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Old 07-10-2015, 01:05   #106
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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Originally Posted by Randy View Post
What??
The Jones act requires ships to be US flagged when conducting trade between 2 US ports. It means the Merchant Mariners are working for a real wage. Three years ago I was in Odessa Ukraine and made a friend who was working locally as a 3rd asst' engineer, his overtime rate was the equivalent of $3/hr. That is how foreign flagged ships operate more economically; practically slave labor in the 21st century.
I'm referring to the requirement that ships trading in the US also are build in the US. This makes ships more expensive. As a result most of the ships in the "Jones Act Fleet" are actually rather old.
In Europe most freight is moved by ships, and those ships are as a rule rather young, and state of the art.
When asking why the El Faro still had open lifeboats how can one ignore the fact that replacing old ships with newer, more modern ships is made artificially harder in the US?

As to foreign flagged ships employing "slave labor". I was on a freighter a summer ago. The phillipino seamen on board showed me pictures of the houses their families lived in. At a first glance they lived better then I do...
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:02   #107
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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Wow, really? Repeal the Jones Act and send MORE work over seas? Hell no! There was a study done, Jones Act vessels cost $0.01 per mile more. ONE penny per mile. But no, let's send more American jobs away...
One penny per mile per ton of freight , per pound, per ounce?

This is worth a read...start at about P17...this is what the Jones Act gets you.... rope falls on the boats in the 1980's no less......manually surged over staghorn bitts....

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg545/doc...neelectric.pdf

Not for the faint of heart..

Never mind..sailor's lives are cheap...
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:36   #108
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

While the free fall lifeboats look like a great improvment, would they still work on a listing and/or a heavly rolling ship?
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Old 07-10-2015, 02:47   #109
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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While the free fall lifeboats look like a great improvment, would they still work on a listing and/or a heavly rolling ship?
Well...they should... it wouldn't be pleasant but they should work.... however if modern enclosed 'davit launched' boats were stowed where El Faros were it would be pretty ugly..... thats why modern ships have the boats far closer to the water...
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Old 07-10-2015, 04:04   #110
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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Originally Posted by K_V_B View Post
I'm referring to the requirement that ships trading in the US also are build in the US. This makes ships more expensive. As a result most of the ships in the "Jones Act Fleet" are actually rather old.
In Europe most freight is moved by ships, and those ships are as a rule rather young, and state of the art.
When asking why the El Faro still had open lifeboats how can one ignore the fact that replacing old ships with newer, more modern ships is made artificially harder in the US?

As to foreign flagged ships employing "slave labor". I was on a freighter a summer ago. The phillipino seamen on board showed me pictures of the houses their families lived in. At a first glance they lived better then I do...
To be fair, TOTE has brand new state of the art , LNG powered replacement ships for the El Faro and El Yunque coming online at the end of this year and beginning of next year so they weren't expected to last forever. El Faro was then to move back to the west coast and fill in on the run she first started out on (Tacoma - Anchorage) for the Orca Class ships that originally displaced her in the late '90's / early '00's. Those ships, Midnight Sun and North Star, are also being converted into LNG fueled propulsion.... At least, that's what I understood was going to happen.

That Filipino seaman may be living the high life for the Phillippines but he's making the equivalent of $1000 USD per month. How do we compete with that?
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Old 07-10-2015, 05:01   #111
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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1. A large commercial vessel loses propulsion. What would cause that THEN? Why then? Is it because the motion may cause fuel problems like with smaller boats? I would not think so. But wonder what would cause them to lose power, when the power plants are so large, so dependable, and professionally maintained, and it just left port.
Let's see, cracked a liner once, limped into an anchorage at very reduced RPM, we wouldn't have been able to hold the ships head to wind in a blow. Fortunately our shelter was downwind. It took a day to fix, I don't think it could have been done at sea.

