Sunday, October 19, 2008

Articles: Night Vision, East Coast limits, and LCS/JHSV

Some interesting articles over the past couple days.

First, Christie Wilson has a couple of good articles in the Honolulu Advertiser today:
"Hawaii ferry adds whale-watch tech;
Thermal imaging gear intended to help spot humpbacks and avoid colliding with them"
By Christie Wilson Advertiser Maui Bureau Oct 19, 2008

"Hawaii Superferry is installing a high-tech thermal imaging system that could detect whale spouts more than a mile away and reduce the risk of collisions with humpback whales.

Two of the devices, which cost $125,000 each, will be installed on the company's Alakai high-speed ferry next month, in time for the winter humpback whale season. The Night Navigator 3 units, manufactured by Current Corp. of Vancouver, B.C., also will be used on a sister ferry scheduled to start interisland service next year..."
Read More]

My comments:

"Wow, good article. Maybe the best article Christie has written yet on the subject.

I would be curious to see such night vision in operation. I find it hard to believe that this will be able to distinguish all whales in its path, esp. at night when more whales linger stationary at the surface. Further, on transits south of Molokai right through the Sanctuary last year, the vessel was sighting 16 - 62 whales on each transit. The likelihood is that even if the vessel takes evasive action for a sighted whale, the change in course often would just be putting it on a course into another whale or pod. Whales will be here in large numbers within a month. In the middle of the whale season it's like "whale soup" out there.

Regarding the 7 "close encounters," how can anything within 50 yards be seen from on-deck and definitively avoided; what did HSF say in court? Further, it remains to be known here what happens to large whales and to an aluminium hull upon contact at high speed."
"Other large ships also cross through sanctuary"
By Christie Wilson Advertiser Maui Bureau October 19, 2008

"Vessel-whale collisions are a concern for other large, fast ships operating in Hawai'i waters.
NCL America said its 921-foot Pride of America cruise ship follows NOAA and Pacific Whale Foundation guidelines. Passenger liners generally cruise at 20 knots, about 23 mph, but while crossing the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the NCL ship does not exceed 12 knots, the company said..."
Read More]

My comments:

"Another good article. Interesting to read the speeds and courses that NCL, Matson, and others take in the area. Based upon the quote from the operator of the much smaller Expedition ferry, I don't think the operator nor passengers of a 100 meter vessel would even necessarily know if they hit a whale unless it was large, on the surface or breaching water, and directly T-boned. It will be interesting to see if that can be avoided operating all winter and spring this year. In the Canary Islands over the past few years on average a whale is taken out by a high speed vessel 6 - 9 times a year or every couple months. I'll be the first to congratulate them if they can go the whole whale season without a known whale strike this year, that's assuming the Hawaii State Supreme Court lets them operate the whole season before being shut down."

The following industry report was forwarded to me from the Federal Register of October 10, 2008:

"East Coast Vessel Speed Limits Imposed to Protect Endangered Whales"

"Vessels of 65 feet or more in length, including ferries and whalewatching boats, will have to adhere to 10-knot speed limits in specific geographic areas along the U.S. East Coast at certain times of the year. The purpose of the new requirement is
to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from ship strikes.

The speed limits will
go into effect on December 9, 2008. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published the final rule in the Federal Register on October 10, 2008.

NOAA removed from the final rule a controversial proposal for mandatory vessel speed limits in temporary Dynamic Management Areas (DMAs). Were a two-week DMA with a mandatory vessel speed limit to be imposed across an established ferry route during the height of the business season, the economic viability of the operator would have been threatened.

In the end, NOAA chose a final rule without DMAs with mandatory speed limits. Instead, if an aggregation of right whales shows up unexpectedly out of range and out of season, NOAA will announce the establishment of a time-limited DMA and simply encourage (but not require) a vessel to avoid the area or adhere voluntarily to a speed of 10 knots.

Mandatory speed limits of 10 knots will be in effect in various geographic areas at different times of the year. These locations and times correspond to the customary presence of right whales and are known as Seasonal Management Areas (SMAs).

