Monday, February 27, 2012

Ship Ashore! Close to Home! Updated.

Update - February 27, 2012. Sause Brothers Kokua, and Shaver's Vancouver, successfully escorted the PCTC Morning Spruce to Portland Oregon.

The Morning Spruce arrived in the early morning hours, and is now alongside Port of Portland Terminal 6. The US Coast Guard will audit the repairs, insuring the vessel is seaworthy following an engine breakdown.

Located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Terminal 6 covers some 51 acres, and is touted as a state of the art auto marshaling facility. Another iconic tug company, Tidewater Barge Lines, is located just across the river in Vancouver Washington.

I can hear the keyboards clattering! "This is supposed to be a railroad blog. What in heck is a story about a ship breaking down off the Oregon Coast yesterday (Sunday) morning got to to with 'Oil-Electric?'"

As it turns out, personal. A lot to do with "Oil-Electric."

News outlets were reporting "The Coast Guard is coordinating actions to protect the Oregon Coast from any threat posed by the 648-foot, Singapore-flagged car-carrier Morning Spruce that lost all power and was adrift in 12-foot seas, for approximately 4½ hours, southwest of the Columbia River entrance Sunday.

"Coast Guard Sector Columbia River Oregon received a call from Morning Spruce at approximately 11:09 a.m., stating the vessel had lost all engine power approximately 12 miles southwest of the Columbia River entrance."

Fortunately, the Morning Spruces engineer was able to restore the ship’s power Sunday afternoon. And the Coast Guard directed the Morning Spruce to remain offshore until repairs to the ship have been verified.

Track of Morning Spruce

The Morning Spruce will require an escort from at least one seagoing tug before being allowed to cross the Columbia River bar. The Morning Spruce will anchor in Astoria and remain there until Coast Guard investigators and inspectors have thoroughly examined the ship.

The Sause Brothers tug Kokua is scheduled to arrive alongside the Morning Spruce at approximately 4:30 p.m. A second tug is scheduled to arrive at approximately 9 p.m. The vessel contains approximately 543,000 gallons of heavy, diesel and lube oil along with a full shipment of cars.

Track of Tug Kohua

"We are fortunate on two counts today,” said Capt. Bruce Jones, Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Sector Columbia River. “First, that the ship lost propulsion more than ten miles offshore and drifted generally south rather than east toward shore, and second, that there happened to be an available tug of opportunity approaching Astoria at the time.”

I became curious to learn more about the tug Kokua, owned by Sause Brothers Ocean Towing, out of Coos Bay Oregon. As I studied the photograph of the tugboat, it became clear that I had been aboard that vessel many times back in the 1970's.

My Dad had been Chief Engineer aboard that vessel. And sure enough, the notation near the bottom of the page confirmed this vessel's original name was the Mikiona! My Dad finished his maritime career on the Mikiona in the summer of 1972.

The vessels name was changed to Kokua when Salt Chuck purchased Hawaiian Tug & Barge from Dillingham Corporation in 1982.

I have the letter from my Dad, about his posting on the Mikiona. This letter was written Sunday August 18, 1968, as they lay alongside Bethlehem ship yard in San Francisco. They were replacing a few bottom plates on the massive grain barge Dillingham Hawaiian Tug & Barge ran from Sacramento, topped off in Astoria (deeper water) and towed to Honolulu.

As Dad says, the barge apparently "sat on something" while being loaded in Astoria.

"This my first trip on the Mikiona. Its a fairly new boat (built in Portland, Oregon) at Albina in 1965. (Hull Number 372.) It feels a lot better riding on something you can depend on.

"Actually not much bigger than a Miki type but laid out a lot better. I took Mother down to see it and she was quite thrilled.

"A twin stack twin screw with two O.P. Fairbanks Model 38D - 8½ type engines 1667 HP each at 750 RPM. Kind of hard on the ears but I wear plugs and its not too bad.

"Coming over (from Hawaii) we had good weather and with the light barge making 11 knots 265 miles per day. That faster than the old Barbara (Foss, LT 376) could do running light.

"3-76 GM auxiliaries and all AC power except the towing machines (two) and use a converter for DC current.

"The quarters are comfortable and everybody up topside. 2 engineers in 1 large room, and the Chief (Dad) has a large room. Fully air conditioned - all electric galley. Dishwasher garbage disposal unit, Toaster and coffee makers, automatic washer and dryer.

"Altho there is no water maker on board, we carry 8,000 gallons of fresh water so there is no problem. The food is good a lot better than the Inter Island boats where it is mostly fish and Poi."