We blew a hydraulic valve lifter off mid Atlantic, engineers couldn't fix it conventionally. We drifted for two days while the office and senior officers discussd options. At one point it looked like a tow 2000 odd miles to europe was the best option. Fortunately a young engineer came up with a very makeshift repair, wielding a tower structure around the engine to hold the lifter in place. Got us home.

I've had many short breakdowns, a fair few blackouts caused by genset failures. Normally fixed in an hour or so, and planned but needed shutdowns to do important work, like retensioning rocker bolts. So it certainly happens, even to much newer container ships.

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2. A large vessel "taking on water." Is this due to boarding seas? Or hull opening up in the movement over the troughs of the large waves?
We once took on a lot of water on a 26 year old 230 meter container ship. It was my first trip, on the Flinders Bay. Winter crossing of the Aussie bight against the westerlies. A nasty low got us, as it normally did on this route. We slowed down to about 5-8 knots and held her head into it, sort of hove too. It must have been a doosy of a blow, because the old girl got pasted worse than she had before in 26 years. The fwd liferaft got ripped off, and crushed 3 bays back. The pilot hoists midships also got destroyed.

Anyway a lot of water started leaking into the number one hold, and the drains down from the tween deck were blocked so it couldn't be pumped out. I got sent forward (along the underdeck passages) to help unblock the drains. Absolutely terrified me being trapped inside this giant metal beast as she twisted and flexed... Anyway, we couldn't drain it, and ended up bailing out the water and syphoning it down. But the 3 foot of water sloshing about ruined all the electrics for the winches and anchor windlass forward. Good job the weather eased back, and the amount of water leaking in reduced. Old ships leak, and crack. A few of ours were about 25-27 years old and they were stuffed. From the aft store the deckhead looked like a starry night due to rust holes in the deck, and we didn't dare press up any tanks due to the tops cracking and the pipework was all rotten and epoxied up or blocked.

I can't begin to imagine the challenges of keeping a 40 year old large commercial cargo ship seaworthy.

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3. A large commercial vessel, capable of steaming at 20 knots or faster, heads into the path of a tropical storm, which was being tracked and predicted could become a hurricane. Does the commercial shipping company completely disregard such storms, assuming their ships can take it or power through the heavy weather?
Yes more or less, we weather routed to some extent, but pretty much ignored Gale or storm warnings. We would take evasive action around TRS's but basically took what the sea chucked at us. The only times we stayed in port was if the port was closed. A few times I looked at the forecast, and as a cadet or junior officer I wished we would hide somewhere, like behind a headland for 12 hours or so. But we just kept bashing through it at slow speed, to keep schedule. It was a bit brutal, but those early container ships were good seaboats. Esp the Mairangi Bay class that we used to run around cape horn in. But I never saw any weather like what El taro was out in. Very Sad.

Roro's always scare me. I used to work on a little ship called the Straitsman. She had previously capsized in the Melbourne port, due to free surface effect on the vehicle deck.

It doesn't take much water sloshing about to loose all stability.


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Old 07-10-2015, 05:08   #112
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
Let's see, cracked a liner once, limped into an anchorage at very reduced RPM, we wouldn't have been able to hold the ships head to wind in a blow. Fortunately our shelter was downwind. It took a day to fix, I don't think it could have been done at sea.

We blew a hydraulic valve lifter off mid Atlantic, engineers couldn't fix it conventionally. We drifted for two days while the office and senior officers discussd options. At one point it looked like a tow 2000 odd miles to europe was the best option. Fortunately a young engineer came up with a very makeshift repair, wielding a tower structure around the engine to hold the lifter in place. Got us home.

I've had many short breakdowns, a fair few blackouts caused by genset failures. Normally fixed in an hour or so, and planned but needed shutdowns to do important work, like retensioning rocker bolts. So it certainly happens, even to much newer container ships.



We once took on a lot of water on a 26 year old 230 meter container ship. It was my first trip, on the Flinders Bay. Winter crossing of the Aussie bight against the westerlies. A nasty low got us, as it normally did on this route. We slowed down to about 5-8 knots and held her head into it, sort of hove too. It must have been a doosy of a blow, because the old girl got pasted worse than she had before in 26 years. The fwd liferaft got ripped off, and crushed 3 bays back. The pilot hoists midships also got destroyed.

