19 April 2002

The retromingent meatheads of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) demonstrate, again, the irrelevancy of pedanticism:

My prediction: faced with the futility of their efforts -- IMO are at best marginally competent -- they'll pat themselves on the back by counting the number of drunken OS' they catch stumbling up the brow. A noble effort by honorable men, I have no doubt.
Salute to U.S. sailors
Lifesize bronze statue now standing guard at Golden Gate Bridge
Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, April 15, 2002
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle
URL: San Francisco -- Larger than life, the tall, bronze, lone sailor gazes intently across San Francisco Bay from the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and his steely eyes betray a heartfelt look of longing for a city he may never see again.
"Here the sailor feels the first long roll of the sea, the beginning of the endless horizon that leads to the far Pacific," reads a plaque at the entrance to San Francisco's new Lone Sailor Memorial.
Because of its strategic location beside the bridge, the monument is expected to quickly become one of the most visited tourist attractions in California. It is dedicated to the men and women in the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine who have sailed through the Golden Gate in service to their nation -- and to the many who never returned.
Amid patriotic speeches, righteous celebration and the bright sounds of a Navy brass band, San Francisco's proud memorial was dedicated yesterday under crystal blue skies and a crisp breeze at Vista Point overlooking the fabled gateway to the Pacific.
"This has truly been a labor of love," Anthony Principi, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, told hundreds of VIPs, active duty sailors, bureaucrats and military veterans, including a contingent of Navy Waves. He congratulated all the federal and state agencies and volunteers who worked on the memorial project.
"We are a nation founded by seafarers, and there has not been a time in our history when we did not need the courage and skills of those who would go down to the sea in ships," said Principi, a combat-decorated Vietnam veteran who commanded a river patrol unit on the Mekong Delta.
During World War II alone, more than 1.5 million men and women shipped out through the Golden Gate.
"The world has changed dramatically over the years and even more drastically since last September," said Vice Adm. Ray Riutta, commander of the Pacific area for the U.S. Coast Guard. "It can be a confusing and frightening time, but ultimately challenging for our sailors."
"The Lone Sailor is the embodiment of honor, respect and devotion to duty," he said. "These values have been the basis of our maritime strength throughout our history, and they have contributed so much to America's security and prosperity. . . . In short, the Lone Sailor represents every sailor serving his or her country today and will continue to do so as our nation continues to require them to go in harm's way."
Riutta spoke of how "the history of the sea services has been deeply interwoven with the history of San Bay," one of the world's great harbors.
It was also a day of nostalgia for the years -- before military defense cutbacks and base decommissioning -- when San Francisco Bay teemed with Navy vessels, and the Bay Area was home to numerous active military bases, including Treasure Island, the Alameda Naval Air Station, the Presidio and shipyards at Hunters Point and Mare Island.
Sculptor Stanley Bleifeld was commissioned to reproduce the same image of a bronze sailor he created for the U.S. Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. He crafted a living image that stands about 7 feet tall, his hands tucked into the pockets of his pea coat and his collar upturned, standing next to his bronze duffel bag and a dock cleat.
The memorial has many elements.
San Francisco landscape architect Fred Warnecke designed a circular deck whose perimeter is marked by Sonoma fieldstone and four large ship's lanterns. Below the lone sailor's feet is a compass rose, its quadrants marked in different shades of granite cut by computer-guided diamond saws at an Italian quarry.
A plaque bears the words of veteran Chronicle reporter Carl Nolte: "This is one last chance to look back at the city of San Francisco, shining on its hills, one last chance to look back at the coastline of the United States, one last chance to look back at home."
The four sea services are recognized with separate bronze relief sculptures,
each containing a vivid image that seems torn from the pages of history: A plane taking off from a Naval aircraft carrier. A Coast Guard cutter and helicopter rescuing a sailboat at sea. Merchant Marine cargo and liberty ships under attack in World War II. Marines landing on a beach.
The memorial will be softly illuminated at night and visible to all who cross the bridge.
"I think it's going to be one of the great memorials of the United States," said retired Navy Capt. Jackson Schultz, who co-chaired the committee that raised money for the project and shepherded it through bureaucratic approvals. "The site is visited by 2.5 million tourists a year as well as millions of people who come across the bridge."
Memorial Committee Chairman Henry Trione, a Santa Rosa banker and vintner, is credited with coming up with the idea. "It took more than 4 1/2 years to put it together," he said. "There were crises, but there was superb cooperation from Caltrans and the National Park Service."
Yesterday, the memorial was an instant hit. Soon after it was opened to the public, scores of tourists streamed onto the monument's plaza. They pored over the words at the entrance. Others used the elevated deck to gain better views of the bridge. Children posed with the lone sailor and climbed atop his duffel bag.
Duc Long of Ottawa, Ontario, took snapshots of his mother and two children next to the statue.
The new memorial is "welcoming, but I don't know much about the history," said Matthew Saiz, who was visiting the bridge from San Luis Obispo.
The $2 million memorial was financed completely with with private donations,
led by contributions from Silicon Valley businessman Chong-Moon Lee and Trione.
"I wish I could do more than this," said Lee, who grew up in South Korea and served in the Korean War with the the U.S. Military Intelligence Corps. "This country gave me education. It taught me how to be a businessman, to be honest and to be part of the community."
Contributions also poured in from across the country. One veteran sent in a $5 bill accompanied by the message, "Don't waste this."
E-mail Jim Doyle at jdoyle@sfchronicle.com .

