When a Ship Goes Missing : Remember El Faro

I wrote a version of this post two years ago during the Hurricane Joaquin, which, as it turns out in hindsight, was also the date of my own personal unnatural disaster.

It’s still one of the most tragic and AVOIDABLE disasters in maritime history.

We now know that everyone was lost at sea.

The El Faro was on a regular run from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico, which usually take about a week or so.


From ABC News:

“A stricken cargo ship with 28 Americans on board that vanished during Hurricane Joaquin remained missing early Saturday.

Officials said there was still no sign of the El Faro, which was last heard from around 7:20 a.m. Thursday when a distress call indicated it had lost power and was taking on water.

The 735-foot vessel was bound for San Juan in Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida, at the time. It was carrying 28 Americans and five Polish nationals.

Image: Cargo ship El Faro missing in Hurricane Joaquin
The container ship El Faro. TOTE MARITIME via EPA

Around 850 square nautical miles were searched on Friday and the effort resumed at dawn Saturday.

When the El Faro left Jacksonville on Tuesday Joaquin was just a tropical storm. It quickly grew in intensity and was declared a Category 4 storm Thursday as it approached the Bahamas carrying winds of 130 mph.”


It could be 1815 or 1915, but in 2015, ships still go missing and are at the mercy of the elements.

Even with advanced communications technology and state-of-the-art equipment, Mother Nature reigns supreme and the terror of being lost at sea is all too real.

It seems as if the captain, for whatever reasons we’ll never know, made the deadly decision to sail directly into the eye of the hurricane, instead of either waiting it out or steering away from the extreme weather conditions.

Our hearts go out to the crew and their families. Their lives are forever and drastically changed.

 

 

Advertisements

Why the Jones Act is so very important: Read the FACTS and TRUTH before jumping to the wrong conclusions

Please read this (and share) to learn the truth about the Jones act before jumping to conclusions and assumptions. There’s more to this issue than sensational headlines about mariners not wanting to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. (Credit to gcaptain.com)

American Maritime Industry Fights Back Against False Claims on Jones Act and Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico

puertoricocontainership

Breaking: DHS Approves Temporary Jones Act Waiver for Puerto Rico

The American maritime industry is firing back against harsh criticism of the Jones Act in the media and by certain lawmakers in Washington amid the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico.

Attacks on the Jones Act intensified after the Department of Homeland Security seemingly denied a request to waive Jones Act requirements for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurrican Maria on Tuesday, saying a waiver was not needed at this time because there are enough American ships bringing supplies to the island.

“The limitation is going to be port capacity to offload and transit, not vessel availability,” a spokesman for the DHS said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, however, the DHS said it had not made up its mind on the issue and it was still considering a request by members of Congress to waive the shipping restrictions, but so far it had not received any formal requests from shippers or other branches of the federal government to waive the law.

“We are considering the underlying issues and are evaluating whether a waiver should be issued,” a senior Homeland Security official told reporters on Wednesday.

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, aka the Jones Act, is a federal law requiring goods shipping between two ports in the United States be carried on American-built ships that are mostly owned and crewed by American citizens. The law applies to ships transporting goods between the U.S. mainland and Puerto Rico, although not the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To get the facts straight on the Jones Act’s impact on hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico, we reached out to the American Maritime Partnership, a group representing more than 400 U.S. maritime companies from Alaska to Puerto Rico.

“A steady stream of additional supplies keeps arriving in Puerto Rico on American vessels and on international ships from around the world. The problem now is distributing supplies from Puerto Rico’s ports inland by surface transportation,” said Thomas Allegretti, Chairman of the American Maritime Partnership.

Since Maria hit, American maritime companies have moved approximately 9,500 containers of goods in Puerto Rico to help the territory and its residents with the recovery. Foreign-flag vessels are also arriving at the island as they normally do when transporting goods not coming from the United States.

Allegretti offered another statement later in the day amid reports that thousands of shipping containers loaded with vital supplies were stacking up San Juan:

“Earlier today, the President responded to a question on the White House lawn regarding the need to waive the Jones Act for the recovery in Puerto Rico.  He mentioned that the shippers are not in favor of waiving the Jones Act. He is right and here is why.  What we are seeing clearly on the ground is thousands of cargo containers piling up at the port of San Juan, filled with essential goods that the Puerto Rican people desperately need, but not nearly enough trucks and clear roads to distribute the goods.  So, the problem at the port is a lack of trucks and delivery routes, not a lack of vessels. 

The President was also right when he said that we have a lot of ships out there right now. Much needed cargo has been delivered to the port, and an armada of U.S. and foreign vessels continues to arrive.

