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Old 10-08-2015, 03:45 PM   #61
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It's not finding the ship that is the issue. It's finding the VDR.
You got it right, again, Mr. Bill.
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Old 10-08-2015, 04:21 PM   #62
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Further to that point, it's the debris field that first needs to be located. Then the tedious process of working through and cataloging the components of the debris field can begin. Hopefully, the VDR is in that (or those) fields.

I'm certain that ROV and subsea search technology has vastly improved in the couple of decades since I was last involved. At that time, subsea searches resembled looking at the ocean bed through a yard long soda straw even with the advent of sidescan sonar.

In any case, I expect it will be a long haul.
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Old 10-08-2015, 04:40 PM   #63
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My understanding is the VDR, if intact, should be broadcasting a locating ping for 30 days after it has been activated by water. The local news here in JAX is focusing on that. Hopefully it is working and detectable in that deep of water.
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Old 10-08-2015, 05:01 PM   #64
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My understanding is the VDR, if intact, should be broadcasting a locating ping for 30 days after it has been activated by water. The local news here in JAX is focusing on that. Hopefully it is working and detectable in that deep of water.

I've also read there are models that can float free of the ship. And that there are models that have two parts. One that floats free and one part that stays affixed to the ship after a sinking.

I also thought I read something about there having to be painted by a signal to activate there pinger.
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Old 10-08-2015, 09:57 PM   #65
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also thought I read something about there having to be painted by a signal to activate there pinger.
if they are similar to the voice and data recorders used on aircraft they simply start transmitting and do so until the batteries die.

The ones used in the marine industry may be different, however.
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Old 10-08-2015, 10:05 PM   #66
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if they are similar to the voice and data recorders used on aircraft they simply start transmitting and do so until the batteries die.
What triggers the "start?"
Do you know the failure to start or misfire ratio?
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Old 10-08-2015, 10:27 PM   #67
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You can be a non-Jones Act, US flagged ship.
What would an example be of that? Just curious.
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Old 10-08-2015, 11:32 PM   #68
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A ship that does not operate between US ports ... US to anywhere but the US and vice versa is outside of the Jones Act requirements.
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Old 10-09-2015, 03:33 AM   #69
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What would an example be of that? Just curious.
Just about every container ship that sails between the US and foreign countries
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:34 AM   #70
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OK, I understand what you are saying about the Jones Act. Perhaps it's splitting hairs, but there is a difference between being in compliance with a law and being subject to a law. I think every boat is US waters is subject to the Jones Act, but it's also true that the freighters you mention are in compliance because they have not called on two successive US ports.
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Old 10-09-2015, 10:06 AM   #71
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What triggers the "start?"
Water immersion. Here's a picture and description of one. There are probably several manufacturers of the beacons.
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File Type: pdf Locating Beacon.pdf (322.6 KB, 16 views)
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Old 10-09-2015, 10:18 AM   #72
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If the black box isn't found on the surface, I have to wonder if the bazzillions of taxpayer dollars that would be spent to find it with an ROV would be worth it. The general causal factors surrounding the incident are fairly obvious. If it's about settling law suits, then let the litigants foot that bill. Given the circumstances, I doubt that safety regulations would change as a result of findings.
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Old 10-09-2015, 11:44 AM   #73
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It's in 15,000 feet of water, the beacon has feet located as its pinging, now we need a volunteer to swim down and get it.
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Old 10-09-2015, 12:23 PM   #74
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If it's about settling law suits, then let the litigants foot that bill.
VDR or not, every Gov. agency that has ever picked up a pair of binoculars will be lawyered up on the taxpayer's dime.
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Old 10-09-2015, 01:04 PM   #75
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If the black box isn't found on the surface, I have to wonder if the bazzillions of taxpayer dollars that would be spent to find it with an ROV would be worth it. The general causal factors surrounding the incident are fairly obvious. If it's about settling law suits, then let the litigants foot that bill. Given the circumstances, I doubt that safety regulations would change as a result of findings.
Actually the causal factors are not at all obvious. We know engines failed, but have no idea why. We know 5 Polish mechanics were on board, but not what they were doing. We know it was in a hurricane path but not why. We know nothing about the condition of the boat. Three former crewmen have reported many issues in that regard. We don't know about the communication between the captain and the company. We don't know how well the cargo was loaded and secured. We don't know about the crew and their training. We don't know the weight of the cargo or the center of balance. Much loading is done based on standard container weights. Was there anything unique about the containers on this ship? There are probably many factors involved.

The investigation is like that of any other boat or vehicle or plane in the US. They are not done for litigants, they are done to save lives. Look at the charter bus companies that have been put out of business and others with additional requirements. Did the ship owner push, encourage, or fail to stop the ship from a dangerous undertaking. What pressure was there? What were the known issues with this boat and it's boiler system? If this was an airplane crashed, wouldn't we also want to make an attempt to retrieve the black box? Should this boat have been removed from service previously? The last inspection was early this year, was it done satisfactorily or what might have happened since then? Will the CG learn something that improves their inspections and oversight and prevents this from recurring?

