Author: Rik van Hemmen

Maintenance and Cure; The Significance of a Proper Cocktail

Martin & Ottaway was the prime sponsor of a cocktail get together for the Maritime Law Association Young Lawyer Committee at “Only Love Strangers” in Manhattan. It was an informal affair, but it had two featured cocktails. One was “Maintenance and Cure” and the other was “Batten Down the Hatches” Tomer took a quick picture… Read more »

Executing Bad Designers to Encourage the Others

I was planning to write a blog on good design. I was thinking about it while driving to a ferry early in the morning. Upon arrival at the ferry pier, the weather is much worse than normal for the season and passengers are waiting, generally underdressed, in a cold windy drizzle. The ferry pulls in… Read more »

Murat Kilic Joins Martin & Ottaway

  It is a pleasure to introduce Capt. Murat Kilic as a member of the M&O consultant team. I first met Murat as a client on the construction of two high speed catamarans in Sicily for the Oman National Ferries Corporation. At that time, he was the fleet manager and there were some construction issues… Read more »

Maritime; A Strange Trip. By Bob Burke

Maritime is a strange trip. It is worldwide and at the same time feels like living in a small village where everybody knows everybody. Too often you run into somebody in some random maritime den of inequity and you both go: “Great to see you! Was it 30 years ago we last hung out?” When… Read more »

Zombie Proofing Aberration with Methanol

  The Aberration experiment continues, and I am making almost continuous modifications to Aberration based on operational experience and the availability of new technologies. When I ran the boat to its winter storage at Scarano Boatyard in Albany, the standby diesel generator was smoking a little and this spring I suppose I will have to… Read more »

SHEWAC Aberration

Solar Hybrid Electric Wheelchair Accessible Catamaran (SHEWAC) Aberration has been the subject of discussion on a number of Martin & Ottaway blogs, and also has received some attention in the press. This is the subject landing page for this vessel that chronicles the design, construction, operational experience and upgrades to the vessel.   1.  … Read more »

Engineering/Marine Surveyor position at Martin & Ottaway

  Martin & Ottaway is a well-known maritime engineering consulting firm located in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. The firm covers US East Coast ports from Norfolk, Virginia to Portland, Maine on a daily basis, with additional worldwide assignment on many special projects. The firm is an incorporated partnership that has managed successful ownership transitions since… Read more »

Call Us Ishmael, Maritime and the Origin of Modern Literature

In high school I was introduced to the concept of Deus ex Machina, the Mechanical God. It is a sudden plot twist or introduction of some fortuitous often irrational coincidence that is needed to make the story work. Once I became aware of the concept, it ruined many a story for me because the story… Read more »

The Big Maritime Things in 2023

The year is almost over, and I took some time to ponder the last 12 months. Such pondering demands perspective and I decided to check out my 2013 Big Maritime List. Overall, that provided no shocking insights or misjudgments, but some of it is folded into the first three items of this year’s list. Maritime… Read more »

A Waterpomptang Christmas and the Undefined Void between Problems and Solutions

  Note: The Waterpomptang family is fictitious and occasionally a Waterpomptang story appears on the M&O website. Some say their adventures resemble real events, but that is just a coincidence. It was Christmas time, and the Waterpomptang family had congregated at the Truus and Bolle homestead. Presents had been opened and the big push for… Read more »

Svelte Speed; SC-1 Subchaser upgrade

Hudson River Maritime Museum has a great blog that regularly puts out interesting Hudson River historical tidbits. One of those blogs had a story about World War I subchasers.   It provided some drawings for the vessel, but Wikipedia provided an even more complete drawing with a lines plan.   They have the following particulars:… Read more »

Changing Habits to Reach Full Charger Capacity

  Three years ago, after I acquired my first plug-in hybrid, we installed a car charger at our office. Since that time, I have also bought an EV, and we have had EV visitors where occasionally both chargers have been in use. A few weeks ago, David acquired a plug-in hybrid Jeep Grand Cherokee and… Read more »

