Rik van Hemmen's blog

A Time magazine article by Leigh Gallagher highlights a problem that we deal with on a daily basis but that pretty much stays just below our awareness horizon. In the article Mr. Gallagher describes a professional epiphany of a town engineer with regard to town planning codes that exhibits itself as suburban sprawl.

 

The issue is simple; every piece of infrastructure that is built to support a community needs to be maintained. Infrastructure on a large flat scale, as is common in suburbs, inherently is larger per capita than in more compactly arranged communities and therefore more expensive to maintain. (Maritime, on the other hand, only incurs terminal infrastructure investment and maintenance costs. The maritime highway infrastructure is essentially free). The article describes how this sprawl results in unmanageable infrastructure maintenance costs, but the solution is all around us.

 

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Rik van Hemmen's picture
Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Deep Culture

At Martin & Ottaway occasionaly we see all aspects of our culture come together in a single project. This photo pays witness to such an event.

 

Consider:

 

The Engineering Attitude: We can do this, we have the tools, and we sure don't need to use the written instructions.

Frugality: Why pay for chair assembly if we have junior staff? read more »

Last week I found myself in Skagway on a cruise ship stop and hopped a ride on the White Pass & Yukon railroad. This railroad was a vital connection between the Pacific and the Yukon River gold fields. It starts in Skagway, the most northeast corner of the Alaskan Inside Passage, goes through the White Pass and then makes it to Whitehorse, Canada where it connects to the Yukon River system.

 

 

Today the White Pass and Yukon is a tourist railroad that provides a beautiful narrow gauge railroad ride through White Pass and has some of the steepest railroad grades and dramatic mountain rail engineering in the world, but, besides that, it was also a major player in the development of intermodal transportation.

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I just read Jill Lepore’s excellent article about disruption and innovation. She very carefully tears apart some recent trendy thinking about innovation and pretty much concludes that one cannot predict where innovation or disruptive technologies will come from and that, inevitably, any innovation or disruptive technology will pretty much find itself in the buggy whip maker position sooner or later.

 

In her article she provides a fascinating sidebar comment by noting that the term innovation used to be considered to be a somewhat negative term and in the early 20th century it was more common to call the march of mankind: Progress of mankind.

 

She describes it as follows:

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The actual slogan is “Trenton Makes, the World Takes”, and even in that form it is still a pretty weird slogan. The slogan originated very early in the 20th century when Trenton, NJ just about made anything, and it is supposed to mean: “Trenton makes the stuff that the rest of the world buys”. I suppose at the time there was no budget for that many letters and it didn’t rhyme and therefore the shorter slogan was fitted in neon on the Lower Delaware River Bridge.

 

Still it was true, not just Trenton, but all of New Jersey was an incredible manufacturing hot bed starting with the country’s first industrial park at Paterson Falls, NJ in 1791. Towns such as Perth Amboy and many others in New Jersey were just as capable, but is New Jersey's manufacturing prowess gone forever?

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Education in maritime is in a class by itself for too many reasons to count. Bottom line; maritime education works, and people are starting to take notice.

 

The strength of maritime education lies in integration. Basically it allows students to engage in multiple learning experiences simultaneously. Instead of one hour of language, one hour of math and one hour of science, the Holy Grail in education is to find a setting where one hour of education is the equivalent of three hours of language, math and science.

 

This often occurs in maritime education and that is why it is so effective (as described in this SNAME article by Gayle Horvath of NMHA), but just because it occurs, does not mean that it cannot be improved or enhanced.

 

 

On May 12, 2014, a very special group of New York Harbor stake holders made an announcement that provides an entirely new concept in maritime educational excellence.

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The most fascinating aspect of the marine industry is the fact that it is nothing but a more technologically aggressive version of what takes place ashore. The world ashore changes and the world at sea changes just as fast. However, shore based technological concepts are all divided along the various technological stove pipes, while, at sea, technological aspects flow into the same pool of naval architects and marine engineers all day and somehow they have to deal with them and focus more tightly on efficiencies at the same time.

 

That means we get to be jacks of all trades (and, as some may argue; masters of none), but our much sharper drive to efficiency at sea often provides additional insights.

 

I just came across one of those issues in an article in Maritime Reporter. In the printed article (the printed article is better than the link I provided) Mr. Pospiech provides a very concise overview of Methane Slip.

 

Methane slip is methane that is not used as a fuel in an engine and basically escapes into the atmosphere. read more »

The OPA 90 Salvage Response regulations have now been in effect for a number of years and while there has not yet been a major US incident that tests the system to the limit, there have been a few smaller incidents where some lessons are being learned.

 

The most central issue in the US Salvage regulations focuses on first getting people in place as quickly as possible. There is no doubt that, in salvage, knowledgeable eyes on site is the single most effective driver in building the full subsequent response.

 

The USCG is well aware of that and has designed the regulations to require a very rapid on site response by salvors. At the inception of the tank vessel salvage requirements DonjonSMIT, one of the major US salvage response providers, tasked Martin & Ottaway with the development of a system that provides the ability to put knowledgeable personnel on site as soon as possible anywhere in USCG administered locations. read more »

It may have become evident that I am of the opinion that the maritime community is a tower of strength for the spirit of cooperation, jointness and just getting the job done. I will provide yet another example of this, but first let me set the stage.

 

This year is the 350th anniversary of the founding of New Jersey. New Jersey was a little late in getting founded because it was controlled by the Dutch who were interested in maritime and trade, but not all that much in settling the landward side of Nieuw Amsterdam. This changed in 1663/1664 when the Dutch ceded Nieuw Amsterdam to England and British farmers who felt that it was time to officially settle the land we now know as New Jersey.

 

The most significant settlement that occurred was the arrival of a few English Quaker and Baptist families who left Gravesend Bay, Brooklyn and arrived in Monmouth County near the mouth of the Navesink River in the early summer of 1664.

 

They came by boat and our friends at Navesink Maritime Heritage Association felt we should commemorate this event with a visit to the Navesink by a proper vessel. It turns out we knew about such a vessel, it is the Onrust. read more »

As a naval architect and marine engineer I have slowly drifted into a bizarre conundrum that actually may be an industry wide problem that is ripe for an industry wide solution.

 

What I am talking about is a loss of all those really great NAME engineering computer programs that were developed in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Yes, today we have much fancier NAME computer packages that are heavily integrated, but, in actual fact, they only serve a small market and have completely left out those engineers and designers (and hobbyists, and university students and even high schoolers) who do not sit in front of a particular computer design package all day, but who do want to get a relatively fast answer to a particular problem. read more »