Ship Runs Aground in Galapagos, marex


No. 68- Aground in Galapagos

An Ecuadorian cargo ship ran aground in the Galapagos Islands on Friday, but it does not, for the moment, pose an environmental threat to the environment, reports the Galapagos National Park.

The vessel, which ran aground off the island of San Cristobal, is carrying over 60,000 litres of fuel oil. However, hull damage is reported to be away from the fuel tanks. The cargo is being removed from the vessel in the hope that it can be refloated on a high tide, and oil spill contingency plans are being prepared in case the situation changes.

The islands are located 1,000km from the South American mainland and are famous for their unique flora and fauna studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle as he developed the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Treasure Hunters Recover $1.3M In Gold, marex


No. 67- Gold

A deep-ocean exploration company in Florida says it has recovered nearly 1,000 ounces of gold, worth $1.3 million at current gold prices, on a reconnaissance dive to an historic Atlantic Ocean shipwreck.

The dive confirmed that the ship had not been disturbed since 1991 when another company stopped recovery work, Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration, announced on Monday. The ship’s sinking in 1857 with 21 tons of gold aboard in a hurricane off the coast of South Carolina sparked a U.S. banking panic.

Recovered gold included five gold ingots and two $20 Double Eagle coins, an 1857 coin minted in San Francisco and an 1850 coin minted in Philadelphia. The gold ingots were stamped with the manufacturer’s “assay-mark” and weigh from 96.5 to 313.5 troy ounces.

U.S. $20 Double Eagle coins fetch an average of $5,000 from collectors, Odyssey’s chief operating officer Mark Gordon told Reuters last week.

In March, Odyssey won the rights to return to the shipwreck from a receiver who had been appointed by an Ohio court to represent the ship’s first exploration company after a decades-long court battle over rights to the treasure and return for investors

More than $40 million in gold was recovered by the original team led by Tommy Thompson, an Ohio engineer who discovered the shipwreck in 1988 using sonar and robotic technology he developed. The recovery efforts were derailed by lawsuits and investors accused him of failing to pay them. He has been considered a fugitive since 2012 when he failed to appear in court for a hearing.

Only about 5 percent of the shipwreck site was explored in the late 1980s, Gordon said.

The two-hour reconnaissance dive in mid-April took place as the company’s research vessel, Odyssey Explorer, was traveling from the U.K. to Charleston, the company revealed on Monday.

Odyssey Explorer left Charleston recently to begin the bulk of recovery work at the shipwreck 160 miles off the South Carolina coast and 7,500 feet (2.2 kilometers) deep.

The 280-foot (85 meters) sidewheel steamship carried as much as 21 tons of gold ingots, freshly minted gold coins and raw gold from the California mines, as well as the personal wealth and belongings of its 477 passengers, most of whom were lost when the ship sank.

Historians say the loss of the gold caused a banking panic that contributed to a larger U.S. economic crisis, called the Panic of 1857, that lasted several years.

Was Columbus’s Santa Maria Found ?, marex


No. 66- Columbas Santa Maria

1998 Santa Maria replica in Madeira

A shipwreck found off the north coast of Haiti could be the 500-year-old remains of the Santa Maria, which led Christopher Columbus’s famed voyage to the New World, according to a team of marine explorers.

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” Massachusetts marine investigator Barry Clifford said in a press release on Tuesday.

“I am confident that a full excavation of the wreck will yield the first-ever detailed marine archaeological evidence of Columbus’ discovery of America,” he added.

Clifford, who led a reconnaissance expedition to the site, will hold a press conference Wednesday morning at the Explorer’s Club in New York City to announce the discovery.

The Santa Maria was one of a fleet of three vessels that departed Spain in 1492 looking for a shorter route to Asia. The ship, after arriving near the Bahamas, drifted into a reef and had to be abandoned. Columbus ordered sailors to build a fort nearby before taking the remaining two ships back to Spain to report his findings.

Clifford and his team first discovered the wreck in 2003, but were unable to identify the ship. Yet the discovery of Columbus’ encampment on nearby Haiti and data from the explorer’s diary appear to prove the heavily decayed vessel on the sea floor was the Santa Maria. By Zachary Fagenson (C) Reuters 2014.

Iconic Civil War-Era Steamer Located


No. 65- Icon Steamer located

Former slave piloted Planter to freedom

NOAA has determined the probable location of the remains of the Civil War-era sidewheel steamer Planter, which gained national fame in 1862 when a group of enslaved African Americans commandeered the Confederate Navy transport ship in a daring escape to freedom. The announcement was made in Charleston, South Carolina, where NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries released a report on its search for the Planter and plans for an interpretative sign and future exhibit dedicated to the Planter’s legacy. The effort to find the Planter supports NOAA’s Voyage to Discovery initiative, which seeks to highlight African-American maritime history through education, archaeology, science and underwater exploration.Under the leadership of Robert Smalls, the ship’s steersman, crew members navigated the steamer out of Charleston Harbor on May 12, 1862, and delivered the vessel to the United States Navy. The New York Herald called the escape “one of the most daring and heroic adventures since the war was commenced.”

