Author: Rik van Hemmen

Rattling the Cage of Preconceived Notions in Design

It is always important to ask “why” about every detail in every design, since bad design imposes a penalty on every user for the life of the bad design. Bad design can hang around forever even if good design exists. I often ask “why?” when I am forced to use a badly designed cleat on a boat… Read more »

Project 114, Research Vessel Optimization

This is a Guest Blog by our U. Mich summer intern Sam Edwards. I was handed off progress on Project 114 by a previous intern in the office. He had added in a feature to plot the sections of files that were input to the “Hydro2A” calc engine as well as started the design of… Read more »

How to Measure Solar Impulse Success?

In March of 2015 Solar Impulse started its around the world adventure and today it brought the adventure to completion; an around the world flight entirely on solar power. As I noted in an earlier blog this is a first order achievement that has only occurred a few times in human history. Still it is difficult… Read more »

Thoughts on Convoying Fuel Efficiencies

The Maxi Taxi concept describes the advantages of convoying in saving fuel during highway travel. Cars that closely follow each other can achieve impressive reductions in total air drag. Air drag is the leading overall drag component at higher speeds and therefore represents the lion’s share of a car’s fuel consumption at speed. Air drag… Read more »

Project 114 and Student Use.

Project 114 is an innovative approach to engineering computations that is being developed for SNAME by Steve Hollister. In essence, it will be a suit of basic NAME computer programs that run on an Excel input/output backbone. This approach is quite powerful and runs a careful middle ground between large, canned, NAME program suites and home grown NAME computer… Read more »

Join The Martin & Ottaway Team

Wanted: Licensed graduate Marine Engineer or graduate Naval Architect (0-5 years experience) for junior consultant position at Martin & Ottaway headquarters in Red Bank, NJ. Varied work, long and random hours, excellent opportunity for rapid professional growth. Desire to learn and to interact with a wide variety of clients, projects and maritime settings. Awareness that… Read more »

Will Robot Ships Be Trading By 2020?

An April 12 article in the Maritime Executive reports on a Rolls Royce statement that robot ships will be trading by 2020. Apparently, through the Rolls-Royce led Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA), researchers suggested that engineering hurdles would not be a major obstacle. There is no doubt that if engineering hurdles refer to hardware,… Read more »

In Memoriam Gene Ferrari

On Friday April 8, 2016 we lost our dear friend Gino Ferrari. Gino was an icon in the New York maritime industry and a person who both maintained the highest standards and at the same time always looked for ways to make life just a little better and a little more fun for everybody in… Read more »

Old Time Model Testing

When I wrote the blog on SWATHs I decided to see if I could locate my Virginia Tech research partner, Mark Tesh. With LinkedIn this was not all that difficult. He enjoyed hearing about the Monoform all these years ago, and remembered having taken photos back in 1981. In those days cameras and video tape actually did exist, but it… Read more »

SWATH, The Art Of Compromise

M&O has worked on both the implementation and the failure analysis on quite a number of SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) projects in the last decades. SWATH vessels hold great promise and continue to intrigue naval architects and potential ship purchasers. When we first became involved in SWATHs, as far back as 1981 with… Read more »

What M*A*S*H Taught Me About Memory

I am almost certain that I learned more from popular culture than the classics (whatever the classics may be). For example, the TV series M*A*S*H provided me with two philosophical bits that I still recycle on a regular basis. The first warns me to never drink when I need a drink, and the other restricts… Read more »

The Big Maritime Things In 2015

My list of big maritime things for the year may not look much like maritime at first, but, believe me, it is. To begin with, spaceflight’s closest real life cousin is nuclear submarine operations. Next, maritime is synonymous with international cooperation and, last, all technologies interbreed, whether up or down. Nothing is more difficult to… Read more »

The Search For Oil Spill Data

The September 2014 issue of the US Navy Institute Proceedings had a one page article named “The Biggest Oil-Spill Culprit? Mother Nature”. This article indicates that the sources of oil pollution in the ocean can be divided as follows: Air pollution 4.2% Run off 11% Transportation Accidental Spills 9.8% (Marine) Transportation normal operation 24.1% (Marine… Read more »

