Friday, March 14, 2008

Stamps honour heroes of the sea

Stamps honour heroes of the sea

A new set of Royal Mail special stamps pays tribute to those whose courage and bravery saves hundreds of lives each year.

The six stamps, 'Mayday – Rescue at Sea', issued on Thursday, March 13, highlight the actions of the men and women of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA) who regularly risk their lives attempting to save those of others.

This year is also the centenary of the adoption of the SOS distress signal and to mark the anniversary, Royal Mail worked with Walsall Security Printers to re-create the famous sequence of 'dots' and 'dashes' along the top and bottom edges of the stamps.

But the real drama begins on the stamps, with action photography capturing actual rescues and training exercises – some in the harshest of conditions - from around the UK, and graphically displaying the full range of skills of both organisations and their range of lifeboats and helicopters.

Julietta Edgar, Head of Special Stamps, said: "We felt it was vital to capture the incredibly testing conditions the men and women of the RNLI and the MCA often work under for the stamps to have the best impact.

"The new stamps are a special tribute to the life-saving organisations and will be seen by countless people on letters and parcels around the world. We hope they will remind us all of their immense courage and bravery."


Tornado statistics
Tribune Staff Report

*Indiana averages 20 tornadoes each year and four tornado-related fatalities.

*Tornadoes can occur any time of the year but are most frequent in spring and summer. Tornadoes are most common in the afternoon and evening, but can occur at any hour of the day or night.

*Tornadoes usually move towards the northeast around 30 mph but can move in any direction, and at speeds up to 70 mph.

*Most tornadoes have winds less than 100 mph and last about five minutes, causing minor building, tree and power line damage.

*The strongest tornadoes have winds over 200 mph. These account for less than two percent of all tornadoes but nearly 60 percent of all tornado fatalities. The strongest tornadoes are usually on the ground more than 15 minutes and destroy everything in their path.

*On Sept. 20, 2002 Hoosiers experienced the second longest tornado track in its history. Only the Monticello tornado in the April 1974 super outbreak was on the ground longer.

*The largest outbreak of tornadoes in Indiana occurred June 2, 1990 with 37 tornadoes. On Palm Sunday 1965, 137 Hoosiers died in what is still the biggest killer tornado event in Indiana history.

*Severe thunderstorms at times, are as intense as tornadoes. Typically Indiana has many more severe thunderstorms than tornadoes. Each one may cause major damage or spawn a tornado. So heed severe thunderstorm warnings like tornado warnings.


Have you ever wondered about the color of tornadoes? They seem to have an almost chameleon-like propensity for variety. And while tornado color is governed somewhat by the internal workings of a severe storm, it's often the surrounding environment that has the greatest impact on appearance.

The color grey usually comes to mind when we think of tornadoes. Often times, the dark shading of the storm is caused by flying debris. As dirt and mud are drawn into the funnel, the overall appearance of the system is darkened. As you may expect, the color of the soil can play a huge role in the color of the tornado. It's not unusual for Great Plains tornadoes to appear reddish orange in tint, thanks to the deep coloration of the surrounding soil.

Waterspouts usually attract more sea foam and water, giving them a whitish or blue-grey appearance. It's also interesting to note that most waterspouts are weaker than their land-based cousins, leading to a slightly more translucent appearance. Of course, the presence of lightning (especially at night) can lend a rainbow of color to any tornado.

Not all coloration is directly tied to external sources. The presence of hail within the developing tornadic thunderstorm can sometimes create odd lightning effects, giving a more ethereal glow to tornadoes. Regardless of color, these powerful storms are often as beautiful as they are deadly.

Freak wave washes away cars

Unsuspecting motorists got a shock when a freak wave washed over a beach wall in Spain.

The wave washed away cars as it crashed over the wall La Caruna, Spain.

It also hit a few unsuspected passers-by.

The dramatic moment was captured on amateur video.

It happened earlier this week during storms in the region - the same weather pattern that battered Britain and France.

The waves of up to 7m injured several people and damaged cars and boats, Spanish media said.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

The following timeline is assembled from details in the federal Transportation Safety Board's report on the grounding and sinking of the Queen of the North

March 21, 2006, 8 p.m.: The Queen of the North sails out of Prince Rupert bound for Port Hardy with 59 passengers and 42 crew.

- On the wheel, along with the captain and second officer Keven Hilton, is Karen Bricker, a deckhand acting as quartermaster. Unfamiliar with the steering system, she asks for help hand steering as the ship leaves.

8:50 p.m.: Bricker is relieved by another quartermaster who, like all the quartermasters aboard, rotates duties during 12-hour watches.

9 p.m.: The captain hands control to Hilton and writes out night orders. Under clear skies and light winds, he retires.

10 p.m. to 11:50 p.m.: Two other quartermasters rotate duties. So do Hilton and fourth officer Karl Lilgert. At one point, Lilgert has lunch in the crew's mess. Present at some point is Bricker, with whom he has had a relationship that ended two weeks earlier. Other crew eat with them.

11:45 p.m.: Bricker returns as quartermaster. The ferry is on autopilot.

- Some time before midnight, Lilgert returns. It is the first time Bricker and Lilgert are together since their breakup. Hilton tells Lilgert there's no "reported" traffic -- large commercial ships or private yachts -- but there is a fishing boat about four nautical miles ahead, also heading south. (Story Continued)

From Holland and Knight

USCG – guide for engineering exams

The US Coast Guard issued its Guide for Administration of Merchant Marine Engineering Examinations. The document, also known as the Engineering Guide, is for use by examination room proctors and other personnel who actively monitor merchant marine applicants in the exam room of the Regional Examination Center (REC). (3/12/08).

Hearing on Army Corps of Engineers budget

On March 11, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works conducted a hearing on the proposed FY 2009 budget for the US Army Corps of Engineers and implementation of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007. Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) expressed concern that the budget fell short with regard to protecting lives, enhancing the environment, and growing the economy. Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK) discussed the importance of spending money to maintain and enhance the national infrastructure. John Woodley, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) explained the three main program areas: commercial navigation, flood and coastal storm damage reduction, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp, US Army, discussed the construction program, cost engineering improvements, and the value of the civil works program. (3/11/08).

USCG – one crewmember missing following explosion

The US Coast Guard issued a press release stating that it medically evacuated six injured crewmembers following an explosion on an industrial vessel in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast. One crewmember has not been located. (3/12/08). Vessel Particulars of the Dive Support Vessel Jillian Morrison. Thanks to Hal Newman of Big Medicine.

National Weather Service Solicits Input on Weather Analyses

National Weather Service Solicits Input on Weather Analyses

National Weather Service's Ocean Prediction Branch wants comments on the importance of accurate and timely marine weather analyses to shipboard operations.


My good friend at Freaque Waves has a very interesting commentary on the Motor Ferry Riverdance.

Riverdance rescue lingers on
Freaque Waves blog)

The ferry Riverdance has been in the news since the beginning of February which I have blogged here. Rescue efforts have been mounted ever since. But discouraging news came this morning from BBC with a discouraging headline "Bad storms defeat ferry salvages" (Continue) (See also Riverdance Plan Delayed)

Messing About In Ships Episode # 15

Messing About In Ships podcast episode #15 has launched.

(46 minutes)

Download MP3 file: Messing About In Ships 15

Subscribe Via iTunes HERE

Have a great weekend!