITORS ARE WARNED THAT MOST ADVERTISERS AND "READ MORE" SOURCES LINKED TO, ARE AMERICAN AND NOT SUBJECT TO THE EU REQUIRED NOTICES INVOLVING "COOKIES". WE CAN NOT ASSURE VISITORS TO THIS SITE THAT ANY VISIT WILL NOT RESULT IN THE DELIVERY OF "COOKIES". IF "COOKIE ADVERSE" ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. THIS NOTICE SUPPLEMENTS THE REQUIRED EU NOTICE PROVIDED BY GOOGLE TO EU VISITORS. IF YOU DID NOT SEE THE REQUIRED EU NOTICE BEFORE ENTERING OUR SITE PLEASE REPORT THE INCIDENT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION AT THE END OF ANY SCROLLED PAGE. THANK YOU.

How to Locate Books, Blog Postings,Special Features, Older Posts and Hyperlinks in the American Admiralty Books Site 

(Curious about who we are? Click on CREW BIOGRAPHIES  )

 Welcome to our Index and site guide, which like the rest of the blog, is still under constant development. This section is on a scroll, so to move through it simply use the down and up arrows in the margin. In order of occurrence as you scroll down you will find at present the locations within the blog of:


OUR SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT POST TO DATE: and it's happy conclusion:

SINGAPORE EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER INDONESIAN NAMING OF A NAVAL SHIP (Named for executed Indonesian Marines acting as saboteurs who bombed a civilian facility in the 1960s)

An American Southerner Addresses Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore
(Relates to the naval ship naming issue subtitled "Lessons From The Last Confederate Funeral)

(Announcement of the serialization of the American Admiralty Bureau Publications in our Authoritative Literature Section)

(A link to and explanation of graphic depictions of numerous important facts of global demographics, politics, religion, and economics)


(A message of consolation upon the accidental loss of Indian Naval Personnel which occurred near the end a series of posts on the remarkable progress and potential future of the Indian Navy.)

(One of many posts in the "HOW FAR WILL THE DRAGON SWIM" series this one looks at the the conflict between China and Vietnam over islands in or near Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone)


1. Serial Features and Serialized Books: Including the writings of Namazu*, and the serialized books SPACE AS AN OCEAN / PROTOCOLS and BLOOD ON BROWN WATER * A special Namazu Archive is being constructed on our parallel blog AAB2
Click here:  "ALL THINGS NAMAZU":   While under construction nothing will be pulled from this site, but on completion you will be able to click over to site 2 and read all of Namazu since the start arranged in date time order on a single scroll.

2. Locations with in the blog of posts relating the maritime history and activity to the space and aviation industries and the telecommunication industries are presently found in the special features and serialized books locator with the SPACE AS AN OCEAN / PROTOCOLS E-Book serial information.

3. Links and Free videos-direct hyperlinks repeating popular hyperlinks in the various special interest pages.



File:HMS Beagle by Conrad Martens.jpg

 When Darwin put to sea on the HMS BEAGLE he didn't just bring blank notebooks, but relied heavily on a compact but fairly complete set of references on known biology, geology, and botany. Darwin's make shift personal quarters and laboratory  also served as the ship's library. Unfortunately the library was dispersed after the voyage and until recently the contents of Darwin's references were unknown. Today 178 years later John van Wyhe of the National University of Singapore has reconstructeda virtual version of Darwin’s library, by cataloging all of the printed sources Darwin made reference to in his travel notes. Dr van Wyhe has found the texts of these now rather obscure volumes that Darwin would become so familiar with and has scanned them into on line versions that scholars, journalists, historians, and others may access at no charge. The entire project has been generously supported by the National University of Singapore..You may read the full story of this daunting feat of research and publishing at Take a Virtual Voyage into Darwin's Library. You can literally read scanned versions of the library publications at CHARLES DARWIN's BEAGLE LIBRARY.

 We think this is an invaluable resource and service, a light that should never be hidden under a basket.. Since we don't have room yet for a VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY section in its own right we're going to post this as an illustrated post in several likely sections where someone looking for such information might think to look within our present system. As long as this valuable resource is up on the internet we will endeavor to track it and link you to it. We can't possibly replicate all of the fantastic research in the maritime context that is going on out there. But we view it as our job to try and learn everything that is going on and to make it easier to find .

 In case you missed our introduction, American Admiralty Books is not a book store per se. We are book reviewers, and organizers of  all types of maritime related English language data. We are also a blog on all things maritime. Basically we like to think of ourselves as a  sort of maritime library with a retail book/video section and a few shops. We like to be handy, so if you find a book that you would like to purchase here, usually you may hyperlink right to a vendor's site after reading our review or description of the work.

However, there is never any obligation to purchase anything to use the site. Additionally there are no pop ups in this site. The site is constructed in Google Chrome. Our links to specific books carried by Amazon are via book cover icon hyperlinks. Many advertising reduction soft ware programs hide these icons. Such programs also appear to hide some of our links to free videos on various subjects . We are trying to provide alternate routing to books for maximum performance on all browsers and regardless of anti advertising software. But we can assure you that the ads we do carry only appear between posts, or other unobtrusive spaces and the "shops" are at the very bottom of the special interest page scrolls, so it is quite possible to extensively visit the site and see few real advertisement other than the necessary book cover icons. For the best results however this site is best viewed in Google chrome, with anti advertising software turned off.

  Whenever possible we try to provide the International System of Book Binding Numbers (ISBN) with each book description or review to aid in obtaining library loans. We also provide both free hyper linked videos on various maritime subjects including water sports and we provide vendor hyperlinks to some maritime videos. Our "special features like "Ben's Tech Corner" (in the Navigation Section) which can be of value in voyage planning, our maritime legal research aids (in Admiralty Law Section) and our News Service are all free. The "infotainment" features like our virtual dive feature, and "Listen to the Deep" are simply there for you. 

 Like a library we have some discussion groups like the "Namazu School of Climate Change". Recently Namazu the giant Japanese catfish demigod for whom our school of climatology was named started publishing first person essays that have become so popular that we have to maintain an index to them for his many fans who visit the site expressly to get the latest words of wisdom or humor from "The Earth Shaker". We are almost forced by popular demand to pause and present that index right here before we get any deeper into other parts of the blog: At the bottom of this section which you navigate by scrolling we have placed a temporary archive of older posts



Namazu the Earth Shaker former Japanese Giant Catfish Demigod and  now Coastal Environmental Analyst for  AAB.

                 NEWS OF NAMAZU

ON THE WEEKLY BULLETIN BOARD PERIODICALLY OR AS A SEPARATE BLOG POSTING we publish an expanded Namazu suggested reading list as we continue the series : "READ LIKE A CATFISH"

 To find previously published wisdom from Namazu look below the "Special Interest Page Listings on your right to find partial titles and dates of blogs from the past years. Below is a listing of dates of some of Namazu's most popular features unless otherwise stated these are all in the blog postings by date: 



*NAMAZU SPEAKS: Uh.....about Jack * Humorous First person feature, probably the first time Namazu spoke for himself. Lampoons FEMA and other government efforts to deal with natural disasters.  11/2/2012

*NAMAZU CHIDES RUSH LIMBEAUGH First color  photo Namazu vice prints of old Japanese wood cuts. 11/3/2012

 NAMAZU RECOMMENDS: Links to sites on urban food security. 11/4/2012  

NAMAZU APPLAUDS KEVIN COSTNER: Best available technology as a criteria for Coast Guard safety equipment approvals. 11/05/20



*Namazu's block buster post Presidential Election tour de force predicting and factually supporting a vision of  a unique, hopeful, yet scary vision of the future. Called "mind blowing", this was the essay that launched the "Catfish Perspective" movement and forced us to start compiling the "Read Like A Catfish" reading list that is still in progress as installments.

NAMAZU ON COMPARTMENTALIZATION PART 1: Limiting natural disaster damage through advance coastal urban planning 11/13/2012 , PART 2: 11/14/2012


*READ LIKE A CATFISH: The first installment of this continuing series of book suggestions from the giant catfish, and up dates have been posted. Each list is cumulative. There is no need to find previous lists. Right now the most up to date list was published 11/28/2012 and includes Namazu's picks for Book of the Year, Coffee Table Book of the Year,  and favorite maritime periodical and 2012 article. 

NAMAZU THEME BY OH LAND: 11/29/2011, 12/29/2012  American Admiralty Books discovers that their favorite maritime analysts had a prior history as an album cover model and was the subject of a song by the artist Oh Land. The song which is on the Oh Land album FAUNA is simply titled "Namazu" and the lyrics make specific mention of his earth shaking activities, coupled with his picture on the album we know its him. Oh Land markets her music in part through Amazon and we provide album cover links to her works when we mention her in conjunction with Namazu. We like to refer to her work "Namazu" as "the Namazu Theme". Also in the postings that link our Namazu the maritime analysts with MS Oh Land we provide some links to her works on YouTube so you can listen a bit  before purchasing.  We highly recommend her recorded works and based on our viewing of several video would suggest that a stage performance would be well worth the price of admission. Below is a album cover icon that will take you to the Fauna album site on Amazon.  

Book cover icon link temporarily inoperative use this : FAUNA
   Cover Icon link for album   , bottom link for YouTube free track

NAMAZU ON KYOTO: This is Namazu on global climate change taking to task the Secretary General of the United Nations 12/6/2012

NMAMZU ON: WHERE IS THE MERCHANT IN THE AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THE AMERICAN WAY: This is the second Namazu "Block Buster" and a follow up on Namazu Fully Loaded. Posted on 12/6/2012 but in the late evening and appears below the 12/7/2012 station ID and above the 12/6/2012 station ID.

NAMAZU on THE MARITIME COMMONS 01/03/2013 Another Namazu "Block Buster"







NAMZZU CONTINUES TO ADDRESS THE ENGLISH SPEAKING PEOPLES AND RELATED POSTS: 2/6/2013-2/8/2013, 2/10/2013, 2/11/2013,  2/12/2013,  2/15/2013,  2/25/2013, 2/28/2013, 3/4/2013

THE NAMAZU DIALOGUE (Q&A Reoccurring Feature) started 3/2/2013 









Mariners have turned to space since the days of sail when the art of celestial navigation was perfected. It was a natural shift from navigating by natural celestial bodies to position determination by man made satellite. U.S. Life Saving service ( one of several ancestral organizations that formed the U.S. Coast Guard) personnel literally helped the first Wright Flyer shove off on its first flight. Aviation has been part of naval activity since before World War I. In this section of the Finding Aids and Indexes you will find the features that we have published on the intersections between seafaring, aviation, and space based industries.