There is nothing simple about this.

in January 2011, the sister ship, the El Yunque, lost water to its boiler, triggering a shutdown of the boiler fires, causing the ship to lose propulsion for three hours. Should this have been a warning, especially with people on board to work on a boiler? I read a statement that indicated the captain had a plan to clear in advance of the hurricane if everything went right. Do we predicate our plans on everything going right? Maybe there's a lot for other skilled, respected captains to still learn from this. Maybe a bit more attention to be paid to Murphy's law, especially when dealing with hurricanes. In April 2011, the El Faro temporarily lost power when the generator breaker tripped and main propulsion was lost. Engineers later found that it was caused by a severed wire. Things do happen, especially to old boats about to make their final run before refit and being sent to another area for smaller runs.

I'm sure the sister ship will be looked at closely for any clues and also before allowing it on the water again.

One crewman who ended his time in January said "The El Faro was on its ... needed a death certificate. It was a rust bucket," Cash said. "You don't take a ship like that ... that ship wasn't supposed to be on the water." Well, the USCG did inspect it after January. Obviously they didn't agree.

Investigation is primarily to learn. Secondarily it may assess blame as part of that. Was there any irresponsibility on the part of the ship owner? If so, that merits harsh actions.

By doing such investigations on planes we've found major issues in the past that have led to the grounding of many other planes until changes were made. Now, there aren't many other ships like this one, but it could still lead to some changes.

As to litigation this information isn't really likely to change it that much. The ship owner is liable regardless and his insurance will be expected to pay.

As to agencies lawyering up, there's no lawyering of agencies. Only lawyers are the ship owner and his insurer's defending against the crew families.

The NTSB, which will make records -- including documents, diagrams, interview transcripts and data -- public throughout the investigation through its open docket, is expected to release a final report on its findings within 12-18 months. I've read many of their reports and they seem to me to do an excellent job. I believe wholeheartedly that their overall work saves lives. It saves lives on the roads, in the air and on the water. They are already well into the investigation, having been conducting many interviews and collecting a lot of information and data.
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Old 10-09-2015, 01:31 PM   #76
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Accident investigators-- and I know and sometimes work with some of them-- tend to not put a lot of stock in statements from "former crewmembers" and the like. The reason is the 15-minutes-of-fame rule. With the ship (or plane) gone and most or all the people on board gone, too, it's human nature to play up speculation or dramatize one's opinion of the condition of the vessel or the capabilities of the crew as there's nobody to refute it. A minor fault gets turned into a major "accident waiting to happen" in many of these kinds of statements. An officer once seen to be having a drink becomes an "alchohol aabuser" and so on.

A fellow I worked closely with on a project over the course of a couple of years was one of our company's investigators on the crash of the Asiana 777 at SFO. He explained to me the string of errors that began even before their descent began that made the crash inevitable.

But the interesting thing to me was his description of the need to maintain objectivity throughout the investigation and not be swayed by witness, co-worker, etc. statements that "offered" any sort of explanation, regardless of their plausibility, unless or until they could be confirmed beyond a doubt. These statements are not ignored, but they are given no credibility until they "earn" it.

I suspect the statements and claims of former crewmembers of the El Faro are being treated the same way.
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Old 10-09-2015, 01:41 PM   #77
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Accident investigators-- and I know and sometimes work with some of them-- tend to not put a lot of stock in statements from "former crewmembers" and the like. The reason is the 15-minutes-of-fame rule. With the ship (or plane) gone and most or all the people on board gone, too, it's human nature to play up speculation or dramatize one's opinion of the condition of the vessel or the capabilities of the crew as there's nobody to refute it. A minor fault gets turned into a major "accident waiting to happen" in many of these kinds of statements. An officer once seen to be having a drink becomes an "alchohol aabuser" and so on.

A fellow I worked closely with on a project over the course of a couple of years was one of our company's investigators on the crash of the Asiana 777 at SFO. He explained to me the string of errors that began even before their descent began resulted in the crash.

But the interesting thing to me was his description of the need to maintain objectivity throughout the investigation and not be swayed by witness, co-worker, etc. statements that "offered" any sort of explanation, regardless of their plausibility, unless or until they could be confirmed beyond a doubt. These statements are not ignored, but they are given no credibility until they "earn" it.

I suspect the statements and claims of former crewmembers of the El Faro are being treated the same way.
That's the way it is with all statements and information gathered. I think they do a great job of it.

Here is the link to their site for anyone wanting to follow the actual investigation.

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Old 10-09-2015, 01:44 PM   #78
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What triggers the "start?"
Do you know the failure to start or misfire ratio?
The aircraft voice and data recorders themselves have no location capabilities. They are encased in boxes with very high resistance to heat and shock. An underwater locator with specific characteristics is mounted to the outside of the box and is triggered by immersion in water.

They are mouted in the rear of the fuselage as that is generally the portion of an airplane that suffers the least damage. I have no idea where they are mounted on a ship.
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Old 10-09-2015, 02:22 PM   #79
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I have no idea where they are mounted on a ship.
In one of the videos on the NTSB site, linked by BandB, it was stated the VDR was located "on the bridge" and did not elaborate.
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Old 10-09-2015, 03:11 PM   #80
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With all the lawyers involved everyone will be pointing fingers at everyone else so whatever "facts" that get out will be biased at best. Even when the NTSB has their hearing I expect that politics will be involved. Take it from me, one who was personally involved in an accident investigated by the NTSB. Everyone likes to jump to conclusions so go ahead and that will be your reality.
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