Author: Rik van Hemmen

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 »

Hydrogen As The Ultimate Fuel (Maxi Taxi 10)

Our intern Matt Stern is guest blogging on some background research he did at our office on hydrogen fuel before he gets ready to start his junior year at the Bronx High School of Science: In modern times, we have become accustomed to using fossil fuels as our source of energy for road transportation. But,… Read more »

Wood Technology Never Gets Old

Wood is a truly wonderful material, not just for its beauty, but also for its excellent engineering characteristics. While wood technology has been around for thousands of years for boat construction purposes, wood technology is still developing today. In August of 1999, Woodenboat magazine published an article on a novel type of wooden mast construction…. Read more »

Sprawl, the Infrastructure Trap, and A Real World Solution (Maxi Taxi 9)

A Time magazine article by Leigh Gallagher highlights a problem that we deal with on a daily basis but that pretty much stays just below our awareness horizon. In the article Mr. Gallagher describes a professional epiphany of a town engineer with regard to town planning codes that exhibits itself as suburban sprawl. The issue… Read more »

Deep Culture

At Martin & Ottaway occasionaly we see all aspects of our culture come together in a single project. This photo pays witness to such an event. Consider: The Engineering Attitude: We can do this, we have the tools, and we sure don’t need to use the written instructions. Frugality: Why pay for chair assembly if… Read more »

Container Archeology

Last week I found myself in Skagway on a cruise ship stop and hopped a ride on the White Pass & Yukon railroad. This railroad was a vital connection between the Pacific and the Yukon River gold fields. It starts in Skagway, the most northeast corner of the Alaskan Inside Passage, goes through the White… Read more »

Let’s Not Confuse Innovation and Disruption With Progress

I just read Jill Lepore’s excellent article about disruption and innovation. She very carefully tears apart some recent trendy thinking about innovation and pretty much concludes that one cannot predict where innovation or disruptive technologies will come from and that, inevitably, any innovation or disruptive technology will pretty much find itself in the buggy whip… Read more »

New Jersey Makes, The World Takes

The actual slogan is “Trenton Makes, the World Takes”, and even in that form it is still a pretty weird slogan. The slogan originated very early in the 20th century when Trenton, NJ just about made anything, and it is supposed to mean: “Trenton makes the stuff that the rest of the world buys”. I… Read more »

Lettie G. Howard, An Exercise In Educational Excellence.

Education in maritime is in a class by itself for too many reasons to count. Bottom line; maritime education works, and people are starting to take notice. The strength of maritime education lies in integration. Basically it allows students to engage in multiple learning experiences simultaneously. Instead of one hour of language, one hour of… Read more »

Methane Slip and The Marine Industry

2021 Update: I posted this blog in 2014 and at the end wondered if Hydrogen is a green house gas. I figured to search the internet to see if there were any updates. I found one reference (actually first published in 2006) that indicates that Hydrogen has an indirect greenhouse effect that should be managed,… Read more »

OPA 90 Salvage Requirement Lessons

The OPA 90 Salvage Response regulations have now been in effect for a number of years and while there has not yet been a major US incident that tests the system to the limit, there have been a few smaller incidents where some lessons are being learned. The most central issue in the US Salvage… Read more »

How To Get The Job Done 350 Years Later

It may have become evident that I am of the opinion that the maritime community is a tower of strength for the spirit of cooperation, jointness and just getting the job done. I will provide yet another example of this, but first let me set the stage. This year is the 350th anniversary of the… Read more »

NAME Computer Programs In The “I Am Not Dead Yet” Category

As a naval architect and marine engineer I have slowly drifted into a bizarre conundrum that actually may be an industry wide problem that is ripe for an industry wide solution. What I am talking about is a loss of all those really great NAME engineering computer programs that were developed in the 70’s, 80’s… Read more »

Goodbye Goltens New York

This week is a sad week for New York Maritime. Engine repairer extraordinaire, Goltens, has announced that they will be closing their shop in Brooklyn. Goltens New York was the last classic marine engine repair shop in the port of New York. Maritime is an incredibly dynamic business and we all know that nothing stays… Read more »

