Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'maritime'

Deathboats, Cont’d

January 30th, 2013 · 1 Comment

A treasured microblog correspondent alerted us to this heap of bad news from the maritime realm: cruise-ship crews will henceforth be receiving more lifeboat training than ever before. This decision by the Cruise Lines International Association was surely made with the best of intentions, as the organization doesn’t want a repeat of the chaos that […]

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The Talented Mr. Quan

January 22nd, 2013 · 1 Comment

The Phocea is one of the world’s largest superyachts, checking in at an impressive 75-meters in length. It has also proven to be a monkey’s paw of sorts, as great misfortune has befallen its ultra-successful owners: The Phocea was built in Toulon in 1976 for yachtsman Alain Colas who called her Club Mediterranee. She competed […]

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Deathboats

August 15th, 2012 · 9 Comments

In the midst of some maritime-related research, my mental record needle stopped upon reading this counterintuitive claim: Statistics indicate that lifeboats have cost more lives during training drills than they saved during actual rescue situations. The hook release system, which attaches the boats to the wire and winch that lowers them into the water, is […]

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A Name Lost to History

January 6th, 2012 · No Comments

Taking advantage of a brief lull in the Wired action to steal a day for the book. Back on Monday with a post about the history of submarine rescue, a teaser of which is posted above. One more thing: If anyone can shed light on the real name of an Algerian secret policeman who went […]

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The Sobotkas of Lagos

October 18th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Advocates for limited government appear to have a new icon in Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s finance minister, who appears to subscribe to Ronald Reagan’s fabled view on the public sector. Just check out what she’s doing at Nigeria’s ports, where an alphabet soup of government agencies have been fleecing importers and exporters alike for ages: […]

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A Sailor’s Life for Me?

August 12th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Many moons ago, one of my good friend’s older brothers spent a summer on an Alaskan fishing boat. He returned with a pocketful of money and some truly harrowing tales of the seafaring life, which included a comrade abandoned off the Aleutian Islands and much drunken thuggery. The anecdote of his that I remember most […]

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To the Teeth

April 5th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Granted, I haven’t been following the whole “rebirth of piracy” story as closely as I should be. But I nevertheless floored to read this assessment of just how bad the situation has gotten, particularly for sailors who lack the personal financial resources to wriggle free of captivity: Some 600 seafarers are at present held for […]

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An All-Too-True Fish Story

November 15th, 2010 · 9 Comments

You probably already knew that times were rough in Camden, New Jersey, but this photo essay really drives home the sad reality. In a part of the nation chock full of towns that have seen much better days, the former home of RCA Victor has become the poster child for all that can go wrong […]

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Here There Be Monsters

October 11th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Columbus Day brings to mind all the various explorers who are more deserving of modern recognition than the dour Genoan you either love or loathe. One such admirable icon is our namesake, St. Brendan, who allegedly sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in the sixth century A.D. True, there is zero physical evidence to prove that […]

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Rodent Ops in the South Pacific

July 29th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Ever since reading Robert Sullivan’s Rats, I’ve become convinced that the furry little banes of urban sanitation will someday rule the world. They are like land-dwelling versions of the dreaded zebra mussel, adept at turning a minor incursion into a full-blown invasion before any Homo sapiens are the wiser. And once they’ve conquered a piece […]

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Goliath Cometh

July 12th, 2010 · 8 Comments

We encourage you to click on the photo above to get a better sense of the Christophe Colomb‘s truly gargantuan size. The recently christened cargo ship is one of the world’s largest, capable of carrying over 13,300 containers of goods. That’s more than six times the size of most container ships, which typically top out […]

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Playing the Drug War Odds

June 15th, 2010 · 7 Comments

The ship above, the gargantuan M/V Dole Chile, was recently found to be carrying $2 million worth of cocaine into Delaware’s main port. The drugs were stashed in the ventilation system of a container loaded with bananas, which the ship delivers weekly to the Port of Wilmington. All in all, a nice little catch for […]

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Mines Never Sleep

March 4th, 2010 · 2 Comments

From the frigid waters of the Baltic Sea, a depressing reminder about the extremely long-term dangers posed by mines: Dozens of Second World War mines that litter the floor of the Baltic Sea will be detonated by a British company this spring in the biggest commercial mine-clearance programme in history. Sebastian Sass, head of EU […]

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A Shortcut for a Shortcut

October 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

In response to yesterday’s post on the onetime vogue for mining-by-nuke, a treasured commenter asked: I remember a rumor that someone proposed building an alternative to the Panama Canal (perhaps even at sea level) using nuclear explosives. Did you find any evidence of that in your research? Indeed we did! This was actually the pet […]

