Tag Archives: Coast Guard

Amusing Monday: Posters promote values of maritime industry

Camille Quindica, an eighth-grader from Kapolei Middle School in Hawaii, captured the spirit of the maritime industry in a poster that received top honors in an art contest with the theme “Connecting Ships, Ports and People.”

Artwork by Camille Quindica, eighth grade, grand prize winner, “Connecting Ships, Ports & People” Maritime Art Contest

The annual art contest is sponsored by North American Marine Environment Protection Association along with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Inter-American Committee on Ports of the Organization of the American States.

Camille’s drawing took the grand prize in the category for grades 6-12. She was presented with a certificate, $100 and other items by Coast Guard officials who visited her school two weeks ago.

“We have winners from overseas and all over, and we’ve been quite fortunate here in Hawaii,” said Cmdr. Ulysses Mullins, deputy sector commander for Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “We’ve had two back-to-back winners and we’ve had the opportunity to present the winners in person.” (See story and photo in “Coast Guard News.”)

Artwork by Nelson Valencia, third grade, Grand Prize Winner, “Connecting Ships, Ports & People” Maritime Art Contest

Nelson Valencia, a third-grader at Atahualpa school in Ibarra, Imbabura, Ecuador, was the winner of the grand prize in the K-5 age group. Five other finalists were named for each of the two categories. To view all the winning posters, visit the NAMEPA website.

The winning posters have been compiled into a 2018 calendar.

Students were asked to submit an original poster that creatively depicts the connections among ships, ports and people and how these connections affect everyday lives. The contest was open to students in grades K-12 throughout North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

More than 500 entries were received, according to a news release about the contest that lists all the winners.

Artwork by Wilson Cajas, second grade, finalist, “Connecting Ships, Ports & People” Maritime Art Contest

The theme for this year’s contest is “Better Shipping for a Better Future.” Submissions will be accepted between Jan. 22 and March 30. Details will soon be available on the NAMEPA website.

NAMEPA, led by the maritime industry, promotes the preservation of the marine environment through best operating practices and by educating seafarers, students and the public about the need to protect natural resources. A webpage, NAMEPA Junior, provides a variety of activities for children.

The U.S. Coast Guard is dedicated to protecting U.S. coastal areas along with maritime and environmental interests throughout the world.

The Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP) of the Organization of American States (OAS) brings together the National Port Authorities of all 35 sovereign nations of the Americas. The organization promotes sound and sustainable policies for the maritime industry.

Coast Guard seeks help in finding radio hoaxer

The Coast Guard is asking for help in tracking down one or more people who placed three emergency radio calls about two weeks ago. The calls turned out to be a hoax, but they resulted in emergency responses that cost more than $200,000.

Lilliwaup

The first call was placed on VHF-FM radio channel 14 about 11 p.m. on May 31, according to Coast Guard reports. The caller told the Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service that five people were donning life jackets and abandoning the fishing vessel Bristol Maid, said to be on fire in Lilliwaup Bay in Hood Canal. You can hear a portion of the call:

      1. First radio call

The Coast Guard deployed two MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Port Angeles and sent a 45-foot response boat from Seattle. A boat crew from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office also searched the area. The search, suspended after five hours, cost an estimated at $138,000.

A similar call came in the following day about 9 p.m., reporting that two adults and a child were donning life jackets and abandoning a vessel between Hoodsport and Lilliwaup. The caller first said the vessel was Bristol Maid but later changed the name to Aleutian Beauty.

      2. Second radio call

Again, a Coast Guard helicopter, rescue boat and a sheriff’s office boat responded, along with a tribal fisheries boat. The search was called off after more than three hours, costing about $71,000.

Coast Guard officials believe the same caller placed a third false call a day later around 10 p.m., saying a body had been found.

      3. Third radio call

These kinds of calls must be extremely frustrating for emergency crews, who are on call around the clock to help people in distress. Personally, I would like to see this caller or callers caught and forced to explain themselves in court.

Coast Guard Capt. Michael W. Raymond, commander of Sector Puget Sound, said hoaxes are a major problem.

“The Coast Guard takes every distress call seriously,” he said. “False distress calls tie up valuable search assets and put our crews at risk. They impede our ability to respond to real cases of distress where lives may be in genuine peril.”

The Coast Guard would like to locate those responsible for the hoax, which is considered a federal criminal offense with penalties up to 10 years in jail and fines up to $250,000, along with possible reimbursement for the cost of the response. Boaters are reminded that they are responsible for radio use by their passengers.

Anyone with information about the caller or callers heard on the radio recording is asked to call the Coast Guard 13th District Command Center, (206) 220-7003. Here’s the original Coast Guard news release.

