November 2010 Archives

November 30, 2010

Two killed in high speed collision.

Real estate tycoon Steven Posner and one other died Monday in a high-speed boat crash that killed another man and critically injured his cousin.

Steven Posner's daughter, Dr. Kelly Posner-Gerstenhaber, confirmed Monday evening that her father died in a boating incident earlier that day. Posner-Gerstenhaber was still trying to find out details about the collision.

Just after 1 p.m. the two boats collided at high speed a mile or two east of Matheson Hammock Marina. Stuart Posner, also injured in the crash, was Steven Posner's cousin.

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November 29, 2010

Offshore Disaster Blamed on Well Owner

The worst offshore disaster in Australia's history contributed to the third largest oil spill in that country. An Australian government report blames the operator of the oil well for the massive Montara oil spill in August 2009 off Australia's northwest coast. The disaster led to oil and gas flowing steadily into the waters of the Timor Sea for about 10 weeks.

According to a report by Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, the incident occurred because the oil company that owns the well did not follow approved control measures or well construction practices. According to the report the company PTTEP Australasia (Ashmore Cartier) Pvt. Ltd. failed to observe sensible practices at the Montara oilfield. The report details a number of shortcomings and says that these were widespread in the company. The report also says that the Australian government is considering a review of PTTEP's offshore license. It also expresses concern at the fact that PTTEP has continued operating oil wells since the disaster.

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November 28, 2010

Pirates Convicted

A group of five Somali pirates, who attacked a U.S. Navy ship in April this year, have been convicted. It is the first conviction for piracy on American soil in nearly 200 years.

The men attacked the USS Nicholas which they mistook for a merchant ship. They had been sailing the waters looking for a merchant vessel to plunder when they came upon the Navy ship. Ironically enough, the Navy ship had been on a mission to combat piracy in Somali waters at the time.

The attack was a violent one, and the pirates were armed with assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. When two of the pirates on the skiffs opened fire on the main ship, the crew members of the USS Nicholas fired back, chased and captured the pirates. Their skiffs were destroyed, and the men were arrested.

November 25, 2010

Unprepared for BP Spill

A report by the presidential spill commission says that both the oil industry and the government were ill-prepared for the Deepwater Horizon blowout and the spill that resulted in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. The report also says that although oil companies and government agencies have learned plenty of valuable lessons from the Gulf of Mexico spill, we're still nowhere close to being prepared to handle another spill of that magnitude.

The report also confirms that Oil and gasoline companies making billions of dollars of profits from drilling efforts, spend only a miniscule amount of money on preventing or controlling the damage from a spill.

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November 24, 2010

Rescued after 80 Hours

A Chinese offshore platform worker, trapped in a twisted steel pipe 18 meters below the sea, has been rescued after spending 80 hours inside the pipe.

The 43-year-old seaman's ordeal began when he was working at the bottom of the pipe on an offshore platform. The pipe extended 80 meters into the sea, and all was going well, until sudden tidal pressure crushed the pipe. The upper section of the pipe was squeezed to just 3 cm, trapping the man inside the crushed pipe.

Crew members were able to send in food and water through a tube into the pipe. The worker also received psychological counseling as he awaited rescue. It was a complicated and daring rescue mission as workers used a blowtorch to cut out the section of the pipe from the sea. The seaman suffered no serious injuries, but was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

November 24, 2010

Oil Spoils Shrimp

The Bon Secour shrimp boat Our Mother was trawling in newly re-opened waters north of the Deepwater Horizon Macondo well site when it hauled in tar balls with its shrimp.

There were enough tar balls along with the shrimp that spoiled thousands of dollars worth of the day's catch. The ruined shrimp was held at the dock while different agencies collected their samples.

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November 22, 2010

Piracy Beats Record

It's very likely that 2010 will be a record year for maritime piracy. There are fears that this year could see the largest number of hostages and vessels being captured by Somali pirates. This year, a total of 793 seamen have been taken hostage by Somali pirates off the coast of Africa. Last year, 857 seafarers had been captured by Somali pirates. We still have more than a month to go for the end of 2010.

What is worrying is that the number of crew members kidnapped and ships hijacked by Somali pirates, increased through the first nine months of 2010. The total number of attacks by Somali pirate gangs has declined. However, the bad news is that these gangs are also becoming increasingly violent.