An Unexpected Christmas Present

Over the years I try to write a blog around Christmas time that deals with the spirit of Christmas. I have posted poems, art and stories, but this year a pass-it-forward present was dropped right into my lap. On an anomalously warm December morning, I sat down at my desk, turned on my computer and… Read more »

Root Cause, Causal Factors, Proximate Causes Or Contributing Causes

Causal analysis is a surprisingly complex process that over the years has been subject to push and pulls from a wide variety of professional influences. When determining the actual cause of an accident or an incident, any number of stake holders would like to address the issue that “caused” the accident, whether to prevent a… Read more »

Devastating Ignorance and Plastic Island Delusions

In a prior blog I commented on ignorance and how easy it is to jump to incorrect solutions. In that blog I made reference to Boyan Slat and his Ted Talk as an example of an incredibly awful Ted lecture. In his lecture Boyan Slat proposes a method for removing plastic trash from oceans. The lecture is… Read more »

Houston! We Have A Nomenclature Problem

A recent Wall Street Journal article named The Myth of Basic Science by Matt Ridley makes a fascinating argument that government spending on basic science does not result in technical innovation. The article argues that, instead, most innovation results from tinkering, and only after the tinkering results in new technology, will science catch up to… Read more »

Are We Sure Marine Escape Chutes Work?

Ships, cars and airplanes are all quite reliable, but since they move and occassionally behave in unexpected ways, it is necessary to provide emergency systems to protect passengers or crew, or allow passengers and crew to escape. There are many such systems like seatbelts, air bags, escape slides, life rafts and life boats. The design… Read more »

A Loadout Cautionary Note

As noted in an earlier blog, we love loadouts, they are a uniquely satisfying engineering exercise and often bring out the best in all participants. Loadouts are complex projects that need to be designed and guided by experienced personnel, but even the highest level of experience cannot always prevent a mishap. For a number of… Read more »

How Not To Be Ignorant About The World

Ignorance is very pervasive and fighting ignorant behavior can be very exhausting. Jonathan Swift is believed to have said that you cannot reason someone out of something they were not first reasoned into. If that statement is true, and it certainly contains a lot of truth as far as I can see, it means that… Read more »

TBT, Worst Dutch Real Estate Deal Ever

Except for the passenger ship terminal above 42nd street, commercial ship operations in Manhattan have pretty much come to an end. One of the last commercial shipping terminals to be built on Manhattan was Marine and Aviation Pier 40. It was built in 1962 at a cost of $18 million expressly for the use of… Read more »

A Cathedral Of Internal Combustion

As surveyors we rush around the world on short notice, arrive at some distant port and then are asked to look at a damage situation or some technical or operational problem. We crawl into tight and dirty spaces and end op taken pictures or measurements of broken components. Often we rush back to catch the… Read more »

What’s So Funny About ORB’s?

During the MAX1 conference Captain Tim Sullivan of Hornbeck Offshore sprung a surprise on us. His presentation dealt with Hornbeck’s very impressive efforts at improving MARPOL compliance and then towards the end of the presentation he mentioned that they needed to simplify their Oil Record Book guidance and therefore had handed all their stuff to a… Read more »

MAX1: Do People or Equipment Cause Ocean Pollution?

