Date: December 6, 2013
This week we take a look at the history of naval toasts, proposals to create the world’s largest ship and first floating city, and the launch of a new database of the names of underwater features.
The history of the naval toasts – Earlier in the year, the Ministry of Defense amended two of the Naval Toasts following the Loyal Toast in the Royal Navy after what has been described as centuries of ‘tradition and privilege’. The MoD said that amendments were required by cultural changes that have transpired over the course of centuries as women have entered and moved up the ranks of the Navy. This week gCaptain reported on the history of the Loyal Toasts (‘The King/Queen, God Bless Him/Her!’), explaining their origin and ceremony. The toasts were well-meaning and appeasing to good fortune and self-serving individualism, but also reflecting the practices of the times – such as Tuesday’s toast ‘To Our Men!’ mirroring that all onboard were men, from the Captain to the boatswain. The toasts also reflected personal aspirations for promotion, as engagement in battle usually meant high casualties that could translate to a promotion for the survivors. Likewise, Friday’s toast to a ‘willing foe’ and ‘sea room’, few navies had the power and capacity to engage the Royal Navy, and the crew who were looking for ‘prizes of war’. The Ministry of Defense has now changed Tuesday’s toast to ‘To Our Sailors!’ instead of ‘To Our Men!’ and Saturday’s toast to ‘To Our Families!’, reflecting that men and women are just as likely to serve the country or captain aboard a ship. Whilst some traditionalists may prefer the nostalgia associated with the toasts of the past, the Royal Navy has to adapt to the times.
In the news… Turtle robots to explore shipwrecks, IMO Exceptional Bravery at Sea Award, UKHO supports Typhoon recovery operation
Date: November 29, 2013
This week we talk about turtle robots as an affordable alternative to human divers, the 2013 IMO Exceptional Bravery At Sea Award and the UKHO effort in providing high-resolution images to HMS Daring to identify the worst hit areas by Typhoon ‘Haiyan’.
Turtle Robot Set To Explore Shipwrecks – An exciting new technology will premiere at the Robot Safari in London. An underwater robot turtle called U-CAT is designed to descend the ocean depths and infiltrate the fascinating scene of a shipwreck, according to RedOrbit. The so-called biomimetic robots, which are robots based on animals and plants, are becoming an increasing trend in robotics where science tries to overcome the technological bottlenecks by looking at alternative technical solutions provided by nature. Underwater robots are nowadays mostly exploited in oil and gas industry and in defence. However, these robots are too big and also too expensive to be used for diving inside wrecks. Shipwrecks are currently explored by divers, but this is an expensive and time-consuming procedure and often too dangerous for the divers to undertake. U-CAT is designed with the purpose of offering an affordable alternative to human divers. U-CAT’s locomotion principle is similar to sea turtles: not only can it move forward and backward, it can also swim up and down and turn on spot in all directions. U-CAT is part of an EU funded research project, ARROWS, which is developing technologies to assist underwater archaeologists. The technologies of the ARROWS project will be tested in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Baltic Sea, two historically important but environmentally different regions of Europe. The London Science Museum display will feature U-CAT along with interactive down-scaled models that operate in an aquarium and the Robot Safari will be open for visitors from 28 November to 1 December.
Date: November 22, 2013
This week we talk about a huge iceberg that came off from the Pine Island glacier in Antarctica, a new tiny islet created in Japan after a dramatic volcanic eruption in the Pacific Ocean and the “Google Mystery Barge” being constructed to be an “unprecedented artistic structure with a dash of nautical whimsy”
Vast Antarctic iceberg ‘could threaten shipping’ – UK researchers have been awarded an emergency grant to track a vast iceberg in Antarctica that could enter shipping lanes, says the BBC. The icy giant broke away from the Pine Island Glacier (PIG) in July. PIG is described as the longest and fastest flowing glacier in the Antarctic, with vast icebergs being carved from ice shelf every 6-10 years. Previous notable events occurred in 2007 and 2001. Latest images show several kilometres of water between the iceberg, estimated to be about 700 sq km (270 sq miles), and the glacier that spawned the block. Principal investigator Grant Bigg from the University of Sheffield told BBC News that one iceberg was tracked going through The Drake Passage – the body of water between South America’s Cape Horn and Antarctica’s South Shetland Islands. He also said that if the iceberg did follow this trajectory, it would bring the Singapore-size ice island into busy international shipping lanes. The team of scientists from Sheffield and the University of Southampton will use data from a number of satellites, including the German TerraSAR-X, which first alerted researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute to the July calving. As well as tracking the movement of the iceberg, Prof Bigg explained that the team also planned to predict its path through the Southern Ocean. “Part of the project is to try to simulate what we think the berg might do, given the wind fields in the region recently”, said Prof Bigg. He added that the team would attempt to predict possible tracks into the coming year.