Anyway a lot of water started leaking into the number one hold, and the drains down from the tween deck were blocked so it couldn't be pumped out. I got sent forward (along the underdeck passages) to help unblock the drains. Absolutely terrified me being trapped inside this giant metal beast as she twisted and flexed... Anyway, we couldn't drain it, and ended up bailing out the water and syphoning it down. But the 3 foot of water sloshing about ruined all the electrics for the winches and anchor windlass forward. Good job the weather eased back, and the amount of water leaking in reduced. Old ships leak, and crack. A few of ours were about 25-27 years old and they were stuffed. From the aft store the deckhead looked like a starry night due to rust holes in the deck, and we didn't dare press up any tanks due to the tops cracking and the pipework was all rotten and epoxied up or blocked.

I can't begin to imagine the challenges of keeping a 40 year old large commercial cargo ship seaworthy.


Yes more or less, we weather routed to some extent, but pretty much ignored Gale or storm warnings. We would take evasive action around TRS's but basically took what the sea chucked at us. The only times we stayed in port was if the port was closed. A few times I looked at the forecast, and as a cadet or junior officer I wished we would hide somewhere, like behind a headland for 12 hours or so. But we just kept bashing through it at slow speed, to keep schedule. It was a bit brutal, but those early container ships were good seaboats. Esp the Mairangi Bay class that we used to run around cape horn in. But I never saw any weather like what El taro was out in. Very Sad.

Roro's always scare me. I used to work on a little ship called the Straitsman. She had previously capsized in the Melbourne port, due to free surface effect on the vehicle deck.

It doesn't take much water sloshing about to loose all stability.


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Fascinating reading your stories. very interesting.

Is the 'Straitsman' now on The Flinders run?
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Old 07-10-2015, 05:33   #113
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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Is the 'Straitsman' now on The Flinders run?
Hi Ted, no when I last heard of her she was working up in Fiji, but may well have been scrapped or gone to some very dodgy country to squeeze out the last bit of life. When I was on her 16 Years ago many of her decks and tank tops were getting in urgent need of replacement due to rust, from the uric acid from the livestock.

I worked on her in NZ, she used to do the cook strait run, Nelson, Wellington, piction. Neat ship. The only one where we used to calculate the free surface effect of the cattle on the top deck..

You might be thinking of the statesman. I saw her up the river over the weekend. She's a modufed landing barge I believe.

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Old 07-10-2015, 05:48   #114
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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Hi Ted, no when I last heard of her she was working up in Fiji, but may well have been scrapped or gone to some very dodgy country to squeeze out the last bit of life. When I was on her 16 Years ago many of her decks and tank tops were getting in urgent need of replacement due to rust, from the uric acid from the livestock.

I worked on her in NZ, she used to do the cook strait run, Nelson, Wellington, piction. Neat ship. The only one where we used to calculate the free surface effect of the cattle on the top deck..

You might be thinking of the statesman. I saw her up the river over the weekend. She's a modufed landing barge I believe.

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'The Statesmen', yes of course. I passed it a few weeks back.

I do remember The Straitsman capsizing over Melbourne. Got them mixed up.
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Old 07-10-2015, 14:32   #115
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

Hello Ann,
I have been in fifty-foot seas on a CG Ice breaker off the coast of Chile and I have also flown as crew member in CG C-130s over thirty to forty feet seas as well. I can tell you first hand, that unless you are fully enclosed, such as the standard life boats are today, you will not survive a storm in one, nor would you stay in it.
The only two items that may have saved this crew is a life vest capable of providing 35 lbs. of buoyancy and or a canopied SOLAS life raft. Yes, you would get a wild ride if in a life vest, but if it is keeping your head above the surface, you could survive in the 80 degree water long enough for the storm to move away from you and then to be found
The life raft would be a wild ride as well. We had to leave a Rescue Swimmer in a storm off of North Carolina years ago. He was thrown from the life raft several times. Of course my response was why didn't he close up the canopy. It would have kept him in, plus the canopy on our life rafts were designed to help hold the raft down in wind. He survived BTW.

