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Old 10-07-2015, 01:30 PM   #21
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33 aboard seems to to me be a large crew, is that a usual number for a ship that size and type ?
There were five Pole's on board the ship doing work in the engine room to prepare the ship for service in Alaska. The engine room work was not with the engines but the report did not say what work was being done.

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Old 10-07-2015, 01:36 PM   #22
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Steve - no expertise here, but I am guessing that the engineering department for a merchant steam plant demands more crew than a newer diesel based system. They also had 4-5 Polish riders performing some sort of underway engineering repairs/improvements. I think the ship's crew was 29 people.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:11 PM   #23
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33 aboard seems to to me be a large crew, is that a usual number for a ship that size and type ?
If it was a yacht, there would be many more. A 280' yacht for charter has a crew of 29.

Perhaps it's recreational thinking, but I think of 33 for a ship that size and type, if anything, to be a small crew. Just thinking of all the cargo being carried that they must keep an eye on. Everything being done 24/7 so that means at any time you only have 11 crew working. A lot of ship and a lot of area for 11 people to handle.

Edit...with only 29 crew then only 10 on duty at a time.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:13 PM   #24
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Steve - no expertise here, but I am guessing that the engineering department for a merchant steam plant demands more crew than a newer diesel based system. They also had 4-5 Polish riders performing some sort of underway engineering repairs/improvements. I think the ship's crew was 29 people.
Yes, it will be interesting to find out exactly what the Polish group was doing in the ER.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:20 PM   #25
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I heard the Poles were retubing one of the two boilers. Nothing to back that up, though. Having two boilers on line helps with redundancy, that would be a factor. Strange things can trip feed pumps and burners, then no steam if only one boiler.

Not sure about all this as ship was making 20kts and not sure if that would be possible on one boiler.

We'll see as the details dribble out.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:20 PM   #26
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If it was a yacht, there would be many more. A 280' yacht for charter has a crew of 29.

Perhaps it's recreational thinking, but I think of 33 for a ship that size and type, if anything, to be a small crew. Just thinking of all the cargo being carried that they must keep an eye on. Everything being done 24/7 so that means at any time you only have 11 crew working. A lot of ship and a lot of area for 11 people to handle.

Edit...with only 29 crew then only 10 on duty at a time.
The Emma Maersh, 1302 ft long has a normal crew size of 13 and berths for 30. Not very many!

Emma Maersk / Container vessel of Maersk shipping line
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:24 PM   #27
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The Emma Maersh, 1302 ft long has a normal crew size of 13 and berths for 30. Not very many!

Emma Maersk / Container vessel of Maersk shipping line
Modern diesel ships have LOTS of automation, especially in engineering. A 40yr old steam plant takes a good bit of hands on operation. Probably three shifts.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:34 PM   #28
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The Emma Maersh, 1302 ft long has a normal crew size of 13 and berths for 30. Not very many!

Emma Maersk / Container vessel of Maersk shipping line
I think it's fair to say, this was not the Emma Maersk or anything resembling it. Only when the investigation is finalized will we have a better picture of things.
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:12 PM   #29
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There is talk on CNN of "black-box" voyage recorder(s). Is this the norm for ships like this, especially old repurposed ones?

I see no reports of EPIRB signals. Am I wrong to expect at least one of these to self-deploy when the ship went down?
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:14 PM   #30
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I think it's fair to say, this was not the Emma Maersk or anything resembling it. Only when the investigation is finalized will we have a better picture of things.
Couldn't agree more. Just commenting on your recreational thinking.
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:18 PM   #31
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Does the Jones Act have anything to do with crew size?
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:24 PM   #32
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There is talk on CNN of "black-box" voyage recorder(s). Is this the norm for ships like this, especially old repurposed ones?

I see no reports of EPIRB signals. Am I wrong to expect at least one of these to self-deploy when the ship went down?

Yes I believe all ships must have VDR's.
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:33 PM   #33
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Gonna be tough recovering that VDR.
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:35 PM   #34
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...
Here's an interesting read from 1945 regarding a loss of warships in a Pacific typhoon. Some parallels to this incident. I also like Adm Nimitz's writing style. First rate guy on many levels.

