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Old 10-12-2015, 08:33 PM   #121
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There is. Then he flies out on the helicopter his replacement flew in on.
I knew that from posts above.
The Master can balance his life, his responsibility for his crew against the Owners orders, his lifetime of regret if he survives but others die, etc. A man has to have some principles even if the Owners don`t. That or he sells out his family, and the crew he lead, to keep the Owners happy.
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Old 10-12-2015, 08:43 PM   #122
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The "Jones Act" sounds like protectionism. Wonder if the multi nation Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement reached on 5 October after years of negotiation has an effect on it. If so it may be history now.
The jones act is protectionist in that it allows a modicum of US flag merchant vessels to be in use around the country at all times.

Subsequent to WW1 the US found itself with VERY few merchant vessels under US flag to be used in case of war. It was seen to be necessary to have a (although minimal) contingent of merchant vessels available in case of war. The Jones Act was passed to ensure a basic supply of merchant vessel availability in order to 'ramp up' to wartime need.

I do not think the Jones Act will be eliminated. It has many other benefits, domestic shipyard requirements, domestic manning, and domestic operations to ensure its political survival.
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Old 10-13-2015, 02:08 AM   #123
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The storm wasn't predicted well at all, there's a number of news articles that even talk about it.

I know people are going to talk trash, but I'm going to say it. It was a perfectly acceptable call to sail through a TS. Had they not lost the main, we wouldn't be talking about this because they would have been long through the storm before it blew up. Timing is everything, believe me, I know. Remember my sea story? What I didn't put was 2 weeks later, we had a total engine meltdown. Had to be towed in, 2 weeks earlier and that could have cost me big time.

While some companies have opened up to the idea of crew comforts, others haven't. The company I was sailing for at the time still made us pay to send and receive emails. So in their mind, GMDSS was enough and the penny was more important.

It's easy for people to say "Oh yea, I'd stand up to the boss" but let's see it when your career is on the line. I'm willing to bet if he thought it was really dangerous, he would have said no, but he thought he had a solid plan. As far as reports from ABs bashing the captain, I take that with a grain of salt. They've never been there and they usually don't know what they're talking about.
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:20 AM   #124
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The storm wasn't predicted well at all, there's a number of news articles that even talk about it.

I know people are going to talk trash, but I'm going to say it. It was a perfectly acceptable call to sail through a TS. Had they not lost the main, we wouldn't be talking about this because they would have been long through the storm before it blew up. Timing is everything, believe me, I know. Remember my sea story? What I didn't put was 2 weeks later, we had a total engine meltdown. Had to be towed in, 2 weeks earlier and that could have cost me big time.

While some companies have opened up to the idea of crew comforts, others haven't. The company I was sailing for at the time still made us pay to send and receive emails. So in their mind, GMDSS was enough and the penny was more important.

It's easy for people to say "Oh yea, I'd stand up to the boss" but let's see it when your career is on the line. I'm willing to bet if he thought it was really dangerous, he would have said no, but he thought he had a solid plan. As far as reports from ABs bashing the captain, I take that with a grain of salt. They've never been there and they usually don't know what they're talking about.
I think I would have to disagree with that statement. Being in the Keys I was watching the storm closely. I think they did a pretty good job at it. Also it sat over the Bahamas for a couple of days moving at only a couple of knots.

I think the g captain article mentioned earlier pretty well sums it up.
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Old 10-13-2015, 10:25 AM   #125
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Yes it was predicted well. Here in the Gulf we started taking precautions because some models had it coming this way and back home in VA we were taking precautions because it was going to be a direct hit there.http://http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/151002-joaquin-hurricane-weather-model-forecast-atmosphere-oceans-science/
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Old 10-13-2015, 11:28 AM   #126
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Using the NHC 3 day cone (of maximum probable impact) the NHC prediction was spot on. Not sure where you were looking. On September 1st I got home, and went down to my boat, rigged a secondary mooring line, and got a hurricane anchor and rode ready. On October2nd I could see the potential for a hurricane hit on the eastern seaboard. By Sunday the 4th it was obvious the whole storm had headed to Bermuda.

I'm not sure what you expect from the NHC, but they seem to have been spot on.