1. Comment and Observation on a 2013 Maritime Satcom Conference-See Station Identification and Notice Board 2/8/2013

Second only to Namazu's personal musings our most frequently sought out blog posting appears to be a series of excerpts from the book "PROTOCOLS" published here as a series of short essays under the series title "SPACE AS AN OCEAN". These have been retained in date order and are being assembled into an E-book in our Maritime Literature Special Interest Page:

Our Second Most Popular Series is still available and is now in the Maritime Literature Section. Click on "Maritime Literature " in the page listings on the right and scroll past the book offerings



 . The entire series in chronological order of appearance is now posted in the MARITIME LITERATURE SECTION. .


We have another serialized book available for you on the site:


 Blood on Brown Water is a 79 page offering of the National Mariner's Association which hoped that it would be the 21st century's "TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST" it details how American American Merchant Mariners working in our various domestic fleets are enduring 19th century working conditions. This series is located in our Merchant Marine Interest Section

 We also have some links to technical training resources outside of our organization, so if you are seeking instruction in sailing or diving for example you can get in touch with training providers right here. However, we are not commissioned for sales by these providers. Our admonitions to the reading public to seek hands on training in certain maritime activities is not meant as an endorsement of any particular vendor of such training, even if we provide you with a link to that training source. There are just some things that you do on, over, or under water that you can't learn out of a book. Some of these links to training sources may be inactivated by your anti advertising software.

 In case you may have missed it in our "INTRODUCTION" section below is a hyperlink to a short video that will introduce you to the basic concept of American Admiralty Books.

 It may be helpful to think of us as a sort of  virtual book store or library at the moment in order to understand our stage of construction and find your way around. Think of a just opened bookstore or library still stacking the shelves. We have very rough subject matter organization at the moment . Whenever you enter the blog from Google, other search engines, or directly it always opens on one of our "Station Identification and Notice Board windows, scroll down from the station ID and you are into the blog postings which are usually  opinion pieces on some maritime subject by one of our experts. 

  When you entered the blog, no matter where you entered, the basic subject matter groups are listed to your right after the heading "Introduction", then you see specific topic groups like "Admiralty Law", "Authoritative Literature". When you click on any of these subject index titles you will come to "special pages" containing not only book reviews with hyper links to vendors and ISBN numbers to assist you in a library loan, but also hyperlinks to entertaining and informative web sites on the relevant subjects;"special features" and sometimes hyperlinks to on line periodicals on the featured subject. After these hyper linked features you may scroll through actual book titles under each subject matter many carefully reviewed by our maritime experts. Some of our virtual book shelves are a bit thin at the moment but please keep coming back to browse, new books are added almost daily.  Within certain special interest pages or "sections" such as SURFING, and FISHING You will find virtual "shops" selling equipment and clothing related to the subject of the section.

We haven't finished reviewing all of the world's English language nautical literature yet. At the moment the most typical organization for book titles in the special pages is from the most basic to more advanced, or most prominent to the less well known among those titles we have actually reviewed as you scroll down.  We may also provide an Amazon link for a general subject matter search, and book cover icon  links to books that we have not reviewed yet. As we complete more book reviews we constantly rearrange , again in descending order of complexity or prominence.  Feel free to browse. If you don't find a reviewed title to suit your needs try the Amazon general search engine by the same topic title via the hyperlink provided in each book section. If you click on an Amazon link you will find a book description written by the publisher and if you scroll down far enough you'll find the ISBN number that can assist you in obtaining a library loan. You can't buy a book here or in Amazon by accident. You are free to browse both sites and gather such information as you need and leave without visiting a virtual cash register. If you visit a high quality public library and leave without visiting the gift shop, no one bats an eye. Its the same here. However unlike the library we get no tax support this service is supported by advertising revenues and book sale commissions. When you visit us you improve our advertising position even if you never purchase anything. So you are always most welcome and always considered a patron.

 Some areas of nautical endeavor such as the sport of stand up paddle boarding haven't generated much literature yet. These days such developments often generate video first. If the best way to deliver information on a subject is video, we hyperlink you to a selection of the best of the free videos we could find, and provide vendor links to commercial video sources. Sometimes we hyperlink you to web sites. One way or another we are determined to become your first stop on any quest for marine information be it naval, commercial, scientific, or sport. When you start your search here you help support our continued evolution into the most comprehensive and easy to use source of any and all maritime, nautical information on the Internet.

 Just now, there is not that much "on the shelves" so our best suggestion is to look at the different subject categories on the right hand side of the Blog's "home page" such as "Classics", "Navigation", "Sailing" , etc. and decide the most likely area the book or video you are interested in would fall under, then click on that page and when you get in the described section simply scroll down looking for your title. What is there right now is in either descending order of prominence, or in descending order of difficulty. Few of the sections contain more than a little over a dozen titles at the moment. A very few of our least book dense sections are still simply in order of review.  There is some redundancy, for example, under NAVIGATION you will find that we start our description of navigational literature with three of the "Classics", but we don't provide very long descriptions of the first three books on navigation, which are in fact probably the three most famous such works. We instead provide hyperlinks to the vendor and refer you to our CLASSICS section where we have rather lengthy discussions of these three works. Some books may fall under more than one category. As soon as we can, we try to cross reference them as we did with the top navigation texts.

 If you don't know the title you are looking for simply go to the most likely section and browse. What is "on the shelves" at the moment is usually only a few dozen of the best works in each category with the exception of the "NAVAL INTEREST section which not only includes the largest selection of books that we have reviewed but also suggested reading lists from the Chief of Naval Operations, The Commandant of the Marine Corps , and the U.S. Naval Institute. The NAVAL INTEREST section is of interest to more than Navy , Marine Corps, and Coast Guard professionals. There is a lot of interest to the history buff and the follower of current events, and even fans of great adventure tales. If you find nothing of interest try using the Amazon general search engine. Amazon tries to carry all books in print.   We review and describe books and explain their impact. We only review maritime related books. At Amazon you'll basically get the publishers advertising copy and maybe reviews by readers. Our reviewers are experts in the field. While we are an authorized Amazon portal we also provide links to vendors of important titles not available on Amazon.

 So, before a book goes on the "virtual shelves" here with any recommendation from us, we have to evaluate and describe what's in it. We also try to provide other sources of English language maritime and nautical information through our blog postings which  generally follow our subject matter categories ("special pages" in blogeese). We provide interesting, informative, and entertaining hyperlinks to maritime news organizations, on line periodicals, and special information services, and through our blog postings occasionally provide analysis of important recent news worthy maritime events. Unfortunately at the moment the blogs aren't indexed by subject, only by date. At the end of 2013 we hope to archive the 2012 blogs by both subject and date but at the moment we simply have the scroll in order of posting by date. So if you have a particular blog you are looking for you may have to scroll randomly through for a while. 

  In Oceanography, via special hyper links you can listen to the ocean or take a virtual dive on the Great Barrier reef. You can also get a "God's eye" view of the world's ocean current system. If you are a commercial marine professional you can browse through electronic daily, weekly, and monthly trade journals in our "Merchant Marine Interest" section as well as find numerous useful books. All of our "special pages are constantly expanding.

 We try to stay organized while under construction, but we can't fully construct our finding and retrieval systems until a lot more "content" is loaded. The American Admiralty Book library elves promise that not only will this be the most informative and useful maritime site on the Internet when we near completion in a couple of years (it will never be "finished"), but it will be the most easy to use and navigate site ever. Our Chief Nautical Book Elf is two days older than water and doesn't like computer applications unless they are so user friendly that a complete computer illiterate could use them "with grace and aplomb". So please pardon our construction"dust" and revisit often. Eventually we will be so indexed, organized, and cross referenced that it will be near impossible to get lost and we will be so comprehensive that it will be inconceivable that you won't be able to find what you need. Yet we hope that just browsing our shelves will still be entertaining. However, our Chief Library Elf (CLE) is determined that no matter how much content is here, this site will be so easy to use that even he could use it, and he claims to be "dumber than a sack of hammers"

 And, did I mention that we are kind to our Moms and don't beat our dogs? Really, we will be indexed. Thanks for stopping by.





UNLOCKING THE MARITIME WORLD: Our mission is literally to  unlock the maritime world by making all English language maritime data easy to find,  available, evaluated when possible, and affordable. We suggest checking our subject pages to your right first, by clicking on the subject section most like your particular interest. These pages will bring you to short introductions,  free links, free videos, book reviews and book lists on the subjects. If that doesn't answer your question come back here and click any of the "super links" below that appear most appropriate, the broadest and most general is hyper linked just below. This is an entire web site of nothing but links to maritime websites and blogs of every description.

"The Mother of All Maritime Links": 

THE CIA's WORLD FACT BOOK: A comprehensive and constantly updated E-guide to the world with basic geographic and political facts with lots of illustrations and maps. Good news for Journalist and report writers of every sort including students, the illustrations and maps are in the public domain.

If you don't find the book you need among those we have reviewed so far or linked to click into the Amazon general search engine via the link below or as provided within our special interest sections which you reach by clicking on their titles listed to your right.


We think the following links to major sites aligned with our "Special Interest Pages" can often provide answers to commonly asked questions:


Note: The Cornell site when you arrive in the Admiralty section has two tabs : "Overview" and
"Resources". If you are doing legal research the "Resources" tab is a fast route into most relevant statutes, and regulations, Supreme Court Cases, and even some state cases.


MARITIME TV: Videos and television broadcasts on all manner of maritime subjects


Naval History Blog, Joint Effort of the U.S. Naval Institute and the Naval history and heritage Command.


A NAVAL NEWS CLIPPING SERVICE: NOSI Naval Open Source Intelligence:

OCEANOGRAPHY: The Scripts Institute



Find publications that mention a particular ship recently or deep into recorded history:  limited free service very reasonable short and long term subscriptions.



Introduction to American Admiralty Books: A two minute video set to classic music describing the services of American Admiralty Books links are found in the INTRODUCTION section.

Listen to the Deep: A site where the visitor may select from various sets of hydrophones set on the sea floor in various parts of the world and listen to enhanced sounds of the ocean with accompanying video elements to help explain what the visitor is hearing, the original hyperlink is in the Oceanography section.


GOOGLE SEA VIEW:  A site where sometime after September 2012 you will be able to view live underwater cameras on the Great Barrier Reef. Some control of camera angles by viewers gives the experience of a virtual dive. Until the site is complete an animation of how the site will work is provided at the hyperlink below.                               

  Google SeaView

AMAZING MARINE MAMMAL RESCUE: Attitudes have changed. Watch what happens when a bunch of ordinary beach goers encounter a school of dolphin in trouble.