Amusing Monday: A few Navy, Coast Guard jokes

I thought it would be great to pass along some water-related jokes linked to the Navy or Coast Guard. In searching the Internet, I found a few good ones, some clean and some dirty. It seems that most of the good jokes have simply been revised and recycled again and again through the years. There are plenty of bad jokes I would just as well forget.

Here are my favorites that seem suitable for general audiences. If you have heard a good joke about the military that you can share in good conscience, please feel free to write it down in the comments section below. If you know the source or remember where you first heard the joke, please mention that as well.
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Coast Guard bill covers safety and budget issues

UPDATE, OCTOBER 15
President Obama signed the Coast Guard Authorization Bill today. For details, check out the news release from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.
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President Obama is expected to sign a sweeping authorization bill that reorganizes U.S Coast Guard operations, increases maritime safety rules and calls for improved oil-spill prevention and response in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

It seems this bill has something for everyone, at least among those of us living in coastal states. By skimming through the Coast Guard bill or reading a summary, you get an idea of just how sweeping these changes will be for the Coast Guard.

The legislation, largely written by Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, was blocked by Republican leaders in the Senate for the past four years. To get approval, several provisions were stripped from the bill in the Senate. Then in the House, many of these ideas were put back in and ultimately approved when it came back to the Senate.

What are the most important parts of the bill? Well, that depends on whether you are involved in the Coast Guard, the shipping industry, the fishing fleet or just want to protect against oil spills or terrorists.
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No end in sight for Gulf oil-spill problems

As the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico, emotions are boiling over along the Gulf Coast.

An oil-covered pelican flaps its wings on an island in Barataria Bay off the coast of Louisiana on Sunday. The island, home to hundreds of brown pelican and other birds, is being hit by oil washing ashore.
AP photo by Patrick Semansky

Sitting here in the Pacific Northwest, I am still dazed by the realization that an oil well, nearly a mile under water, has gone out of control, spewing millions of gallons of crude and creating an underwater mess bigger than what we see on the surface.

I cannot fathom that we are experiencing a disaster likely to be many times worse than Alaska’s Exxon Valdez. Until somebody figures out how to turn off the flow of oil, we can’t begin to estimate the size of this catastrophe or imagine that things will get better.

BP is hoping that a process, never used underwater, will stop the flow of oil. The technique, called a “top kill” and performed on above-ground wells in the Middle East, involves shooting heavy mud and cement into the well. The first shot could come tomorrow. Chances of success are estimated at 60-70 percent by BP, but the company’s track record for estimates has not been good so far.

Oily dead birds and other sea life, predicted weeks ago, are washing up on shore. Sensitive marsh lands, impossible to clean without destroying them, have been touched. Longtime fishermen and fishing communities are shut down.

“Once it gets in the marsh, it’s impossible to get out,” Charles Collins, 68, a veteran crew boat captain told reporters for the Los Angeles Times. “All your shrimp are born in the marsh. All your plankton. The marsh is like the beginning of life in the sea. And it’s in the marshes. Bad.”

Yesterday, I joined a telephone press conference with Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She was doing her best to calmly cope with the enormity of the disaster. She had just come off a boat after witnessing oil piling up on shore. Joining her was Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, who is in charge of the National Response Team.

Jackson said the federal government has ordered BP to cut back on the use of dispersants, which break up the oil but may have some toxic effects. No formal studies have ever been conducted on the effects of applying huge quantities of dispersants underwater, but limited studies in recent days suggest that this approach may be the least harmful method to keep the oil from coming ashore.

Without such treatment, the oil itself is highly toxic and a much greater concern, she said. BP has been ordered to look for less toxic alternatives than the dispersant currently being used, but safer alternatives may not be available in the quantities needed. Meanwhile, Jackson said her staff believes the treatment can be equally effective by using half or less the amount of chemical applied until now.

Keeping as much oil off the shorelines as possible seems to be the top priority. That starts by keeping some of the oil immersed as tiny droplets underwater. Oil that reaches the surface is attacked by skimmers and burned if necessary. Fighting the oil with absorbent booms and pads along the shore is the last step.

I hope this strategy is not one of “out of sight, out of mind,” because the oil immersed in the water becomes a problem of its own. It’s been compared to a bottle of oil-and-vinegar salad dressing that you shake up, breaking the oil into tiny globules that float around. Smaller globules are believed to degrade faster in the environment.

Still, with this oil starting 5,000 feet below the surface, it could take months or years to coalesce, rise to the surface and come ashore, where cleanup crews could be facing oil damage for an undetermined amount of time.

“I’m afraid we’re just seeing the beginning of what is going to be a long, ugly summer,” Ed Overton, who has consulted on oil spills for three decades, told Bob Marshall, a reporter with the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I hope and pray I’m wrong, but I think what we’re in for is seeing a little bit come in each day at different places for a long, long time — months and months. That’s not what I said in the beginning of this. But events have made me amend my thoughts.”