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November 22, 2010

Oil Workers Rescued

A group of offshore workers who were kidnapped off an oil rig in the Niger Delta earlier this month, has now been rescued after an operation led by the Nigerian military.

News media are reporting that the crewmembers of the oil-rig Adriatic VI in the Niger Delta, including one Canadian, and several American, French and Indonesian oil workers have now been rescued. Apart from these workers, at least eight other crew members kidnapped from an Exxon Mobile platform last weekend were also freed.

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November 22, 2010

Bridge Reopening Delay

The railway bridge near the Seattle locks will reopen four days later than expected, due to construction and weather-related delays.

The Burlington North Santa Fe railway bridge has been closed since Nov. 10 for a major overhaul of its lifting system. It was expected to reopen on Wednesday, Nov. 24. But BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the bridge still instead reopen at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28. The work has gone a bit slower than expected, Melonas said, partly due to weather.

"BNSF apologizes about the delay," he said.

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November 22, 2010

Claims Deadline Arrives

Courthouse News reports that Tuesday is the deadline for individuals seeking restitution from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill compensation fund, has been criticized for moving too slowly and not allowing enough transparency into the compensation process.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who met with Feinberg Friday, said the claim fund is not moving "with appropriate urgency" and people aren't getting the payments they deserve.

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November 19, 2010

Flaws in Deepwater Management

A committee conducting an independent science-based investigation of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, has found a lack of suitable management of risk factors and uncertainties associated with deep water drilling before the explosion.

The committee of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council, set up after the explosion at the request of Interior Sec. Ken Salazar, has released a preliminary report, which suggests that there were insufficient checks and balances before critical decisions that affected the schedule for abandoning the well, were made. According to the committee, there were important decisions made toward the abandonment of the well, in spite of knowledge of potential hazards. This indicates that there was insufficient consideration to the risks involved in these procedures.

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November 19, 2010

Kidnapped Workers Rescued

Oil rig workers kidnapped on 8 November, when gunmen attacked the oil rig belonging to London-based Alfren PLC, have been rescued. According to officials, Nigerian troops rescued the 19 hostages kidnapped by militants in the Niger Delta this month.

Two Americans, two Frenchmen, two Indonesians and a Canadian were freed along with 12 Nigerians in a land, air and sea assault, said officials. Security sources told the BBC the freed hostages were euphoric.

BBC News reports that the operation was the first successful rescue of foreign captives in the Delta without any of the hostages being killed in the process. It is not clear exactly where the operation was carried out, nor whether any militants were killed or wounded.

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November 17, 2010

Seaman Sues Over Work Schedule

A maritime injury lawsuit filed in New Orleans, blames work schedule for a crew member's injuries. According to the lawsuit, the seaman suffered permanent severe leg injuries when his boot stuck on a board underneath a toolbox. The seaman was working aboard the vessel Poul Deau and has now filed a lawsuit against his employer Couvillion Group.

The lawsuit alleges that the employer failed to maintain a reasonably safe workplace, failed to train and supervise employees, and also failed to have the required number of crew members on board to load supplies off the vessel. The lawsuit alleges that the employer set a harsh work schedule that taxed and fatigued the crew. The Seaman alleges that the vessel was unseaworthy because of these work conditions.

A vessel maybe unsafe or unseaworthy because there are unsafe for physically hazardous work conditions of the vessel and if the employer fails to provide safety equipment, like firefighting equipment and life preserving gear on the vessel.

November 17, 2010

BP Failed to Correct Flaws

In a 28 page report, written by the National Academy of Engineering and released late Tuesday night, a group of technical experts were critical of BP and concluded that BP and its contractors missed and ignored warning signs before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, showing an "insufficient consideration of risk" and raising questions about the know-how of key personnel.

The group of technical experts concluded that BP and its contractors missed and ignored warning signs before the massive oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, showing an "insufficient consideration of risk" and raising questions about the know-how of key personnel.

Those failures would be unacceptable in companies that work with nuclear power or aviation, said Donald Winter, a professor of engineering practice at the University of Michigan and chairman of the 15-member study committee.