TEMPORARY ARCHIVE: * The various temporary storage areas will be eliminated as the parallel background reading and reference blog AAB2 presently under construction is completed

POSTS FROM JANUARY 2012-March 2012


 Growing Scandal of the Closure of the exam Data Base to the Public

We have been providing our readers with a tour through some of the most famous of the "classics" of the nautical arts and sciences, and in the process explaining the relevance of the classics to the Coast Guard administered professional mariner occupational credentialing examinations. We have tried to explain how obsolete technology described in some of the classics is often not obsolete, but simply no longer "front line" in marine operations.We have also tried to explain why some older technologies are expected to be persistent in their appearance on the examinations into the future. In the process we have mentioned that the Coast Guard has already contracted for construction of a new examination question data base. This would be basically a collection of thousands of questions drawn from the source materials (particularly the "classics" described as well as the Code of Federal Regulations and other sources). That contract itself is in fact a source of great controversy.
 This link will bring the reader to a collection of documents that were posted on the National Mariner's Association's (NMA) website. The opening document is a letter from the Secretary of the NMA to the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) complaining of possible wrong doing by specific officers of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in the awarding of the contract. Attached to the letter to the Inspector General are copies of unanswered correspondence to the responsible Coast Guard officer and his superiors. According to NMA sources the Coast Guard Officer who first eliminated public access to the question data base retired and went to work for the classification society contracted to compile the new question data base.

 The GCMA letter has some surprising things to say about the importance of public access to the question data base. If you have been reading along the various descriptions of the classics so far you've no doubt noted our observation that there is no formal coordination between study text updating and examination construction. This was only a minor problem when public access to the data base was available. Marine education professionals could review the question base and observe when new technologies came into the examination construction process. This was an informal timing aid on updating nautical vocational curriculums and texts. Also the informal and regular review of the question data base by the marine educational community allowed the nautical scholars to petition the Coast Guard for the removal and reconstruction of inaccurate questions. The documents linked in here describe in part the number of faulty questions removed by nautical educator access.

  While it may seem like public access to professional examination data bases is a good idea from the test security view point, the NMA charges that test security is assured because the tests are made up of subject matter modules like "Rules to Avoid Collision'', "Navigation", "Seamanship", "Ships Business and Law", "Pollution Prevention", etc., of about ten to twenty questions each. The questions are pulled from a data base of thousands of questions and virtually no two tests are the same. No one could reasonably prepare by trying to memorize thousands of questions subject to periodic and irregular revision. According to the NMA the issue of test security vs test data base participation by the industry, maritime labor, and academics was resolved years ago by a Freedom of Information Act formal appeal. The NMA appears to seriously doubt the authority of the Coast Guard to over turn a precedent set by a formal administrative appeal.

 This controversial issue is one of the reasons why American Admiralty Books must articulate so many exceptions to our predictions of the role of the "classics" in future test preparation. Readers who are interested in this controversy may want to review the 17 pages of the hyper link for a full explanation of the related issues. The NMA we should mention is a highly respected organization of professional mariners that studies safety, security, educational, and social welfare issues affecting seamen and produces an excellent collection of numbered reports, lobbies Congress for corrective actions, and communicates with the Coast Guard and other safety agencies and departments on behalf of mariner safety. While assisted into being by AFL/CIO affiliated maritime unions, the NMA itself is not a union, but a professional association that does not provide collective bargaining services.

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 _._,_.___


Another Attack on the "Jones Act", Calling A Stinkweed a Rose

 "Creating and Restoring U.S. Investment and Stimulating Employment Act" of 2012, 112th Congress, House Resolution 2460. Who could argue with what appears to be the objectives of this bill if one were to judge by its title? Titles are deceptive especially coming out of an organization like our Congress which knows no limits on duplicity. What representative would like to face reelection with a record of having voted against a bill by this title? However calling a stinkweed a rose doesn't make the smelly ugly weed a rose. H.R. 2460 by any name is simply another and deadly attack on the "Jones Act" Cabotage law (see our admiralty law section for a description of "Cabotage law") protections that keep the extensive water borne trade between the American States in the capable, safe, and loyal hands of the United States Merchant Marine (see our Merchant Marine Interest section for the legal definition of the "United States Merchant Marine").

 This bill was introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas and constitutes a wholly unacceptable attack on the protection of our coast wise and internal maritime trades. This act would exempt foreign-flag cruise ships from the requirements of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) and allow them to call on consecutive U.S. ports. An example of some of the worst effects of such a bill may be seen by examining the current state of "Fall Foliage Cruises." Presently small cruise ships under 1600 gross tons and operated by American crews under the American Flag pick up passengers in the Fall as far south as Baltimore and proceed north bound stopping at various scenic small ports on our East Coast attempting to terminate in New England or adjacent parts of Canada in time for the peak fall colors. Because of the series of American port calls this trade is restricted to American flag vessels especially later in the season when the trips more often terminate in New England. Under H.R. 2460 any cruise ship clearing customs ultimately for Canada may call at U.S. ports in between embarking passengers for the next segment of the tour.

 These foreign flag ships don't have to meet U.S. Coast Guard safety standards, don't have to be built in the United States, are not manned by U.S. citizens. It is doubtful that what is left of our shrunken overnight passenger trade can be sustained in the face of such competition.

 Overnight cruise ships are sometimes built with federal subsidizes because of their potential naval utility as hospital ships and barracks boats. Remember that during Hurricane Katrina the U.S. had to charter idle foreign cruise ships to house emergency and recovery workers in New Orleans. Our own overnight passenger trade has shrunk due to such foreign competition.  However, a useful remnant still exists in the under 1600 gross registered tons sized vessels running such programs as fall Foliage tours on the East Coast, and occasional attempts to run full size ships in inter-island tours of the Hawaiian Islands. Only the smaller vessels compete in the West Coast to Alaska inside passage tours. Because of the ability of foreign flag cruise ships to clear their first U.S. port for Canada before calling at an Alaskan port, foreign operators dominate on our own portion of the Inside Passage. We have a very few larger craft designed exclusively for the Rivers Trade operating on our interior waters. This entire inventory of passenger vessels is legally available to the government for emergencies where floating assets with beds and bathrooms are needed. This need may not be in some overseas theater of war as was illustrated by Hurricane Katrina. Yet in Katrina our government rightly decided not to call on our shrunken overnight passenger operators to provide for the bunk needs in Katrina ravaged New Orleans. This may have been because the industry is so weak and September is an important time in this largely seasonal industry. Given those facts providing government service at New Orleans, while a clear demonstration of the security utility of these sometimes Maritime Administration subsidized vessels, may have outright killed the domestic industry.

 During the second Iraq war we also saw our government chartering foreign flag cruise ships as floating rest and recreation centers for our troops who were stuck indefinitely in a theater of operations surrounded by nations where some American ideas of good clean fun, or simply religious practice, or dietary preferences are punishable by death, imprisonment or dismemberment. At the time of this event our only active American full size cruise ships were struggling to survive in the Hawaiian inter-island trade. So again we resorted to chartering foreign flag vessels.  There is a defense utility to these types of ships and we have a legal right to use those of our "naval auxiliary" the "U.S. Merchant Marine." But we periodically cut off or reduce construction subsidies for American ships. The looser safety rules and low labor costs of foreign ships have run our trade from the high seas. Our remaining capacity for back up hospital ships, floating troop rests, and barracks barges is a very few mostly small ships. However as long as there is an American flag overnight cruise industry we do have some floating bunks we absolutely can press into service.

Does it make sense to endanger this remnant industry, unemploy these American seamen, and commit to depending on foreign sources for both our domestic (think Katrina) and foreign floating berth needs. Clearly this law maker Rep. Blake Farenhold (R-Texashas lost sight of the purpose of a "naval auxiliary" and the defense security, disaster recovery utility of typical "naval auxiliary vessels."  Think about it. Even at its most subsidized level, and few are subsidized today, we get on call naval availability on these infrequently used but occasionally critical vessels for a tiny fraction of their costs. Our defense budget eliminates entirely the crewing costs and upkeep and maintenance costs until actually needed. H.R. 2460 not only destroys American jobs despite its deceptive title but destroys an important naval auxiliary feature of our Merchant Marine which has retreated to the heart of our Merchant Marine, the protected domestic trades. In these supposedly protected domestic trades resides our only hope of resurrection of true transocean sea lift capacity when naval necessity calls for it. We have no assurance that the foreign flagged merchant marines of the world will go into harm's way to carry bullets and beans to our troops when the shooting starts. The U.S. Merchant Marine has never failed us. American merchant mariners suffered one of the heaviest casualty rates in World War II, especially in the early days of the Allied sea lift to England which coincided with the German U-boats "Happy Time." American Merchant mariners and merchant ships penetrated miles up the Vietnamese rivers carrying beans and bullets to our soldiers throughout the Vietnam war. Irresponsible and ill informed acts like H.R. 2460 by Congressmen like Rep. Farenhold not only kill American jobs and ships, but kill or greatly reduce already reduced naval auxiliary capacities and capabilities.

Voters of Texas stop the madness! Call, E-mail, and write, visit if you can, this misinformed representative. Voters everywhere instruct your representatives to stop this bill. This isn't a party matter, it shouldn't be a political matter. Protecting our cabotage trade should be a fixed feature of our defense and homeland security policy supported by both parties and a constant between White House occupants. Read the American Admiralty Books recommended history "The Way of the Ship" (see our "merchant marine Interests section) for a better understanding of the security importance and economic importance of our supposedly protected but constantly threatened domestic water borne trades. Every voter should know something about the defense and security utility of America's domestic trades U.S. Merchant Marine, as well as the naval utility of our seriously depressed traditional merchant deep sea transports. The provided hyperlink will bring you to a copy of the bill.




 A Surface Transportation Reauthorization proposal is now being formulated by Congress. American Admiralty Information Services (AAIS) had its attention drawn to the proposal by a report in the MM&P (Masters, Mates, and Pilot's Union) on line publication The Wheelhouse. It was reported by "The Wheelhouse" that Congressman Bob Gibbs, in an address last week to The Propeller Club of Washington, D.C., expressed strong support for inclusion of a maritime transportation provision in the pending Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill.  Gibbs is chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The Wheelhouse reports:

"The Committee on Transportation is currently formulating a multi-year transportation authorization bill that includes funding and sets policy for federal highway, rail and other surface transit programs. In the past, maritime transportation has not been included in these bills. Recognizing the importance of commercial shipping to the nations economy, Gibbs is working to change that. MM&P has actively pushed for inclusion of a maritime title in the bill."

Among the provisions advocated by MM&P and endorsed by Gibbs is a change to current law that would remove impediments to development of the marine highway system.  The congressman says that the U.S. freight transportation network could be better utilized if double taxation under the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) of cargo moved by vessels in domestic commerce were eliminated."

 The "Marine Highway System" is a concept of "short sea routes" connecting major American Ports and pulling specific non time sensitive cargos off of overcrowded highways and moving them to the heart of the port cities by Cabotage law protected American flag shipping.  Additional proposals for maritime inclusions in the bill include an expansion of the allowable uses of tax-deferred Capital Construction Fund (CCF) accounts maintained by shipping companies for upgrading and maintaining their fleets and a proposed provision would further port dredging and interior waterway navigation projects.

