USS Ponce to Become a Floating Base
The Navy has put out an RFP, with a very quick
turnaround, for conversion of the 40-year-old USS Ponce, (LPD 15), which
was due to be decommissioned on March 30, to what they are calling an Afloat
Forward Staging Base, or AFSB. Find it
here. Sounds like a more expensive version of an MLP to me and, sure enough, the Navy is apparently planning to modify the MLP
design to allow either the third MLP or a currently unplanned fourth MLP to
become an AFSB. Read the story in Defense News
January 29, 2012.
RFP Out for Dismantling Three Carriers
Now here's an interesting project. The Navy
wants a single contractor to dismantle the Forrestal (CV 59), the
Independence (CV 62) and the Constellation (CV 64). Read the
many yards have the physical resources to do a job like this, apart from the
unique management skills. How much will this cost? $80 million each?
Are they worth that much in scrap? Why not give them to our impoverished allies?
I guess nobody wants ships that big. Reef
them as targets, take them out into really deep water and pull the
plug? Can't do any of those any more - the greenies wouldn't like it. January 27, 2012.
P.S.: I'm told that my figure of $80 million
is off by a factor well over three. So I know diddly about the recycling
biz. Anyway, if the lightweight of one of these ships
is about 60,000 tons,
a price of $24 million per ship
would represent about $400 per lightweight ton. It will be interesting to see what
the bids are. January 30, 2012.
Changes in the Navy's Shipbuilding Program
As far as one can tell from Secretary Panetta's
statement, the new defense strategy will mean that the Navy's shipbuilding
programs will experience the following changes:
CVN: no change
SSBN: delayed two years
SSN: one boat dropped from the FYDP but not
deleted; Block 5 boats to carry cruise missiles
DDG: no change
LHA: second ship delayed one year
LPD: no change
LSC: two ships dropped from the FYDP but not
JHSV: eight ships dropped from the FYDP but
not necessarily deleted
MPS: no change
Bad news for Austal, but, all in all, it could
have been a lot worse. January 27, 2012.
Ship Takes Out Bridge
The Delta Mariner hit the Eggner's Ferry
(Highway 68) bridge over the Tennessee River last night, taking out two spans of
it, fortunately without any casualties. Read the story on WKDZ
The Delta Mariner is a unique shallow-draft/low-air-draft ship, built by
Halter in 1998, which is operated by Foss for Boeing: she generally carries
rockets and other stuff from Boeing's plant in Decatur AL down the Tenn-Tom to
Mobile and thence to either Cape Canaveral in Florida or Vandenburg AFB in
California. See the pictures on Foss' web site
In this case, she was way upstream of Decatur, not far south of the Tennessee's
junction with the Ohio River. January 27, 2012.
McCreary Moves Up
Only three months after joining BAE Systems,
Richard McCreary has moved up to become Vice President and General Manager of
BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards. Ever the glutton for punishment, he will
continue to be VP Commercial Business Development for BAE Systems Ship Repair.
Richard replaces Dan Welch, who is retiring. Good move. January
The Atlantic published a series of
pictures yesterday of the TK Bremen, a small cargo ship which grounded on
a beach in France last month and which has already been almost completely
recycled. No particular message here, just look at these terrific
pictures. See them
here. In a
world in which so many people use a cell phone to take really crappy pictures,
it's nice to know that there are still a few real photographers around.
January 25, 2012.
Can the Costa Concordia Be Saved?
There is a really excellent graphic in the
National Post today that addresses the difficulties of salvaging the
Costa Concordia. See it
January 23, 2012.
The Costa Concordia's Wild Ride
The Dutch company, QPS, which makes Qastor
navigation software, has recreated the doomed ship's track from the AIS data. See it
here or go to
QPS' web site
is astounding. It
seems clear that the ship lost power after the
It also explains why the damage was
on her port side but she ended up lying on her starboard side. As I said earlier, a whole lot of questions arise that are
not related to the master's bizarre behavior. January 23/24, 2012.