Sheer Efficient Madness

There is absolutely nothing so absolutely awesome as ice boating. It was the greatest thrill in the world 200 years ago and it still is today, and I have no problem betting that it will be still be an astonishing thrill 200 years from now. Ice boating is insane fun, but it is not just… Read more »

Rudderless Behavior

Technology failures are inevitable. The trick is to keep failures to a minimum and to keep failures in the “mostly harmless” category. Certain types of equipment can fail and the failure does not result in consequences that are too serious, while other types of equipment failures can make a mess of things almost right away…. Read more »

Historic Vessel Redux

Occasionally we draw attention to ships that are historically significant. Sometimes it seems like we are simply whistling into a storm. Ship preservation costs money and undoubtedly it is a difficult discussion to decide which vessels are worthy of preservation and which should be, at best, turned, into artificial reefs, but, overall, our country is… Read more »

USS Somerset, The Real Lesson of 9/11

On March 1, 2014 the USS Somerset (LPD-25) will be commissioned in Philadelphia. The Somerset is the third and final San Antonio Class vessel named after 9/11 locations. The other two vessels of the same class that preceded the USS Somerset are the USS New York and the USS Arlington.  The names of the earlier… Read more »

A Fatigue Engineering Joke

There is a Cold War (remember, that was before 1989) engineering joke that goes as follows: The Russians had built a brand new huge airplane, and it was the pride of Russia, but they had a continuous problem with fatigue fracturing at the wing to fuselage connection. They tried everything and it just kept fracturing…. Read more »

Always Good and Clean Engineering

I remember standing at the Newport News Shipyard gate in the 90’s next to Dorothy the tugboat and reading the shipyard’s motto: “We will build good ships here — at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always good ships” This motto was apparently coined by Collis Huntington, founder of… Read more »

MARPOL Also Requires Shore Cooperation

I really enjoy Dennis Bryant’s Daily Newsletter, his format allows me to scan it very quickly and if a mental alarm goes off, he provides some additional info. The December 20, 2013 newsletter issue made mention of MARPOL reception facilities inadequacies. The write up referred to a USCG Houston Marine Safety Information Bulletin issued by COTP… Read more »

The Big Maritime Things In 2013

The year is not quite over, but, since I wrote a 2012 top 10 Maritime Things blog, I now feel somewhat driven to think about a 2013 top 10. Like last year, the subjects I am picking may not be entirely 2013 subjects, but they certainly came to the fore to me in this year…. Read more »

A Maritime Holiday Gift, 2013

From 1995 to 2010 our holiday newsletter always included a small sketch made by Henk van Hemmen. This year we decided to recapture those pictures we could find in our old files and republish them. Henk always drew these pictures with a thought towards those of us who are at sea or in foreign ports… Read more »

Solar Conestogas

Powering cars with solar cells installed on the car is an intriguing proposition, but unless we drive for very high efficiencies with resulting uncomfortable and impractical cars such as solar racers, it will probably not be possible to power cars with solar cells to the extent that we power cars with chemical fuels such as… Read more »

Better Ship Electric Arrangements

The SNAME annual meeting is a high speed knowledge exchange fest and the last annual meeting in Seattle may quite possibly have been the best one yet. I always get the printed version of the proceedings and leaf through the papers on the flight home. My proceedings need to be the printed versions because I… Read more »

The Art Of Octoberfest

I finally made it to my first Motor Services Hugo Stamp Octoberfest (one of our very favorite diesel shops). This spectacular party has been a long standing annual tradition by MSHS at their beautiful facility in Fort Lauderdale and has been attended by many a Martin & Ottaway surveyor over the years. While it occurs… Read more »

Not Within A Thousand Years Will Man Ever Fly. (Wilbur Wright 1901)

110 years after the first powered flight, I revisited Kitty Hawk with my college roommate John Mitchell and our wives. In the 31 years since my last visit, the surrounding area had become much more urbanized, but the park itself still tasted like that modest test facility that the Wright brothers had put together in… Read more »

Is There a New Wind Blowing In Technology? Is It Efficiopunk?

The march of technology is not a straight line. It can take leaps (internet), occasionally stop completely (dark ages), depend on big project steps and raw power (Apollo), or occasionally it seems to do a jitterbug and move all over the place at the same time. When it jitterbugs it seems the world belongs to… Read more »