Based on the report of his address to the Washington Propeller Club, Gibbs is optimistic that the transportation bill will receive full House of Representatives consideration later this winter. The "Short Sea Project" especially creates jobs for American "Jones Act Seamen." See our "Merchant Marine Interest" page for our views on the importance of such seamen, particularly our review of "The Way of the Ship"


Naval Interest:


Into waters he doesn't Know Very Well as His Recent Grounding Illustrates.

 As we report this, it is Sunday July 15, 2012. Last Wednesday a Chinese naval frigate ran aground while patrolling disputed waters in the South China Sea. Of course "disputed" is a relative term. The ship was only 70 miles off of the Republic of the Philippines Province of Palawan. The nearest bit of Chinese undisputed territory is a lot more distant than that and no where near the usual 200 miles accorded to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under international conventions. The event at least begs the question of how naval professionals can go aground in what they claim are their own territorial waters. Why don't they know their supposedly "own waters" better? Oddly, Philippine Coast Guard craft don't go aground there.

China ("the dragon", as we refer to China and its navy in this long running series) doesn't care about international conventions. China claims sovereign rights over the entire South China Sea. The fact that some of the islands are clearly located within the Exclusive Economic Zones of Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, or most troublesome, Taiwan, doesn't seem to impress the Dragon any more than the international convention that limits outright claims of territorial waters (as distinguished from Outer Continental Shelf Waters or Exclusive Economic Zones) to 12 miles from a base line ashore on the mainland of the adjacent coastal state. 

 Today, Sunday July 15, 2012 the Chinese Navy freed its frigate from the Half Moon Shoal in the Spratlys, only 70 miles from The Philippine Province of Palawan. The frigate had been in the area on what the dragon calls "routine sovereignty patrols". The patrol consisted of discouraging Philippine fishermen from entering their own traditional and internationally recognized EEZ waters. The Philippines have asked Bejing for an explanation of this obvious encroachment into their waters. Don't hold your breath Philippines, the Dragon has stated its case , it owns the South China sea because it has the might to enforce its will, or at least it thinks so.

 Earlier in the year the Dragon stood off with the Philippines over a similar incursion into traditional Philippine waters at Scarborough Shoal. There was no shooting, but the stand off didn't end until foul weather forced all parties out of the area. We have been following these developments in the South China Sea because the national media rarely pays any attention, but we find the area a potential naval combat flash point. The Dragon has a lot of naval power and it is constantly increasing. We worry about the Philippines because they are very weak in comparison to Chinese naval power,and they are our ally. 

 So far the Dragon has dealt with the Philippines with less violence than they have with other weak neighbors. Could it be that it is because the Philippines is a long standing historic U.S. ally? The Dragon treads a little lightly around real naval powers like Japan and India. But a look at how the Dragon dealt with unarmed sailors of Vietnam, viewed at the time as both powerless and friendless is illustrative of what can happen if the Dragon doesn't feel the presence of some counter power. This is one ruthless and troublesome Dragon in its swimming apparition.

 We have repeated the hyperlink below which depicts the Chinese Navy machine gunning dozens of Vietnamese sailors planting their national flag in an unarmed exercise off of one of the islands legitimately claimed by Vietnam. We apologize if you are a regular reader and have seen this before. If you are new to our coverage of the South China Sea we feel you need to see the Dragon in action. Another misstep like the one caught on tape with one of our allies like Japan or the Philippines and the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the dragon could be at each other's throats over night..

If you are new to issue here is a hyperlink to an over view: 

And for everyone, a geographical brief of the Spratly Islands, a major bone of contention".


MERCHANT MARINE INTEREST, Continuing coverage of the Unintentional Grounding and Sinking of the Costa Concordia

Tracking the Continuing Saga of the COSTA CONCORDIA:
  If there was one concept that the old American Admiralty Bureau Forensic Examiners hammered home in the admiralty courts of America in the 1990s it was the concept of the "causation matrix." Bureau examiners were aware of the court's search for the "proximate cause" in most maritime accidents but always took pains to trace out and describe the entire "causation matrix" of proximate and primary causes and contributing factors. If the proximate cause was "human error" by the officer in charge of the navigation watch, the Bureau Forensic Examiners always asked why the error was made. If say, "fatigue" was a factor, the inquiry would continue, why? If fatigue was a normal product of a two watch system instead of the standard and recommended three watch system, a managerial choice under certain circumstances; then "fatigue" was a contributing factor and could become a liability game changer.
If crew fatigue is a predictable by product of a managerial choice and a contributing factor in an accident, the ship owner may not be able to take advantage of the "limitation of liability". This is a relief that American courts offer ship owners in accidents not caused by anything within their "privity and knowledge."  Thus the "proximate cause"; human error by the officer in charge of the navigation watch remains the same but the liability cookie crumbles differently. 

Of course we are not saying that fatigue was a factor in the Costa Concordia accident, we simply don't know the causation matrix yet, we are just providing an example of how the concept works.  Continuing our example; the officer in charge of the navigation watch is usually a professional with a third party competency certification.  In the past owners were rarely held liable for his professional errors.  But if a contributing factor was fatigue and fatigue becomes predictable as a result of corporate policies, the owners may no longer stand behind the old defense of; "We hired a licensed professional and should have been able to rely on his judgment."  Judges often found that argument compelling and allowed limitation of liability, limiting the ship owners liability for the results of the accident to the post accident value of their ship and cargo and any freight pending. Now that causation is more often considered a matrix rather than a single factor, and contributing factors are more often identified in the investigative phase, it is harder to predict how liability may be apportioned by the courts in the end.

 As my old torts professor used to say; "You need three actors for a tort. The tort feasor is the actor who did the negligent thing that caused injury. The tort victim is the party injured? Thedeep pocket is the party from which the tort victim seeks compensation, and may not be one and the same as the tort feasor, often the deep pocket is an insurance company. If any of these actors are missing, most especially the deep pocket, you don't have a tort case."

 The modern day extension of investigation into proximate cause and all contributing factors often acts to hold the only real "deep pockets," the ship owner and his insurers, in the case where historically they may have escaped through the ever narrowing "limitation of liability" hatch. Merchant Marine Officers may be able to purchase "license defense insurance" so that they can afford legal counsel in the event of an accident. But it is virtually impossible for licensed officers to purchase meaningful liability insurance. Even an officer who is eventually completely exonerated in the wake of an accident is usually financially ruined before the end of related litigation.  The Italian Coast Guard appears fully up to date on maritime investigative techniques and the concept of the causation matrix. Follow the provided hyper link to the excellent and free maritime daily news service and blog for maritime professionals gCaptain. com where they are detailing the aftermath of this latest cruise ship accident daily.


MERCHANT MARINE INTEREST, Continuing coverage of the Unintentional Grounding and Sinking of the Costa Concordia

Tracking the Continuing Saga of the COSTA CONCORDIA:
  If there was one concept that the old American Admiralty Bureau Forensic Examiners hammered home in the admiralty courts of America in the 1990s it was the concept of the "causation matrix." Bureau examiners were aware of the court's search for the "proximate cause" in most maritime accidents but always took pains to trace out and describe the entire "causation matrix" of proximate and primary causes and contributing factors. If the proximate cause was "human error" by the officer in charge of the navigation watch, the Bureau Forensic Examiners always asked why the error was made. If say, "fatigue" was a factor, the inquiry would continue, why? If fatigue was a normal product of a two watch system instead of the standard and recommended three watch system, a managerial choice under certain circumstances; then "fatigue" was a contributing factor and could become a liability game changer.
If crew fatigue is a predictable by product of a managerial choice and a contributing factor in an accident, the ship owner may not be able to take advantage of the "limitation of liability". This is a relief that American courts offer ship owners in accidents not caused by anything within their "privity and knowledge."  Thus the "proximate cause"; human error by the officer in charge of the navigation watch remains the same but the liability cookie crumbles differently. 

Of course we are not saying that fatigue was a factor in the Costa Concordia accident, we simply don't know the causation matrix yet, we are just providing an example of how the concept works.  Continuing our example; the officer in charge of the navigation watch is usually a professional with a third party competency certification.  In the past owners were rarely held liable for his professional errors.  But if a contributing factor was fatigue and fatigue becomes predictable as a result of corporate policies, the owners may no longer stand behind the old defense of; "We hired a licensed professional and should have been able to rely on his judgment."  Judges often found that argument compelling and allowed limitation of liability, limiting the ship owners liability for the results of the accident to the post accident value of their ship and cargo and any freight pending. Now that causation is more often considered a matrix rather than a single factor, and contributing factors are more often identified in the investigative phase, it is harder to predict how liability may be apportioned by the courts in the end.

 As my old torts professor used to say; "You need three actors for a tort. The tort feasor is the actor who did the negligent thing that caused injury. The tort victim is the party injured? Thedeep pocket is the party from which the tort victim seeks compensation, and may not be one and the same as the tort feasor, often the deep pocket is an insurance company. If any of these actors are missing, most especially the deep pocket, you don't have a tort case."

 The modern day extension of investigation into proximate cause and all contributing factors often acts to hold the only real "deep pockets," the ship owner and his insurers, in the case where historically they may have escaped through the ever narrowing "limitation of liability" hatch. Merchant Marine Officers may be able to purchase "license defense insurance" so that they can afford legal counsel in the event of an accident. But it is virtually impossible for licensed officers to purchase meaningful liability insurance. Even an officer who is eventually completely exonerated in the wake of an accident is usually financially ruined before the end of related litigation.  The Italian Coast Guard appears fully up to date on maritime investigative techniques and the concept of the causation matrix. Follow the provided hyper link to the excellent and free maritime daily news service and blog for maritime professionals gCaptain. com where they are detailing the aftermath of this latest cruise ship accident daily.

 The hyperlink associated with this blog posting will take you to a full Internet account of today's "bridge allision" in Kentucky where a "ship" hit a bridge and took out the main span. The "ship" DELTA MARINER is an actual ship in the sense of the word of having real ocean transport capability and indeed entered the river navigation system from sea. Most non-maritime professionals, at best are aware of towboat and barge traffic on our inland rivers, but few people expect to see ocean going ships operating on Kentucky waters. So we thought that we'd take this opportunity to explain a few unique aspects of our inland merchant marine, and introduce our readers to some unique nautical vocabulary, especially if you are a non-maritime professional visitor to our humble site.

 The DELTA MARINER is a "ship" of about 8,000 plus "gross registered tons." By contrast, typical bulk carriers or container ships calling at New Orleans from sea and unable to navigate higher up the Mississippi than Baton Rouge would be of about 50,000, to in excess of 100,000 "Gross registered tons." This should give you some idea of the relative size of the of the DELTA MARINER. She is a sort of "mini ship" designed to carry special cargoes on the sea or the inland waterways including the major river systems of the United States. She isn't much bigger than what rivermen would call a "jumbo barge." But the DELTA MARINER and other mini type ships are economic to operate for certain types of highly specialized cargos. The DELTA MARINER carries rocket parts from inland manufacturing sites in places like Alabama to places in Florida and California where the parts are assembled into rockets used to launch satellites. So, not only is there towboat and barge "shipping" on our larger river systems but there is seagoing commerce as well with no need for trans-loading to seagoing ships at tidewater.