The notoriety generated by the escape and capture of the Planter led to Smalls eventually becoming the first African-American master in the U.S. Navy and a member of Congress representing South Carolina – the state where he was born a slave. NOAA’s report helps fill gaps in the largely untold story of Robert Smalls and the Planter, which wrecked on a beach in March 1876 while trying to tow a grounded schooner.
In an attempt to answer lingering questions about the Planter’s fate, NOAA researchers reviewed historical documents and analyzed oceanographic and meteorological conditions that may have existed at the time of the Planter’s loss. The likely site where the vessel came to rest, off Cape Romain between Charleston and Georgetown, South Carolina, was confirmed with magnetometer and hydro-probing surveys that detected the presence of large concentrations of iron consistent with the remains of a sunken ship. The vessel’s remains are buried under 10-15 feet of sand and water in an environmentally sensitive area.

“Our interest in finding the Planter is about more than just unlocking the past and secrets of the deep,” said Daniel J. Basta, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries director. “This expedition is an opportunity to highlight African-American contributions to the country’s maritime heritage and inspire young people to consider careers in marine science to help expand the boundaries of ocean exploration.”

Following Smalls’ commandeering of the Planter on May 12, 1862, the ship continued to be used by the U.S. Navy as a dispatch and supply vessel with Smalls as pilot. However, by September of that year, the Navy transferred the craft to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, where it supported Army operations around Charleston, Port Royal and Beaufort.

News accounts suggest that after the war, Smalls and the Planter were well known among local African Americans. As the Planter’s captain, he transported many freed slaves to newly created farmsteads and communities at Hilton Head and Port Royal. With Smalls at the helm, the Planter was reported as the ship that carried black dignitaries and passengers to the ceremony of the symbolic raising of the Fort Sumter flag which had been lowered after the fort’s capture by the Confederates.

On March 25, 1876, while trying to tow a grounded schooner, Planter sprang a plank in the bow and began to take on water in the hold. The captain elected to beach the steamer and repair the plank, hoping to get off the beach with the next high tide. However, stormy seas battered the Planter as the tide rose and the ship was too badly damaged and had to be abandoned. Upon hearing of its loss, Robert Smalls was reported to have said that he felt as if he had lost a member of his family. 

A copy of the report and media images will be available for download at:

Robotic Deep-sea Vehicle Implodes,marex


No. 64- Robotic Deepsea

On Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 2 p.m. local time (10 p.m. Friday EDT), the hybrid remotely operated vehicle Nereus was confirmed lost at 9,990 meters (6.2 miles) depth in the Kermadec Trench northeast of New Zealand. The unmanned vehicle was working as part of a mission to explore the ocean’s hadal region from 6,000 to nearly 11,000 meters deep. Scientists say a portion of it likely imploded under pressure as great as 16,000 pounds per square inch.

Nereus was built in 2008 by the Deep Submergence Lab at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) with primary funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to descend to the deepest parts of the ocean and to operate either autonomously or to be controlled remotely from the surface. WHOI engineers incorporated a number of novel technologies into its design for use in remote operations, including an optical fiber tether for use in remote operations, ceramic flotation, and lithium-ion batteries. Its mission was to undertake high-risk, high-reward research in the deepest, high-pressure parts of Earth’s ocean. At the time it was lost, it was 30 days into a 40-day expedition on board the research vesselThomas G. Thompson to carry out the first-ever, systematic study of a deep-ocean trench as part of the NSF-sponsored Hadal Ecosystems Study (HADES) project under chief scientist Timothy Shank, a WHOI biologist who also helped conceive the vehicle.

“Nereus helped us explore places we’ve never seen before and ask questions we never thought to ask,” said Shank. “It was a one-of-a-kind vehicle that even during its brief life, brought us amazing insights into the unexplored deep ocean, addressing some of the most fundamental scientific problems of our time about life on Earth.”

Researchers on the Thompson lost contact with the vehicle seven hours into a planned nine-hour dive at the deepest extent of the trench. When standard emergency recovery protocols were unsuccessful, the team initiated a search near the dive site. The team onboard spotted pieces of debris floating on the sea surface that were later identified as coming fromNereus, indicating a catastrophic implosion of the vehicle. The ship’s crew is recovering the debris to confirm its identity and in the hope that it may reveal more information about the nature of the failure.

