Monday, November 26, 2007

Football Field-sized Kite Powers Latest Heavy Freight Ship

A kite the size of a football field will provide most of the power for a German heavy freight ship set to launch in December.

The Beluga shipping company that owns the 460-foot Beluga said it expects the kites to decrease fuel consumption by up to 50% in optimal cases as well as a cutback of the emission of greenhouse gases on sea by 10 to 20%. Interestingly, the ship will be hauling windmills from Esbjerg, Denmark to Houston, Texas.

The company that makes the kite for the German transport, SkySails, has made kites for large yachts but is targeting commercial ships with new, larger kites. And it has the ambitious goal of equipping 1,500 ships with kites by 2015.

Friday, November 23, 2007

One of the Saddest Sights In The World

It's fortunate that all the passengers have been rescued but it HURTS to see a beautiful ship looking so...finished, doesn't it?

Photo from the BBC.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brothers Reunited: City Buys South Brother Island

From Gothamist


The city's last privately owned island was sold to the federal government for $2 million. South Brother Island, a 7-acre island (just west of Rikers Island), will be turned over to the city's Parks and Recreation Department and will remain, as amNew York reports, "significant nesting colony for several types of shore birds, including Egrets, Cormorant, and Night Herons."

According to the NY Times, the deal, which was "brokered by the Trust for Public Land and financed with federal money secured by United States Representative José E. Serrano" of the Bronx, was "complex" (non-profit The Point and the Wildlife Conservation Society chipped in money to buy the land). Serrano told AMNY, "You know the way New York is. Eventually somebody would have bought and decided to tear it all up… We can have one place in the great metropolis to see how it used to be."

2007_11_sobroisl.jpgThe island was previously owned by Jacob Ruppert Jr., the brewery magnate and congressman who co-owned the Yankees when Babe Ruth was traded from the Red Sox. He had a summer house on the island, but it burned down in 1907 and South Brother Island remained largely undeveloped since. After that, the island had a number of owners, including the city, which sold it to Hamptons Scow for $10 in 1975. The Times calls Hamptons Scow a sand and gravel company, while AMNY says it's an investment company; either way, it now stands to make $1,999,990 in profit on the 32-year investment.

Forgotten NY has a good look at the history of South Brother Island and its neighbor, North Brother Island (North Brother Island is where Typhoid Mary was sent and near where a ship in 1904 burst into flames, killing over 1,200 people), as well as some photographs. And Ruppert's great-great-nephew K. Jacob Ruppert told the Times, “There’s no beautiful lagoon. It’s a mound of bird poop. But there are beautiful birds. I never thought I could walk up to a swan on her nest. The ground is nothing but bird droppings and broken egg shells.”

Images from Google Earth

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Whale found deep in Amazon jungle

By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Minke whale in the Amazon
The whale's back and fin were out of water and exposed to the sun

A 5.5m long minke whale has been spotted more than 1600km (994 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean, deep inside the Amazon rain forest.

The whale ran aground earlier this week but after being freed with the help of vets and biologists it disappeared shortly afterwards.

It is the second time this week in Brazil that a lost animal has been spotted in an unexpected location.

The minke whale ran aground on a sandbar deep inside the Amazon.

Local people had been splashing water on the whale's back and fin while it was exposed to the hot Amazon sun.

The whale is said to weigh about 12 tons.

Reports of a mysterious animal in the area had been causing alarm among locals near to the Tapajos river, a tributary of the Amazon.

Experts say the animal could have been in the area for a couple of months.

After the whale was freed, helicopters and boats were involved in a search of the area but nothing was found.

A biologist said it was thought the animal became separated from its group and swam upstream, until it ran aground near Santarem in Para state.

While it is not unprecedented, it is unusual for whales to venture so far into fresh water.

Beach alligator

The whale is not the only animal to get lost in Brazil this week.