 When considering size comparisons you need to know something about the maritime legal art known as "Admeasurement." When maritime professionals speak of a vessel in terms of"registered tonnage" they are not describing the vessel in terms of units of weight. Registered tonnage is a unit of volume. Today a "gross registered ton" is 100 cubic feet of enclosed space. By contrast a vessel's "registered net tonnage" is also expressed in terms of 100 cubic feet of enclosed space but excludes certain spaces that don't have any capacity for generating revenue such as the pilot house and engine room and certain voids that can't be used for cargo. Why "tons" as a unit of volume? Our Customs laws actually started evolving during Roman times. In those days the highest value cargo that a ship could carry in any real quantity was wine. The wine was carried in large earthen jars called "Tuns." Over time cargos changed and carrying capacity estimation changed and the English speaking countries that dominated world maritime trade settled on 100 cubic feet of enclosed space as the "Tun" of the day; but the word had long since degenerated in usage to "Ton." So at least in Customs law a "Ton" can be a unit of volume, though it can be a unit of weight as well.

Part of the problem of estimating accurately how much over head clearance a ship needs to clear an overhead obstruction like a bridge span or power line is called "Estimating air draft." We doubt that the DELTA MARINER could have hit a bridge if she hadn't miscalculated her air draft or needed overhead clearance during her voyage planning stage. If the master or pilot had known that it was even going to be close, the ship would not have proceeded through the span without pause to recalculate.

Here is a problem for mini ships. Because they do go to sea they are usually commanded by Ocean Masters, professional mariners who have been examined by the Coast Guard for blue water navigational skills. The same master who may have miscalculated his air draft on the DELTA MARINER would probably be highly unlikely to do that in a coastal port. To calculate air draft on a bridge that is charted under NOAA's charting system the voyage planner/navigator need only determine his own ship's air draft from the ship's plans which should show her height from the keel to her highest protuberance. Subtract the draft of the ship (her depth in the water caused by her load of fuel and cargo) from the ship's maximum height and you have "own ship's air draft." Now the navigator looks at the height of the bridge in the span to be navigated from the chart with perhaps a cross check of a publication like the "Coast Pilot." All he or she has to do then is compute the height of the tide at the expected time of arrival at the bridge and subtract from the bridge height which is published at "mean low water" the effect of the tide at the moment of arrival. ( Of course at extreme low water the effect would be added to the available clearance under the bridge span.)

 By contrast computing clearance and air draft on the American rivers is fraught with complications. There is no tide, one has to contend with "river stages" these aren't as easy to predict as tides and the range of a river stage change in feet, can be double digit over night at times. While the second deck officer on a river vessel is often called the "Pilot" the Coast Guard stopped offering traditional pilot examinations for the inland waters beyond the normal limits of navigation for typical deep sea ships years ago. So it is entirely up to any officer allowed to cruise the inland waterways to learn the unique skills of the inland services on his own if rivers are considered "lesser included waters" on his or her license. The shift that occurs on the rivers from the standard NOAA charts to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "Flood Control and Navigation Maps" can present problems for the deep sea officer who lacks supervised experience on the rivers. With the river "maps" vice traditional navigation charts depths are not generally shown. In lieu of depths at mean low water the navigational project depth (usually 9 to 12 feet is shown and a red dashed line indicates the approximate location. The right of way for collision avoidance purposes is different on the rivers than in coastal waters. There was a reason why river navigators were and are called "pilots" but in terms of drawing the river in detail from memory, or being held to specific posting trips where the true "River Pilot" had to see his section of the river "in daylight and dark, on a high river, a low river and on a rising and a falling river" before being admitted to the formal test are gone. The charting or "mapping" of the great American Rivers has improved greatly over the years since Mark Twain, and the rivers themselves have been physically improved for navigation but they are still a very different experience from coastal navigation. Small ships that navigate from sea to Kentucky require a unique skill set that is not always understood by management, the usual sources of Captains and mates, or the Coast Guard.

The related hyperlink will take you to a news story complete with color photographs of the accident site and ship.


MERCHANT MARINE INTEREST, Hyperlink to Accident Coverage

 The hyperlink associated with this blog entry will take you to website with multiple entries by multiple professionals including a track line narration by a Master Mariner, accident reconstructionists and numerous comments by reviewers.MERCHANT MARINE INTEREST, Unintentional Grounding
The Nautical Institute Weighs in on COSTA CONCORDIA 
The Nautical Institute is a well respected international body of professional mariners that concerns itself with a wide variety of maritime operational, managerial, labor, and technical issues that affect the lives, and the professions, associated with seafaring commerce. We invite our readers to compare the Nautical Institute's position (via the associated hyperlink) with the cautionary note that we published in our earlier blog on the subject. American Admiralty Books shares the concern of the Nautical Institute over the apparent rush to judgment in this case. We repeat our previously expressed concern that our visitors read our own posted information, and all media coverage and analysis in this period prior to the conclusion of the official inquiries with great circumspection.
 We repeat our observation that none of the available information currently being published has stood the test of admissibility as evidence yet, and no witnesses have been sworn or cross examined as yet. The testing of the information and witnesses will begin soon and will be reported in the media. Some of that information we will hyperlink to here and perhaps analyze and comment upon. But in doing so we remind everyone that none of the information is fully tested until the final gavel in an official tribunal or investigative forum sounds. We also remind our visitors of our earlier observation that causation in an accident is rarely sole, proximate, and direct but more usually associated with a matrix of primary causes and contributing factors. Today, modern transportation forensic professionals believe all elements of the "causation matrix" should be examined and described in detail in official investigations.
 In cautioning against the "the rush to judgment" we don't believe that the Nautical Institute intended to request a cessation of media coverage of the event. We would join the Nautical Institute in calling for more use of qualifying and cautionary language and the avoidance of sensationalism in the media coverage. We do believe that the public, especially the potential passenger public, has an interest in the causation and lessons learned. Without careful media coverage prior to the formal convening of an official forum, we doubt that a "technical" forum's findings would make it past the editorial desk of many general news outlets. The media itself has an obligation to help keep public interest high enough to care about the final findings and to demand that legislators consider any actions that the official fact finders might suggest to prevent a similar event in the future. So we will continue to carry some coverage and analysis of the event. We will also take pains to remind every one of the untested and sometimes speculative nature of any such coverage. It should be the purpose of all pre-official inquiry findings coverage to keep up public interest and understanding until the gavel finally pounds. That will be quite a while from now.
American Admiralty Books is not part of the news media. However as a reviewer of all English language maritime literature we monitor the media, describe various strictly maritime media outlets, provide links to such maritime news sources, and occasionally offer analysis of some aspects of highly publicized events as we have in this case. We want to attract to our site visitors who want to know what our group of maritime professionals think about a publication before buying it. We want to attract the researcher in need of reliable information on anything maritime. Our blog postings allows us to look up every now and then at current events and offer comments on the daily news of consequence to maritime professionals, and once in a while the general public.Our first dedication is to the truth, be that truth technical, legal, factual, or historical. As reviewers of other people's writings we offer a lot of opinion. We do our utmost to insure that our opinion is based on a review of the truth, but we wish to remind our site visitors and readers that our "recommendations," "suggestions," and other comments about publications, periodicals, and web sites reviewed or simply described herein is just that, opinion.

               NAVAL INTEREST, History

Secret Agent Man - From Guest Blogger Vic Socotra

I woke on the farm this morning. I slept on the couch in the great room, listening to the mournful sound of the freight trains sounding their whistles at the grade crossings over by the hamlet of Winston. I thought of my Irish ancestors at work on that very track, heading south and west to Nashville, where they took up residence prior to the Late Unpleasantness Between the States. 

I have a meeting in Charlottesville with a new Government customer, and coming south under blue skies of a late-January seemed to make a lot of sense. I don’t want jinx anything on this la Nina-influenced winter, but we may have dodged the worst that the season can throw at us- four weeks more in the Short Month and the azaleas will be poking up.

No cat, sad to say, though she may show up on patrol in the morning. I will refresh the food in the bowl down by the garage, which has been consumed by some critter or another. 

The deer are back after the hunting season has closed, venturing out of the deeper scraggly woods and back onto my pastures. The droning of a small private plane miles away and the barking of a dog in the middle distance were the only sounds, save those of the rustling branches in a fitful breeze. 

I had an hour or so of productive time after I bustled around, and could have hung a new thermometer on the deck, or got to some of the chores that have a timeless quality. Then I thought about reading a book- and actual paper-printed book- and listening to satellite radio. 

Easy choice on that score. I have a Scandinavian blood-soaked detective story in progress, and a strange surreal account of life in a small-town in North Dakota called “Down Town Owl” by Chuck Closterman. I hefted them both and with a sigh, decided on a third. 

An old shipmate from Texas had his publisher send me a copy of his latest book, a tome about the life and times of a Confederate naval acquisition specialist. I had thought about buying a copy, although I gulped at the price. They want $55 for the lengthy trade paperback, which is what I pay for the folio editions of the great books that I use as decorator  items. This self-publishing business is a hard one, and I felt a certain obligation to support other non-mainstream authors. I was going to get to that, when a hefty manila envelope arrived in the Saturday snail-mail. 

It was a free copy of Texas Walt’s book, sent to me in my capacity as editor of the little professional Quarterly, and for the purposes of generating a favorable review. I could put it in the pile of things to do in the flurry before press time, but I have learned to just touch things once, get it out of the way and move on.

I sat on the couch with the rich sunlight lowering across the front porch and making last fall’s ornamental grasses stand in bold gold. Then I starting reading about Richmond’s Secret Agent Man in old Europe, the procurer of gunboats and commerce raiders and blockade runners who drove Mr. Lincoln’s admirals nuts. 

If this were a review, which it is not, per se, I would start it like this: 

34 Bulloch cover.jpg

James D. Bulloch: Secret Agent and Mastermind of the Confederate Navy

Paperback: 368 pages/$55 

Publisher: McFarland (January 20, 2012)

ISBN-10: 0786466596

ISBN-13: 978-0786466597 (ebook)

Orders: or toll-free at 800-253-2187

I would have noted that the Gazette was proud to note the issuance of the first biography of James D. Bulloch, agent extraordinaire of the Confederate Navy who operated a vast network of procurement, intelligence collection and privateering from Europe throughout the American Civil War. Bulloch was an ingenious secret agent who conjured up a fleet of cruisers and blockade-runners from his base in Liverpool against incredible odds and under enormous pressure by the Lincoln government in Washington. Prior to the war, Bulloch was an extraordinary US naval officer and commercial sea captain. The book details Bulloch's exploits and his impact on American history, and that of the larger world stage. 