As for the EPIRB, they don't ping. They send a steady signal. If it was broadcasting and then stopped, it tells me that this could possibly be the point where the El Toro sank. (just a theory). EPIRBs will stop broadcasting to the satellite once the antenna is submersed.

A PLB only costs around $250.00 US and a basic inflatable life vest w/35 lbs. buoyancy is only about $120.00. You can be sure that I would have these two items in my locker if I were working on this, or any other ship. I actually took one with me on a cruise once. Ha!
If you depend fully on a company or legislators to make you safe, you are taking a very big risk. The life boats and deployment system on this ship speak for themselves. I also suspect those immersion suits were placed on the ship years ago when it was working in Alaska. I don't know, are ships operating in Caribbean waters required to have immersion suits on board? Does anyone know?
I do know this, the immersion suit, by itself only provides about 10 lbs. of buoyancy and it lays you in a prone face up position on the surface (your face sits just inches above the water-line). If water gets in the suit in a turbulent seas (which it will), it will cause a stretching effect whereas when the survivor's body goes from a drop into the trough to a rise to the crest of the swell, the suit will stretch, pulling the water in the bottom of the suit downward. In a sea like this, your face would likely be submersed most of the time. It irked me when a CG officer made the statement on the news, saying an immersion suit is the best thing you can have with you. Just not true - in many cases.
I haven't given up yet, maybe some of them did make it into a tub (remember that?) or sitting on debris, who knows. Keep looking I say.
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Old 07-10-2015, 14:43   #116
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

... in +130mph wind (and probably even way below these wind speeds) you will have zero chance to survive (for a long time) even if you have enough buoyancy. You will just get too much 'water spray' in your lounges ...

The USCG will suspend search for the ElFaro crew at sunset tonight after covering more than 172,000 sqnm in search effort.

Sad news ...

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Old 07-10-2015, 16:12   #117
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

I have found this to be an interesting discussion, and educational. The recent loss of the El Faro has given me a lot to think about, and I appreciate that our forum has been able to talk about things like the lifeboats, the weather, and ship safety. I think anytime we openly discuss the risks of going to sea, it is likely to help others learn, and possibly be better prepared. I consider that a good thing to do.

I especially appreciate those CF members (SnowPetrel, El Pinguino, Watermann, ASTBoone, FamilyVan, and others in this thread or others threads) who have experience on commercial or Coast Guard ocean going vessels who have added their insights and anecdotes and opinions. Thank you all for helping us others understand what it might be like on a big RORO or container ship at sea. Your vivid accounts of the ships, conditions of older vessels, and the risks as you saw them were interesting to read. Thanks for taking the time to add the details. I can still visualize something from reading SnowPetrel's account of seeing metaphorical stars through the deckhead.

Something that has been an education for me this year is learning how large commercial vessels have such a limited lifespan. I remarked on this in another thread some months back. I always assumed that a big steel ship would last a long time. What seems to be the case is that after about 25 years, they are near the end of their useful life and considered "old." When they get to 40 years, that is "Very Old."

One term keeps coming up and while I could guess at its meaning, I was not sure. So I did a little search of the wonderful internet and found a very good article that clearly explains it and how it is a condition of danger to a large ship.

For anyone not familiar with this term, I encourage you to read it, as it explains how a large ship may rapidly lose its stability and consequently capsize. The article mentions several disasters that involved RORO ships (especially ferries like the Wahine, Estonia, and Herald of Free Enterprise ) and in one case it only took 90 seconds for the ship to roll, recover, roll again and capsize! It can happen very quickly.

Note: The El Faro was a ship with both containers on the top deck, and a RORO design middle deck that had vehicles and trailers.