Landing Craft Grounded in Maui
In a welcome contrast to more news of the
Costa Concordia, we can report that LCM 8540, built by Rohr
in the early 70s, ran up on the beach in Maui earlier this week. Read the
story on KITV and see a video
No word on what her captain was doing at the time. January 20, 2012.
Another Refinery Closing
The 500,000-bpd Hess/PDVSA refinery on St. Croix,
for which the six Jacksonville-class ITBs were built, will close next
month. Read the announcement
President of RINA Resigns
The fallout has started already. Enrico
Scerni, the President of RINA, quit yesterday after saying that everybody knew
that captains routinely “take a bow” as they pass Giglio. Read the story
in Genova 24
January 18, 2012.
Leevac Changes Its Name
LEEVAC Industries, the shipyard in
Jennings LA, and LEEVAC Shipbuilding and Repair, the shipyard in Calcasieu LA,
have consolidated and both are now LEEVAC Shipyards, LLC. Makes sense to
me. Read the announcement
January 17, 2012.
I reckon Costa's gone, don't you? They will
lose so much business as a result of this fiasco that it would take them years
to recover. Carnival won't sit still for that. They will close it
down and transfer the ships and routes to one or more of the other subsidiary
companies. Without those silly stovepipe stacks, of course.
January 17, 2012.
Seacor Takes Over Trailer Bridge
Seacor and two investment companies are bailing
out Trailer Bridge in return for control. Read the report in the JoC
is excellent news. Now, how about taking over Horizon too?
January 17, 2012.
Blame the Master But ......
So they are going to put the blame for the Costa
Concordia disaster on her Captain. Fair enough. But there may be just a few technical
questions that need answering, don't you think? Yeeeeees. It will be
interesting to watch Carnival and Fincantieri and RINA dancing around questions
that are nothing to do with the Captain's alleged negligence, such as the power
failure and the widespread flooding and the crew's training and the lack of
emergency drills and probably a bunch more that haven't surfaced yet. January
Stackley Goes After HII
Reuters reports that ASN Sean Stackley is leaning
on HII to get the costs of the CVN and LPD programs under better control.
Read the story
particularly like this quote from HII's Mike Petters:
"Until those ships (the LPDs) are gone, and until we get
Avondale wound down and closed, we sleep with one eye open on all those
programs." Read the ASN's full statement on DefPro Daily
January 15, 2012.
Five-Year-Old Cruise Ship Wrecked
How exactly could a post-Panamax cruise
ship - the Costa Concordia, built by Fincantieri in 2006 at a cost of over
$500 million - be so totally and catastrophically wrecked, with such terrible
loss of life? What was a ship with a 26-foot draft doing there? What happened to two-compartment subdivision?
What happened to all the back-up systems? Why did she roll to starboard
when the gash appears to be in the port side? What
have Costa Line (owned by Carnival), Fincantieri and RINA (the Italian class
society) got to say for themselves?
Could such a
disaster happen here? In the islands? In the Florida Keys? In
Alaska? How can we say that it couldn't? Of course it could and in
fact nearly did, only two weeks ago, when the MSC Poesia, also with a
26-foot draft, ran onto a reef in the Bahamas that was in 15 feet of water.
Read about that
here. January 14/15, 2012.
It seems from today's
news that the Democrats now
agree with the Republicans that the federal government's too big and needs to be
streamlined. So this would be a good time, would it not, to act on my oft-repeated
suggestion that we should merge all the various departments and agencies that
are involved with the commercial marine industry and its infrastructure?
I'm talking about the civil activities of the U.S. Coast Guard and
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
plus the Maritime Administration, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Bureau of
Ocean Energy Management and NOAA. Let's put them all in the Department of
the Interior, with an Assistant Secretary in charge. January 13, 2012.