This is a most entertaining account of a sadly neglected aspect of the industrial age global war. In addition to all that, Bulloch survived the war, remaining in exile in Liverpool, but remaining life-long friends with Theodore Roosevelt, Sr., and was the favorite Uncle and mentor of a future U.S. President, Teddy Roosevelt. There is also a tantalizing possibility that Bulloch and his family provided the inspiration for the young Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind.”

As the former head of the Navy's intelligence operations in Europe, Walt Wilson felt a special connection with Bulloch, and writes evocatively of the world of espionage that made the American Civil War a global enterprise. Blockade-runners and commerce raiders were Bullock’s stock in trade, that and the collection of intelligence from a network of Rebel agents across the continent. 

In large measure, Bulloch’s accomplishments were overshadowed by the exploits of the ships he acquired and launched on the world ocean to prey on Union merchantmen and the whaling fleet. 

"James D. Bulloch: Secret Agent" is the second in a trilogy of books about three important Confederate naval commanders that have been overlooked for far too long. 

34 the sea king.jpg

The first book, "The Sea King: The Life of James Iredell Waddell" (Birlinn, 2009) detailed the life of the man who commanded the famed commerce raider CSS Shenandoah, the only American Civil War vessel to circumnavigate the globe. 

Using the ship that Bulloch had procured for him, Waddell singlehandedly destroyed the US whaling fleet and almost brought the British Empire into the war on the side of the South. Waddell was a thorn in the side of the Johnson Administration (the first one) in the immediate post-war period in which Waddell remained in command and at large. He finally surrendered to the Royal Navy after a 22,000-mile journey to Liverpool. Proclaimed an American hero upon his death in 1886 he was given the only state funeral ever awarded for a former Confederate office. 

Second in the series, Bulloch’s biography is a joint effort between shipmate Walt Wilson and Gary L. McKay about the most mysterious naval official on either side of the American Civil War. 

34 Walt Wilson.jpg

(“Texas Walt” Wilson strikes a pose before USS San Antonio (LPD-17) lead ship of her class of amphibious transport docks. She is the first ship named for the city of San Antonio, TX.)

Gary L. McKay is the co-author, and is a “lead researcher at Float Research UK, a dedicated geo-spatial engineering firm specializing in remote sensing and digital cartography.” He had 17 years experience in the US Navy and US Army within the electronic intelligence, intelligence analysis and counterintelligence communities, so his chops are good. 

He claims his next project is a secret, but I am betting it might be about Raphael Semmes, Confederate Admiral and skipper of the deadly raider CSS Alabama. 


(CSA Rear Admiral Raphael Semmes, Captain of the Alabama, who took his war with the Union to the world ocean.His epic losing engagement with USS Kearsarge off the French coast electrified Europe.)

I won’t break the other secret, which is that of course it will be a positive review. You have to help out other authors. It is a tough world for us- I saw and article in the times in the darkness of the great room on the glowing computer screen that book giant Barnes and Nobel may be headed for the ashcan of history, along with all the other big chains.

Apparently Amazon is killing them off. I felt bad when I read the article. B. Dalton Bookseller and Crown Books are long gone. Borders collapsed last year. Now it is just B&N against the implacable Kindle and the Amazonian business model. 

Shoot, that is how I get my reading stuff these days, except for the fancy editions that mostly just serve as three-dimensional wallpaper in my living room. 

To get his book on the street, Texas Walt’s publisher has to ask for $55 a copy. This is a hard world, isn’t it?

I would have bought it, really I would. But I would probably have bought it from Amazon. 

Copyright 2012 Vic Socotra


OCEANOGRAPHY, Earth Sciences

Antarctic Discovery, Within the Definition of "Glacial Pace" Two Ice Bodies are "Speeding"
Source:  Huff Post Internet Newspaper "Green" Section February 1, 2012
 A pair of teardrop shaped "lakes" which sit atop an Antarctic Ice Shelf have been found to be moving at the incredibly fast (for glacial movement) speed of 5 feet per day. The "lakes" actually sit atop the George VI (The "Kings Speech Guy) Ice shelf in Antarctica and move much faster than the underlying ice shelf. The driving process behind this "blinding" speed (in glacial terms) is something called "Viscous Buckling." Pour something gooey like melted chocolate over an obstruction like a wafer and you can see a flow pattern that appears to feature a sort of folding back process. That's it, "Viscous Buckling." The "lakes" are pouring horizontally and running into Alexander Island and folding around it. The process is mechanical and not presently driven by climatic change though the area has warmed over two degrees on average over the last decade. However this glacial "speeding" is of high interest to earth scientists studying climate change and sea level change. It is believed that in a very few years the process will be affected dramatically by climate change if current changes continue. Follow the hyperlink to the HUFF POST original story.Check our Oceanography Section for more detailed readings on the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and climate change generally.

NAVAL INTEREST, Keeping Naval Classics in Print


 Popular appeal does not equate to importance in maritime literature, "back lists must be preserved and distributed. The U.S. Naval Institute is leading the way.

 "The back list" is a term that was used by Vice Admiral Peter H. Daly, USN (Ret.) Chief Operating Officer of the Naval Institute in his monthly column in the US NAVAL INSTITUTE'S PROCEEDINGS  January 2012 issue. He was describing something that American Admiralty Books had previously mentioned in our description of the Naval Institute's publishing activities in our "Classics" section. In our article we described how the Institute had struggled with the decision to publish realistic naval fiction but finally gave the nod to a previously little known author and the result was Tom Clancy's HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER . We then went on to describe the Naval Institute's dedication to important but slow selling works like the DICTIONARY OF NAVAL TERMS, and NAVAL WRITING GUIDE. These works of professional importance, but appealing to a small market along with older works of lasting value, which long ago passed from general market appeal, are the sort of publications that the Admiral refers to when he uses the term "back list".

 In his column last month Vice Admiral Daly described how the Naval Institutes "digital publishing" program was "breathing new life into the Institute's  back list of books." He went on to note how before the development of eBooks and print on demand technology those seeking out of print works were left to "Scouring used book markets for copies."  Just last week we described the Naval Institute's new e Book program with hyperlinks to about nine of their 53 (to date) titles available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google, and Apple. We look forward to reviewing all of their titles. Just as sales of best selling naval fiction helped provide the profits to keep the Institute's "back list" open, the cost savings represented by the Institute's eBooks and print on demand services are keeping the back list alive. These and other future technologies and the ever growing list of "back list," "classic" ,and important but limited market works, point to a possible future real profit in providing "back list" offerings.

The Naval Institute was providing back list services long before the potential for profit was in sight. By comparison American Admiralty Books which is highly committed to "back list" services is newer on scene than the Naval Institute which has been around since 1873. Our experience with the back list began in our Admiralty Law Section. While starting construction on that section we soon were amazed to find Amazon and other vendors offering used American Admiralty Bureau books for as much or more than $300. We were aware that these books are available from Marine Education Textbooks (124 North Van Ave., Houma, LA 70363-5895; Phone: 985 879-3866) within their original price range of $5 to $150 depending on title. Where American Admiralty Bureau books are described in our pages we always provide phone and snail mail information on Marine Education Textbooks (MET). While MET is very well known among professional work boat officers for their Coast Guard Merchant Marine Officer examination guides and study materials they are not as well known to the maritime legal market. We traced the apparent disappearance of American Admiralty Bureau titles to a change in both zip code and area codes for MET. Those two changes coupled with a change and a couple disruptions in their Internet marketing activities coupled with the "back list" nature of American Admiralty Bureau publications combined to make the works of the American Admiralty Bureau seem to disappear from the market.

The works of the American Admiralty Bureau, were dedicated to fighting "junk science" in the admiralty court room. Few people read titles like "American Admiralty Bureau's COMMENTATOR VOLUME 5 , What is a Vessel? Who is a Seaman, Comments on the Proofs of Vessel Status and Seaman Status after Ocean Ranger" but those who do are engaged in some serious litigation with the quality of life of some seaman and piles of insurance money at stake. So if the book seems hard to come by it could well fetch $300 on the used book market. The back list of maritime literature is important.

 American Admiralty Books will always pay attention to the back list. We review maritime publications both in and out of print. We try to provide information to our visitors on how to obtain copies, even inter-library loans of back list publications. We monitor the efforts of others in keeping the "back lists" available. We certainly applaud the efforts of the Naval Institute in this regard. The Institute is dedicated to keeping the entirety of naval literature available. We think they are moving towards profitability in this regard. We eventually hope to move toward profitability in this regard in the broader area of all maritime literature. Just as "just in time" delivery has swept the wholesale / retail industry, and short run manufacturing has swept the world of manufacturing as part of the "cybernetic revolution," eBooks and print on demand offer the promise of profitability on non best selling titles. A book distributor may never sell ten thousand copies of a particular title, but as it becomes inexpensive to print or transmit a single copy of a single publication as it is to produce one in a run of ten thousand of a single title, the back list can become a source of profit. Nothing can protect something of inestimable value like the collective back lists of the maritime publishing world like profitability.

American Admiralty Books isn't a publisher or distributor of books, we are a reviewer, and organizer of maritime literature and reference works, a research aid, and a guide to sources. We do get commissions from some the various distributors hyperlinked to the titles we present and we are eligible for advertising revenues based on the totality of traffic to our site. This is how we finance what we are trying to do as a public service. We don't ask for donations, and we don't hesitate to give positive, negative, and neutral reviews and descriptions. We aren't dependent on the sale of any particular publication or group of publications. But the back list is very time consuming and produces very little revenue for us, but we are dedicated to the concept. Present popular demand does not equal importance for a publication. As efforts like those of the Naval Institute grow, the affordable back-lists for consumers grows, maritime knowledge expands, and is preserved, and the opportunity to actually make a back list a profit center draws nearer. Our visitors during our construction period may notice that the two most rapidly expanding sections that we currently offer are "Sailing" and "Diving." These have the greatest popular appeal and offer the fastest opportunity for revenue generation. However, we continue to expand back list offerings in all sections because it is important to our mission statement. Eventually through efforts like those of the Naval Institute more publishers and distributors will find a way to profitability for their "back-lists." When they do, our services on identifying, describing, recommending, and sourcing "back-lists" will become a revenue source rather than a revenue drain.

Could knowledge beget knowledge? Might we one day reach a point where the experience of the Naval Institute with the "Hunt for Red October" be reversed. Might we one day see an on demand publisher of public domain "back listed" publications become profitable enough to take a chance on a new publication?
Might that revolution be led by a naval organization created in 1873? Recent developments at the Naval Institute should make even the most adversarial military critic rethink the words "warrior scholar"; its not an oxymoron.