On Thursday a young reptile - which was 1.5m long - turned up at a popular beach in Rio de Janeiro and had to be rescued by firemen.

They had been searching for the alligator for some time and had closed Barra beach, but despite this some swimmers insisted on entering the water.

The caiman, or yellow stomach alligator as it is known in Brazil, was taken to a local zoo for treatment for a broken leg.

This endangered species is normally found in freshwater swamps and marshes, and the fire service in Rio said it was the first time they had rescued one from the sea.

Cargo Ship Sinks in Sea of Japan

MOSCOW, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- A cargo ship with 30 Russian crew and six passengers sank in the Sea of Japan on Sunday, and 22 have been rescued, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

The vessel sank during a storm 180 miles (288 kilometers) off Russia's far eastern port of Nakhodka in the morning, the agency quoted Russian Emergencies Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov as saying.

Twenty-two crew members and passengers were rescued by boarding four inflatable rafts, Beltsov said.

A nearby ship was trying to pick up the other crew and passengers, but the operation was hampered by bad whether, he added.

The ship, registered in the Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was transporting timber from Nakhodka to China, Interfax said.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bay Oil Spill May Prompt Restrictions

by Erica Werner WASHINGTON (AP) — The Coast Guard may consider restricting movement of ships in heavy fog in the wake of the 58,000-gallon oil spill in San Francisco Bay, the head of the service said.

"If we had said you can't leave until the fog clears, and that was 3 o'clock in the afternoon, looking back on it that would be preferable to the millions of dollars (the ship's owners) are going to pay for response," the Coast Guard's commandant, Adm. Thad Allen, told The Associated Press in an interview.

"I think controls on ships in low visibility probably is something you could look at," he said. He said the benefit of any new regulations would have to be weighed against the economic costs on the shipping industry.

Allen also discussed other possible responses to the spill that occurred last Wednesday morning when the cargo ship Cosco Busan, moving in poor visibility, sideswiped one of the supports of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, spreading oil around one of the country's most famous and fragile ecosystems and shutting down fishing in the affected area.

Another would be to develop a "risk matrix" that could trigger controls on movement of ships when a number of factors, such as weather, tide and port congestion, added up to a risky situation.

After spending about 24 hours in San Francisco viewing the Bay by air and meeting with emergency crews, lawmakers and city officials, Allen stood by his initial defense of the Coast Guard's response to the spill. His agency has come under fire principally for a time lag of several hours between when officials realized the spill was 58,000 gallons — not 140 gallons as initially reported — and when that information was relayed to the public.

Allen reiterated that his impression was that crews were working so hard to respond to the spill that notifying city leaders and the public about its magnitude fell through the cracks.

"I don't think anybody was sitting there with a cup of coffee sleeping or anything like that," Allen said late Monday while en route to Washington from San Francisco. "But if we find that there was something that somebody should have been doing different, we would counsel them — we'll do whatever's indicated."

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an independent investigation of the crash and the Coast Guard's initial response.

Allen said his agency would work on how to respond to such a situation in the future.

"How do you handle a low-visibility situation when you can't ascertain how much oil's been released. That's a knotty problem," he said. "We've got to take that knotty problem back and work it."

Even if the agency had simply stated that an unknown amount of oil had spilled, then later released the accurate figure, "it wouldn't have been seen as somehow a betrayal of trust," Allen added.

Allen said Sunday night that he wanted records of communications between the crew of the Cosco Busan and the Coast Guard's Vessel Traffic Service released within 24 hours. The NTSB then took control of the transcripts and audio and has refused to make them public or say when it would.

"I laid down the marker. Hopefully that will prompt appropriate behavior" by NTSB, Allen said.

Mechanical failure has been ruled out in the crash and federal investigators are looking at actions of the crew and the local pilot. --From the Associated Press

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tanker Spills Oil in Black Sea Strait


The cargo vessel Vera Voloshina after it ran aground during a storm off the Ukraine's Crimean peninsula on Sunday. The storm also broke up a small Russian oil tanker, the Volganeft-139, spilling fuel oil into the Black Sea.