In the news… Typhoon Haiyan, filling the hydrographic data gap and the world’s most important archive of original shipwreck photographs
Date: November 15, 2013
This week we talk about the British and US vessels leading a humanitarian push to provide aid to Typhoon Haiyan victims. We’ll also cover the TeamSurv project and its support from the European Space Agency, as well as the National Maritime Museum’s purchase of the world’s most important archive of original shipwreck photographs.
Typhoon Haiyan: British and US navy vessels head for the Philippines - On Friday last week, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Central Philippines and was one of the most powerful tropical cyclones on record. Since the Typhoon passed through, the situation of the survivors has become dire, with over 600,000 people displaced, widespread infrastructure damage and food and fresh water in short supply. With this, British and US warships are leading a humanitarian push to help relief efforts with drinking water and air support (reports the BBC). HMS Daring, one of the Royal Navy’s new destroyers, is already steaming towards the typhoon-torn islands, as the struggle to get medical aid to those affected continues. The ship has more than 200 personnel on board including a doctor, a dentist, engineers and a chaplain. It is also carrying members of the Royal Marines band who, as a secondary role, are trained first aiders. Alongside its personnel, the ship holds 700 ration packs, 20,000 litres of drinking water and essential equipment – including generators and thermal-imaging cameras. Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Twitter that the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious will also be brought in to help people affected by the Typhoon. Joining him, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the USS George Washington supercarrier and her battle group from Hong Kong to the Philippines to provide humanitarian assistance.
In the news… a new Anglo-Russian radio wave initiative, JMW Turner and the sea, and contrasting news for UK shipping
Date: November 8, 2013
This week we take a look at proposals for a new British-Russian radio navigation initiative to reduce the risks relating to Arctic shipping, Turner’s maritime vision on show at Britain’s National Maritime Museum and contrasting news for Britain’s maritime industry.
Arctic shipping routes safer with Anglo-Russian radio waves - As new Arctic shipping routes still face high risks from extreme weather and icebergs, a British-Russian radio navigation initiative may diminish the threats posed by this shipping route – as reported by Reuters this week. The British system, being trialed in the busy shipping lanes past Dover – and drawing interest from South Korea- may link up with parallel work underway in Russia. The General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland (GLA) is pioneering a radio-based back-up prototype called e-Loran that could tie-up with Russia, which operates a similar system called e-Chayka. Early talks between the two will first focus on standardisation so that ships can switch seamlessly between the systems. “Taking into account that the Northern Sea Route takes course along Russia’s coast, the intensity of traffic increases year by year, serious environmental risks appear in this area,” said Vasily Redkozubov, deputy director general of Russia’s Internavigation Research and Technical Centre. Analysts say Russia is keen to expand its shipping presence through the Arctic, which aims to cut journey times by weeks. “The Northern Sea Route provides access to Russia’s own hinterland and the vast amount of minerals and hydro carbon resources,” said Malte Humpert of Washington-based think tank, the Arctic Institute.
Date: November 1, 2013
Making the headlines this week, the latest winner of the UKHO’s Alexander Dalrymple Award, a new research project on Mediterranean Roman Ports and a study into the human impact on marine predators.
UKHO Alexander Dalrymple Award presented to William Heaps – As part of the UK’s celebration of World Hydrography Day held at the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton, William Heaps, Assistant Marine Advisor and Hydrographic Manager of Associated British Ports (ABP) was presented with the UKHO’s Alexander Dalrymple Award. As reported by BYM, this prestigious award is dedicated to Alexander Dalrymple who formed the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office in 1795. William was honoured with the award for his outstanding contribution to hydrography over a long and dedicated career with ABP as Port Surveyor and Hydrographic Manager of the 22 ports and harbours within the ABP Group. The award also acknowledges many areas of William’s work as past Chairman of the Hydrographic Society UK (THS UK), which he chaired for six years, and as UK representative and Chairman of the International Federation of Hydrographic Societies (IFHS). The award was presented by UKHO Chief Executive, Ian Moncrieff CBE who commented: “My Executive team were unanimous in nominating William for the award, which has been won by a number of distinguished international hydrographers in the past. I am delighted that we can recognise his contribution fittingly in this nationally public way.” Speaking about his achievement, William Heaps said: “I am both delighted and surprised to receive this award as it recognises civil hydrography and its essential role in contributing to the ‘Blue Economy’.”
In the news… end of an era for NOAA paper charts, mapping the Pacific Ocean and a boost for women in shipping
Date: October 25, 2013
Making the headlines this week…the NOAA announces the end of its traditional paper charts, New Zealand unveils plans to remap parts of the Pacific Ocean and moves are underway in the Philippines to encourage more women to enter the maritime industry.