How Reggie Helps Us Win the Zero Emissions Game

As I write this there are dozens, if not hundreds, of carbon emissions reduction efforts underway, or being suggested. Some can only be described as bogus, while others appear to have a positive impact, but in the big picture do not appear to make the difference that we really need. The present global warming data… Read more »

The Complexity of the Commons; EV Chargers

There are two kinds of EV users: Those who charge at home and the Gypsies; those who have to hunt from public charger to public charger. I am the first kind and therefore an incredibly enthusiastic EV user. Occasionally I have dabbled in the romance of the EV Gypsy, but will admit that I am… Read more »

Lelie Vlet V2.0, Looking for Balance in Small Boats

In an earlier blog I referred to the Lelievlet; the standard boat for Dutch Sea Scouts. It is a clever design that has allowed thousands of kids to get a solid taste of life on the water. The first Lelievlet was built in steel in 1955 and since that time over 1600 steel lelievletten have… Read more »

Valve Fix

  Note: The Waterpomptang family is fictitious and occasionally a Waterpomptang story appears on the M&O website. Some say their adventures resemble real events, but that is just a coincidence. It was the early 1960’s and Bolle and Truus had just moved into their new apartment in the South of Rotterdam. Because Bolle was now… Read more »

Dutch Boating in 1964

My grandfather was planning to retire as a ship’s Chief Engineer in 1964. He and his wife had mused about getting a boat to cruise the Dutch waterways. That vision was adopted by the extended family and resulted in this design. As a yacht designer I have occasionally shot myself in the foot by telling… Read more »

EV Battery Longevity FUD; Much Better Than Anyone Expected

plug in hybrid

FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. I only recently became aware of the acronym, but apparently versions of it have existed for almost a century in sales and marketing. Today it is used in the political arena and often FUD is used to shut down technical and scientific advances by raising unsupported issues to… Read more »

I Live in a Massive Park; Bigger than all the Lower 48 National Parks Combined.

My brother-in-law, Jim Forsyth, owns a boatbuilding and repair business in the Adirondacks. The Adirondacks is sort of a Rodney Dangerfield of American parks. In area it is larger than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier and Grand Canyon National Park combined, but few people see it for the treasure it is. If National Parks are America’s best… Read more »

In Support of Grassroot Experiments; Apollonia

Maritime transportation takes advantage of huge economies of scale, but it was not always that way. Even quite recently there were many maritime ventures in the United States that operated on quite a small scale and in certain places in the world maritime transportation still takes place on very small scales down to the canoe… Read more »

Laser Scanning; an Update

In a 2017 blog we provided some examples of the work that our friends at Horizon Naval Architects have been doing. Time has marched on, and 5 years later there is now even more sophisticated technology. Quite near our office Greg Gomes of Skyvue is plying his trade as a remote control aircraft specialist, drone… Read more »

The Big Maritime Things in 2022

2022 is almost over and it is time to do some navel staring. 1. How Big Can a Small Mistake Be? Putin deciding to invade Ukraine will probably go down in history as the world’s biggest boner by a single individual. Since Putin is still in power, we should not ignore the possibility he might… Read more »

Wikipedia; The Best Holiday Season Present to the World

Holiday present selection is always a stressful activity, but this year I came across the best Holiday season present anybody can give to anybody. It is no secret that the Martin & Ottaway blog often refers to the usefulness of Wikipedia and as a company we are a heavy-duty Wikipedia user. On one project related… Read more »

Great Looking Ships

Warning! Reading this Column May Result in EDS Infection. My father was on the new construction team of the 1958 SS Rotterdam V, a visually iconic passenger liner that is presently a static hotel and event space in Rotterdam Harbor. When she entered service, her looks were much discussed, and generally compared to her very… Read more »