The New York Times

The ship was near Kerch, between Russia and Ukraine.

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) -- Rescuers on Monday recovered the bodies of three sailors after a Russian freighter sank near the Black Sea, while officials assessed damage from an oil tanker spill that could be the worst environmental disaster in the region in years.

The Nakhichevan was one of two freighters that broke up as 18-foot waves battered ships throughout the region surrounding the Strait of Kerch, a narrow strait linking the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov.

The dead sailors wearing life vests washed up near Tuzla on the western side of the strait, said Emergency Situations spokesman Sergei Kozhemyaka. Rescuers were looking for five others.

As many as 10 ships sank or ran aground in the strait and the northern Black Sea region during the fierce storm, including the tanker, the Volganeft-139, loaded with nearly 1.3 million gallons of fuel oil. Nearly half that amount had spilled into the strait and had begun washing up on nearby shorelines.

The Russian tanker's 13 crew members were rescued, authorities said.

Officials said it could be the worst environmental disaster in the region in years, and could take years to clean up.

Nakhichevan and the other freighter together were carrying about 7,150 tons of sulfur, which also spilled into the waters. Experts were trying to determine if there could be any long-term damage.

Alexei Zhukovin, an expert with the Emergency Situations Ministry's branch in southern Russia, said sulfur was not dangerous to the region's habitat.

Vesti 24 on Sunday reported the sinking of a Russian freighter carrying metal near the port of Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Two members of its 16-man crew drowned and one was missing, it said.

Maxim Stepanenko, a regional prosecutor, told Vesti 24 that captains had been warned Saturday about the stormy conditions. He said the Volganeft-139 -- designed during Soviet times to transport oil on rivers -- was not built to withstand a fierce storm.


Associated Press Writer Carley Petesch contributed to this report from New York.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Russian oil tanker splits in half

From BBC

Russian TV grab of freighter caught in storm - 11/11/07
Russian TV showed pictures of other boats damaged in the storm
Up to 2,000 tons of fuel oil have leaked near the Black Sea after a Russian oil tanker split in half - in a storm that sank four other ships.

A Russian official said the tanker accident was a "very serious environmental disaster".

The vessel came apart after it was smashed by 5m (16ft) waves at the Kerch Strait between the Azov and Black Seas.

The ship's 13 crew were rescued after several hours, but at least 15 people were missing from another ship.

Dozens of vessels have reportedly been evacuated from the busy Russian commercial port of Kavkaz because of the storm, which was packing winds of 108km/h (67 mph).

'Sinking to seabed'

The broken oil tanker, reportedly owned by Russian firm Volganeft, was at anchor when its stern tore apart in the waters of Ukraine at the busy waterway dividing that country and Russia, officials said.


"This problem may take a few years to solve. Fuel oil is a heavy substance and it is now sinking to the seabed," said an official from Russia's state environmental protection agency Rosprirodnadzor.

"This is a very serious environmental disaster," Reuters quoted him as telling Russia's state-run Vesti-24 channel.

But the oil spill is small by comparison with the Prestige disaster off Spain five years ago.

Severe habitat damage was caused to beaches in Spain, France and Portugal when a tanker leaked 64,000 tonnes of fuel oil in November 2002.

Three of the other vessels that sank in Sunday's storm were carrying sulphur.

Meanwhile, 15 crew members were reportedly missing from a scrap metal ship that sank 300km (187 miles) further west, near Sevastopol on Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Friday, November 9, 2007

CG "Rescues" Nantucket Shoal Buoy

U.S. Coast Guard | November 08, 2007

Boston, MA. -- The Coast Guard found the Nantucket Shoal buoy, which was blown off station by the remnants of Hurricane Noel, about 90 miles southeast of Nantucket, Mass., Monday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan McKenna, the underway officer of the day aboard the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Dependable, from Cape May, N.J., discovered the yellow whistle buoy adrift 23 nautical miles south from its normal position.

