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Old 10-09-2015, 03:25 PM   #81
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Well, the USCG did inspect it after January. Obviously they didn't agree.
Excellent post BandB.
There is one thing though. As to the CG inspection, I'm not sure how much weight that will carry, or how much weight I would give it as an accident investigator.

it really depends on the type of inspection.

I can't count the number of vessels I've been on doing USCG inspections.
We went through the motions, checked the boxes, reviewed the crew compliment, checked nav, comms, et al, blah, blah, blah...then left.
Some of the vessels I'd never want to get U/W on regardless of the fact that they "passed" the inspection.

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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.
This has been addressed, so I won't be redundant; however, if the findings reveal safety issues with the vessel, personnel training, procedures, etc., then yes, standards and regulations may in fact change as a result.

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VDR or not, every Gov. agency that has ever picked up a pair of binoculars will be lawyered up on the taxpayer's dime.
The government won't have an issue unless the attorney's can find fault with let's say the CG's inspection, for example. Even then, suing the Feds is a royal PITA. Don't think the Gov't has a worry in this one. The shipping company on the other hand....

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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.
Marin, Capt. Bill posted a pic of one mounted on a vessel a page or two back, and I threw in a Wikipedia link for additional info if you're interested. The 2 posts are almost on top of one another a page or two back.

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Old 10-09-2015, 04:05 PM   #82
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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.
Incorrect. No foreign flagged ships fall under the Jones Act, but they fall under our federal regulations when in US waters. A non US built, American flagged ship doesn't fall under the Jones Act neither, but they also fall under our federal regulations. A ship calling on successive US ports doesn't really have anything to do with the Jones Act, the cargo does. A non-Jones Act ship, foreign or US flagged, can not load cargo in 1 US port and discharge in another US port. What they do is load cargo in the US and discharge over seas, load up over seas and discharge in the US.


As far as the El Faro inspection, I bet it was the annual COI. If vessels are not seaworthy, and the USCG passes them, that's on the CG and they should be heald responsible.
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Old 10-09-2015, 04:55 PM   #83
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Spent decades with FAA Aircraft Certification, who along with the manufacturer are typically the technical brains behind the NTSB person out front. I understand the system and the safety objective. I'm all for safety and lessons learned. But I also understand that safety has a price....a very big one. And I'm contending that a serious cost-benefits analysis should be applied in circumstances such as this one. It's not like this was an airliner or one of a large fleet of the same design. It's a virtual one-off. The leadership in this investigation should be stepping back and looking at what they already know, and then compare it to the safety payoff for the public at large....it's their money. I can see this turning into a circus with the government techies in charge turning it into their life's work...it's happened before.
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Old 10-09-2015, 05:11 PM   #84
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The El Faro was CG inspected her class. All of the ships, U.S flagged or foreign flagged that call on U.S. ports today are also operated and maintained to ISM standards. This has done a huge service to rid the worlds oceans of rust bucket "Tramp" steamers that use to ply the waters. The ISM standards are a worldwide operating requirement for crew training, safety equipment and company operations procedures to protect the safety of people and the environment. Most countries are signatory to it and require its use.

The VDR is probably not the float free variety. That is an option not required and very expensive , apparently.

The cargo did shift on this ship, it was reported to the CG as having a 15 degree list. She also reported taking on water but it was controlled at the last report with the CG.

There was also a very brief signal from the Epirb as reported by CG authorities.