In the Northeast, there will be a seasonal speed limit zone designated in Massachusetts' Cape Cod Bay from January 1 to May 15.
It will be lifted prior to beginning of the operating season of ferries that traverse the bay going to Provincetown. Another speed limit zone will be imposed in an area north and east of the tip of Cape Cod (off Race Point) from March 1 to April 30. Its timing is such that it will not conflict with the business season for commercial whalewatching boats going to the Stellwagen National Marine Sanctuary.

Finally, there will be a 10-knot speed limit in the Great South Channel approach to the port of Boston from April 1 through July 31; this will affect deep-draft oceangoing cargo ships."

Greg Kaufman's comments on the above:

"Note the size of vessels affected OVER 65', which is the point I made repeatedly in court: ships vs boats. It is all about mass and the effect the mass has on the whale at collision. Over 10 knots is the breaking point for a 50-50 chance for the whales. To my knowledge all ww boats on Maui are 65' or less. - Greg"

Also, an interesting article from the Alabama Press-Register:
"Navy's LCS plans: Three more ships;
Austal hopes to win work on shallow-water warships"
By KAIJA WILKINSON Business Reporter October 17, 2008

"The U.S. Navy said Thursday that it plans to buy 3 littoral combat ships in fiscal 2010, in addition to the 2 it plans to buy next year, though it wants contractors to amend their bids to reflect cost savings that come with building multiple ships.

Lt. Cmdr. Victor Chen said the Navy intends to award 1 boat in 2009 to each of 2 teams competing to build as many as 55 of the high-speed, shore-hugging warships...

Pfister said the company expects word on the fast-ferry contract by the first week of November. Austal is competing with two other teams for a contract that could reach $1.3 billion."

My comments to that on another blog:

"It's only 1 JHSV that is budgeted by Congress for 2009. Whoever gets it, it won't mean much until the rest of the contract is budgeted by Congress for 2010 and beyond. At lot is going to happen between now and 2010.

Even for the LCS, only 2 more are budgeted for 2009. The Navy spokesman in that Alabama article says they will submit a budget request for 3 more in 2010, but again, a lot is going to happen between now and then..."

Reuters had the first MSM report on this the day before on Oct. 16th:
"UPDATE 1-US Navy to add 3 LCS ships in fiscal 2010" Oct 16, 2008
By Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - "The U.S. Navy on Thursday said it would amend an ongoing competition between Lockheed Martin Corp and General Dynamics Corp to add three shore-hugging littoral combat ships in fiscal year 2010.

...Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Victor Chen said the service still planned to award a contract to each of the companies for a second LCS ship in 2009.

"The Navy intends to award one ship to each industry team in FY09 and hold a concurrent competition for three additional ships in FY10," Chen said in a statement...

It was not immediately clear when the Navy would make the contract awards for the two littoral combat ships (LCS) in fiscal 2009, that began Oct. 1.

Congress last month passed an appropriations bill that deleted 2008 funding for one LCS ship, and said the Navy could use that money to pay for anticipated cost overruns on the two ships in the budget for 2009.

Lawmakers also agreed to postpone implementation of a $460 million cost cap on each LCS ship until 2010, after Navy officials explained that neither company would be able to meet the cost cap without removing significant equipment from the ships..." [Read More]

Here was my post on this the day before that on October 15th, which still stands as logical:
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Budget for 2009: Includes 2 LCS and 1 JHSV

"Logical Reasoning"

"The 2 LCS and 1 JHSV budgeted for 2009, Lockheed Martin should get the contract to build the 1st of those 2 new LCS. Based on how Austal-USA's LCS-2 performs in it's trials when it is finally under it's own power, the second of the 2 new LCS may go to either Austal-USA or to Lockheed Martin if LCS-2 does not perform adequately.

As for the 1 JHSV, it is expected that the Navy will award that to Bath Iron Works/Rolls-Royce or to Bollinger-Incat, which the Army has had successful experience testing, and that the Army will try to begin testing, either under individual transport contracts or with a full lease, a recently completed Austal-USA HSV similar to Austal-USA's expected JHSV design proposal.

LCS-2's actual performance should determine if Austal-USA is contracted to build any more for the U.S. -- Austal-USA's HSV Hull 616's performance under contract or lease should determine whether Austal-USA is contracted to build any more JHSV's for the U.S."

Aloha, Brad

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