 The hyperlink below will take you to the recent (Feb. 19, 2012) Huff Post (World) article that describes the results of the drug tests on Captain Francesco Schettino. In reviewing this article despite the alarming banner headline here are the important points to keep in mind:
(1) The Captain's urine and hair samples tested drug free
(2) The Cocaine traces described in the headline were on the outside of the hair 
      and not in the hair.  Only a positive finding in the hair would indicate drug usage.
(3) The principal defense offered so far is that the reef struck was not on the
       navigation charts.
 Here is our analysis of these recent announcements:
 We agree with Marcello Chiarotti, the Italian forensic expert who examined the drug test results. He stated that the modest trace of cocaine on the outside of the hair sample and in the sample envelope "was a marginal problem that absolutely doesn't invalidate the results of the analysis." The Captain's urine tested drug free. Hair samples are also tested because drug traces remain in the hair shaft far longer than in urineA positive hair test for consumption of a drug is a finding of traces within the hair shaft. There can be many explanations for traces of anything being found on the outside of a hair shaft. The most likely one will probably never be mentioned by either side. The authorities would probably rather not bring it up and the defense would probably not like to irritate the authorities, but over attention by inexperienced journalists could force the issue. The most common explanation for traces of a controlled substance showing up on the outside of a hair sample or sample container are lab or collection error. These tests take place in labs where all sorts of controlled substances are present. Sometimes the samples are collected by law enforcement personnel who may have been involved recently at other crime scenes. It doesn't require negligence to contaminate a sample, it requires technical proficiency at the lab to distinguish positive indicators from the false, its a dirty world out there and the test labs aren't vacuum sealed environments. We have no problem accepting the Italian forensic expert's opinion that the cocaine traces on the outside of the hair sample and in the sample envelope are more probably than not meaningless. This of course won't stop the prosecution from trying to use this information as an incendiary device. We don't know enough about the Italian rules of evidence to venture a prediction on the admissibility of the finding to make a prediction that it will or will not be brought up in trial. But the presence of related civil suits and media interest will keep it alive for a while longer.
  At the moment, we think ultimately the outcome of the trial will hinge on the navigational evidence and on codes and standards that address margins for error. The Captain claims the reef that his ship struck was not charted. We doubt that it was not charted at all, but such a submarine feature could easily not be completely charted. The battle over this issue will be fierce. If the Captain can demonstrate that the charting of the reef was beyond the standards of accuracy in modern charting not only does he mitigate or eliminate his own culpability but also may pull a new "deep pocket" into the civil side of the cases.
 As my old torts instructor used to say "you need three persons (real or corporate)  for a tort". "First you need a tort victim, the person injured by the wrongful action. Second you need a tort feasor, the person who committed the wrongful action. Finally, and most importantly you need a deep pocket, the person real or corporate who will pay the damages to the tort victim. If any of the three, but most importantly the deep pocket, are missing, you have no case." If it can be demonstrated that the reef was not charted to within acceptable standards a new deep pocket in the form of the charting authority is introduced along with some exculpatory evidence in the criminal prosecution. In admiralty law we have shrunk from the standard of absolute personal responsibility that once existed. In ancient Roman times a local pilot who ran a ship aground could be taken to the bow and immediately beheaded by the ship's master. Admiralty justice is much slower and more deliberative now and the penalties somewhat less draconian. Modern admiralty law even recognizes that on occasion there occurs the "inevitable accident" that is no one's "fault." However what is rare, but more common in causation determination than the "inevitable accident" is a finding of "non-negligent error of judgment." Attacking chart accuracy is a defense tactic designed to move the court towards a view of causation as a non negligent error in judgment, the kind of thing that courts are loath to send people to prison for.  A finding of not guilty in the criminal case wouldn't stop the civil suits any more than it did in the OJ Simpson trial in this country.
 Such a finding however in the criminal prosecution based on any level of acceptance of the inaccurate chart defense introduces the charting authority and perhaps others as potential deep pockets. In the civil suits this does two things. First it provides the principal alleged tort feasor, the captain with the "empty chair defense." The "empty chair defense" simply refers to the idea that others besides the defendant before the court may seriously share in liability and the plaintiff has not joined all seriously potential liable parties. This alone can stop and indefinitely delay a trial. The Captain is not a deep pocket, the cruise line, their insurance company and the charting authority or producer if either can be joined are deep pockets. A defendant may settle with one defendant and still proceed to trial with the others as long as all of the seriously potential tort feasors were joined in the civil action at the start of the court filings. By settling with the weaker deep pockets a plaintiff often gains some advantages in terms of evidence on the remaining defendants. The earliest settling defendants often get out for the face value of their insurance or less. 
 There are standards of accuracy in every form of navigation and in chart construction, nothing is perfect, every mariner knows this. This is why pilots for local obstructed waters are still around, they carry in their heads daily knowledge of the changes in pilot waters and greater familiarity of the level of accuracy of available charts and the "ground truth" of the waterway.  It is fool hardy to navigate in such a manner as to place within your maneuver domain (the area it takes to execute a turn, a stop, or a complete 180 degree course reversal) a charted hazard. It is also poor seamanship to bring your maneuver domain within a known margin for error of either chart accuracy and/or the accuracy of the particular navigational method the master is using at the moment and a charted hazard.
Defense lawyers in admiralty often argue charting inaccuracy based on distance from the charted object to the hull of the ship at the last "fixed position." Astute prosecutors have the ship's maneuver domain expertly defined and use this larger space around the ship to help define a "safe distance off." Often admiralty lawyers and judges who often have no actual seafaring experience get lost in all of this. Juries of laymen even more so.  Will justice and truth prevail? More than anything this will depend on expert witness testimony and how well the Italian admiralty courts have become at detecting and rejecting "junk science." Helping eliminate junk science from the admiralty courts is one of the missions of American Admiralty Books. Once fully developed this site should be an easy to use resource for finding authentic codes and standards the best defense against junk science. 
In the mean time we hope our readers will monitor how much attention is paid to the Cocaine dust on the hair sample and in the envelope. This is a distraction, and too much attention may indicate a weakness in the prosecution. The weakness might be paying too little attention paid to the real issues of charting accuracy and decisions made based on maneuvering domain based estimates of safe distances off. If the defense charting information and maneuver judgment defense begins with measurements that don't include the maneuver domain and there is no prosecutorial response, it is likely that the whole case will be settled on junk science and emotional judgments rather than the real facts. On the other hand there may be other factors of potential negligence that we know nothing about at the moment, factors just as real as those we've outlined here and perhaps more compelling and more easily understood by a judge or jury. Prosecutors may legitimately focus on the most understandable of the evidence if it alone is sufficient to make the case. Our only point so far is to demonstrate to our readers just how complex these cases can be and to urge avoidance of a rush to judgment.
 Costa Concordia Disaster: Francesco Schettino Hair Sample Showed Traces Of Cocaine On Outside Of Hair

By Guest Blogger Vic Socotra


(A Littoral Combat Ship- this one the USS Independence fitting out. Navy Photo.)

It is easy to get my buddy Boats going. He is a crusty old Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate from the Hooligan Navy- the proud and ironic title used by member of the United States Coast Guard.

He told me one time that the Marines and the Coast Guard work very well together, since the two Services operate (in wartime for the Coasties) as part of the Department of the Navy, who is the real enemy.

Increasingly, my old service is involved in real important things like commissioning ships in memory of the cantankerous Earmark King of Pennsylvania, Rep. John Murtha, labor activist and hero of La Raza, Cesar Chavez, and most recently, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

But don’t get me going on this. I will just say that the ship named for her Gabby will be the Navy’s 10th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), another good idea whose time may have passed. It is designed to bring the Navy fighting power into brown water coastal areas.  The first two ships in this class were called Freedom and Independence, but the conventional naming practice since has been to use American cities.

SECNAV Mabus said the naming is appropriate for “someone who has become synonymous with courage, who has inspired the nation with remarkable resiliency and showed the possibilities of the human spirit.”

That is all true, and the Congresswoman’s husband was a Naval Aviator and Astronaut, but c’mon. A victim of gun violence being honored with the legacy of a heavily-armed littoral combat ship? There are plenty of Medal of Honor winners whose names have not been used. 

Just for the record, I want to say that I opposed the naming of the Nimitz-class carrier George H.W. Bush, the Seawolf-class submarine Jimmie Carter, or the Senator Richard C. Shelby Center for Missile and Space Analysis for that matter.

You are supposed to be dead to qualify for the honor, like the USS Gerald Ford. But like I said, this is a new world and all sorts of new fun.

So I was worked up anyway, and heard the news on CNN, and poked Boats about the Texas Navy. We had been talking about the largely moribund concept of state Naval Militias. Michigan doesn’t need one, at the moment, and the Coast Guard seems to take care of Florida in a fairly business-like manner.

But the word that the Texas Department of Public Safety will deploy the first of a fleet of six gunboats on the Rio Grande, the river that delineates the international frontier with our neighbor to the south.
(I don’t know what the name of this particular warship is, but note the machine gun on the foredeck. Photo Texas DPS.)

The 34-foot-long boats, each powered by three, 300-horsepower outboard engines that can operate in water as shallow as two feet. They will also be armored and tote six machine guns apiece, not unlike the river patrol boats the Navy used during the Vietnam War. In fact, the new boats are intended to augment two Swift Boats someone cobbled together from the war in SE Asia.

The six boats will be named after Texas state troopers killed in the line of duty. The first was DPS Jerry Don Davis, who was shot and killed in 1980. The second will be named in honor of trooper David Irvine Rucker, who was killed in 1981.

Boats wrote me back, clearly agitated. “What I predicted for over a year is coming true. The DHS has refused to protect Texas. The report that Congress demanded for January 2011 still sits on Secretary Napolitano’s desk. She promised a "persistent Coast Guard presence" on the Rio Grande that she has not been able to deliver.”

“There have been two "Swift Boats" operating on the big impoundments like Falcon Lake for about a year, where that couple was assaulted by druggies a while back. The six new ones are intended to patrol the lower river.”

“To support them, two heavily armed companies of Texas Rangers have been trained to act as RECON units. They have been in the valley for a year.”

“The real story isn't drug smuggling though the Zeta drug organization is at the heart of the problem. The problem has been military like attacks by the Zetas on the Texas side of the border against remote ranchers defending their property, private citizens and law enforcement personnel. As much as a year ago I was predicting that it would come to this and the eventual consequences.”

The Texas DPS wants to change the "rules of engagement" away from standard law enforcement practices to military-type rules based on the law of armed conflict. This would avoid the type of lunacy described before Congress by Sheriff Sigfried Gonzales where the Sheriff is supposed to stand in the road with his 38 cal. revolver facing a Zeta manned Humvee with a tripod mounted 50 cal. machine gun and ask them to stop so he can read them their Marinda rights. If Texas had received the change they asked for Texas Ranger Recon units could lay in ambush and open fire on known Zeta targets like that armed Humvee.”

“Texas wanted to avoid direct risk of confrontation between their own military and paramilitary forces like the Texas Rangers and Texas State Guard with the Mexican Military patrolling just a few hundred yards away on the other side of the river. This is why Texas asked for but was refused a "persistent Coast Guard presence on the Rio Grande."