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November 16, 2010

Cruise Ship Passenger Holdup

Authorities in St. Kitts say two masked gunmen have held up a tour bus, robbing 16 cruise ship passengers of their cash and cameras. No one has been harmed.

Police say the tourists from the Celebrity Mercury ship were traveling to the Brimstone Hill Fortress, a park popular with visitors.

Park manager Joseph Woodley tells local radio the robbers blocked the road with a fallen tree. When the bus driver got out to clear the way, they emerged from bushes and robbed the tourists before disappearing back into the woodlands.

A police statement calls Sunday's robbery "an unprecedented incident in St. Kitts." It calls visitors' safety a "highest priority."

Police are hunting for the robbers.

November 16, 2010

Increase of Violent Pirate Attacks

The UN Secretary-General presented his latest report on piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast to the Security Council. Not only is maritime piracy a grave global concern, but these incidents of piracy are also increasing in violent intensity.

This week, the European Union's antipiracy wing EU NAVFOR blamed many successful pirate attacks on the failure of seafarers to follow best practices for foiling pirate attacks. According to the coalition, crewmembers are simply not doing enough to protect themselves and their vessels from pirate attacks. They could be using nonlethal deterrence and greater vigilance tactics.  Both these practices that have been proven to minimize the risks of a pirate attack are being used sparingly.

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November 15, 2010

Tankerman Sues

A tankerman who suffered serious injuries in a fall accident on a vessel on the Gulf Intercoatal Waterway has filed a lawsuit against his employer.

According to the tankerman, on the day of the accident he was working on the MV Marie Cenac. He had been assigned to work on a paint job on the bilge and went into a confined area. While he was standing in this area, there was a sudden and unexpected movement on the vessel, and the tankerman tripped and fell into the bilge.

He has now filed a lawsuit against his employer, Enterprise Marine. The lawsuit claims that the company did not take proper safety precautions to prevent accidents and failed to provide equipment to workers to prevent falling into the bilge. The lawsuit also accuses Enterprise Marine of negligence in failing to provide a competent crew, failure to properly supervise employees, and failure to provide the worker a safe place to work.

November 15, 2010

Oil Spill Claims Hard to Assess

Claims alleging damage far away from the Gulf oil spill caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster are complicating the assessment of claims from the BP Oil Spill Fund.

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility will have enough money to pay legitimate losses, but there is a danger that the volume of claims could create logjams that will slow payments, according to Kenneth Feinberg, the facility's administrator.

"There is great concern that there will be so many claims that it will be difficult to efficiently process the claims," Mr. Feinberg said. "But BP has made it clear that there will be adequate funding to pay claims."

Meanwhile, while the fund has limited the insurance claims stemming from the spill, insurers may see claims if some are rejected by the GCCF, experts said. Whether rejected claimants will be able to recover losses from insurers will depend on circumstances around their losses and the type of coverage they have in place, sources said.

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November 12, 2010

Locks closed for cleaning

The large lock at the Ballard Locks is closed for the next two weeks for annual maintenance.

During the closure, US Army Corps of Engineers workers will remove barnacles from the walls and floor. According to Andrea Takash with the Corps, the annual work reduces the hazards to juvenile salmon drawn into the filling tunnels.

The small lock will remain open for boat traffic throughout the closure. The small lock can normally accommodate vessels 100 feet in length with 25 foot beams.

The large lock is scheduled to re-open at 5 p.m. on November 24th.

November 12, 2010

Ammo Found Under Cruise Ship Terminal

More World War II-era ammunition has been brought to the surface from underneath Seattle's busiest cruise ship terminal at Pier 91 in the Magnolia neighborhood.

Most of what they recovered earlier this fall included harmless objects such as training rounds and empty shell casings. But they also discovered projectiles containing high explosive material.

On Thursday, Port of Seattle divers found yet more ammunition at the bottom of Elliott Bay while working on a completely different project: inspecting pier pilings the Port is about to replace.

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November 11, 2010

Hijacked Seaman Dies

A seaman on a United Arab Emirates-flagged vessel that had been hijacked by Somali pirates seven months ago, has died of malnutrition.