The weather cone showed almost the exact track the hurricane took as it wended it's way across the ocean.
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Old 10-13-2015, 11:40 AM   #127
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I think I would have to disagree with that statement. Being in the Keys I was watching the storm closely. I think they did a pretty good job at it. Also it sat over the Bahamas for a couple of days moving at only a couple of knots.
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Yes it was predicted well. Here in the Gulf we started taking precautions because some models had it coming this way and back home in VA we were taking precautions because it was going to be a direct hit there.
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Using the NHC 3 day cone (of maximum probable impact) the NHC prediction was spot on. Not sure where you were looking. ...

I'm not sure what you expect from the NHC, but they seem to have been spot on.

The weather cone showed almost the exact track the hurricane took as it wended it's way across the ocean.


I'd say the word "eventually" needs inserted in there, somewhere. The storm eventually went where the cone predicted, even slightly further east... but in the meantime, during all our planning stages, the individual models were all over the map. In addition to the one that had Joaquin crossing FL, some models had point of land impact at Cape Hatteras, up the Chesapeake, up the Delaware...

It all got sorted out -- eventually -- but it pretty much beat me up for decision-making during the early stages... mostly because we had a northeasterly gale going on up here during Joaquin's ramp-up period... when we would normally have been being hauled, or moving... We began to lose options because the marina could no longer tow boats for hauling, etc., and moving the boat up the Chesapeake in predicted 4-footers (6' measured) isn't fun in this neck of the woods.

In the meantime... while Joaquin was being predicted to eventually go northward (some direction or other)... it didn't, for a long time. In those early stages of the forecast, it just kept slowly moving southeast, no matter what the cone said...

Bottom line, I agree it was well-predicted... eventually... but I wonder what it might have been like for folks much closer, who kept hearing the storm would go north, and kept watching as it stayed south.

IOW, in those early days, I could wonder what if one decided to head further south to avoid it? And it continued south during that period instead...

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Old 10-13-2015, 08:57 PM   #128
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Here is a link to NOAA that shows the history of the storm predictions that can be shown as a loop or one graphic at a time. JOAQUIN Graphics Archive

The forecasts at the start of the storm were just flat out WRONG with the reality. Furthermore, while the predicted storm track is important, what is just as important, if not more so in this case, was the predicted rate of advance north. The storms advance to the north was predicted to happen on Sept 27th but the turn north did not happen until Oct 2nd which was five days later. Furthermore, while the predictions on the 27th had the storm moving north from a position about 37N, in fact the storm went SWS and went as fast south as 27N on Oct 2nd.

Early forecast predictions on Monday 9/28 had the storm close off NC on Friday Oct 2nd. The storm finally made it to 35N by Monday Oct 5th but almost over Bermuda, well off of the coast of NC.

The storm was not predicted to become a hurricane until late on Tues, 9/29 and the storm would reach hurricane strength on Wed 9/30. They boffins got this one right.

The NTSB report should link these forecasts with the ship's location and course which will be interesting. The gCaptain track of the ship shows the ship's location south of the rhumb line to PR. They seemed to be trying to pass under the storm but of course the storm did not go as predicted and the storm went about 90 degrees off the forecast course.

The questions in my mind were what forecast did the captain have in hand when he left Jacksonville and when he was near the Hole in the Wall? Also what was the sea state near the Hole in the Wall? Was it even possible to change course at that point? Would a change of course made a difference if the engine went off line?

The NTSB report should answer those questions. This was a very difficult storm to predict and the forecasters had a tough time with this one.

Later,
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Old 10-13-2015, 09:08 PM   #129
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This was a very difficult storm to predict and the forecasters had a tough time with this one.

Later,
Dan
Well, that brings into the investigation another issue and that is why the European model predicted the path from the beginning while US models didn't. The answer is they have better equipment. Now US models do a better job of speed sometimes.

So where were the Captain and the company getting their forecasts and exactly what did their forecasts say? Then, knowing the inaccuracy of hurricane forecasting, what level of potential error did they consider in their decisions?

I never believed the storm would hit Fort Lauderdale, but I still was prepared. So many questions to be answered by those who are professional accident investigators.
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:31 AM   #130
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FWIW This is what Chris Parker had to say about the storms behavior.

