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Old 07-10-2015, 19:59   #46
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

If a post is too long for some, the scroll key usually works pretty well.....but I read all of it, and appreciated the detailed sequence of forecasts.
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Old 07-10-2015, 20:01   #47
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

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Originally Posted by wcapital View Post
- .....Weather is predictably unpredictable, and deserves an extraordinary degree of respect at sea........
The reality when you continually work at sea is that your weather respect is directly related to the size and quality of the ship under your command.

Commercial ships regularly work in conditions that would cause pleasure yachts to stay in port.....(with the exception of RTW racing yachts) and many of those fail.

This is simply a Loss due to unfortunate events of which opinions matter little.
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Old 07-10-2015, 20:21   #48
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

This may be true, but just because that relativity is the reality, it's not necessarily prudent, nor should it be accepted just because "that's the way it is". Many lives have been lost over many centuries because of "pragmatic" decisions and policies; and while that may be justifiable for the explorers of the 15th century or even the clipper ships of thee 19th, as technology and science continue to expand exponentially in the 21st century, it is reasonable to question the cost-benefit analyses that are operative.

I would happily pay a few dollars more for my Amazon.com purchases that are shipped from China, in exchange for a somewhat higher level of deployment of that technology and science....

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The reality when you continually work at sea is that your weather respect is directly related to the size and quality of the ship under your command.

Commercial ships regularly work in conditions that would cause pleasure yachts to stay in port.....(with the exception of RTW racing yachts) and many of those fail.

This is simply a Loss due to unfortunate events of which opinions matter little.
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Old 07-10-2015, 21:10   #49
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Lightbulb Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

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Originally Posted by wcapital View Post
. . ., 50 or so years as a sailor has taught me a few things:
- Weather is predictably unpredictable, and deserves an extraordinary degree of respect at sea. The prudent mariner makes plans and alters them as new information becomes evident.
- Allowing the pressure of a timetable to influence decisions invites the wrath of the Gods. Sticking with the plan no matter what is a form of hubris, and Neptune deals harshly with it (ask Odysseus).
- Nothing mechanical can be regarded as dependable at sea, particularly when the weather deteriorates. Without redundancy, even redundant redundancy, of critical systems, disaster is invited..
These things are all true, but at the same time, they all fall under the heading of "Easy to Say".

All of these things require balancing and managing of risks. You cannot simply avoid these risks without defeating the purpose of being at sea in the first place, especially if you are doing it professionally.

So, for example, you cannot go to sea at all if you have zero faith in your machinery. You can't have redundant systems for everything, and even redundancy doesn't solve the problem if "nothing mechanical can be regarded as dependable at sea," as the replacement will also fail. Redundancy should be applied judiciously as part of an overall rational risk management program.

Likewise, you cannot always sit in port waiting for the perfect zero-risk weather window, particularly, again, if you are doing it professionally. One of the easiest to say of all of the easy to say platitudes is that schedules are the most dangerous things on board. Of course you have to be ready to cancel a voyage is the weather is unreasonably risky, and you have to have other means to control weather risks, but you cannot reduce them to zero, and no one, even recreational sailors, can be entirely free of schedules (at the very least, we are all mortal, and could die of old age waiting for the totally perfect weather window ). So schedules always influence decision making, where go no-go decisions are concerned. The trick is not to let them overly influence decision-making, so that unreasonable risks arise.
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Old 07-10-2015, 21:11   #50
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

I agree with your sentiments, but the reality is that most losses are in the fishing industry where limited openings and competitive quotas do not encourage prudence.

Also, i suspect that the modern navaids and sophisticated weather services become a double edge sword.

They both help to support a far more refined passage plan at the expense of the more traditional conservative approach.

I just think these situations are really hard to second guess.
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Old 07-10-2015, 21:20   #51
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
I agree with your sentiments, but the reality is that most losses are in the fishing industry where limited openings and competitive quotas do not encourage prudence.

Also, i suspect that the modern navaids and sophisticated weather services become a double edge sword.

They both help to support a far more refined passage plan at the expense of the more traditional conservative approach.

I just think these situations are really hard to second guess.
I completely agree. But in any case, balancing of risks against other considerations is always taking place. You can't solve any of these questions by just never considering a schedule, or never relying on your machinery. It can't be that simple.
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Old 07-10-2015, 21:48   #52
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Yes.....decision making is never simple or static.

It appears that I have just lost some friends in the South China Sea whose new Beneteau Oceanis 60 foundered in what appeared to be a minor depression far away close to land on East coast Philippines and just appearing on departure day.

I am struggling with what their decision making was as the storm quickly jumped into their sea and approached at 22km/h.

What failed on their boat and what punctured their life raft?

Nothing is simple at Sea.
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Old 08-10-2015, 01:13   #53
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

One thing that is certain about Tropical Revolving Storms is that they are very hard to predict. Boating/shipping in areas prone to TRS's is hazardous and getting caught out can easily be fatal. When I was in the early days of my commercial training on small fishing vessels in Australia, we were taught to get our people off the vessel without fail. This was a direct result of lives being lost. TRS's will continue to take lives because we continue to operate in regions affected by them and it simply comes down to odds. It is likely that older & lesser vessels will be lost. Sadly economics plays a very large role in the level of risk. Bigger better newer vessels usually have the best of everything and therefore the best chance of avoiding a tragic outcome.
Unfortunately masters are sometimes obliged to head to sea because ports are closed when there is a TRS in the area and it would be possible that this was the case. Port Authorities in exposed locations do not normally allow ships to remain in the port or harbour.
I am very sorry for those who were lost and their loved ones who are waiting for them and living under a cloud. We should all do everything we can to avoid tragedies like this and I can only hope that those who manage the shipping companies around the globe, will continue to work to improve the situation by developing strategies & procedures to reduce risk in areas affected by Hurricanes/Cyclones.
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Old 08-10-2015, 04:12   #54
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Simonsays, and Olddave.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:14   #55
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

As I see some of these posts it appears that the captain was acting on old weather data and when there is a storm kicking around if I was the captain I would be following every intermediate NHC update every three hours and estimate what wind strength I could sail through.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:50   #56
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

1 ---- Thanks to any professional commercial mariners that have responded with their thoughts!