Military Sealift Command reports that the range
instrumentation ship Howard O. Lorenzen, (T-AGM 25), has finally been
accepted. Read the announcement
Built by VT Halter Marine to replace the 60-year-old Observation Island,
she was rejected back in June, but has apparently now been fixed.
January 13, 2012.
Gets an Executive Director
Reliable sources say that Joel Szabat, who is
currently Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, has been
appointed Executive Director of MARAD. This is odd, because there is no
such position in MARAD and there are several senior vacancies in the existing
organization structure, but no doubt all will be made clear soon. Mr.
Szabat appears to be highly qualified - read his bio
- just not qualified for a job in MARAD. Never a dull moment.
January 11, 2012.
Coast Guard Academy Needs More Space
According to the local press, the Coast Guard
Academy needs to expand its facilities but the city of New London doesn't want
to accommodate it. Read the story on WTNH
suppose that it's only a matter of time before someone suggests that the Coast
Guard Academy might merge with the Merchant Marine Academy. Not me, of
course. January 9, 2012.
Historic 75-Year-Old Yacht Sinks
The 93-foot Gypsy Queen, built on City Island in
1936 by Henry B. Nevins, has sunk in Steamboat Slough, near Everett WA.
Read the report from Washington State's Department of Ecology
More Strange Names
The Secretary of the Navy continues to stir up
the old guard with his non-standard approach to the naming of ships.
First it was the T-AKEs, the LCSs and the JHSVs: now
it's the Mobile Landing Platforms. They will be named Montford Point,
John Glenn and Lewis B. Puller. Read the announcement
one blog's reaction to it
January 6, 2012.
A Strategic Plan for Kings Point
DoT and MARAD have initiated the development of a
strategic plan for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Read MARAD's
Good. Now, how about a new and meaningful strategic plan for an effective
Maritime Administration? (Read the current plan, published in 2008,
January 5, 2012.
Nome Tanker Gets Waiver
The Russian tanker Renda got its Jones Act
waiver and is on its way from Dutch Harbor to Nome. Read the story on KTUU
January 5, 2012.
Ship to Build a Longliner
Alaska Longline Company has ordered a new factory
longliner - similar to the one on the right - for service in the Bering Sea. The 136-foot Jensen-designed
vessel will be built by Alaska Ship & Drydock and delivered in 2013. It
appears to be the first to be ordered as a result of the recent changes to the
American Fisheries Act, which are expected to stimulate renewal of the Alaskan
fleet: read a summary of the changes
January 3, 2012.
Keppel O&M Gets Into the Wind Too
AMFELS' parent, Keppel O&M, has bought half of
the Norwegian company OWEC Tower AS, which designs offshore wind towers.
Read the press release
we see them built in Brownsville? January 3, 2012.
Cable Ship in the Hudson
It's interesting to see Pirelli's cable ship
Giulio Verne working in the Hudson River. It's not long since we had
cable layers in the U.S. fleet but, except for the Navy's Zeus, (T-ARC 7)
- built by NASSCO in 1985 and primarily a cable repair ship
they've all now been flagged out or sold.
By my count, there are 68 large cable ships in the world fleet, including seven that belong to a U.S. company - TE Connectivity (formerly
January 3, 2012.
A Wish List for 2012
Some developments to push for in the New Year:
with financial strength will buy Horizon Lines and order some new ships
At least one Great Lakes operator will order
some dry bulk ATBs
Our multitude of industry associations will
get together and start working as a team
MARAD will drop the "National Marine Highway"
and focus on revitalizing the existing trades
DoT, the Corps and the Congress will start
rebuilding our maritime infrastructure
The industry will enthusiastically embrace
everything "green" that makes economic sense
SecDoT will fire Matsuda and hire somebody
with relevant capability and experience
The Navy will finally work out that it is
going to have to settle for fewer and simpler ships
There's a bunch more things we should be doing,
but these will do for starters. Don't hold your breath.
January 1, 2012.
HERE to read earlier editions of
going back to 2001