Reinventing Taking Temperatures

  Note: The Waterpomptang family is fictitious and occasionally a Waterpomptang story appears on the M&O website. Some say their adventures resemble real events, but that is just a coincidence. Froetjers had been on a long run home and to make cocktail hour at the Molly Pitcher she was running at full throttle in the… Read more »

Wooden Boats are Not Always More Expensive than Fiberglass Boats

The world is filled with facts that appear to be true but are nothing more than simplifications of a complex subject. Wooden boats is one such subject. Almost universally, people think that wooden boats are difficult and expensive to maintain. This is sort of true, but it ignores the fact that it is possible to… Read more »

Two New Partners for Martin & Ottaway

In 2025 Martin & Ottaway will have been in operation for 150 years. The longevity of the company has always relied on the inclusion of young talent to facilitate efficient leadership succession (With regard to young talent, it is noted that Francis S. Martin was 25 years old when he founded the company). Two of… Read more »

Welcome to a Dying Industry (1988)

  Jacksonville Shipyard was a well-known repair yard that was particularly well known for servicing the Jones Act tanker fleet and Gino Ferrari was its New York representative. Each Christmas season Gino hosted a reception at the Four Seasons restaurant for tanker Owners. Gino Ferrari was a close friend of the company and my father… Read more »

The Art of Graceful Disappearance

Wayne Thomas, my friend and colleague since 1986, and business partner for over 15 years, has decided to retire at the end of the month. Wayne has always been a world traveler and he has decided to roll up his house, store only his most essential possessions, and to live light at various places of… Read more »

Fatal Flaws in Design, or User Flaws?

  As noted in a prior blog, due to Anne’s disability I became immersed in wheelchair design. This blog is sort of a weird update and explains how design and user experience is a never ending interaction. It touches on subtleties that are extremely difficult to predict as far as design and user effectiveness is… Read more »

Pondering the Container Securing Conundrum

The combination of containers stowed on deck and containers stowed in holds inherently results in a container securing conundrum. Containers stowed on deck sit on hatch covers, and the covers needs to be larger than the size of the hatch that fits the containers. That means that it is not possible to fit a fixed… Read more »

From Booby Hatches to Pier, Jetty, Wharf or Quay?

Maritime terminology is a subject without limits. It has a lot of universality in basic words, but also suffers from massive regional variations that can be truly frustrating. With clients all over the world, we often engage in discussion in the office about what term to use for a specific concept or piece of equipment…. Read more »

So Big, So Small

When I speak about my shipping life with outsiders they are often most amazed by the size of ships. Engines that easily fit people within the cylinders, so many football fields in length etc. I rarely spend a lot of time thinking about it, but Jim Kline and I were working a project together. When… Read more »

World: What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate About Sustainability

A number of years ago I wrote a blog on the link between science, tinkering and innovation and discussed the need for goal setting in innovation. More recently I have been frustrated by the general apathy of the general population in creating a zero net carbon world, and this has been the subject of discussion… Read more »

Are We Properly Calculating Lashing Loads on Large Container Vessels?

We have been involved in quite a number of lost container cases in the last few years, especially on large (12,000 TEU plus) container vessels. Some of these cases show various deficiencies, but in other cases it appears that the lashings simply are not strong enough for normal vessel operations. That has led us down… Read more »

Going Gas to Diesel is Not Always One for One

  Note: The Waterpomptang family is fictitious and occasionally a Waterpomptang story appears on the M&O website. Some say their adventures resemble real events, but that is just a coincidence. Marina, Will, Shruti and Polara had joined Opa and Oma for an afternoon run. They all met at Froetjers, which was peacefully tied up at… Read more »

Zombie Proofing Aberration with a Kite

  For an overall discussion of this design go to: SHEWAC Aberration Last summer we were crossing Raritan Bay on Aberration and Abby pondered out loud: “I suppose this boat would be pretty good for the Zombie Apocalypse. If you have to, you can survive for quite a while.” On long runs it is fun… Read more »