The vessel, the MV Iceberg I was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden in March by a group of 50 pirates. The ship had been carrying generators and fuel, and once it was hijacked, the name of the vessel was repainted to the Sea Express. The ship was then taken to Kulub in Somalia. The vessel is owned by Dubai-based Azal Shipping.

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November 11, 2010

Highway 82 Bridge Reopened

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported that the Highway 82 bridge between Lansing, Iowa and State Highway 35 had been closed due to a barge accident that occurred last Saturday evening, November 6, at around 7:00 p.m.

The two lane bridge between Lansing, Iowa and Wisconsin was closed after a barge struck it Saturday evening. It's not clear why the barge hit the bridge. Transportation officials say the sharp turn of the river north of the bridge can prove difficult for barge traffic.

Traffic was re-routed through either La Crosse or Prairie du Chien during the closure. The Highway 82 bridge over the Mississippi River between Iowa and Wisconsin has since passed inspection and is now reopened to traffic.

November 11, 2010

Alaska Deckhand Injured

Tom Webster, a 26-year old deckhand aboard the fishing vessel Cape Reliant, has been medevaced to a hospital in Anchorage for treatment of head injuries.

Webster was reportedly injured around 4:20 p.m. on Tuesday when the 58-foot fishing vessel he was working on was approximately 55 miles northeast of Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley was just ten miles away when it received the call for medical help. They dispatched medical corpsmen and an EMT to help Webster and then called for evacuation by helicopter. The injured crewman was taken to Dutch Harbor, where he was subsequently transferred via Guardian flight service to Anchorage. The Cape Reliant is home ported in Petersburg, Alaska. The facts and circumstances surrounding Webster's injury are unknown.

November 10, 2010

Passengers, crew stranded on cruise ship

Nearly 4,500 passengers and crew on a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera were stranded off the coast of Mexico after an engine room fire cut power to their ship. Tugboats and an aircraft carrier were headed out to help Tuesday.

The Carnival Splendor was some 320 kilometres south of San Diego when the fire started early Monday morning, according to a statement from Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines.

It was extinguished with no injuries to the 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members.
The 290-metre ship has auxiliary power, but air conditioning, hot food service, hot water and telephones were knocked out. Toilets and cold running water were restored Monday night, the cruise line said.

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November 10, 2010

Operation Safe Crab

Coast Guard is implementing Operation Safe Crab for the 2010 Dungeness Crab Season. On November 9th through 11th the Coast Guard will be conducting dockside examinations in California ports preparing for the start of the Dungeness Crab season on November 15th.

The spot checks emphasize life saving equipment, pot loading practices and stability and vessel watertight integrity. Statistics from previous years indicate that as many as one third of the crab boats inspected had incorrectly installed EPIRBS and life rafts.

The Coast Guard hopes that the inspections can lead to immediate corrections and needless loss of lives. The West Coast Dungeness Crab fishery is one of the most deadly of all fisheries. Smaller vessels working in extreme weather put crewmen at serious risk for injury and death.

November 9, 2010

Cruise Ship Fire

Coast Guard is responding to a fire aboard a 952-foot cruise ship located 150 miles south of San Diego. The CARNIVAL SPLENDOR reportedly had a fire in the vessel engine room.

The vessel has 3,299 passengers on board and a crew of 1,167, all of whom are reported without injuries at this time. The vessel is Panamanian flagged and sails out of Long Beach, California, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Good Samaritan vessels are on the scene and Coast Guard Cutters Edisto, Morgenthau and Aspen are anticipated to arrive on the scene at around 3:00 P.M. today.

November 9, 2010

Headaches for Puget Sound locks

Boaters planning to head out to Puget Sound via the Seattle locks over the next two weeks might have trouble doing so, particularly sailboats -- the railway bridge just west of the locks will be closed from Nov. 10 to 24 for a major upgrade.

The work coincides with the closure of the large lock during the same period for annual maintenance. But while boats will still be able to travel through the small lock over the two-week period, many will not be able to pass under the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway bridge, which has a clearance of 43 feet at a 10-foot tide.

BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the bridge, which was built in 1913, is being closed to allow for replacement of major components and bearings that power its lifting mechanism. The bridge will close at 1 a.m. Wednesday and reopen at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, he said.

