Sunday, June 1, 2008

Maritime News From Other Shores

The cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 was chided by British officialdom for steaming proudly, if blindly, in a wrong part of the English channel while ignor­ing the legal rights of the approaching cross-Channel ferry Pride of Kent, which gave way at the last minute to avoid a collision.

The US Coast Guard air lifted a sick man from the Elation 260 miles to a San Diego hospital. Two ill people were evacuated by a US Coast Guardhelicop­ter from the Westerdam 80 miles south of Cuba. He went to the Guantanamo Bay hospital; she went to Miami. A Chinese crewman went missing from the Celebrity Constellation off the east coast of Florida, a surveillance camera saw him go overboard. A South African who has worked for one cruise line for eight years filed a lawsuit claim­ing "forced labor, slavery, and human trafficking." She wants her passport back so she can return home because she "refuses to work in a lower position at a lower rate of pay." The company, pointing out that she has signed several contracts since 2000, said the claims were "baffling."

In Bangladesh, the ferry Shouravi-l was hit from behind by a sand-carry­ing vessel. That killed one-third of the ferry's passengers. Next, both vessels tried to stay to starboard, and that caused another collision. Then the cargo ves­sel ran over the sinking ferry. The final death toll was 49 people.

In the UK, the 6,000-ton Irish Sea ferry Riverdance was flat on her side on the beach after a freak wave blew the ferry ashore at resort center Black­pool during a Force 10 gale. Salvors installed four containers holding water tanks on the top edge, loaded the ship's high-side tanks with water, and dug a trench alongside. The plan was to use one powerful tug to roll her upright into the trench and then off the beach but continued bad weather kept the plan from being executed.

Carbon dioxide emissions from shipping are reputed to be adding to global warming but one of the European Union's top scientists reported that they may actually cool by forming clouds that reflect sunlight. But the soot and sulfur dioxide, forming a so-called "indirect aerosol," are mostly sulfur and that has bad effects including acid rain.

Coastal nations have sovereign jurisdiction over the natural resources of their continental shelf so the US was pleased when a recent expedition showed that the foot of the continental slope off Alaska extends more than 100 miles farther out than previously thought.

Further checks reassured many that rats had not escaped from the wrecked trawler Spinningdale so as to populate the Scottish island of St Kilda.

About 700 gallons of di-methyl car­bonate spilled on the Hyundai Patriot at Seattle and about 100 gallons entered the Dumwamish River. A mystery oil spill (maybe 500 gallons) at Barbers Point, Oahu, mystified authorities.

A US court rejected California's limits on ship emissions. The state must seek federal approval before imposing pollution limits on the thousands of vessels that visit California ports.

After an Australian trawler sank, two men spent twenty hours in the water and then one decided to swim for help. More than ten hours later, he was plucked by a helicopter from a New South Wales beach, cut, bruised, and exhausted. His cobber was later rescued.

New York City will pay $6.5 mil­lion to a man who lost a leg when the Staten Island ferry Andrew J. Barberi crashed into a concrete pier in 2003. The City has settled about two-thirds of 186 personal-injury cases with the largest settlements being about $9 million each to a man and women who lost both legs.
The small boat Suntory Mermaid II will travel from Honolulu to Japan propelled by waves. Horizontal fins at the bow will convert wave action into propulsive power much as a whale or porpoise's tail does. Sails and an outboard are also part of the single operator's equipment but will be used only in an emergency or when enter­ing a harbor. The boat's hull is made from recycled aluminum and electrical energy is supplied by solar cells