In addition to the Kermadec Trench, Nereus had successfully traveled to Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench—the deepest point in the ocean—and explored the world’s deepest known hydrothermal vents along the Cayman Rise in the Caribbean Sea. It had been scheduled to return to the Mariana Trench in November as part of the second HADES expedition. Already on the first HADES cruise, Nereus had brought back to the surface specimens of animals previously unknown to science and seafloor sediment destined to help reveal the physical, chemical, and biological processes that shape the deep-ocean ecosystems in ocean trenches, which are unlike almost any others on the planet.

WHOI is a leader in the development of autonomous robotic vehicles for the exploration of the ocean, including the hybrid vehicle Nereus, which functioned as a remotely operated vehicle via an optical fiber tether and also as a free-swimming autonomous vehicle. It was one of only four submersibles in history to reach the deepest part of the ocean in the Marianas Trench.

“Extreme exploration of this kind is never without risk, and the unfortunate loss of Nereus only underscores the difficulty of working at such immense depths and pressures,” said WHOI Director of Research Larry Madin. “Fortunately there was no human injury as a consequence of this loss. WHOI scientists and engineers will continue to design, construct and operate even more advanced vehicles to explore and understand the most remote and extreme depths of our global ocean.”

In addition to NSF support, funding for Nereus also came from the Office of Naval Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Russell Family Foundation, and WHOI.

“We are grateful to our partners for helping build such a breakthrough technological innovation in deep-ocean exploration and to the many engineers, technicians, and scientists at WHOI and around the world who helped realize our vision of a full-ocean-depth research vehicle,” said WHOI President and Director Susan Avery. “Nereus may be gone, but the discoveries it enabled and the things it helped us learn will be an indelible part of its legacy.”

Maritime Maisie Saga Ends, marex

No. 63- Maritime Maisie

Maritime Maisie Safely
Offloads Cargo and Fuel Completing A Successful Salvage in the Port of Ulsan.

The managers of the Maritime Maisie (the “Vessel”), MSI Ship Management (“MSI”) are pleased to report the successful ship to ship transfer of all the chemical cargoes and fuel oils from the Maritime Maisie.  This completes the safe salvage of the vessel.  The managers are most appreciative of the support from the Government of Korea and the Port of Ulsan whose agreement to provide a Place of Refuge for the final safe salvage of the vessel, enabled the final safe resolution.That decision, made possible a safe conclusion to a tense and complicated 106 days and was welcomed by owners and managers who deeply appreciate the hard work, careful analysis and important safety considerations that went into the decision by the Korea Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (KMOF), Ulsan Regional Maritime Affairs & Port Administration and Ulsan Port Authority with the ongoing assistance of Hong Kong Marine Department. 

The owners and managers would also like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to the many professionals at sea and ashore who for more than three months have worked tirelessly to see the vessel safely to this point, with a special note of thanks to the Korean Coast Guard, who evacuated all the crew to safety on the first day of the incident.

Mr Li Kwok Hung, MD of MSI stated, “I would like to thank our people for working night and day on this for the past three months. list of domains . We had the great good fortune of working with and being assisted by salvage experts, the best Classification societies in LR, LR SERS and KR, firefighters, chemists, tug boat crews, insurance experts, Hong Kong Marine Department, structure experts, supportive clients – the list is extraordinary, global and indicative of what a campaign like this requires of a twenty first century ship manager and owner when faced with such a challenge.  Our thanks to them all.”

Tai Sook Yee, Group MD of IMC reflected, “it has been a true team effort battling through enormous physical, operational, international regulatory and technical hurdles to reach this momentous moment. More than three months of committed hard work by hundreds of talented men and women literally around the world has made this happen.  We would like to thank the ship managers, MSI and especially the people and professionals, industry trade associations and government officials in Korea, Hong Kong and elsewhere.”

Fred Tsao, Chairman of IMC stated, “this has been a harrowing and taxing challenge that our team, and the hundreds of professionals and government officials and industry trade associations who have assisted us, have turned in to a success. It is now to us to take this ordeal and turn the lessons learned, the efforts made into meaningful progress on the complexities of the Places of Refuge issue. We appreciate the deep care and thought brought to this resolution by Korea and promise to put all we have collectively learned to work for a safer future.”

Costa Concordia Removal Delayed, Marex

No.62- Costa ConcordiaThe refloating of the Costa Concordia has been delayed from June until July 18-20, Costa Crociere representatives said Monday.

International salvage consortium, Titan Micoperi, is attaching sponsons (floats) to the recently righted carcass of the huge cruise liner that hit a rock on Tuscany’s Giglio Island in January 2012, sank and killed 32 people in Italy’s worst postwar maritime disaster.The sponsons must be filled with air to make the Concordia buoyant before it can be towed away for scrap in Italy, the Middle East or the Far East.

The salvage effort recently ran into trouble when one of the sponsons buckled after the giant ship was pulled upright, resulting in minor damage to an adjacent sponson – likely causing the month-long setback.

As of May 9th, the ‘faulty’ sponson was transported to Genoa for repairs.

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