Interview with John Nicoll was spot on, much speculation by all of us without knowing the facts between the Captain and the company. I've known John for 30 years and he is a professional mariner of the highest order. He was on that Jax to PR run for years and recently retired as the master of the Horizon Trader.
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Old 10-09-2015, 07:39 PM   #85
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Spent decades with FAA Aircraft Certification, who along with the manufacturer are typically the technical brains behind the NTSB person out front. I understand the system and the safety objective. I'm all for safety and lessons learned. But I also understand that safety has a price....a very big one. And I'm contending that a serious cost-benefits analysis should be applied in circumstances such as this one. It's not like this was an airliner or one of a large fleet of the same design. It's a virtual one-off. The leadership in this investigation should be stepping back and looking at what they already know, and then compare it to the safety payoff for the public at large....it's their money. I can see this turning into a circus with the government techies in charge turning it into their life's work...it's happened before.
It will definitely take a while and be expensive. While there isn't but one other identical boat, there's an entire industry of ships and ship owners and ship captains. When you stop investigating accidents like this you open the door for abuse, for chance taking, for continuing to use derelict ships, for overloading or for anything else found in this investigation. I think when 33 lives are lost, all in retrospect avoidable although that doesn't mean anyone did anything wrong, then I think there is a need to know what happened and try to prevent a repeat. Will the information be useful for future safety? We have no idea because we don't know what they'll find out. It may be nothing we don't already know but it could be quite revealing.

All aspects of safety cost and that includes investigating accidents. Having safer cars cost tremendously. The thing about safety is that it is very seldom voluntary. Unfortunately it takes investigation and regulation.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:39 PM   #86
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Incorrect. No foreign flagged ships fall under the Jones Act, but they fall under our federal regulations when in US waters.
A non US built, American flagged ship doesn't fall under the Jones Act neither, but they also fall under our federal regulations. A ship calling on successive US ports doesn't really have anything to do with the Jones Act, the cargo does. A non-Jones Act ship, foreign or US flagged, can not load cargo in 1 US port and discharge in another US port. What they do is load cargo in the US and discharge over seas, load up over seas and discharge in the US.
I think you need to read the Jones Act which is a federal law. So any person and any ship within US jurisdiction is subject to it. And there is no such thing as a "Jones Act Ship". The Jones act prohibits certain shipping activities, and allows others. Certain activities are only allowed using US Documented Vessels which are also US owned and US built. And it absolutely involves both the ship and cargo, as both are subject to seizure when there is a violation.

When you refer to a "Jones Act Ship", I think you are referring to a ship that meets the criteria for shipping between US ports. But this may all just be a matter of terminology.
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:23 PM   #87
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It will definitely take a while and be expensive. While there isn't but one other identical boat, there's an entire industry of ships and ship owners and ship captains. When you stop investigating accidents like this you open the door for abuse, for chance taking, for continuing to use derelict ships, for overloading or for anything else found in this investigation. I think when 33 lives are lost, all in retrospect avoidable although that doesn't mean anyone did anything wrong, then I think there is a need to know what happened and try to prevent a repeat. Will the information be useful for future safety? We have no idea because we don't know what they'll find out. It may be nothing we don't already know but it could be quite revealing.

All aspects of safety cost and that includes investigating accidents. Having safer cars cost tremendously. The thing about safety is that it is very seldom voluntary. Unfortunately it takes investigation and regulation.
Didn't say "stop investigating". I said given the obvious circumstances, be very careful about spending scads of taxpayer funds trolling around on the bottom to extract and analyze every shred of data.
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Old 10-10-2015, 12:01 AM   #88
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I copied and pasted this strongly worded letter from a Ship mate of the lost sailors.


"As an American Merchant Marine Officer, I am disgusted with the lack of resources, lack of response and acknowledgment of government officials and general publics response to this tragic accident.

To the men and women searching for the crew. I thank you and appreciate your efforts. I realize you don't call the shots and would search the rest of your life if you could.

A plane crashes with 1 American onboard months of searching and millions spent. The public watches news for hours and hours for weeks and weeks

A black man is shot while breaking the law; public rioting, nationwide protesting, dumb ass president addresses the country, orders investigation by DOJ, and starts multi million dollar program to prevent it from happening again.

A nearly 800 ft American flagged cargo ship disappears with 28 Americans onboard, 6 ****ing days is all they get and not a ****ing word from any dickhead in government.

To the public who don't know what Merchant Mariners are, we are the people who inhabit the 70% of the world most people can't (the sea). We deliver your food, expensive purses, fancy shoes, nice cars, and the gas that makes them go vroom on big ass ships in all types of conditions.

