Home' Baird Maritime : October 2011 Contents Engineering out tragedy
As I write, news is coming through of another ferry tragedy,
this time in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Scores have died.
The finger is being pointed at overcrowding -- an easy target for
blame, but sadly, I fear, almost certainly the right target.
Now, people die in ferry incidents every week, but the reason
this one has caught my eye is that, as regular readers will be aware,
there have been a number of new ferries delivered to serve
Zanzibar in the last couple of years. Immediately I wondered if this
was one of them. It was not.
Unsurprisingly, it was a ship nearly 45 years old. That is not to
say that old ships are not safe... just that they tend to be the ones
involved in this kind of accident. So, given that overcrowding is so
often at the heart of these heart-wrenching matters, my question
to the naval architects out there is a simple one.
Is there, or could there ever be, a ship design where it would be
impossible for intact stability to be breached in any physically
possible loading condition? If there is, can it be produced in a
manner that makes it within budgetary reach?
History has shown that we cannot rely on humans to keep
humans safe. Can engineering provide the answer?
Drooling over diesels
Having spent a little bit of time getting my hands dirty under
the bonnet over time, I'm a bit of a sucker for clean, spacious,
seemingly well-arranged engine space. And that's pretty much the
only reason for including this photo.
I have to thank the good people in PR at MAN Diesel and Turbo
for putting this on their website -- it makes getting inside a tug
engine room a whole lot easier than it otherwise is at my age.
In case, if you were wondering, you are looking inside 'Neptun',
a Voith-Schneider tractor tug built in Spain by Astilleros Armón
Navia and powered by a pair of 2380kW MAN 7L27/38 engines.
The tug, which is tidier than my house, was delivered to Adria Tow
of Slovenia in June.
Getting a handle on it
Some people say that bureaucracy stifles large organisations;
that policies, procedures and paperwork for the sake of paperwork
waste time, money and effort. Who, though, could imagine the
world's most powerful navy getting by without Rules of
Engagement? Here's some new guidance:
• They must be plain black, brown or white grain leather or
synthetic leather. Exotic materials such as eel, alligator or ostrich
skin are not authorised.
• Bags must be rectangular, 7.5-14 inches long, 5.5-11 inches high
and 2-4 inches deep.
• Flaps must be magnetic or zippered, with brass-plated, silver or
• A strap must be of the same material as its purse, with
brass-plated, silver or gold-coloured buckles.
• Decorative stitching, embossed designs, visible ornamentation
and manufacturers' logos are not allowed.
Wondering what part of the US Navy armoury these relate to?
Guess no longer: coming into effect imminently, these
specifications relate to handbags "purchased from civilian
sources" that female sailors may carry. No news yet on the rules
for the guys.
Banding together against the bridge
Those like me who can remember when Hong Kong was part of
the British Empire may well have been dismayed to hear over the
last few years that that exciting city is set to become even more
tied to the Chinese motherland through a physical link to Macau.
One day, I'm sure, it will all be landfill and bridges.
On the other side of the coin -- and the coin is what it is all
about in Macau -- the new bridge has its strongest ferry
competition ever with the news that TurboJet (aka Shun Tak) has
snapped up former rival New World First Ferries (Macau). The Ho
family-controlled TurboJet was already the biggest player in town,
but has recently been challenged, both by the prospect of the
bridge and, on the water, by upstarts CotaiJet and Macao Dragon
(that's their spelling). Not, of course, that you can ever really
challenge the Ho family.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. The European
and Japanese experience is that ferries fighting bridges is a bit of a
one-sided affair, but the Hong Kong to Macau route may just
favour the ferries slightly more. After all, the bridge might let
vehicles travel, but one wonders how many private vehicles will
use the bridge given the issues of parking and congestion at either
end. That suggests bus trips -- and bus trips may well be easier
competition for a proven, fast, ferry outfit.
Got a tip? -- Aft_Lines@hotmail.com or Find me on Facebook.com/AftLines
The best is not
always left to last
Cleaner than the Aft Lines kitchen (and larger too)
TurboJet is upping the ante on Hong Kong -- Macau but will it be able to fly in
the face of fixed-link foes?
October 2011 BAIRD MARITIME
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