"Joaquin's behavior has thus far defied all attempts to anticipate. It's still too soon to rule out any option. But hopefully we'll get some clarity (at least be able to take some areas of the US E Coast off the "extreme risk" category) by tonight or Fri2 morning."
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Old 10-20-2015, 08:05 PM   #131
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Update

Well, we find out now hurricane warnings were issued prior to their start of the sailing and find out more of what happened. Fast second report by NTSB and lots contained in it.

NTSB Issues Update on Investigation Into Sinking of Cargo Ship EL FARO

10/20/2015
​WASHINGTON – In its continuing investigation of the sinking of the cargo ship EL FARO in the Atlantic Ocean near the Bahamas, the National Transportation Safety Board has developed the following factual information:

On February 13, 2015, El Faro successfully completed the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) class and statutory surveys, meeting all rules and regulations as applicable. All deficiencies identified were rectified prior to completion of the surveys. None of the deficiencies were associated with El Faro’s main propulsion systems.

The annual inspection of El Faro, required by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), was completed by qualified USCG inspectors in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 6, 2015.

In June 2015, a qualified ABS surveyor examined and tested the main, auxiliary and emergency systems as part of the continuous machinery survey program and found them to be satisfactory.

TOTE told investigators that El Faro was scheduled to be removed from the route between Jacksonville and San Juan and redeployed to the U.S. West Coast where it would operate between Washington State and Alaska. In August, in order to prepare for this operational change, TOTE began to make modifications to the vessel while underway under the supervision of an additional chief engineer. Work on these modifications was performed by welders and machinists over many voyages, including during the accident voyage.

On September 11, 2015, TOTE received permission from the Coast Guard to shut down one of the ship’s two boilers so it could be inspected by an independent boiler service company during a voyage between San Juan and Jacksonville. As a result of the inspection, the boiler service company recommended service to both boilers during an upcoming drydock period that had already been scheduled for November 6, 2015. The boiler was returned to service following the inspection.

Interviews of relief crew and company management indicated that onboard safety drills were consistently conducted on a weekly basis. These included lifeboat drills for all crewmembers to ensure that all on board understood their responsibilities in an emergency.

Investigators interviewed two pilots that had guided El Faro in and out of the Port of Jacksonville; both reported that the vessel handled similarly to other vessels of its size and type.

The vessel’s terminal manager reported that El Faro met stability criteria when it left Jacksonville.

The company’s procedures called for some cargo on the ship to be “double lashed” regardless of the weather expected to be encountered during the voyage. The vessel stevedores reported that prior to El Faro’s departure on the accident voyage, the cargo was secured in accordance with those procedures.

Before El Faro departed Jacksonville, Tropical Storm Joaquin was predicted to become a hurricane and a marine hurricane warning was issued by the National Hurricane Center’s Advisory #8 at 5:00 pm EDT on Sept. 29.

At about 8:15 pm EDT on Sept. 29, El Faro departed Jacksonville, Fla., for San Juan, Puerto Rico.

At 1:12 pm EDT on Sept. 30, the captain emailed a company safety official that he intended to take a route south of the predicted path of the hurricane and would pass about 65 miles from its center.

In an advisory issued at 2:00 am EDT on Oct. 1, the National Hurricane Center predicted seas of 30 feet with sustained winds of 64 knots (74 mph), increasing to 105 knots (121 mph) as the El Faro approached the wall of the eye of the hurricane.

In a recorded satellite phone call to the company’s emergency call center at 7:00 am EDT, the captain told the call center operator that he had a marine emergency. He reported that there was a hull breach, a scuttle had blown open, and that there was water in hold number 3. He also said that the ship had lost its main propulsion unit and the engineers could not get it going. The operator then connected the captain with the Designated Person Ashore (DPA). The DPA told investigators that the captain had communicated similar information to him that was provided to the call center operator, and also that the captain had estimated the height of the seas that El Faro was encountering to be 10 to 12 feet.

The USCG received electronic distress alerts from three separate sources on El Faro: the Ship’s Security Alert System (SSAS), the Inmarsat-C Alert, and the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).

