Saturday, February 16, 2013

US Coast Guard in Halifax and a Triumphant return (not)

For the 1,000th posting on this blog I have nothing particularly celebratory  to report, so instead I will do a double header.

U.S. Coast Guard in Halifax

Despite the fact that the US of A is our closest neighbour, there is almost no US ship traffic in Halifax. There is a long tradition of the US Coast Guard paying courtesy calls, but they are usually few and far between. This week however we have seen quite a bit more of the US Coast Guard, with two cutters stopping over in Halifax for crew R&R.
First in was USCGC Northland, WMEC-904, which made a stopover February 11-14. It is based in Portsmouth, VA.
1. Northland sails on February 14, passing the old Canadian Coast Guard base in Dartmouth.

Today the Boston based USCGC Seneca WMEC 906 arrived.
2. The tug Atlantic Willow makes up to Seneca to assist in berthing.

Since the USCG's primary duties are SAR and law enforcement, one would be free to assume that some coordinated activity in the latter category may have brought the boats to this area. Both cutters  belong to the Famous class of medium endurance patrol vessels. They have a crew of about 100 and are packed with serious surveillance electronics and are armed.
Both ships were hosted by HMC Dockyard.

Triumphant Return (not)

The almost ridiculously appalling conditions on the cruise ship Carnival Triumph after an engine room fire in the Gulf of Mexico, became the subject of considerable (and often over the top) media attention this week. Despite the lack of adequate food, sanitation, air conditioning (and stabilizers) all passengers survived their trip and landed back in Mobile yesterday. It will take several months to repair and sanitize the ship, but it does raise some interesting questions about cruise ship engineering design.  
How is it that a modern ship has so little system redundancy that it would loose all but the most basic emergency systems after a fire? 
The ship is powered by six diesel engines powering six generators and two electric propulsion motors. This is a fairly standard arrangement in modern ships (it was built in 1999 by Fincantieri). Should it not be possible to isolate some components to ensure that basic services can be maintained at all times? The US Transportation Safety Board will eventually publish findings on this, which may lead to changes in ship design.
3. Carnival Triumph made several calls in Halifax in 1999 when it was brand new.

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