The End of traditional printing methods for NOAA Paper Charts - After 151 Years, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced it is shutting down it’s traditional lithographic printing presses and relying solely on Print on Demand (POD). The decision to stop ‘litho’ production is likely to be based on several factors, such as the uptake in POD resulting in a reduced demand for litho printedcharts and the increasing use of digital and electronic charts Since 1862, lithographic nautical charts been printed by NOAA and sold to the public by commercial vendors. However, thanks to advancements in computing and mobile technologies, today the navigation industry can benefit from access to up-to-date nautical charts which can better help seafarers and mariners with planning their situational awareness.
“Like most other mariners, I grew up on NOAA lithographic charts and have used them for years. We know that changing chart formats and availability will be a difficult change for some mariners who love their traditional paper charts, but we’re still going to provide other forms of our official charts.” – said Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. The ‘Print-on-Demand’ nautical charts, largely used by most mariners, will continue to be available from NOAA-certified printers and be up-to-date at the moment of printing.
In the news this week…taking the Internet underwater, the 21st Century shipping challenges and Arctic Navigation
Date: October 18, 2013
In the news this week… US university researchers are trying to take the Internet underwater, the challenges of 21st Century shipping by the Nautical Institute, and UK-Russia collaboration on Arctic navigation.
University researchers develop a deep-sea wireless network – As Internet’s users continue to grow all around the globe, USA researchers are now trying to take it underwater – reported Hydro International. Tommaso Melodia, University at Buffalo associate professor of electrical engineering, believes that this technological breakthrough could lead to improvements in tsunami detection, offshore oil and natural gas exploration, surveillance, pollution monitoring and other activities. Allowing collecting and analyzing date from the ocean in real time, this information would be available to anyone with a smartphone or computer and it could also help saving lives when a tsunami or other type of disaster occurs. Land-based wireless networks, which are today used worldwide, rely on radio waves that transmit data via satellites and antennae. Unfortunately radio waves work poorly underwater and sharing data becomes very difficult because each system often has a different infrastructure. The framework that Melodia is developing would solve that problem as it would transmit data from existing and planned underwater sensor networks to laptops, smartphones and other wireless devices in real time. A deep-sea Internet has many applications, including linking together buoy networks that detect tsunamis. In these situations, it could deliver a more reliable warning, thereby increasing the odds that coastal residents can evacuate. It may also help collect oceanographic data and monitoring pollution. The framework will encourage collaboration among researchers and, potentially, eliminate the duplicative deployments of sensors and other equipment.
Date: October 17, 2013
Today is the launch day for S-63 version 1.1, the latest version of the international open-format security standard for electronic navigational charts, for all AVCS CD Service users.
If you’re an AVCS CD user, you have been upgraded for free to S.63 1.1, which represents a significant step forward for ensuring the security and authenticity of ENC data files. This is in anticipation of the formal withdrawal of edition 1.0 of the IHO Data Protection Scheme – the global standard for ENC data security – on 31 December 2013. After this point, only version 1.1 of S-63 will be compliant.
From today, all AVCS CD users will be supplied, via their ADMIRALTY Chart Agent, with S-63 1.1 format CDs and been provided with a wealth of information, as well as helpful resources and support from the UKHO to guide them through the process of making the switch to the latest version. However, for the benefit of anyone still making their way through the transition process, here are our top five tips for making the switch to S.63 1.1 on CD.
Date: October 11, 2013
In our round-up of the week’s news, the opening of ‘Captain Phillips’ sees international piracy return to the cinema, the Korean Hydrographic Society joins the IFHS, and it’s 31 years since the raising of the Mary Rose from the sea bed.
Tom Hanks stars as ‘Captain Phillips’ – The tale of the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama has made it to the cinema screen, with Tom Hanks starring in the title role as the master of the hijacked vessel, which hit the headlines on 8April 2009, when four pirates attacked his ship in the Indian Ocean off Somalia. The Maersk Alabama’s crew of 19 thwarted a takeover, but the pirates took Phillips hostage on a lifeboat, before eventually being rescued several days later by the USS Bainbridge and a team of Navy SEALs. In an interview with the Navy League’s SeaPower magazine last month, Captain Phillips said: “It’s a different life and not everybody can do it… I guess I’ve been a rarity. I’ve always gone to sea.” Despite the events leading up to his rescue by those he calls “the real heroes of this story,” Phillips plans to continue doing what he loves. It was also the sense of two different worlds colliding that made the story a draw for British director Paul Greengrass. He was intrigued by how the open ocean – a place most people never go – is where the lifeblood of modern capitalism comes in contact with the chaos of Somalia. As well as shining a welcome spotlight on the continuing perils of modern piracy, the film touches on the root causes of the crisis, which, at its peak in 2011, saw some 700 sailors in captivity. Eyl, the pirate port from where the hijackers set out, is vividly brought to life as a modern-day Hispaniola, whilst the film also looks at the economic factors that it is argued may have played a role in driving Somali fishermen into piracy.