According to electronic alert system data sent by the vessel at 7:17 am EDT on Oct. 1, its last reported position was about 20 miles from the edge of the eye of the hurricane.

The USCG did not have direct voice communications with El Faro, only electronic distress alerts.

The NTSB investigators that traveled to Florida have returned to continue work on the investigation from NTSB headquarters in Washington.

The NTSB contracted with the U.S. Navy to locate the ship, document the wreckage on the sea floor and recover the voyage data recorder.

The USNS Apache, a fleet ocean tug, was outfitted with specialized equipment for this mission, and departed Little Creek, Virginia, at about 4:30 pm EDT on October 19. In addition to the Navy crew, the NTSB investigator-in-Charge, Tom Roth-Roffy, is on Apache with representatives from the USCG, TOTE and ABS, all parties to the NTSB investigation.

The Apache is estimated to arrive at the last known position of El Faro on Saturday, October 24, to begin the search for the ship and to recover the voyage data recorder. Once the search operation begins, it is expected to take at least two weeks.

The length of the operation will depend on the circumstances encountered.
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Old 10-21-2015, 07:26 AM   #132
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IOW, in those early days, I could wonder what if one decided to head further south to avoid it? And it continued south during that period instead...

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The storms advance to the north was predicted to happen on Sept 27th but the turn north did not happen until Oct 2nd which was five days later. Furthermore, while the predictions on the 27th had the storm moving north from a position about 37N, in fact the storm went SWS and went as fast south as 27N on Oct 2nd.

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Before El Faro departed Jacksonville, Tropical Storm Joaquin was predicted to become a hurricane and a marine hurricane warning [my emphasis] was issued by the National Hurricane Center’s Advisory #8 at 5:00 pm EDT on Sept. 29.

At about 8:15 pm EDT on Sept. 29, El Faro departed Jacksonville, Fla., for San Juan, Puerto Rico.

At 1:12 pm EDT on Sept. 30, the captain emailed a company safety official that he intended to take a route south of the predicted path of the hurricane and would pass about 65 miles from its center.

Taking a southerly route to bypass a hurricane predicted to move northward seems prudent enough.

As we know, Joaquin did NOT move northward immediately. The tone of the NTSB report suggests El Faro and TOTE were often in contact, though, at least up to the point where the electronic signals fired off...

Not really trying to second-guess, just thinking out loud...

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Old 10-21-2015, 12:12 PM   #133
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I ask this question. If you were in Jacksonville and had a group of friends with a very large boat, about 33 people in total including crew) wanting to go to PR on September 29-30, and asking for your advice, what would it have been?

One thing I was told by a wise man long ago regarding employee safety was to think of every employee as a friend. I did and took risk of injury or harm very seriously.

Now, friends don't allow friends to go sailing off into hurricanes. Our philosophy is that it takes everyone saying yes to take a boat out. If captain or owner or crew or anyone feels it's unwise then it doesn't happen. One "no" outvotes all "yes's".
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Old 10-21-2015, 12:17 PM   #134
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Good luck with that on a commercial ship. This isn't a vacation and we're not friends, we're here to make money.
Finding the VDR will put the Monday Morning QBs to rest and it should tell us when the plant was lost. Once again, nothing wrong with sailing through a TS or a Cat 1 with some proper planning and CPAs
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Old 10-21-2015, 12:44 PM   #135
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Good luck with that on a commercial ship. This isn't a vacation and we're not friends, we're here to make money.
Finding the VDR will put the Monday Morning QBs to rest and it should tell us when the plant was lost. Once again, nothing wrong with sailing through a TS or a Cat 1 with some proper planning and CPAs
Make money at the expense of lives?

And even considering the objective to make money, how much do you think they will have made after this? I wouldn't think this has turned out to be a very good financial decision.

And I strongly disagree with sailing through a hurricane when you have a choice. They had a choice. Actually they had lots of choices, much better than playing a game of dare with the hurricane. They could have easily sailed south by Miami and then decided how to go from there.

I was always in business to make money, but I never lost sight of the human side and I did treat employees as I would friends and do to this day. The rest of the story will give us more information as to the ultimate disaster, but whatever that answer is, it doesn't change my opinion that sailing when they did in the direction they did was unwise.