As for the Morning Spruce, she is safely inside the Columbia River Bar, and holding in Astoria Oregon, awaiting Coast Guard approval that repairs motor repairs are sound, and she is capable of making the 100 mile journey to Portland Oregon, involving more than 140 course changes.

PCTC Morning Spruce
Owner/Operator: EUKOR
Class: PCTC - Pure Car & Truck Carrier
Capacity: 5,340 CEU. Pure Car Carriers (PCC) cargo capacity is often measured in RT or RT43 units which is based on a 1966 Toyota or by car equivalent units (CEU).
Built: 1981
Length: 198 m (649 feet)
Beam: 32 m (104 feet)
Draft: 9.1 m (30 feet)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Sixteen of 'em to a block"

We moved to Prince Rupert in 1957. I was spending as much time as I could, hanging out at the engine facility, soaking up the sights and sounds of Canadian National Railways road switchers and cab units resting between assignments.

So much so that at one point, while we discussed a disappointing report card, my Dad said “If you paid as much attention to your homework as you do those damn locomotives, you might amount to something some day!”

From my first contact back in 1957, I found the chanting of a V-16 to be a powerful elixir. I can remember sitting on an oil drum in the engine facility on dark, windy, rainy days, soaking in the temperate idling sound of Charles Kettering’s exquisite machine.

My subscription to Trains magazine opened up an entire world of railroading beyond Prince Rupert. And there, on pages 15 and 16, of my very first copy, a photo editorial by the late David P. Morgan entitled, “Formula for a Chant … sixteen of ‘em to a block.”

In his editorial, Mr. Morgan tried to describe, as many of us have, the thrilling, rhythmic, quality of the General Motors EMD 16V-567C diesel engine. Here are some examples, that I am not ashamed to admit, bring tears to my eyes, as I relive my teenage years in Prince Rupert, 1957- 1959:
  • Type AA16C, Norwegian State Railways, built 1954. Listen for the Gardner-Denver Air Pump.
  • Starting a Kodachrome. "There ain't no turbo whine!"
  • Cab Ride with a little "Run 8."
  • Geep 9 kicking cars, with a little "Run 8." Notice the Flexicoil Trucks!
  • Westbound Canadian with FP9 1432, F9B 1965 and ex CP Rail FP9 1406 depart Banff, Alberta. Three units throttling up!

Mr. Morgan wrote in a clipped, thrifty style that I would learn more about in later years, in my journalism classes. He wrote apposite editorials during a time when railroads were ravaged by change: The FT’s epic demonstration run across the country destroying steam locomotives, the demise of passenger trains, merger upheavals, and the Florida East Coast Railroad defiantly sending out the first freight train without a caboose!

Recently, while doing research on ignitron rectifier locomotives, I had reason to contact Trains. And, while I held out little chance for success, for the umpteenth time, asked for them to find that particular editorial by DPM. I could not remember the year of publication. All I could remember were the words “sixteen of ‘em to a block.”

So I was astonished to receive an email from Diane Laska-Swanke, Editorial Assistant, Trains and Classic Trains Magazines, letting me know she was successful in finding that editorial, a copy of which I now have in front of me.

The editorial obviously means much more to me than it will to you, for the circumstances I related. I love it because “DPM” was just as mesmerized by the sound of that engine as I was, and attempted to explain in his editorial, the reason behind the thrilling sound of the 567C.

I have reset the typography from the original two-page magazine spread, to make it easier for you to read.

Here now, for your enjoyment, the editorial that had been haunting me so elusively for more than 50 years, “Formula for a Chant” by David P. Morgan. Copyright 1957. Trains Magazine. Reprinted by permission:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bad Lieutenant

Lt John Pike, under color of authority as a University of California - Davis - policeman, was captured in photos and video that went "viral" around the world, as a real life "Bad Lieutenant," spraying down passive students with the care and precision as one who was eradicating pesky dandelions.

Unlike Harvey Keitels pathetic spiral into evil as the "Bad Lieutenant" raping nuns, Lt. John Pike was not a Hollywood drug induced rotten cop. But he re-defined the relationship of law enforcement to peaceful protest. Police will NOT defend peaceful protest! And Pike became the poster boy for "memes" that flooded the Internet.

His "pesticide of choice," the MK-9 "Magnum," is not that far removed in it's lethality, as the pepper spray being applied, at close range, directly into the faces of an unresisting group of students, protesting in the theme of "Occupy Now," without immediate decontamination!

Billed as the world's most widely used pepper spray in law enforcement and corrections, First Defense® "has just gotten better!" Manufactured by Defense Technology out of Casper, Wyoming, Lt. John Pike's choice of weapons to use on prone students at the University of California, Davis, was the First Defense® MK-9, 1.3%.