In the MAX1 study survey we included a few questions where we asked crews to tell us what their favorite Oily Water Separator brands are. We were very hesitant to include that question because there could be all types of weird bias and we would need a huge sample to makes sense of data where… Read more »

Diversity and Persistence: 5000 Projects Since 1995

Today, August 11, 2015, was a landmark day for Martin & Ottaway. Traditionally M&O used a report numbering system. Once a report was issued, it was provided with a sequential report number, but when I joined the firm in 1988, keeping track of projects by ship’s names until the report was issued became an unmanageable… Read more »

James van Langen Joins Martin & Ottaway

With great pleasure Martin & Ottaway announces that Jim van Langen has joined the firm as an engineering and management consultant. Mr. van Langen’s deep experience in the cruise industry and with maritime and shore based Quality, Environmental, Safety, Training and Health (QESTH) systems is an outstanding complement to Martin & Ottaway’s consulting activities. Mr…. Read more »

A Forensic Engineer’s Short Course in Flawed Analysis, Or A Norden Bombsight Insight

This story will makes two important points about technical reasoning that in the heat of combat, disasters, disputes, commerce, parenting or politics often get overlooked. They are: 1.If your starting data is flawed, the rest of your argument becomes inherently flawed 2.Just because one thing looks like the other, it does not mean that they are comparable. The… Read more »

MAX1 Conference In Wilmington, NC; A First In Shipboard Waste Management

The MAX1 conference, which took place in Wilmington, NC on June 24, 2015, set a new standard in Shipboard Waste Management studies. The conference was a rapid fire exchange of ideas by 30 industry professionals representing almost all stakehlders involved in shipboard waste management. For too long OWS and Shipboard Waste Management has been a… Read more »

SCABU – Shipping Containers As Buoyancy Units

Our artist friend Mary Mattingly often contacts us for technical advice since she is very much interested in wetland and maritime community projects. Often our involvement with her projects relates to providing her with assistance in finding solutions to floating her projects. (Actual flotation, not the financial kind) As an artist Mary works with tiny… Read more »

MAX1 Studies OWS Conference Speakers Announced

The program for the MAX1 Studies conference in Wilmington, NC on June 23 and 24, 2105 is now in place and it has met its goal of trying to make the tent as big as possible. At the conference there will be points of view from different owner, regulatory, equipment, enforcement, training, operator, manager, design… Read more »

Solving the Really Difficult OWS and Police Brutality Problems

In engineering there are the difficult problems and the really difficult problems. Getting to the moon or designing a safe replica schooner is difficult. The really difficult engineering problems often require that the user also needs to be re-engineered. Such problems may involve removing addiction or stopping irrational behavior or reducing poverty or altering preconceived… Read more »

NAME Computer Programs; Making Admiral Meyer Smile.

In March of 2014, I posted a blog where I expressed my frustration at a lack of simple and affordable NAME programs. This led to a very lengthy SNAME Linkedin discussion, which now, sadly, seems to have evaporated in the mists of time. Regardless, the discussion was not in vain, because it connected a large… Read more »

MAX1 Studies: Please Take the Survey to Build Knowledge of OWS and OCM

When we were asked to look at OWS effectiveness by NFWF, one of the tasks we proposed was the development of a survey to obtain more information of actual OWS and shipboard waste management. With input of the research team (made up of all types of stakeholders in our industry), we have now developed the survey and invite… Read more »

Feedback: Here’s Your Sign.

Life is complicated, and designing to deal with life’s complications is difficult. Unfortunately bad design unnecessarily punishes humanity by increasing inefficiencies and frustrations. Design mistakes get made, and sometimes the mistakes cannot be easily corrected. However, it is difficult to imagine anything more destructive to humanity than bad design that affects many people that can… Read more »

MAX1 Studies OWS Chronology Analysis

In almost every technical case, or operational problem we get involved in we find that it first takes the construction of a chronological narrative to get an idea as to where the shoe sticks. When we were asked to look at OWS effectiveness by NFWF, one of the tasks we proposed was the construction of… Read more »

AD 1522 to 2015, A Really Big Step for Mankind

In 1522 a sailing vessel, named the Victoria, arrived in Spain and thereby completed the first circumnavigation of Earth using only sustainable power (wind). This voyage is generally called Magellan’s voyage, but the person who completed the voyage in command was Juan Sebastian Elcano.   Since that time, humans have circumnavigated Earth in any number… Read more »

Double Dog Day

Dog days are good days in an office. Today is a double dog day. Jim brought in beagle Buddy and Rik brought in golden/lab Harris. Nothing easy about taking a picture of two dogs at the same time.

