July 2013

There is something almost magic about maritime. Except for, possibly, forest fire fighting (which is not as big as maritime) I cannot think of any industry where there is such a tradition of seamless cooperation as in maritime.


This project was not large by our normal standards, but it clearly provides a picture of what I mean.


Fair Haven, in bed 0530.

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The weak English translation of the MIT Costa Concordia report made me wonder about the use of English as a more universal communication system. While driving to a project, I was listening to National Public Radio, and there was a bit about Voice of America broadcasts. I never realized that Voice of America programs cannot be broadcast within the United States, since, in essence, they are government propaganda. However, if there is a specific request for VOA information, a recent law change has now made it possible to broadcast VOA segments in the United States.

Oddly, the factual quality of VOA is not bad, and probably much better than some of the commercial networks we all are subjected to. Actually, VOA’s efforts at truth during WWII had a major beneficial impact on the whole scope of the war. Regardless, the most interesting point in the NPR broadcast was their reference to Special English, which may be a path to better communications in international shipping.

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On the way to a paddle wheeler passenger vessel project at Cape Girardeau, I passed Vicksburg and decided to stay the night. The next morning I took a quick drive through the Vicksburg battle field and came upon the USS Cairo, the remains of a Civil War era ironclad river gunboat that is now beautifully displayed at the battle field.

The vessel is part of the amazing story of the seven City Class river gunboats. With the Civil War looming, it became apparent that absolute naval dominance of the Mississippi river would be required.


The Union needed gunboats upriver quickly and the solution was provided by two unsung maritime greats; Samuel Pook and James Eads. Pook designed an excellent ironclad river paddle wheeler gunboat and Eads, a Mississippi salvor and brilliant self taught engineer, became the builder. read more »