To the clueless Facebook world. I have not seen one post from anyone who is not or does not know a merchant mariner about these tragic events. But I do see posts and likes about how people consider dogs and cats their children and stupid engagement pictures everywhere thinking that it means something. Next time you put your clothes on, eat, drive your car, and post stupid shit using your iPhone realize these things are only possible because of men and women like the crew of the El Faro.

To the Monday morning quarterbacks of the maritime industry and news. Shut the hole in your face and lose the ego. You obviously have never gone to sea and if you have you've shit your pants in bad weather like everyone else has we're just man enough to admit.

In Peace and War"
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Old 10-10-2015, 12:05 AM   #89
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We Won't Learn Anything: What Sank El Faro and What Didn't - gCaptain
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Old 10-10-2015, 12:06 AM   #90
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The lack of survivors in survival suits, the lack of comms, implies that things went bad fast. Just one message off about the loss of the steam plant, flooding, list. Then nothing.

So far things indicate a capsize.

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
Yep.
Para 9 & 10 sum it up pretty well.
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Old 10-10-2015, 03:47 AM   #91
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I think you need to read the Jones Act which is a federal law. So any person and any ship within US jurisdiction is subject to it. And there is no such thing as a "Jones Act Ship". The Jones act prohibits certain shipping activities, and allows others. Certain activities are only allowed using US Documented Vessels which are also US owned and US built. And it absolutely involves both the ship and cargo, as both are subject to seizure when there is a violation.

When you refer to a "Jones Act Ship", I think you are referring to a ship that meets the criteria for shipping between US ports. But this may all just be a matter of terminology.
You're kidding, right? The Jones Act does not cover foreign ships. At all....

I also said the Jones Act don't have as much to do with the ship as it does with the cargo. A foreign flagged ship can call on successive US ports as well, but like a non-Jones Act approved ship, they can't deliver cargo from 1 US port to another. Non US built ships that fly the US flag are not Jones Act ships, bottom line. With that said, US mariners get covered under some policies the Jones Act Lay's out.

If a non US built ship falls under the Jones Act, why are ships not built over seas then ran in the US? Because it's not allowed. It's proven new ships are more hydrodynamic and aerodynamic which saves a lot on fuel, which causes the price of shipping containers to drop, yet we can't use them because they're not built in the US.
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Old 10-10-2015, 04:07 AM   #92
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A definition....

"The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, is a United States federal statute that provides for the promotion and maintenance of the American merchant marine. Among other purposes, the law regulates maritime commerce in U.S. waters and between U.S. ports. Section 27 of the Jones Act, deals with cabotage (i.e., coastal shipping) and requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. The Act was introduced by Senator Wesley Jones.

"Cabotage is the transport of goods or passengers between two points in the same country, alongside coastal waters, by a vessel or an aircraft registered in another country. Originally a shipping term, cabotage now also covers aviation, railways, and road transport. Cabotage is "trade or navigation in coastal waters, or the exclusive right of a country to operate the air traffic within its territory".

"In the context of "cabotage rights," cabotage refers to the right of a company from one country to trade in another country. In aviation terms, for example, it is the right to operate within the domestic borders of another country. Most countries enact cabotage laws for reasons of economic protectionism or "national security."

"The cabotage provisions relating to the "Jones Act" restrict the carriage of goods or passengers between United States ports to U.S.-built and flagged vessels. It has been codified as portions of 46 U.S.C. Generally, the Jones Act prohibits any foreign built or foreign flagged vessel from engaging in coastwise trade within the United States. A number of other statutes affect coastwise trade and should be consulted along with the Jones Act.... The steel of foreign repair work on the hull and superstructure of a U.S.-flagged vessel is limited to ten percent by weight.