Admiral Nimitz's Pacific Fleet Confidential Letter on Lessons of Damage in Typhoon
There is much in Nimitz's letter that applies to wee small boats...

In not particular order and certainly not all of the brilliance that was written:

This was the last point and I split it up since to emphasize two ideas.
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In conclusion, both seniors and juniors alike must realize that in bad weather, as in most other situations, safety and fatal hazard are not separated by any sharp boundary line, but shade gradually from one into the other. There is no little red light which is going to flash on and inform commanding officers or higher commanders that from then on there is extreme danger from the weather, and that measures for ships' safety must now take precedence over further efforts to keep up with the formation or to execute the assigned task. This time will always be a matter of personal judgment. Naturally no commander is going to cut thin the margin between staying afloat and foundering, but he may nevertheless unwittingly pass the danger point even though no ship is yet in extremis. Ships that keep on going as long as the severity of wind and sea has not yet come close to capsizing them or breaking them in two, may nevertheless become helpless to avoid these catastrophes later if things get worse. By then they may be unable to steer any heading but in the trough of the sea, or may have their steering control, lighting , communications, and main propulsion disabled, or may be helpless to secure things on deck or to jettison topside weights.
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The time for taking all measures for a ship's safety is while still able to do so. Nothing is more dangerous than for a seaman to be grudging in taking precautions lest they turn out to have been unnecessary. Safety at sea for a thousand years has depended on exactly the opposite philosophy.
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10. It is possible that too much reliance is being placed on outside sources for warnings of dangerous weather, and on the ability of our splendid ships to come through anything that wind and wave can do. If this be so, there is need for a revival of the age-old habits of self-reliance and caution in regard to the hazard from storms, and for officers in all echelons of command to take their personal responsibilities in this respect more seriously.
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9. Seamen of the present day should be better at forecasting weather at sea, independently of the radio, than were their predecessors. The general laws of storms and the weather expectancy for all months of the year in all parts of the world are now more thoroughly understood, more completely catalogued, and more readily available in various publications. An intensive study of typhoons and Western Pacific weather was made over a period of many years by Father Depperman at the Manila observatory, and his conclusions have been embodied in the material available to all aerologists. What Knight and Bowditch have to say on the subject is exactly as true during this war as it was in time of peace or before the days of the radio. Familiarity with these authorities is something that no captain or navigator can do without. The monthly pilot charts, issued to all ships, give excellent information as to the probable incidence and movements of typhoons. Stress on the foregoing is no belittlement of our aerological centers and weather broadcasts. But just as a navigator is held culpable if he neglects "Log, Lead, and Lookout" through blind faith in his radio fixes, so is the seaman culpable who regards personal weather estimates as obsolete and assumes that if no radio storm warning has been received, then all is well, and no local weather signs need cause him concern.
I underlined the sentence about Bowditch...

Not saying that the El Faro's captain violated Nimitz's points since we don't know what happened. Even though technology has improved greatly since WWII, Nimitz's point are still valid.

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Old 10-07-2015, 03:41 PM   #35
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No, the Jones Act has nothing to do with crew size, the USCG does when they issue the COI.
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:50 PM   #36
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No, the Jones Act has nothing to do with crew size, the USCG does when they issue the COI.
Thanks on the Jones Act. COI?
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Old 10-07-2015, 03:51 PM   #37
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No, the Jones Act has nothing to do with crew size, the USCG does when they issue the COI.
But indirectly, the Jones Act puts a ship such as this under the auspices of the USCG, where most ships entering our ports being foreign flagged, are not. Is this correct?
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Old 10-07-2015, 04:56 PM   #38
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Thanks on the Jones Act. COI?
Certificate of inspection.
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Old 10-07-2015, 05:14 PM   #39
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Certificate of inspection.
Thanks!
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Old 10-07-2015, 05:21 PM   #40
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I see no reports of EPIRB signals. Am I wrong to expect at least one of these to self-deploy when the ship went down?
No not wrong. Automatic EPIRBs release when a certain depth is reached. Its possible the EPIRB released but got caught in the rigging or superstructure. Would they have brought it inside the house to prevent accidental release during the hurricane? I'm sure the investigating team will find out why.
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