May 2019

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Polar Star suffers fire, breakdowns as US awaits new icebreakers

Polar Star suffers fire, breakdowns as US awaits new icebreakers

U.S. Coast Guard officials say serious malfunctions aboard the heavy icebreaker Polar Star during its annual Operation Deep Freeze resupply mission to Antarctica highlight a dire need to have backup icebreakers in operation.

Autonomous Navy vessel sails from San Diego to Hawaii and back

Autonomous Navy vessel sails from San Diego to Hawaii and back

In a high-profile trial run in January, Sea Hunter, an unmanned surface vessel operated by the Office of Naval Research, navigated from San Diego to Pearl Harbor and back without a single crewmember on board.

Gulf of Guinea’s pervasive piracy eclipses progress elsewhere

Gulf of Guinea’s pervasive piracy eclipses progress elsewhere

In 2018, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded 201 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery, according to its annual report published in January.

Union study raises ante in Panama Canal crewing dispute

Union study raises ante in Panama Canal crewing dispute

Entrenched is the best word to describe the positions of the Panama Canal Authority (PCA) and the Union of Tugboat Captains and Deck Officers of the Panama Canal (UCOC) on the question of safe crewing sizes on tugboats guiding neo-Panamax vessels through the new third set of locks.

Washington state plans to add 16 hybrid-electric ferries by 2040

Washington state plans to add 16 hybrid-electric ferries by 2040

Washington State Ferries (WSF) is proposing to add 16 hybrid-electric vessels to its fleet as part of its 2040 Long Range Plan, retiring and replacing 13 of the 23 ships currently in operation.

Kirby retiring four coastal ATBs to meet ballast water rules

Kirby retiring four coastal ATBs to meet ballast water rules

Houston-based Kirby Corp., a nationwide tank-barge operator, will retire four of its coastal articulated tug-barge (ATB) units and has scrapped one leased barge to meet the U.S. Coast Guard’s ballast water regulations.

Barge cargo paves way for ‘Chicagoland’ materials supplier

Barge cargo paves way for ‘Chicagoland’ materials supplier

Concrete must be discharged from a truck within an hour of being mixed, so reducing the number of fleet vehicles on urban streets increases a supplier’s confidence about timely delivery.

Six decades later, AMVER still lifesaver for mariners in distress

Six decades later, AMVER still lifesaver for mariners in distress

Leo Sherman was part of a three-man crew sailing a catamaran around the world when things got out of hand on the Indian Ocean in January 2009.

McAllister Tier 4 powerhouse leads fleet in NYC

McAllister Tier 4 powerhouse leads fleet in NYC

It seemed fitting that McAllister Towing, synonymous with New York City, would present its biggest gun for the parade of naval vessels participating in the city’s annual Fleet Week show.

Crewman trying to read draft marks dies in fall from Jacob’s ladder

Crewman trying to read draft marks dies in fall from Jacob’s ladder

The third officer aboard the cargo ship Amazoneborg read the dockside draft marks over hand-held radio.

Fire guts Mobile River towboat, causing $1.5 million in damage

Fire guts Mobile River towboat, causing $1.5 million in damage

J.W. Herron began pushing into a bank of the Mobile River when the captain realized the towboat’s starboard propeller wasn’t turning.

Towboat snags on anchor chain, sinks near Baton Rouge

Towboat snags on anchor chain, sinks near Baton Rouge

Four crewmembers escaped from a towboat that capsized and sank in the Mississippi River after snagging on a bulk carrier’s anchor chain.

Two barges sink after breakaway at oft-hit Vicksburg bridge

Two barges sink after breakaway at oft-hit Vicksburg bridge

Thirty barges broke away and two later sank in the Mississippi River after their tow hit the Old Highway 80 Bridge in Vicksburg, Miss.

NTSB: Currents ‘overwhelmed’ pilot before Nashville bridge strike

NTSB: Currents ‘overwhelmed’ pilot before Nashville bridge strike

Federal investigators believe the pilot of a small towboat became “overwhelmed” by strong currents before his tow struck a bridge guard pier in the Cumberland River.

Casualty briefs

Casualty briefs

Two new studies shift debate on scrubber discharge water

Two new studies shift debate on scrubber discharge water

Comprehensive studies by the Japanese government and the classification society DNV GL regarding the environmental effects of discharges from open-loop scrubbers appear likely to change the course of the current industry controversy over the International Maritime Organization (IMO) low-sulfur fuel regulations coming into effect in January 2020 (IMO 2020).

Environmental impact puts HFC fire suppressants in crosshairs

Environmental impact puts HFC fire suppressants in crosshairs

Fire on the water is serious business — every mariner knows that.

Hurdles abound, but merchant marine can pay off as second career

It was a sunny Southern California day, and I had been invited to speak at the Newport Beach Yacht Club, one of a number of engagements scheduled during my two-week visit to the area.