The Panama Canal, faster than usual

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, here’s a time-lapse video of a passage through the Panama Canal.  The trip lasts 11 hours, but the video takes less than 7 minutes – much more palatable in our high-speed world!  Note the “locomotives” on either side of the ship, hauling it through the locks.  They’re partly visible from time to time, as in the video ‘cover image’ below, on the right of the ship’s bow. The digging of the Panama Canal remains one of the great adventure stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It advanced not only navigation, but also medicine,

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A chemical reaction leads to a very big bang

Back in September, the chemical tanker Stolt Groenland experienced a massive explosion in Ulsan, South Korea.  This clip was taken by the dashcam video of a vehicle parked rather too close to the big bang. An initial investigation has revealed it was caused by a chemical reaction. According to the MAIB’s interim report, released today, the explosion occurred due to the sudden build-up of pressure in the Stolt Groenland’s number 9 cargo tank containing styrene monomer, a highly flammable chemical used in the making of plastics, paints and synthetic rubber. The resulting explosions and fireball could be seen and heard for miles, and passed very close to

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Fish plastic and canal clearing

Two unrelated sources this morning turn into a single blog article.  Ah, the wonders of imagination . . . First, Old Salt Blog brings us the news that an engineering graduate in England has won the James Dyson Award for inventing a biodegradable plastic made from fish waste.  You can read more about it at the link. This is some very useful research.  I don’t know how many of my readers have walked past a fish processing plant, and been assailed by the stench of rotting fish waste products.  It’s . . . impressive . . . not to mention probably reportable as a

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But what if the power goes out?

Having had some little (very little) experience with ships, boats and such things, I couldn’t help doing a double-take at the news that paper navigation charts appear to be on the way out. [The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] is initiating a five-year process to end all traditional paper nautical chart production… . . . For nearly 200 years, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey has produced traditional paper nautical chart products. Originally, this took the singular form of hard copy paper charts, today, there are several raster digital chart formats available to download or print through a NOAA certified agent. Similar

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Tugboat meat in a dockyard sandwich

A tip o’ the hat to GCaptain for finding this video clip of a harbor tug in San Francisco being ground between Pier 27 and the cruise liner Star Princess. They’ll have to inspect the pier for damage, as well as the tug.  Did you see how far its stern went underneath the pier?  I reckon that will have taken out more than a few uprights and the bracing between them.  The building on top of that section might be a bit rickety for a while . . . Peter

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A very nifty small craft suspension system

A tip o’ the hat to Solomon for putting up this video clip of a new small craft suspension system. It turns out that Nauti-Craft is an Australian company, with ambitions to apply their suspension to all sorts of smaller craft.  Being a former military man, I was interested to read their perspective on its military use:  “Provides significant reduction in Whole Body Vibration (WBV) and stabilised platform for increased operational capability for military personnel. Provides a competitive technical advantage where operational success is critical.” This is of even greater interest when one learns, from their Web site, that Nauti-Craft has partnered with Metal

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Tough tuggers

Old Salt Blog informs us that the 27th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race was held in New York City last weekend.  Here are three video clips filmed from Vinik No. 6, the 49-year-old winner of the tug race this year. First, the opening parade of tugboats old and new: Next, the tugboat race: And finally, the pushing contest, where the tugs take on each other head-to-head: Looks like a good time was had by all, with lots of friends, family and tourists riding along on the boats for the day. Peter

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Well, son of a beach!

A pristine seafront near Sydney, Australia isn’t so pristine any longer, after a barge carrying a sewage truck passed… er, didn’t pass by. They’re going to have fun salvaging that sewage truck, I don’t think! A tip o’ the hat to reader Snoggeramus for sending me a link to the story. Peter

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There’s no fuel like an oil fuel

. . or so the petroleum industry used to say, back in the 1970’s.  That’s proving true in the maritime shipping industry right now, as major change looms next year.  We don’t think much about an industry that’s “out of sight, out of mind” for most of us, but it has a huge impact on global pollution, and changing that is going to require major changes to the way we fuel the ships that fuel the world’s economy.  Forbes reports: A United Nations mandate on the shipping industry to remove up to 85% of the sulfur content from its fuel to cut 3%

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The devil’s in the details – naval edition

The old idiom “The devil’s in the details” has, in my experience, been proven true time and time again.  The “big picture” may look fine and dandy, but there’s always something, some little detail that’s escaped attention, that can screw it up to a fare-thee-well. The Norwegian Navy learned that the hard way last year, when its frigate Helge Ingstad collided with another vessel, and subsequently sank.   (Above image courtesy of Wikipedia)   The subsequent inquiry revealed that after the collision, the watertight compartments of the frigate functioned as intended . . . except for one crucial detail. While there was some uncertainty as to

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