Saturday, April 28, 2007

Veterans with a sense of humor

I wanted to share a funny picture I got in an email. This is a picture of a WWII veteran - Supposedly at one of Hilary Clinton's speaking engagements.
It would not suprise me if the caption with the picture was true- although I think this man's bullshit protector would be useful around just about any politician these days.

Politically- the Merchant Marine has allies and enemies from both parties. Much of it depends on how much revenue their states see from the seafaring trade. The current debate of House Bill HR23 and Senate Bill 1272 will require us to suffer a great deal of bullshit from many people who do not understand what the Merchant Marine does.

Write to your state representatives to get support for our WWII Merchant Marine Vets.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Polluting the High Seas- another example to learn from

It seems we as a community still have some things to learn. Such as that horrible lesson that we were taught when the Valdez grounded on Bligh reef. Most people who are sailing are well aware of the consequences we face in today's world. Pollution is a hot topic- one that can get Mariners put behind bars.

Now I am about as far from a crazy leftwing environmentalist as you can get- but I do respect the environment and I do care what happens to our world- I personally would not pollute the water on purpose... but I was taught to be that way- so maybe it is a generational thing. Maybe the oldtimers think they can do it and that they might save a buck or two and land a bigger bonus from the home office. Maybe.

I really doubt that though.

In this new case, two Cheif Engineers pleaded guilty to polluting the ocean using 'magic pipes' to bypass the oily water separator and the storage tanks- dumping massive amounts of oil and bilge waste into the water. New reports say that the bypass pipes had been discovered by the Coast Guard during a routine inspection.

PGM (Pacific Gulf Marine) pleaded guilty to charges related to its role in deliberately discharging hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil-contaminated bilge waste from four of its giant car-carrier ships used to transport vehicles, including the Tanabata and Fidelio. The shipping company was sentenced on Jan. 24, 2007, to pay $1 million criminal fines and $500,000 in community service, and serve three years of probation under the terms of an environmental compliance plan which will be audited by a court-appointed monitor.

In the old days, companies put pressure on the crew to 'get rid of it' when it came to the costly disposal of waste. I don't know if Pacific Gulf Marine would encourage that type of behavior even if it would save them money in the long haul. I seriously doubt they would. I really don't know why the Engineers went to so much trouble, illegally dumping and faking log entries unless there was some reward for doing so. However, with the stiff penalities one would think that it would be strongly discouraged behavior. I hope that this serves as another reminder to mariners out there who have thought about trying to save the company a few bucks.

It isn't worth jail time.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

WWII Merchant Mariners Petition for Benefits

There is a small group of merchant mariners from the World War II era in front of our House of Representatives now appealing for benefits. They are asking for a $1,000 per month for their service during the war.

Now some may think that this sounds unreasonable and fear that this would set a precedent that would entitle any defense contractor that serves in a war zone a lifetime benefit. But stop to think about this before you form an opinion. The mariners of WWII were not just defense contractors. These men were heroes that were severely under appreciated. 700+ ships were sunk, many men were killed. More merchant marines died in the war than Marine Corps troops on the battlefield. Many of these men were treated as military combatants, subject to military discipline, and worked together with Navy personnel. Without these brave men who struggled to bring supplies, our Armed Forces may not have won the war - because it was this constant stream of arms and food, clothing and oil, that kept our men moving across Europe. Any good commander should understand the value of the supply line. These men were the supply line. The life line.

Why not award these men a pension for the remaining years of their life? They are not long for this earth, many of these men are in their 80's- would it be such a loss to our government that has taxed them many thousand dollars year after year? I think an even bigger question is why would our representatives reject the claims of these brave men when they so readily awarded money to the families of the 9/11 terror attacks?

...families of people killed in the 9/11 attack were awarded large amounts of money. I believe it was in the realm of $1 million per family for the loss of a family member in the twin towers or pentagon. I do not want to lessen their deaths, however these people could have died the very same day in a car accident driving to work. They were not bravely throwing themselves into a danger zone for our country- the merchant mariners of WWII were heroes.

We need to stop rewarding our 'victims' and start recognizing our 'heroes'.


Link to NavyTimes Article::

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sunken Cruise Ship: Sea Diamond

Things are looking poor for the crew of the cruise ship Sea Diamond. The ship that sank off of the Greek island of Santorini. A so-called black box has been recovered by a remote controlled submersible probe, the box - similar to those used in the airline industry is becoming more common at sea. The data recovered from this box will undoubtedly be used to hang the crew members.

The aftermath:
1,600 people had to be rescued. A few remain missing and search parties continue looking for them.

Any accident at sea is most definitely a tragedy and probably avoidable. Such incidents have been occurring since the first ships sailed the seas. It is particularly frightening when it is a large vessel carrying passengers- or large quantities of oil. Frightening for the passengers and for the crew. These crewmen will likely face jail time for doing their job poorly. While I am not a fan of the extreme punishments facing mariners today, I must say that it is probably justified when watch standers are this negligent. This is unfortunate for everyone in the industry because it will likely result in more inquiries and more rules that we will be strapped with.

The last vessel I was on, I was assigned as the security officer. Part of my duties were to have a new surveillance system installed. This included a black box, cameras on the bridge, and microphones that recorded every word on the bridge. I was glad to be leaving when my time was up. I can only imagine that the black box recovered from the Sea Diamond will be damning in this case. I am glad it wasn't my ship. I will try to follow this case as it unravels.

Word to the wise: Don't be complacent when standing your watch. If you want to goof around, you should really look for another line of work.

SeaStories: Share Your Stories With Us!

Hello Everyone! is holding a writing contest. The prize is going to be determined soon- it will be a maritime artifact of some value, something that most mariners would enjoy owning.

The contest is simple. I want people to write their best sea stories and post them here in the sea stories discussion group. I will review the stories and then I will post finalists on the website along with a web poll that people can cast a vote for the best story written. At the end of the year I will select a winner from the writers and they will be awarded the prize for best Sea Story Writer.

I think that some of the most interesting stories come from people in our industry and people all over the world will want to read these. So please write in and share your favorite experience out on the water- this can be anything from a fishing boat to a supertanker running aground, we are open to any story as long as it is original.

The Rules:

No Plagiarism- copying other peoples work is illegal and we are looking for originals! Don't be too foul.

Keep the language as clean as possible.

I recommend writing this up in a word processor and pasting it in here (or emailing it to us)- this will allow you to spell check it. Spelling and grammar isn't graded, but if you want to be the best you might want to make the effort to check it.

Please come back often! Comment on new stories by others and share in their experiences!



SeaStories contest © 2007 MaritimeLinks Partnership

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