Looking at the product "spec" sheet, this product is the most powerful pepper spray within this "tactical" group. More chilling details can be gleaned from the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS.) "OC" is the active ingredient in pepper spray, "Oleoresin Capsicum." OC is a chemical derived from the fruit of plants in the Capsicum genus, including chilies. Capsicum is the primary ingredient in the pepper spray used as an irritant weapon.

Why this article today?

Hidden behind the Republican Primary circus, this news item just crossed my desk: UC Davis pepper spray cop to go on trial.

Realistically, who really cares about John Pike. He will fade into obscurity, having enjoyed his 15 minutes of glory.

I have highlighted, as points of reference, the apparent heating or burning sensation you feel when you pop a Jalapeño Pepper in your mouth. This measures 3,500 to 8,000 Scoville Heat Units, as compared the 2 to 5 million Scoville Heat Units your body feels when pepper spray is applied to exposed skin, depending on the designed strength of the pepper spray!

Water has very little effect on removing pepper spray because the chemical capsicum is not soluble in water. Victims have been encouraged to try milk or baby shampoo on the affected areas to remove the toxins.

Pepper spray’s creator, Kamran Loghman, has gone on the record saying that "the spray was never intended to be used so casually."

Loghman described his horror at watching a clip of the UC Davis incident:

“Prior to [the existence of pepper spray], in the use of force by law enforcement, when you encounter somebody who is aggressive, let’s say somebody who is under the influence of narcotic or alcohol and you arrest them and the highway patrol wants to take him out of the car and they become combatant. At that time, police officers had really little choice. It was either baton or go to deadly force.

"By introduction of pepper spray, it was very quick. Police officers were trained to do that. They could arrest the individual, take him back to the jail, wash their face and give them proper decontamination and that was the end of the story. And in that regard it was a great weapon. It saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the last twenty years.

“It is becoming more and more fashionable right now, this day and age, to use chemical on people who have an opinion. And that to me is a complete lack of leadership both in the police department and other people who cannot really deal with the root of the problem and they want to spray people to quiet them down. And it’s really not supposed to be that. It’s not a thing that solves any problem nor is it something that quiets people down."

Of course there are those who don't see the harm in spraying another human being with a little street justice. Unless of course, it is they themselves.

Indeed, one of the dolts masquerading as a "news person" over at Fox uttered an incredibly naive statement about pepper spray, in her "report" to Bill O'Reilly:

Ms. Kelly should look for some other type of work. This clip is unbelievable. Imagine how calm Ms Kelly would be, if she got a dose of pepper spray. I generally try not to personally attack people whom I have never met. But in this clip, Megyn, who does not even know how to spell her name correctly, bolsters the stereotype blond image as a "ditzo."

And "Billo?" As a long time resident of Portland/Vancouver, I remember him from his nine month stint on KATU-TV in Portland Oregon. He made an ass of himself and embarrassed the management of KATU-TV with a three part series on Mark Hatfield, "The Prince of Oregon."

Then he was gone! Confirming the urban legend that a person "is promoted to his highest level of incompetence!"

And had Miss Kelly been a "true" reporter, presenting "fair and balanced news," she would have taken the time to learn more about the product, the MK 9 Magnum, manufactured in Wyoming, and to experience just how lethal the product is, by interviewing citizens who have been on the receiving end of a steam of pepper spray.

I'm sure her mascara would be running ....

Use of Pepper Spray Deadly?

Oleoresin Capsicum, (OC, Pepper Spray) was legalized for use by California law enforcement agencies in October, 1992. It was legalized for civilian use in March, 1994. By May 31, 1995, California police officers and sheriff ’s deputies had used pepper spray nearly 16,000 times — in 1995 at an average rate of 24 times a day statewide.

The report identifies 26 deaths among people who were pepper-sprayed by police officers in the period Jan. 1, 1993, through June 1, 1995. The fatality total suggests that one person dies after being pepper sprayed for about every 600 times the spray is used by police. (From "Pepper Spray Update," Southern California ACLU.)

I have seen worse examples.

Do you remember the cops who physically pried a woman's eyelids open to administer pepper spray directly on the eyeball using a Q-tip? That happened several years ago - 2005 - down in Humboldt County in Northern California. Activists were protesting the harvesting of redwood trees by Pacific Lumber Company.

In that case, after only twelve hours of deliberation, a federal jury returned a unanimous verdict finding the Humboldt County Sheriffs used excessive force when they swabbed pepper spray into the eyes. (two of the women were minors.)

They did not receive medical attention for more than two hours.

Jurors found that former Sheriff Dennis Lewis and current Sheriff Gary Philip approved illegal use of force on passive protesters. The jury also held the City and County liable for its officers' unconstitutional actions.