17 April 2002

Lord, what fools these mortals be....
The good old days when an overly inquisitive attitude would get, "yer hinquisitive nose broken for yer", seem to be gone. But sailors still tend to respond, "None of your [modifier] business." when faced with a bureaucratic busybody.
So, since there're no privacy issues with using SSNs as a national ID number, we can safely assume the bureaucrats, uniformed and not, will be asked, "Your papers pleece." ask often as, say a US congresscritter. Right?

16 April 2002

A message from Dr. Jerry Pournelle (www.jerrypournelle.com):
"Monday April 15, 2002
Congratulations. You get to pay, but you are not yet working for yourself. Everything you have earned from the beginning of the year and on another month belongs to the government. Have a nice day."

15 April 2002

From the Marine-L mailing list come the FIRST indication that all is not right with the Basilisk called STCW 95!

"On Monday 08 April 2002 05:51 am, LEMSCHOUT wrote:

Hello Pierre,

> but within a few weeks the problem is fixed, at least before some
> of us realize that they develop a new ganglion or a real cancer.

the danger may reduce as all efforts underway to prohibit these chicken
concentration camps, but not because of your health, the concern here more
with the chicken :-)

> which I doubt as I suspect that many Western training institutes are
> drastically lowering their standard in order to be 'competitive'.

Looking at both options, resume high quality training, it is not going to be
much of a future prospect for the young generation to work at salary levels
for cheaply trained staff. Doing cheap training, they are not going to have
the options taking up a position ashore. Isn't going to take much time and
shore companies will have figured out the real value of STCW95. Those
students got 40 years of work ahead of them. It is not going to be attractive
having no options. Some schools will try to survive by endless STCW95 short
term courses, but as the volume of students to decrease, you will see them
doing what most of them did already, to close down.

> respect the legal working hours and rest period, refusing eventually
> to carry out extra paperwork (not yet included in the nice forms prepared
> for the purpose to check working time).

You read the news, 16% of accidents caused by fatigue. Also a nice article
about Technology :-) Of course the PSC does control that the resthours had
been maintained by checking those duly prepared forms. If they really would
check and compare with the logbooks, alarm logs, I wouldn't be too surprised
when finding vessels where based on these sheets nobody on the bridge while
manoeuvring on the river or oil transfer operations without any engineer :-)

> Keeping in mind his watchkeeping duties, as the IMO want, he could even be
> slow to pick up the GMDSS phone when he is on duty in dense traffic as Mike
> has just suggested!

While you had double the crew, if someone failed was someone to take over. 4
eyes did saw more than 2. You had 2 persons on duty, they less likely to fall
asleep than having only 1. Automation and electronic is good in way of
additional security if something has been overlooked, also faster, but should
not substitute the man and his qualification. Any chief may tell you, if
something weird on the screen, check the sensor first.

The truth behind STCW95 the shortage of officers. These figures had been well
known and was no secret at all that it would get short. While making less
qualification acceptable you increased the pool of available officers.
Instead of doing the more reasonable thing, making the job more attractive
they all supported this white wash operation. A lot of countries should not
have entered the white list, but miraculously they did. To make things worse,
crewing agents had filters as known things not to be in the best state. Those
filters might have had some large holes to meet the demand. Now anything can
pass and nobody can blame them, all internationally accepted by STCW95.

STCW95 isn't going to reduce problems, even the ISM Code not going to be of
much help when the experience is missing. In last years they had been
promoting like hell just to fill the gap. Licenses had been upgraded already
for some time, increasing size of vessel and horsepower. STCW95 was just
another step into the same direction. They wanted it that way. Remember the
old times where a mate had to become something like 60 prior being promoted
to master? But that was when the job was still somehow attractive and you
still had a lot of young people joining the profession.

If the job more attractive, might have had enough staff, companies for sure
would select the best and absolute no need here for any STCW95 and it's white
wash operations. But same like with the eggs, better eggs do cost more. As
long as the customer isn't prepared to invest more, they for sure not going
to expect quality eggs for the price of cheap ones. Eventually they may, as
top licenses had been downgraded to STCW95. But not for a long time,
because nobody to continue producing quality eggs to sell them at the price
of cheap ones.

> this week-end it was more than true with the first suicide of a SABENA pilot
> who was still out of job several month after the bankruptcy of the company.

So far all terrorists entered the US by air. The US is however more concerned
that terrorists may take the risk of a STCW95 passage. Arabs hate the sea.
In a lot of drug cases I do suspect already involvement of the crew to
improve their salary. I am only wondering if it might not happen that one day
a suicidal master to blow up his gas tanker in response to STCW95 and
excessive administration, cheap crew. Totally weird?