We continue to work hand in glove with the FEMA and the rest of the Administration to help find solutions to get the goods distributed from the ports to our fellow Americans, and the men and women of American and Puerto Rican maritime, along with foreign shippers, are answering the call.” – Thomas Allegretti, Chairman, American Maritime Partnership

In response to numerous reports in the media claiming that the Jones Act is somehow hindering relief efforts in Puerto Rico, the AMP provided the following fact check to hopefully set the record straight:

Claim: The Jones Act prevents cargo from foreign vessels to reach Puerto Rico.

False. Any foreign vessel can call on Puerto Rico. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted in a 2011 report that two-thirds of the ships serving Puerto Rico were foreign ships. 55 different foreign carriers provided imported cargo to Puerto Rico in a single month, as cited as an example by GAO. Foreign shipping companies compete directly with the American shipping companies in an intensely competitive transportation market.

Claim: Import costs are at least twice as high in Puerto Rico as in neighboring islands on account of the Jones Act.

There is no study that supports this statement in any way. In fact, anecdotal evidence about rates indicates that the opposite is true. For example, one analysis shows it is 40% more expensive to ship goods from the U.S. mainland on foreign vessels to the U.S. Virgin Islands (not subject to the Jones Act) than on Jones Act vessels to Puerto Rico.

Claim: Jones Act vessels lack sufficient capacity to reach communities impacted by Hurricane Maria.

In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, one hundred percent of the island was without power, and roads were blocked by downed trees and debris. Goods are arriving to the island on vessels but bottlenecks on the roads are limiting arrival to the communities. The largest bottleneck is not getting goods to the island, but delivering goods once they arrive.

Domestic maritime companies have the equipment at their terminals to handle the throughput at the terminals without overwhelming the shoreside and inland infrastructure. Domestic maritime roll-on/roll-off barges can immediately discharge cargoes while work is performed to restore power for cranes and other equipment at the terminals. Domestic maritime containerships can deliver cargoes from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico in three days.

Claim: A Jones Act waiver would add efficiency to the delivery of essential cargoes to impacted communities.

Because of infrastructure challenges, a Jones Act waiver could hinder, not help, relief efforts. A Jones Act waiver could overwhelm the system, creating unnecessary backlogs and causing confusion on the distribution of critical supplies throughout the island. Already there are logistical bottlenecks for Jones Act cargoes as a result of the inability to distribute goods within Puerto Rico due to road blockages, communications disruptions, and concerns about equipment shortages, including trucks, chassis, and containers.

Claim: The Jones Act adds significantly to the cost of goods in Puerto Rico.

Over the last decade, a parade of politicians and “experts” have attempted to estimate the so- called “cost” of the Jones Act in Puerto Rico. Because the estimates have been wildly contradictory, in 2012, Puerto Rico Delegate Pierluisi asked the GAO to determine the true “cost.” The GAO studied the issue for more than a year and debunked the previous estimates. First, the GAO said there are far too many factors that impact the price of a consumer good to determine the supposed cost related to shipping, much less the Jones Act. Second, the GAO said, one could not truly estimate the cost unless one knew which American laws would be applied to foreign ships if they were allowed to enter the domestic trades, which would certainly increase the cost of foreign shipping.

Claim: Changing the Jones Act in Puerto Rico will help the island, especially considering its current economic crisis.

A GAO study on Puerto Rico listed a number of potential harms to the territory itself if the Jones Act were changed, including the possible loss of the stable service the island currently enjoys under the Jones Act and the loss of jobs on the island. Moreover, American domestic carriers are making some of the largest private sector investments currently underway in Puerto Rico by investing nearly $1 billion in new vessels, equipment, and infrastructure. They employ hundreds of Puerto Rican American citizens on the island and on vessels serving the market, providing highly reliable, low-cost maritime and logistics services. These private sector jobs and reliable services are important to the long-term recovery of the Puerto Rican economy and would be jeopardized by changes to the Jones Act.

“The men and women of the American maritime industry stand committed to the communities in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane Maria, where many of our own employees and their families reside and are working around the clock to respond to the communities in need,” said Allegretti. “As our industry has done in past natural disasters, including most recently Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we are actively working with the Administration, FEMA, MARAD, and relief organizations to deploy quickly and deliver essential goods like food, fuel, first aid supplies, and building materials.”

Suggested Reading: 

http://gcaptain.com/american-maritime-industry-fights-back-false-claims-regarding-jones-act-relief-efforts-puerto-rico/

 

 

 

When a Ship Goes Missing : Remember El Faro

I wrote a version of this post two years ago during the Hurricane Joaquin, which, as it turns out in hindsight, was also the date of my own personal unnatural disaster.

It’s still one of the most tragic and AVOIDABLE disasters in maritime history.

We now know that everyone was lost at sea.

The El Faro was on a regular run from Jacksonville to Puerto Rico.


From ABC News:

“A stricken cargo ship with 28 Americans on board that vanished during Hurricane Joaquin remained missing early Saturday.

Officials said there was still no sign of the El Faro, which was last heard from around 7:20 a.m. Thursday when a distress call indicated it had lost power and was taking on water.