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Tilting at (Underwater) Windmills

August 5th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Apologies for the dearth of posting today. We’re hip deep in a pair of major projects right now, and we spent way too much time sorting through murder-for-hire data this morning. Now we’re off to cold call a bunch of Mexican scientists, who will doubtless chortle at our ugly Spanish. Wish us luck, and please […]

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Prowlers of the Seven Seas

August 4th, 2009 · No Comments

In keeping with our vow to consume lots of classic flicks while banging out Draft Two of the Now the Hell Will Start screenplay, we launched into the uncut version of Das Boot. We hadn’t seen the movie in about a decade, so we’d largely forgotten about its splendor. It’s tough to imagine a better […]

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The Flag Racket

July 21st, 2009 · No Comments

Once again, we’re gonna use our platform here to highly recommend The Snakehead, Patrick Radden Keefe’s non-fiction account of the 1993 Golden Venture disaster. The book would be awesome enough if it just told the tale of Sister Ping‘s rise and fall as the tsarina of human smuggling in New York’s Chinatown. But The Snakehead […]

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Cold Ironing at Port Everglades

June 16th, 2009 · 1 Comment

A major East Coast port finally wakes up to the environmental benefits of cold ironing. Granted, running an idle ship off shore-side electricity is pretty energy intensive. But it pails in comparison to letting the ship’s diesel engines keep on humming: Broward County Commissioner Kristin D. Jacobs said that by shutting down the engines and […]

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The Winner in the Quagga Mess

June 10th, 2009 · No Comments

Despite mankind’s best efforts, the ultra-aggressive quagga mussel continues to spread unabated across our great land. Gorgeous Lake Tahoe is the latest victim, while the shellfish invasion’s in full swing over near Cleveland. And could the mussels even dim the Sin City lights someday? Nothing, it seems, can stop the quagga mussel, given the species […]

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“He Plunges at Me, Guttering…”

June 8th, 2009 · 2 Comments

We’ve previously written about Allied mustard-gas experimentation during World War II, involving live human subjects who were occasionally given no protection whatsoever. But it wasn’t until we read about the Bari disaster that we realized hundreds of Allied troops perished from mustard-gas exposure. This wasn’t due to deliberate release, mind you, but rather a horrific […]

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First Contact: New Zealand

June 1st, 2009 · 4 Comments

Our semi-regular First Contact series continues with a look at the needlessly violent encounter between Captain James Cook and the Maori of New Zealand. Cook himself is our source, as he was a fastidious diarist during his travels around the world. And he recorded the strange events of October 9th, 1769 in great detail. Things […]

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Satellite Saviors

April 23rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

The Bouvet Rames Guyane is arguably the most grueling race on the planet. Solo contestants must literally row across the Atlantic Ocean, from Senegal to French Guiana. Yet even the strongest seafaring Frenchman is no match for Mother Nature, as Remy Alnet discovered about 400 miles from the finish line: I was inside the cockpit […]

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The Ghost Fleet

April 10th, 2009 · No Comments

The ultimate fate of the National Defense Reserve Fleet has become a hotly contested matter in recent years, as environmentalists claim the aged ships are leaking nasty toxins into California’s Suisun Bay. That certainly seems logical, since these rusting hulks were built in the age of asbestos, lead paint, and other environmental bogeymen. But a […]

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The Greening of Shipbreaking?

March 25th, 2009 · 3 Comments

A surprise court decision in Bangladesh may shutter the nation’s vast shipbreaking industry, at least temporarily. The judges were swayed by arguments made by the Bandladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, who have long contended that the industry is among the planet’s dirtiest. Indeed, you probably don’t want to know what happens to the guts of a […]

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“Sleek Greyhound of the Seas”

March 24th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Over the weekend, the fam and I paid a visit to the Museum of the City of New York, primarily to check out the exhibit on our fair city’s stab at going green. But the exhibit that really drew me in was “Trade”, an overview of New York’s heyday as a bustling port. As noted […]

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Avast, Ye Scurvy Dogs

February 18th, 2009 · No Comments

I tend to distrust state-run news organizations, so color me skeptical upon reading this “doth protest too much” story from Russia’s RIA Novosti. It seems there have been some rumors floating about that crewmen on a Russian frigate came down with scurvy while patrolling the waters off Somalia. The official denial goes: “Reports of technical […]

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Swallowed by the Mighty Sea

February 18th, 2009 · 1 Comment

If all had gone as planned, the S.S. American Star would now be a floating hotel in Thailand. But while being towed to its new home 15 years ago, the decommissioned luxury liner ran aground in the Canary Islands. The ship was left there to rot, slowly cracking apart and slipping beneath the waves. It […]

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