"Ships built to satisfy the Jones Act may cost 3-4 times more than ships built in Korean or Japanese yards. The most expensive Jones Act ship is the tanker Liberty Bay."
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Old 10-10-2015, 07:47 AM   #93
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You're kidding, right? The Jones Act does not cover foreign ships. At all....
We really are saying the same thing, just using dock-side terminology vs what the law says.

Re the above quote, I would say "the Jones Act doesn't allow foreign ships to carry cargo port to port in the US. At all...."

When you say "a Jones Act Ship", I believe you mean a ship that meets the requirements of the Jones act for conducting port to port trade between US ports. And when you refer to ships "not covered by the Jones Act", I think you mean ships that don't meet the criteria for shipping between US ports.

All ships are subject to the Jones Act. The Jones Act allows shipping between US ports for certain ships, and prohibits it for others. Foreign flagged ships are among those prohibited, and the law that prohibits it none other than the Jones Act. It's Sections 27 of the law.

If the Jones Act does not cover foreign flagged ships, then what law prohibits them from going port to port in the US?
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Old 10-10-2015, 08:14 AM   #94
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Strange that the intent of the Jones Act was to promote and protect the US maritime industry, and yet it has withered. Even northern Europe with its high costs still is building ships in a competitive market. What happened?
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:35 AM   #95
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Federal agencies prevent non-Jones Act vessels from shipping goods domestically. I see what you're saying and it's right but not right at the same time. The actual Merchant Marine Act of 1920 only covers US flagged ships. It says it right in the reading. The fact that these other ships don't fall into that category eliminates them by default, so in that manner, yes, the Jones Act deals with them, but doesn't cover them.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:45 AM   #96
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Strange that the intent of the Jones Act was to promote and protect the US maritime industry, and yet it has withered. Even northern Europe with its high costs still is building ships in a competitive market. What happened?
Interior lines of communication via trucks/interstates, railroads, and pipelines for products created in the US as well as less products created in the US?

Later,
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Old 10-10-2015, 11:22 AM   #97
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Strange that the intent of the Jones Act was to promote and protect the US maritime industry, and yet it has withered. Even northern Europe with its high costs still is building ships in a competitive market. What happened?
The same thing that has hit US manufacturing. Labor costs. If I'm operating under a foreign flag I can have a foreign crew with very low labor rates. A US flagged ship is required to have US crew and meet all US labor and wage laws.

Note that the US shipbuilding business is very much alive and well and serves many sectors extremely well, such as patrol and law enforcement boats and oil field support vessels. Look at builders like Chouest and Harvey as just two examples. Chouest operates over 200 vessels themselves, all US built. I believe Harvey is at just over 60 vessels. Between the two companies, they own 7 shipyards.

As to shipping, water just isn't the best means for shipping most items across country. Most shipping by water is done where there is no way to do so by road or rails. Actually, the only transportation I've really seen limited by the Jones Act is the shipping of boats between the coasts. They can be shipped on vessels such as the El Faro, it's just that it's such a small business segment no one is in the business just to do so. Sevenstar, Dockwise, and all the major carriers who specialize in shipping boats, are limited by the Jones Act. However, even there, the limitations aren't a major factor as they simply use ports in Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica to serve the west coasts.
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Old 10-10-2015, 11:49 AM   #98
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That's a powerful and concise piece, Cap'n Bill - thanks for posting. Hits the nail on the head.
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Old 10-10-2015, 12:27 PM   #99
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That's a powerful and concise piece, Cap'n Bill - thanks for posting. Hits the nail on the head.
Ditto
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Old 10-10-2015, 12:41 PM   #100
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Thanks for putting that up, Capt.Bill; very poignant.

I am really impressed with the members on this forum for not turning this event into a useless, heated, speculative debate.

The respect given this tragedy and the families is a testament to the quality and thoughtfulness of the people here.


As one article said;
"...we should mourn the missing of El Faro and its crew. But we should also learn to value and salute the 1.5 million seafarers who risk their lives to bring us 90% of everything, day in, day out, in all weather, for little thanks, and at great and constant risk. Much that is wrong with shipping could be improved if more of us learned to better see the sea."
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