Some constituents of the oil will never come ashore but will drop to the bottom of the Gulf in various locations. As specialized bacteria move in to break down the oily compounds, they will consume oxygen, potentially adding to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

If this were an earthquake, I would be reporting on damage assessments and offering hope for a renewed community. If this were an oil spill from a ship, I would be talking about worse-case scenarios and long-term effects. But, frankly, it is hard to know what to say when the spill goes on and on with no certainty at all.

To view a live video feed of the oil spill, go to BP’s web cam mounted on a remotely operated vehicle.

Official sources of information:

Deepwater Horizon Unified Command

NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration

NOAA Fishery Closure Information

EPA Response to BP Oil Spill

Other valuable links can be found on a website for Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs

Last, but not least, I am learning a good deal from bloggers who are part of the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network. They are working in the Gulf and providing an insider’s view about their work with affected wildlife.

Pelicans fly past a nest of eggs on an island off the the coast of Louisiana on Saturday. The island, home to hundreds of brown pelican nests, is being impacted by oil coming ashore.
AP Photo by Gerald Herbert

Commerce Secretary Locke could be good for salmon and whales

Former Washington governor Gary Locke was nominated this morning to be President Obama’s Secretary of Commerce, a department that oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies integral to environmental issues in the Northwest.

Gary Locke accepts nomination for Commerce secretary. White House photo by Pete Souza
Gary Locke accepts nomination to be Commerce secretary.
White House photo by Pete Souza

“Gary knows the American Dream. He’s lived it. And that’s why he shares my commitment to do whatever it takes to keep it alive in our time,” Obama said in announcing the nomination. See also a transcript of Obama’s and Locke’s remarks.

I was preparing to write something about Locke’s environmental history in Washington state, then I saw a piece that Howard Garrett of Orca Network had written. So I’ve yielded this space to him, and I would welcome further comments from anyone:

Gov. Locke has been a reliable friend of the Southern Resident orcas.

You may recall that on May 5, 2003, the USS Shoup was training with mid-frequency active sonars in Haro Strait where 23 members of J pod were foraging. The whales were videotaped as they bunched up near the shore and seemed very agitated, and at least 7 porpoises washed up dead days later. In June, 2003 Gov. Locke wrote a letter to the acting secretary of the Navy requesting a report on the incident and an explanation of the mitigation measures to prevent it from happening again. He wrote: “The actual or potential impact of sonar use on Puget Sound marine mammals is a concern.”

Ten years ago Gov. Locke said about our endangered Chinook, “Extinction is not an option.”

As Secretary of Commerce, Locke will preside over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service (responsible for salmon and orca recovery) and will have a key role in determining how to best restore salmon runs in the Salish Sea and from the Columbia River to the Sacramento. The Obama team has declared that respect for science is back, and with Locke at Commerce and OSU marine biologist Jane Lubchenko as the new head of NOAA, there is every reason to expect that sound science will guide restoration efforts, at last.

Also, in December 2002, Governor Locke provided money from his own discretionary funds to pay for the rescue tug at Neah Bay to prevent oil spills, during the state’s $2-billion shortfall.

Gov. Locke is also among the political figures who have supported the goals of the Lolita Come Home campaign to retire the Southern resident orca captured in 1970 who remains on display in a Miami marine park. See Orca Network’s Captivity page.

If Gov. Locke is nominated and confirmed as Secretary of Commerce, he will be in a position to act on these principles immediately in the determination of the impacts of the proposed expansion of the Navy’s Northwest Training Range to include most of the waters along the coast from Neah Bay, WA, to Eureka, CA. If approved, multiple ships, subs and aircraft will be practicing with a wide range of sonars including explosive active sonars, along with demolition charges, torpedoes and a variety of anti-submarine munitions. See Orca Network’s page about the training range.

The comment period has been extended to March 11, and NOAA is required to review the proposal and comment on the potential impacts to marine mammals (including endangered Southern Resident orcas) and birds, fish (especially listed chinook salmon) and turtles along the coastline. The Navy EIS says no marine mammal mortalities are anticipated due to mitigations, such as placing observers on ships and listening for whale calls amid the maneuvering ships, sonars and explosions. As Secretary of Commerce, Locke (or Lubchenko) will review the EIS and at the very least, comment on how realistic that prediction of no mortalities really is. It’s unclear whether NOAA can hold up the training range expansion.

Locke can also be a valuable voice in Secretary of State Clinton’s diplomatic initiatives to tone down international tensions following 8 years of Bush/Cheney hostility, which degraded communications and contributed to the perceived need to train for an attack by enemy submarines.

Howard Garrett
Orca Network
Greenbank WA
360-678-3451