The Big Maritime Things in 2021

Another trip around the Sun, and a few moments to ponder it. This is my take for 2021. 1. Lack of Cooperation and Discipline I try to be diplomatic in my public pronouncements, but I will go full Dutch Uncle here. Our misery in 2021 was completely related to decisions by individuals who somehow have… Read more »

In Engineering the Simple Stuff can be Very Valuable

Many years ago, before I left high school, I read a book about a famous Dutch ocean sailor who was asked what his preferred size for a safe ocean crossing sailboat was and, without hesitation, he responded 44 feet. I worked as a yacht designer and found time and time again that 44 feet is… Read more »

Where are the Transportation Macro Designers?

Note: This article was first published in the November 2021 issue of Maritime Reporter and Engineering News. As naval architects and marine engineers we are familiar with the design spiral. While design is not truly a spiral, we use the concept to remind ourselves that all pieces of a ship design interact. The design spiral… Read more »

Breaking the Port Congestion Logjam

The present US West Coast container logjam is a system instability that will be studied for many years to come. At this stage there is no single cause for the logjam and the various analyses of the problem tend to result in across the chest finger pointing up or down the chain. Interestingly the problem… Read more »

Golden Ray Sanity Check; Tightropes are not a Proper Way to Cross an Ocean

  The National Transportation Safety Board issued their report on the Golden Ray capsize and, as is usually the case with those reports, it provides an interesting read. The NTSB provides a cause for the incident, incorrect stability calculation, and provides the following recommendations to the vessel operator: 1. Revise your safety management system to… Read more »

Time for a Closer Look at Offshore Wind Turbines

Offshore wind is inching closer to reality off the New Jersey coast. The public review process is underway and the big question is: “Will offshore wind make it past the public opinion barrier?” The advantages of offshore wind are most tightly focused to what now is becoming a screaming need to reduce carbon emissions. Wind… Read more »

Bilge Pump Switches; My Special Nightmare.

Jim Dolan and I had a discussion about a bilge pump repair that went awry and almost simultaneously we expressed frustration about the bizarre variety of bilge pump control installations in boats. We commiserated that in sinking investigations it was always a puzzle to actually figure out how the bilge pumps were configured and especially… Read more »

Aberration; Powerplant design

For an overall discussion of this design go to: SHEWAC Aberration In my prior blog on Aberration, I promised to write a discussion on the propulsion system and the whole powerplant design. It is probably most useful to describe the whole powerplant design process to see how things eventually came together. That makes it a… Read more »

Separating Rotzooi from Technical Reality

  Note: The Waterpomptang family is fictitious and occasionally a Waterpomptang story appears on the M&O website. Some say their adventures resemble real events, but that is just a coincidence.   Bolle was comfortably seated in one of the creaky white oak surplus Liberty ship chairs in Willem’s office above the BuyLo Packy in Red… Read more »

Henk van Hemmen the Elder’s encounter with WWII

In the prior blog I discussed my grandfather’s favorite ship, the HEDEL. I got on the subject because of a weblink my Uncle Ed emailed me. The weblink my Uncle sent me actually referred to the JONGE WILLEM, a ship my grandfather sailed on immediately prior to World War II. During the depression he was… Read more »

Henk van Hemmen the Elder’s Hedel (TBT)

My Grandfather, Henk van Hemmen’s favorite ship was the HEDEL. She was built as AGIRA to LR class for the Norddeutscher Lloyd at AG Weser in 1930. During World War II she was named the SPREE and in 1944 she struck a mine. She was heavily damaged, but accepted as a reparation from Germany by… Read more »

Aberration; an Update and Personal Critique

For an overall discussion of this design go to: SHEWAC Aberration Since my blog on Aberration in October last year, the concept has come to life and is now operating to a level where I can ponder my brilliance (right) and mistakes. As a designer it is particularly interesting and cathartic to find yourself on… Read more »