The 735-foot vessel was bound for San Juan in Puerto Rico from Jacksonville, Florida, at the time. It was carrying 28 Americans and five Polish nationals.

Image: Cargo ship El Faro missing in Hurricane Joaquin
The container ship El Faro. TOTE MARITIME via EPA

Around 850 square nautical miles were searched on Friday and the effort resumed at dawn Saturday.

When the El Faro left Jacksonville on Tuesday Joaquin was just a tropical storm. It quickly grew in intensity and was declared a Category 4 storm Thursday as it approached the Bahamas carrying winds of 130 mph.”


It could be 1815 or 1915, but in 2015, ships still go missing and are at the mercy of the elements.

Even with advanced communications technology and state-of-the-art equipment, Mother Nature reigns supreme.

The terror of being lost at sea is all too real and always somewhere in the back of our minds.

Our hearts go out to the crew and their families.

 

 

#1 Thing NOT to do with your husband if you want to stay married

I’m talking about taking him to Michael’s Crafts. After going to the gym this morning, I needed wanted to go to Michael’s to look at picture frames (that’s just what I told him, I really wanted to look at everything, and I do mean everything) for a print he brought back from Puerto Rico of an antique map of all the islands. I had the pic with me (as my prop) and he decided he didn’t want to just sit in the car because for some reason or another he believed that I spoke the truth when I said that I just wanted to look AT ONE THING AND ONE THING ONLY. He actually thought that I planned to walk in a craft store and aim for the frames, get the proper size, and depart. Is he living on another planet? Hasn’t being married to me for almost twenty years taught him anything?

First I said,

“Oh, I’m not sure exactly where the picture frames are.”

(Lie)

“How about we look down here?” “That’s obviously not it, but aren’t those Hello Kitty playing cards totes adorbs?”

“Hmm, maybe we should try over there, that looks like it might be…wow, Chirstmas decorations already?”

Shiny objects tend to have an almost hypnotic effect on me.

“What were we in here for again?”

“Right, picture frames…here we go.”

“Oops, sorry, we seem to be in the scrapbooking area, let’s try that other aisle.”

“Oops again, now we’re stuck in the bead area.

OMG, look at that turquoise. Look at the rhinestones.”

“Hey, where d’ja go?”

“No, I had no idea the frames were on the opposite side of the store.”

“What did you say?”

“Do I plan to go up and down every single damn blank blank aisle in this blank blank store?”

“Welllll…to be perfectly honest, YES!!! You can’t really expect me not to; it’s intoxicating in here.”

“I. Am. Not. Your. Girlfriend.”

“I WOULD APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD EITHER GET A PICTURE FRAME OR WALK OUT OF THE STORE. NOW!”

“Geez, don’t have a cow.”

I quickly (and by that I mean leisurely) looked up and down each frame aisle, TWICE, and did not find the one that made me happy, so we left.

Hee hee.

WTF! Welcome to my world… guess who’s gone again!

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4073728/?claim=hwj6xnttt4x”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I‘m on Bloglovin now, come and check me out! I’ve noticed other bloggers doing the same, and thought I’d follow along–same with Facebook and Twitter. Please like/follow me, and I’ll do the same for you. We’re all in this same (blog) boat together!

Hey, who wants to go to the airport again? Not me, but there I was at 5:30 a.m. this morning, once again driving El Capitan to the airport to hop a plane to board a boat to go to Puerto Rico for a week or so.

The dreaded call came in late yesterday afternoon; we had just gotten home from a lovely and romantic trip to the dump with our trailer full of yard debris. BTW, the dump was very crowded for a Thursday afternoon, who knew that was such a popular destination? I always go along for moral support; I’m kind of useless with a shovel but I provide good conversation and companionship. And because it seems like I hardly ever see him, a date is a date, even if it’s to the dump!

The captain was asked to relieve or replace (not sure which scenario) someone, and he accepted the assignment. I know he was supposed to be home for a long time this time, but duty called. Literally.

Last night was a swirl of rushing around to go to the ATM for travelling cash, gas up the car, do a load of laundry, make dinner (salmon burgers, which were delicious), have a glass of wine, pack up a couple of suitcases, and go to bed!

We were awakened at 4:15 a.m. by a couple of chattering raccoons somewhere in the yard, which gave us just enough time to go back to sleep for 45 minutes, until all of our alarms started chirping. He’s a multiple alarm kind of guy–his phone, my phone, the clock radio–he does not like to be late, and can’t be late for a flight, especially since we live so far from the airport.

For me, the rest of the day includes cleaning the house which looks like it was hit by a cyclone, figuring out how to complete my Etsy store so I can have a grand opening and a Facebook contest (I’m going to give away one of our awesome marlinspike rope work bracelets), and think of other projects to fill up the hours and days until my wandering captain comes home again.

WTF!!!!