And, I do have friends who operate a very large fleet of commercial ships and share my views and feel even more strongly about this than I do. They did not sail in that direction at that time.

Now, as to vacation, that's the cruise ships route and I'm bothered more by their actions around the hurricane than TOTE.

Ultimately 33 lives were lost. We don't yet know the complete cause. However, all the things that ultimately happened might not have lost lives if you take away sailing into the hurricane. Yes, perhaps they would have made it through had everything gone right. But a plan that depends on everything going right is a lousy plan.
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Old 10-21-2015, 01:07 PM   #136
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Second guessing an accident at sea involving a commercial vessel is the same as second guessing an accident involving a commercial aircraft. Very few people are actually knowledgeable about the realities of commercial operations, air or sea, so the guesses, speculation, theories, and assumptions of people outside the industry--- particularly the media--- are almost invariably wrong.

I know virtually nothing about the realities of commercial ocean shipping and the factors that can contribute to an accident like this one but I know a lot about the realities of commercial aviation and the factors that can contribute to accidents in that industry.

The common denominator is that things are very often not what they seem. Applying practices and reasoning that might make sense in an amateur boating (or flying) realm generally have no bearing on the commercial world where "why things are done" is very often based on factors that people outside the industry don't even know exist.

In the case of the El Faro, finding the data recorder might not even be sufficient to explain the chain of events that led to the sinking, I don't know. I have no idea if it's possible to conduct a visual examination of the ship at the depth it sank. If it is and it's deemed worthwhile that might offer some clues as to what happened.

But comparing the decision-making process of a recreational boater like just about all of us on this forum to the decision-making process of the captain and owners of a commercial freighter is about as apples-and-oranges a comparison as I can think of.
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Old 10-21-2015, 01:15 PM   #137
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But a plan that depends on everything going right is a lousy plan.
That's a naive statement. A plan that depends on everything going right describes every single airplane flight on the planet. It describes every single vessel trip on the planet. It describes my daily commute to work.

We don't set out in our boat, in our plane, or in our vehicles assuming that things will go wrong and that we'll crash and die. We set out prepared to deal with things if they do go wrong, but that's not the plan. The plan is for everything to go right and the plan is based on everything going right. Otherwise, we wouldn't go.
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Old 10-21-2015, 01:20 PM   #138
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That's a naive statement. A plan that depends on everything going right describes every single airplane flight on the planet. It describes every single vessel trip on the planet. It describes my daily commute to work.

We don't set out in our boat, in our plane, or in our vehicles assuming that things will go wrong and that we'll crash and die. We set out prepared to deal with things if they do go wrong, but that's not the plan. The plan is for everything to go right and the plan is based on everything going right. Otherwise, we wouldn't go.
Yes, and the plan goes right billions of times every day.
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Old 10-21-2015, 01:23 PM   #139
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Assuming that anyone here is smarter than those that made this miscalculation based on a lot of info/requirements is insane.

There's a very good chance that the people involved were way smarter and more experienced than the few monday morning quarterbacks here or anywhere.

While I like my track record in safely executing hundreds of dangerous trips/missions...I know I will never have enough info to want to second guess these guys.

If you must..be prepared for others to second guess your monday morning quarterbacking...

Me personally...I have better things to do. Let the souls rest in peace and the NTSB and court systems have their way. When all is said and done and ALL the facts are in. (even if not enough fact are found)...then open the proverbial "big mouth".....
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Old 10-21-2015, 01:42 PM   #140
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But a plan that depends on everything going right is a lousy plan.

Don't think we know that was the kind of plan -- everything must go right -- they were trying to execute. Don't know the details of their plan, don't know how many moving parts were critical, don't now what combination of critical segments had to go south (perhaps near-simultaneously) to bring about failure.

I know I don't have a clue about big ships (not "a very large boat") and sea states in the same sentence, don't know about the economics of commercial shipping, not intimately familiar with all the various safety systems in place in big ships, etc.

Given all that, and assuming that's pretty much the case for most, don't think it's appropriate (or fair) to speculate.

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