Now before you get ready to send me a scathing comment, here is my position. Just as the inventor Kamran Loghman has explained, I believe the use of pepper spray by well trained sworn officers is totally justifiable when dealing with an out of control individual or mob, hell bent on creating havoc.

End of story.

MSDS for MK 9 1.3%

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

GingerSnap Speaks!

"The way a man treats his dog is good evidence of his character. A man who gives a lot of attention to his dog is likely to be an attentive mate and father. A man who ignores, berates, and/or abuses his dog should be avoided." - Chris Carson, eHow Contributor.

Pondering this story about Willard Romney's cavalier treatment of his dog, one can only wonder what compassion he would exhibit as the inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Forget for the moment that Willard is a presidential candidate. And ask yourself, "How would I react if I saw my next door neighbor treat his dog this way?" My bet is you'd be on the phone with animal control "most ricky-tick!"

So my best friend, GingerSnap, is speaking out against Willard's indifferent attitude toward traveling with your pet. And she hopes you will give your pooch a voice in this issue! Simply download this template and paste in your your best friends photo (right click template to save, copy to photo editor, place image).

And send me your creation for posting!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Home from the Sea

Sunday February 5th. USCG Cutter Healy at rest Sunday morning, follow her historic "Nome Resupply Mission."

If you haven't viewed the video, highly recommend the video shot from the M/T Renda, the Russian tanker that delivered petroleum products to Nome last month.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Into the Gulf: New Video

A new video surfaced today, produced by the Nome Nugget. It features video shot by Capt Peter Garay, the Alaska Marine Pilot assigned to guide the M/T Renda from Dutch Harbor to Nome.

Almost 10 minutes in length, Capt Peter Garay captured fantastic sights and sounds of ice literally scraping the paint off the Renda's hull!

Another brief scene shows USCG Beverly Havlik, Captain of the Healy, dropping in on the Renda crew by snow-cat.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012. Into the Gulf.

Update Tuesday Jan 31st. Apparently Healy made a brief stop at Dutch Harbor. This morning's position report shows her well into the Gulf of Alaska, heading toward a well deserved rest at home port in Seattle.

"Well Done! to the Officers and Crew of both the USCG Healy and R/T Renda. And an extra ration of grog all 'round!

Monday, Jan 30 2012. Nome Energy Supply Mission Completed.

It's not clear exactly when the USCG Healy parted ways with the Russian Tanker Renda. From position reports and other sources, it is clear that the vessels were finally free of the ice pack sometime Sunday afternoon January 29th.

The R/T Renda having completed an historic resupply to an Alaskan Community, is returning to home base in Vladivostok, Russia.

While many news sources report the Healy is not stopping in Dutch Harbor, my "arm-chair" navigation plot shows the Healy abeam of Unalaska Island - above - and has stopped at latitude 53° 58.4' N, longitude 166° 30.7' W. That would be inside Dutch Harbor.

Whatever the case may be, I thoroughly enjoyed every nail biting moment and relaying my excitement to you. And a wonderful demonstration of how two "powers" can work together to accomplish good, as long the "damn politicians keep their noses out of it."

It was an amazing adventure. One can only hope the Discovery Channel got a camera crew on board the Healy. I've listed links to related stories below.

Saturday, January 28, 2012.

While the headline stories report the asinine antics of two misfits for the Republican nomination, the story of the historic tanker resupply of petroleum products is about 3/4ths complete.

As Captain Havlik pointed out, getting to Nome was only half the adventure! A journey made more trecherous by the unusual movement of the Bering Sea Ice Pack.

As of Saturday morning, the USCG Healy and T/V Renda were just off the southwest coast of Nunivak Island. The recorded latitude and longitude were as of 1900 UTC. Outside air temperature was recorded at -5°F.

The epic voyage of these two vessels pointed out the dire condition of our Coast Guard to perform ice breaking duties. In fact, I was chewing my nails each day as they got deeper into the ice field wondering, "What if one of them breaks down?" As far as I can determine, the nearest ice breaking tug or ice breaker would have to come from Sakhalin Island in Russia.

The Healy is classified as "medium duty" ice breaker. With the Polar Star decommissioned, we only have one heavy duty ice breaker, the Polar Sea, to work Arctic and Antarctic missions. And she's out of service for major repairs.

The shortage of vessels is amplified by the rush to develop offshore oil drilling in the Arctic.

So while we fritter away our tax dollars "nation building" for people who could care less, not only our ice breaker fleet, but entire national infrastructure is going down the drain.

See Also:
Nome Rescue Mission
The Renda Has Landed!
The Human Side of the Story
Sailing Day