2 ----- I do not wish to drift this into a weather seminar!
So, won't delve into this much, here...
{If you wish to understand this subject more, there is a wealth of weather / weather forecast info and explanations available on-line, on youtube, etc. for free...
(not the least of which are some videos of mine, as well as some other threads of mine)}

But, in a nutshell, this vessel was making a passage from Jacksonville, FL to San Juan, PR; along mostly a rhumbline route...(this is roughly from 30* 24'N x 81* 22'W to 18* 29'N x 66* 08'W)...which places the route east of the Bahamas islands...making an average of 19.5 kts...
Their last reported position from Marine Traffic was at 0401z Thr Oct 1st, at 24.2747*N / 74.94522* W...(which is about 15 - 20nm east of the southern end of Cat Island, between Cat Island and San Salvador....which is 60nm - 100nm west of the rhumbline)....we do not know if this was an intended route, or one forced upon them by weather conditions, or whether this was caused by their maneuvering issues...

The forecasts that I posted were specifically for Hurricane Joaquin, from > 24 hours before their departure and continuing until many hours after their distress call...
(if you look at the TIMES of the forecasts were transmitted and the TIMES they were valid for, and compare those to the position of the vessel, this should help...)



I hope this helps..

Fair winds...

John
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Old 08-10-2015, 13:02   #57
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

As a Merchant Marine Chief Engineer, (Ret.), familiar with this class of vessel, I can share a few things:1) It is not uncommon to leave port before a major storm arrives so you confront the storm at sea as opposed to being trapped in port.
2) Merchant vessels most commonly have only one main engine. (There are some redundant systems and subsystems, but not generally the main engine/propeller). If there is a failure in the main propulsion system, it can be a nightmare, and that is in calm seas. In a bad storm it can be fatal. I have seen it take up to 8 hours to get the steam back on the plant, and there was no storm.
Try to imagine rolling 45+ degrees, in a DARK engine room, about 10 stories tall, with no ventilation, (150 degrees F +). You are trying to get water back into the boilers, trying to light the boilers, trying to get electrical power and main engine power, trying to pump various ship spaces that are flooding...A FRICKIN' NIGHTMARE!!!!
In addition, when bouncing, rolling, pitching, yawing, and slamming around in a major storm, the modern automation can be your enemy as well as your friend. (In the old days we could easily defeat the automation if conditions warranted, not so any more.) If a low water level is momentarily sensed, (water bouncing in the gage column), thee boiler will trip. The automation insists the boiler go through a purge cycle, by then the steam pressure is falling off and the turbo generators are slowing down, now electrical machinery is starting to trip off-line. If you are lucky, the boiler starts after the first purge cycle!
Also while bouncing around in a major storm you can lose cooling water suction to the saltwater service pump and possibly even the main circulator, and these pumps being centrifugal, are not self-priming. In less than one minute you might lose the plant.
This is only speculation. There are many, many other possibilities, (eg. overspeed of engine due to prop coming out of the water, prop shaft breaking...............)
These Merchant Mariners, especially in the Engine Department, have a very difficult and dangerous job to perform. When engine department personnel, (Black Gang), pass away, we sometimes use the phrase FWE, (Finished With Engines).
May these unfortunate Mariners who are now FWE, Rest in Peace.
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Old 08-10-2015, 13:20   #58
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Bongo,

Good post!

Thanks for providing the vivid description of what it might be like in a big ships engine space as part of the Black Gang while in a storm.

I had wondered about the propulsion, assuming that the ship's engines were "bullet proof" and with constant monitoring by the engineers.

Your description points to some of the possible things that could go wrong, and for us sailors who don't have time in the belly of the big ships, it helps us understand. I found it very interesting. I read a book about marine engineering many years ago, and have always been interested in the engines and systems, but I am no engineer, just curious.
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Old 08-10-2015, 13:34   #59
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Bongo,

Thanks for confirming my assumption in post #36 that this was a steam vessel and not a motor (diesel) vessel. The heading of this thread referred to it as M/V instead SS El Faro. I think your description is what John the OP was looking for. Which academy did you go to?
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Old 08-10-2015, 13:47   #60
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Re: Hurricane Joaquin vs. M/V El Faro's final voyage, weather and decsion-making...

Steady, Thanks.While Steam Turbines are extremely reliable engines, they must be provided with several hundred thousand pounds/hour of superheated/dry steam, and they must exhaust into an almost perfect vacuum. (And boilers are not that reliable.) There is a whole series of pumps and heat exchangers that motivate the H2O in the system. Under steady state conditions they are a quite balanced, but when demands are variable, it is like juggling 10 objects at a time. In extreme storms it is not unusual to be continually be "putting out fires", (figuratively speaking).
I am very curious as to just what the Polish Riding Crew was working on? It could possibly be a factor.
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