“So, now Texas State Gun boats and two companies of militarized Texas Rangers are in the area and the Texas State paramilitary presence is growing. Read your Texas history. Texas in the end always controls its borders and a main feature of that control has been a willingness, almost an enthusiasm, for crossing the river and eliminating any sanctuaries of the enemy.”

The problem today is that on the South side of the river the Mexican Army is on patrol looking for the same bad guys but would fire without hesitation on a Texas uniform. Due to DC based stupidity we are growing ever closer to the danger of exchanges of gunfire between governmental forces.”

“The situation screams for federal control but its not coming. Texas is on its own that's why it's building gunboats. In no time we will see at least nine Texas-owned machinegun mounted gunboats on this international river, and the valley will largely be protected by forces with a historical habit of eventually denying sanctuary to their enemy even if they must cross the Rio Grande to root them out.”

“This time, though, the Mexican regular army is on the far side.  It is even possible that Texas DPS paramilitary forces independent of the Texas National Guard could conceivably defeat the Mexican Regulars. But remember, even if Texas wins, the U.S. loses in such a confrontation. It is time for that "persistent Coast Guard presence" asked for by Texas. It' s time for federal forces to cover the ground in the valley.”

I think that is perfectly reasonable; but I also don’t think that is going to happen. I wrote him back to say so. “We are ignoring a war in progress on our southern boarder that has killed more than 34,000 Mexicans, assassinated dozens of mayors and police, and killed a hundred American citizens, including federal agents.

Boats doesn’t think our government is going to step up to do anything about it. I have always believed defense of the borders was a Federal and not a State thing, and we ought to treat it that way.

The right thing is for the Hooligan Navy to be directed to do its job. In the meantime, he thinks people ought not to mess with Texas. The names of the ships in their little fleet send exactly that message. What on earth are we going to do if Texas goes to war again on its own?

 Texas Swift Boat.jpg .jpg

Copyright 2012 Vic Socotra


Report No. 1 (completed 3/09/2012)
 The "Jones Act" is a term of legal art that is a generic expression for an entire series of statutes that regulate the maritime trade between the states of the United States and certain marine transportation activities on waters under U.S. jurisdiction. "Jones" simply perpetrates the name of the sponsor of section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (P.L. 66-261) which dealt directly with "cabotage" trade between and among U.S. Ports (Cabotage: Fr. origin "between the Capes" or "Coastwise). Generally the effect of the various combinations of statutes is that cargo and passengers carried between the states, within a state, or to and from our offshore Exclusive Economic Zone (EEC) which is generally coincidental with our Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), are to be carried on vessels built in America and crewed by American citizens or permanent residents. The real purpose of Cabotage law is national security. Any nation that allows foreign shipping to carry its cabotage trade is doomed to serious loss of sovereignty. Perhaps the worse case example is China on the eve of the Boxer Rebellion.
 We (American Admiralty Books) make no bones about being in favor of serious cabotage protection. We understand what the critics of the Act say about the increased costs of domestic waterborne transportation when you ship American. But those who are critical do not count the costs of increased security requirements were we to allow wide spread use of foreign flag vessels and crews in our domestic trades. If you would like to see and feel the results of what a lack of cabotage enforcement can do to a nation we won't ask you to read some lengthy and dry economic tome. Just rent the video of the old Steve McQueen movie The Sand Pebbles. Take a good look at the misery of the Chinese people so ably depicted there and how the American and British sailors in their domestic ports, some of which were as much as 900 miles inland on their river systems acted as lords of the manor. The Chinese started by letting foreign flag merchant ships mostly British and American carry their domestic trade between their own ports. A few instances of river piracy and other crimes against shipping later and these same nations claimed and exercised the right to "protect their merchant marines" and so sent in their navy gun boats. Soon China was controlled like a virtual vassal by foreign shipping interests.
 In the united States we need approximately 77 strategic materials to support our economy. Of these 66 have to be imported by sea. When international shipping became too competitive with U.S. flag international shipping due to low labor coast after World War II we basically gave up after a brief period when we had the wisdom to subsidize our international carriers, our traditional, "merchant marine." Then we threw in the towel and let our post WW II fleet of nearly 5, 000 traditional merchant ships shrink down to about 200 today. Then came the events of 9/11 and we are spending far more on port security and maritime intelligence to police this foreign armada that carries goods to and from America. But thanks to "Jones Act" prohibitions the coal and grain of the Midwest still travels down the Mississippi on American barges pushed by American towboats, under the skillful hands of American pilots. Heating oil and gasoline refined in New Orleans and Baton Rouge moves up the Mississippi to the Midwestern distribution points by American tow boat and tank barge combinations. Refined oil products still move by sea between Houston and New Orleans to Baltimore by American flag coastwise tankers and tank barges. Our offshore oil industry is mostly still serviced by American supply vessels though this is under daily attack and inroads against the Jones Act protections are being made. We still operate our own ferries and tugs. The fact is that America has always, since colonial times carried more commerce between the states by water than it ships and receives internationally by water.
 Our "Blue Water" or internationally trading merchant ship fleet has always waxed and waned in size based on international competition but when push came to shove and we had to sea lift entire armies into hostile zones only American merchant seamen on American ships our "Merchant Marine," by law a naval auxiliary, answered the call for war zone transport. How did we go from a tiny pre war international merchant marine to the massive sealift fleets of the World Wars and the rather expanded fleets of Korea and Vietnam almost over night given the the greatly reduced ship building capacity of the United States in those time frames and the time it takes to train skilled seamen at all levels? The answer is that we have always had plenty of reserve ship building and manning capacity in our Jones Act fleets and yards. Our "cabotage" trades are not the after thought and rear guard of the American Merchant Marine that most politicians who don't know port from starboard or bow from stern think. The Jones Act fleets and yards are the deep protected and vital HEART OF THE AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE it has been from that heart, that core capacity that our Merchant Marine has always risen up to the combat support challenge. It is because of the conduct of our extensive cabotage trades by American flag vessels manned by American Merchant Mariners that our interior waters beyond the international docks require relatively little security attention.
 Unfortunately, as previously reported here in these pages the Jones Act Fleets and yards are under constant attack and in danger of dying a death of a thousand shallow cuts. There are congressmen who daily try to protect our cabotage legal system, and Congressmen hell bent on destroying it, some in a mistaken devotion to "fair trade and openness, and lower costs of shipping" who simply don't see or understand the national security implications. Other Congressmen are attacking the Jones Act protections in direct response to the lobby efforts of well heeled foreign interests. Whether from treason or tragic ignorance the protections are eroding. One of the chief sources of erosion is an institutional attitude in the Coast Guard, Customs and Border protection service, and even the Department of Homeland Security and its Inspector General's office that Jones Act enforcement is a "labor issue." Yes, American merchant mariner and ship building jobs are protected by the Jones act, indeed in addition to national security, or more correctly because of it, that protection is one of the stated purposes of the Act. How and why the agencies and department charged with enforcement of these laws came to engage in selective enforcement and ease of exception making, so pleasing to foreign ship owners and American owners of foreign registered shipping, is lost to us. We only know that the pleadings of such maritime labor organizations as the National Mariner's Association (NMA) for real Jones Act enforcement in particular instances have literally been turned away at the agency and department level with the retort "that's a labor issue we can't get involved". Well the protection of American seamen's jobs and American yards and vessels were in part the actual object of the law. Who is an agency official to deny protection to the protected class in a statute? Treason or tragically flawed reasoning the results have been the same slowly eroding cabotage protections. It the worst happens and the proponents of "free trade" get their way, a United States that resembles pre- Boxer rebellion China is the inevitable result. Thus we stand with the American seaman on this issue and don't apologize for it.
 Since we view the Jones Act fleets and yards as vital to national security and economic prosperity we have always tracked the health of these industries through monthly review of the relevant trade journals. Today we launch our first report on the economic health of the Jones Act fleets and yards. We hope to make this a regular monthly feature but if things are very slow changing between monthly reviews we may drop back to quarterly periodically. We sincerely urge all of our readers even if you are a recreational boater or diver to follow this news which is never reported in the national general media. If you visit our "Merchant Marine Interest section you will notice that our first, and first "Recommended" selection is The Way of the Ship, a historical perspective on our domestic fleets as the heart of our Merchant Marine and commercial sea power potential. We won't be pulling that title from its pole position for years. Its truth endures.
 The good news is that after a slump that reflected the slump in the general economy the Jones Act fleets and yards seem to be emerging into something of a visible growth pattern We are not seeing a rapid return to the glory days of the 1970s but we are seeing a decided up tick from the depressed days of the last several years. WORKBOAT MAGAZINE reported in its March issue Work Boat Construction Survey that 564 commercial work vessels are under construction in our "second tier yards" an increase of 30 hulls from the same time last year. Apparently order books and back logs are growing and editor David Krapf reports that the second tier yard personnel that he visited appeared "bullish on the shipyard business."
  The offshore supply vessel (OSV) industry contracts on "day rates" the cost per day to charter (contract) an OSV for service in logistic support of an offshore rig. OSV day rates were down in January, the last month for which there is strong data but utilization rates (the percentage of the OSV fleet under active paying charter) appear to be holding near steady in some sectors or rising by about 1% in others. The prognosis is that rising, even slowly rising utility rates lead to improved day rates and that leads to improved profitability for the vessel owners and operators. For large supply vessel s, those over 200 feet in length, the day rate has already risen while the day rate for smaller supply vessels is down slightly with a utilization rate of only 69% of the fleet at last report. Gulf Coastal drilling activity is on the rise so the outlook of the domestic OSV industry is guardedly optimistic. 
 There are reports of new building and vessel commissioning in the day excursion vessel passenger trade. One new overnight vessel for river service has been launched, the first good news since security concerns in the wake of 9/11 idled the Delta Queen fleet of overnight passenger vessels.  Inland and coastal day passenger operating firms are predicting a good year as we approach their peak season. WORKBOAT MAGAZINE's
"WorkBoat Composite Index"  which tracks a variety of publicly traded stocks of vessel operating, ship building, and service businesses opened 2012 with a big gain of 182 points after losing 240 points in 2011 or 16%. The WorkBoat Composite index shows a strong start for 2012 though it comes after a losing year. The outlook is best described as guardedly optimistic for the coming year. The U.S. towboat and barge industry has lost ground in the coal carriage trade as U.S. exports have dropped and domestic demand slackened in response to environmental laws. Heating oil carriage this winter was off due to mild weather, but grain carriage is expected to take up considerable slack and the inland towing industry appears to  have started the first quarter of fiscal 2012 as the rest of the Jones Act fleet and yards in a guardedly optimistic cultural mindset. Check with us next months to see how that mind set holds up at the start of the second quarter.


1 comment:

  1. Sealand Support is admiralty charts provider in Cameroon. Admiralty Charts are nautical charts issued by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and subject to Crown Copyright which shows marine routes all over the world. Over 3,500 Standard Nautical Charts (SNCs) and 14,000 Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) are available with the Admiralty portfolio offers the widest official coverage of international shipping routes and ports, varying in detail.