National Bulk Carriers, Daniel Ludwig and Universe Ireland (TBT)

Of all the shipping companies that I have had any contact with National Bulk Carriers and its Owner Daniel Ludwig is probably more deeply submerged in lore than any other company. Every time I meet somebody who has worked for NBC I am regaled with yet another story of clever derring do led by Daniel… Read more »

MAX1 Studies, a NFWF Ship Waste Stream Management and OWS Study. Invitation for Participation

In the first half of 2015 Martin & Ottaway will be performing a study for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, “MAX1 Studies” (MARPOL Annex I Studies), that will address the following questions: How effective are shipboard Oily Water Separators? What can be done to further increase the effectiveness of shipboard oily waste management? The… Read more »

Baby It Is Cold Outside, So Be Careful

Cold weather actually makes us busier. Cold weather makes people seek shelter so they pay less attention and cold weather makes equipment operate and fail in unusual fashion. It has been cold out (we almost had iceboat conditions on the river) so there is no time to ruminate any further. Instead I will post a few… Read more »

Christmas Poetry

Many years ago Arthur Mournian gave me a quirky little book named Nautical Poetry, which was a collection of (what the editor considered to be) the best nautical poetry. It contained some good stuff, but not this Robert Louis Stevenson poem that was sent to me over Christmas by my friend and former colleague John… Read more »

The Big Maritime Things In 2014

So here, at the end of the year, I have spent a few moments pondering the maritime events that affected my life. As usual, this is a personal list, but checking back against prior lists I am surprised that this list making can be very unpredictable. It almost seems that these annual lists carry a… Read more »

Big Load Afloat

As a company maybe we love salvage more than anything else, but load outs must come in as a very close second. There is something special about showing up somewhere, where it is too hot, too cold or too dark and to work with true professionals in the form of riggers, equipment operators, barge operators,… Read more »

Invention: Vinyl Plus Memory Stick; You Saw It Here First

Inventions are often difficult to track, but they often start with a loose comment. Hannah came into my office and asked for my portable CD drive. Not too long ago CD drives were built into computers, but USB memory sticks are rapidly rendering CD’s old hat. Out loud Hannah wondered: “How long do you think… Read more »

Ryszard Kaczmarek Can Do!

Maybe too often do we tout the power of interning and mentoring, but this week we received a heartwarming note from one of our past interns which started as follows: Since you deserve a partial credit for your support, I thought you would want me to share this great news I received last week. The… Read more »

Great Design Is No Joke

True or not, this joke is attributed to Abraham Lincoln: A farmer’s young son comes running into the house. Out of breath he says: “Pa, Pa, the hired hand and Sis are in the hayloft. The hired hand has dropped his pants and Sis has pulled up her skirt! Pa, I think they are fixin’… Read more »

48 Hours On The Lettie G. Howard

Maritime education is an incredibly powerful educational tool. While it does not necessarily have to be a path to maritime employment, it is always an effective path to provide Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Philosophy, History, Language and Arts (STEMPHLA) education. The Lettie G. Howard project has a straightforward focus: Provide students with a tool to… Read more »

Funding The Lettie Project, Two States One Port

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has provided seed funding to the “Two States One Port Campaign”, but to fully operate the Lettie G. Howard requires a budget of $600,000 per year. This is a substantial sum of money, but it is estimated that about 300,000 people in the Port of New… Read more »

Dungeon Art (TBT)

Our office has a real dungeon where we keep our unused art, our extra gear, our historical records and our completed files. Inevitably we need to clean out the dungeon when we no longer have space for the completed files and that means we literally get rid of dumpster loads of reports, depositions, shipping documents,… Read more »

Ten Real Shipping Books

The general public’s awareness of maritime continues to be elusive. People without exposure to maritime have a vague notion of what ships do, but the knowledge is almost always superficial. Maritime is complex and therefore it takes a large investment to become deeply familiar with the dynamics of maritime in all its facets. This made… Read more »