The Free Surface Effect

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_surface_effect
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:23   #118
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

The Jones Act was "once upon a time" intended to do many things by keeping a well paid, well treated, US Merchant Marine. These days? Probably the only argument that can be made for it, in a global economy, is that it allows a living wage for a very small number of merchant mariners to be kept in practice and available for MILITARY SERVICE IN TIME OF WAR.


Yes, if a war breaks out and the Navy needs sailors....guess how long it takes to pull out the list of merchant marine and send them notices?


And considering the size of the US merchant marine today...one might argue this is about as useful as subsidizing buggy whip makers.


Boone-
When you say EPIRBs don't ping...I think you're confusing the issue. EPIRBs will send out a continuous 121.5MHz aviation distress signal to aid in location, but they do very much PING the satellite network, once every xx many minutes, because running a satellite transmitter of any strength for any length of time would rapidly exhaust the batteries, and flood the satellite network with useless signals.
If you were out on a SAR mission, you'd be listening for the continuous 121.5 beacon, and it would be most unlikely that you'd have any way to intercept the SAR/SAT data burst transmissions.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:37   #119
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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........
One term keeps coming up and while I could guess at its meaning, I was not sure. So I did a little search of the wonderful internet and found a very good article that clearly explains it and how it is a condition of danger to a large ship.

For anyone not familiar with this term, I encourage you to read it, as it explains how a large ship may rapidly lose its stability and consequently capsize. The article mentions several disasters that involved RORO ships (especially ferries like the Wahine, Estonia, and Herald of Free Enterprise ) and in one case it only took 90 seconds for the ship to roll, recover, roll again and capsize! It can happen very quickly.

Note: The El Faro was a ship with both containers on the top deck, and a RORO design middle deck that had vehicles and trailers.

The Free Surface Effect

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_surface_effect
For a simple demonstration of free surface effect take a tray with a bit of a lip and put half an inch of water in it.. hold tray by the long ends and rock it gently through a few degrees...you will feel the effect.
You don't even have to go to sea.... scroll down The Canadian Pacific liner EMPRESS OF CANADA was destroyed by fire in the Gladstone Dock at Liverpool on 25th January 1953
Back in the day when I was working on passo ships sailing out of Southampton the fire brigade would come down every morning to collect updated stability information 'just in case'.
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Old 07-10-2015, 16:40   #120
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Re: Safety of Ships' Lifeboats in Major Storms

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The Jones Act was "once upon a time" intended to do many things by keeping a well paid, well treated, US Merchant Marine. These days? Probably the only argument that can be made for it, in a global economy, is that it allows a living wage for a very small number of merchant mariners to be kept in practice and available for MILITARY SERVICE IN TIME OF WAR.


Yes, if a war breaks out and the Navy needs sailors....guess how long it takes to pull out the list of merchant marine and send them notices?


And considering the size of the US merchant marine today...one might argue this is about as useful as subsidizing buggy whip makers.


Boone-
When you say EPIRBs don't ping...I think you're confusing the issue. EPIRBs will send out a continuous 121.5MHz aviation distress signal to aid in location, but they do very much PING the satellite network, once every xx many minutes, because running a satellite transmitter of any strength for any length of time would rapidly exhaust the batteries, and flood the satellite network with useless signals.
If you were out on a SAR mission, you'd be listening for the continuous 121.5 beacon, and it would be most unlikely that you'd have any way to intercept the SAR/SAT data burst transmissions.
Hi.

What follows is written in a friendly tone and not an argumentative one.

I can't speak for ASTBoone, who has a career background in SAR, but my understanding of what he wrote and when he mentioned "ping" by a EPIRB, is that the EPIRB, if still on a sunken ship would not "ping" its location to SAR assets (like a aircraft's "Black Box Flight Recorder").

I could be wrong on that interpretation of what was written earlier, but that is how I understood the earlier post.

I think laymen today would be asking "Why can't the Coast Guard find that ship?" Because laymen are accustomed to watching news reports of aircraft wrecks being located and Black Boxes being located remotely by "pinging" signals.
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