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November 8, 2010

Five Oil Rig Workers Kidnapped

Five crew members have been taken hostage from the High Island VII jackup drilling rig offshore Nigeria. An armed group of rebels raided the oil rig off the coast of Nigeria early Monday, October 8, kidnapping at least five foreigners and injuring two others, a spokesmen for two major oil companies said. Oil company Afren, owner of the rig, said that of the five hostages, two are French, two are American, and one is Canadian.

Sources told Reuters that gunmen attacked an oil rig off the coast of Nigeria's southeastern state of Akwa Ibom late on Sunday. The attack took place in the shallow-water Okoro oilfield off the Obolo local government area of Akwa Ibom. There was no immediate confirmation from the security services.

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November 8, 2010

Lawsuit for Injuries during BP Oil Spill Cleanup

Two seamen involved in the oil spill cleanup efforts, sued their employer for $3.4 million, after injuries they sustained during an accident involving their vessel and a barge.

According to the two men, the incident occurred on August 7 when they were passengers on a vessel that was being used to transport oil spill cleanup workers. The vessel suddenly accelerated, and crashed into an adjacent barge. According to the plaintiffs, they sustained back injuries and shoulder injuries in the accident.

They have filed a lawsuit against Grande Isle Shipyard Inc. and Plaisance Dragline and Dredging Co. seeking more than $3.4 million in damages for their medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, mental and emotional anguish, loss of future earning capacity, and maintenance and cure. The two companies are accused of failure to provide a seaworthy ship and failure to provide a safe workplace.

November 7, 2010

Chittenden lock closure Nov 10-24

The large lock at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard will be closed for maintenance work from 8 p.m.  Nov. 10 to 5 p.m. Nov. 24.

The small lock will remain open for boat traffic throughout this period.  The small lock can normally accommodate vessels 100 feet in length with 25 foot beams.

The scheduled repairs to the large lock are part of an annual general maintenance program.

Additionally, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway plans to temporarily close the drawspan (Bridge 6.3) across Lake Washington Ship Canal Nov. 10 at 1 a.m. 

"This revises the start time for the temporary closure of the drawspan (Bridge 6.3) across Lake Washington Ship Canal at Ballard in Seattle, Wash.," according to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.  "The change is made to minimize impact to commuter rail traffic later in the closed period. The start of the approved closed period is changed to 1 a.m. Nov. 10 with the end time as previously approved remaining as 5 p.m. on Nov. 24."

November 2, 2010

Judge Orders Test on Halliburton Cement

Investigators have linked a cement job performed by Halliburton Co. to the blowout of the BP well in the Gulf Of Mexico. A federal judge has ordered tests to be performed on the cement that Halliburton provided to seal the well.

Judge Carl Barbier is calling for tests to be performed as quickly as possible so the cement wont deteriorated. The call for the cement test came after federal investigators probing the causes of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, subpoenaed cement components.

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November 2, 2010

Crewman Airlifted from Fishing Vessel

A 22-year old crewman suffering abdominal pains was evacuated by helicopter from the fishing processor PACIFIC GLACIER located about 40 miles west of Grays Harbor. The crewman was taken to Grays Harbor hospital for evaluation and treatment.

November 1, 2010

Cuba Drilling - New Safety Risks

A Spanish drilling company is due to begin drilling off the Cuban coastline just 50 miles from the Florida Keys.

As the tiny Caribbean nation gears up its drilling ambitions, concerns are rising about the impact of a possible well blowout, like the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, on US coastlines.

Any offshore disaster like the Gulf Of Mexico oil rig explosion this year, could prove disastrous for the Florida coastline.

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November 1, 2010

Halliburton Admits Skipping Crucial Test

Halliburton Co. finally admitted on Thursday, October 30,  that it did skip a crucial test on the final formulation of cement used to seal the BP Macondo oil well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th.

The company, which was BP's cementing contractor, said that BP at the last-minute increased the amount of a critical ingredient in the cement mix. While an earlier test showed the cement was stable, the company never performed a stability test on the new blend.

The cement's failure to prevent oil and gas from entering the well has been identified as one of the causes of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that occurred on April 20, 2010.

Commission staff said that "Halliburton and BP both had results in March showing that a very similar foam slurry design to the one actually pumped at the Macondo well would be unstable, but neither acted upon that data."