The Dependable towed the buoy approximately 75 miles before transferring it to the Willow, a 225-foot buoy-tending cutter from Newport R.I., at around 4 p.m., Tuesday.

"We were lucky to find the buoy 23 nautical miles off station, take it into tow and pass it off to the Cutter Willow," said Commander Laura Dickey, the commanding officer of the Dependable. "It was just another day in Coast Guard operations."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

'Banana wave' hits Dutch islands

From BBC

Bananas lie on a beach on Terschelling island on 7 November 2007
Islanders have been combing the banana-strewn beach
Thousands of bananas have been washed up on two Dutch islands in the North Sea after several containers fell off a cargo ship in a storm, officials say.

They say beaches on Terschelling and Ameland islands were littered with bunches of unripe fruit - to the delight of some local residents.

"I think everybody... has a bunch now," a Terschelling official was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

It was not clear if the bananas were edible after floating in salty water.

The bananas were washed up on Wednesday after at least six containers fell off the ship transporting the fruit from Cuba, said Gossen Buren, a shipping official on Terschelling island. At least one of the containers burst open.


Hours later about 1km (0.6 mile) stretch of a beach on the island was littered with the bananas, Mr Buren said.

Local authorities are now in talks with the ship's insurance company on what to do with the bananas.

Some local residents had already suggested sending them to Dutch zoos, Mr Buren said.

The islanders are no strangers to different materials turning up on their beaches, including shoes, briefcases and toys.

The two islands are about 115km (70 miles) north of Amsterdam.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

EarthNC News

EarthNC Release Latest Version of Nautical Charts for Google Earth

Florida based, EarthNC Inc ( announced today the general availability of the latest version of EarthNC Plus - Marine Charts for Google Earth. EarthNC Plus now includes the full compliment of current US NOAA Electronic Navigation Charts (ENC) and most Army Corps of Engineerings Inland Electronic Navigation Charts (IENC) in a native Google Earth format.

Delray Beach, FL (PRWEB) November 2, 2007 -- Florida based, EarthNC Inc ( announced today the general availability of the latest version of EarthNC Plus -- Marine Charts for Google Earth. EarthNC Plus now includes the full compliment of current US NOAA Electronic Navigation Charts (ENC) and most Army Corps of Engineerings Inland Electronic Navigation Charts (IENC) in a native Google Earth format. EarthNC Plus is available in CD-ROM and direct download formats for Windows XP/Vista and Mac OS X. Each EarthNC Plus purchase includes a full chart set (currently over 680 charts) and a 12-month chart update subscription for an introductory price of $49.95.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tanker Rams, Damages Light Tower Off NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — An oil tanker slammed into a light tower off Staten Island on Saturday that helps watch over the main shipping lanes to New York Harbor, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The shipping lanes remained open, but the Coast Guard urged boaters to avoid the Ambrose Light until it could be fixed, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Annie Berlin.

A Coast Guard vessel was being sent to set up temporary navigation aids until permanent repairs could be made to the tower, about 12 miles southeast of Staten Island and four miles outside the shipping channel.

There are other navigation aids in the area, "but it's very important that all of the mariners out there know about this one so they don't come too close to it," Berlin said.

The tanker Axel Spirit rammed into the 76-foot steel tower around 2 a.m., damaging its legs, the Coast Guard said. The tower's light — normally visible for about 18 miles — was still on, but no longer rotating and not reliable, Berlin said.

No injuries or pollution were reported. The accident happened amid roughly 5-foot waves and 25-knot winds as the stormy remains of Hurricane Noel approached the seas off New York.

A spokeswoman for the ship's owner, Vancouver, Canada-based Teekay Corp., did not immediately return telephone messages left at her office Saturday night.

From the Associated Post, Sunday November 4, 2007


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