Author: Rik van Hemmen

Maybe This Is A Solution To The Maritime Language Problem

The weak English translation of the MIT Costa Concordia report made me wonder about the use of English as a more universal communication system. While driving to a project, I was listening to National Public Radio, and there was a bit about Voice of America broadcasts. I never realized that Voice of America programs cannot… Read more »

Paddlewheelers, Salvors and Designers

On the way to a paddle wheeler passenger vessel project at Cape Girardeau, I passed Vicksburg and decided to stay the night. The next morning I took a quick drive through the Vicksburg battle field and came upon the USS Cairo, the remains of a Civil War era ironclad river gunboat that is now beautifully… Read more »

Costa Concordia and QESTH

A while ago Wayne Thomas forwarded the “Costa Concordia Report on the Safety Technical Investigation” to everybody in the office and only just now did I have a chance to read it. While the report is not dated or specifically identified as “final” it appears this is an English language version of the last word… Read more »

George F. Chandler III (1940-2013) In Memoriam

On Thursday May 23, 2013, the firm and I lost a close friend, and the maritime community lost a distinguished professional with the passing of George Chandler. George Chandler was an admiralty attorney with Hill Rivkins in New York and Houston, but George’s connection with Martin & Ottaway and its people go back to 1976,… Read more »

What Is The Cost Of Efficient Transportation? (Maxi Taxi 5)

Not too long ago only a small proportion of humanity had access to vast resources (which actually equates to access to energy). Although the very rich could travel by ocean liner between continents, poorer people’s action radii were very much smaller. For most of humanity’s existence a human might be tied to a very small… Read more »

Waterproofing New York City

When unusual events occur we often get asked to assist on unusual remedial projects. As marine guys we never expected to get called in on 9/11, but we were, and after Sandy we have been asked to assist with waterproofing design of NewYork City subway stations. This is interesting work, because it allows us to… Read more »

How Safe Is Automated Driving? (Maxi Taxi 4)

Automated driving is central to the Maxi Taxi concept. Although the Maxi Taxi ferry concept does not specifically require full automated driving, the ferry concept, at a minimum, will use automated parking type technology to load and unload the ferries automatically with human drivers on public roads. However, the Maxi Taxi concept will really come into… Read more »

Why Not Supply Purified ISO Heavy Fuel to Ships?

(Updated 31 November 2016) M&O loves training new consultants. We look for people who are smart, with great basic training and, most of all, people who are inherently inquisitive and will ask the questions that lead to new knowledge for all of us. So, we are in the middle of dealing with a heavy fuel… Read more »

Will That Five Foot Width Work? (Maxi Taxi 3)

This is our third blog on the Maxi Taxi concept, for earlier blogs on Maxi Taxi go to: Containerizing People Transportation (Maxi Taxi 1) What Needs to be Standardized? (Maxi Taxi 2) The Maxi Taxi concept has chosen five feet as the working standardization width for the system, which would result in road lane widths… Read more »

The Really Big Picture

The April issue of (mt), the SNAME house magazine, will feature an article by Dr. Wayne Neu, professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. Dr. Neu updated the classic 1950’s Gabrielli – von Karman plot using more recent vehicle data collected by the students in one of his classes. The Gabrielli – von… Read more »

The Greatest Show On Earth

Boat shows tend to depress me. It is important to stay up with the latest trends, but most boat shows focus so heavily on consumer products that it is difficult to extract real joy from them. My friend and fellow boat lover Captain Dannie Schade, owner of Classic Boat Rides, convinced me and our wives… Read more »

What Needs To Be Standardized? (Maxi Taxi 2)

In the Maxi Taxi 1 blog we introduced the Maxi Taxi concept as a thought experiment to explore how people transportation can be made to be more efficient by whole system design. The Maxi Taxi is a passenger transportation concept that, through standardization, aims to rapidly increase system efficiencies. System efficiencies are different from component… Read more »

Disaster? DO The OODA Loop

A disaster like the Costa Concordia opens a wide variety of investigations and undoubtedly many people are very busy in analyzing what caused the vessel to strike the reef and to capsize, but striking reefs and capsizing actually is nothing new and, on a technical level, actually is pretty well understood. What is much more… Read more »

Containerizing People Transportation (Maxi Taxi 1)

We call this peculiar car a Maxi Taxi. Maxi Taxis are just a concept that was turned into this computer model by our intern Zach Davis (Harry Ottaway’s grandson!), but they are an interesting concept and have features that are pretty much available today. The Maxi Taxi concept rests on the success of containerization and… Read more »

The Thrill Of The Cutting Edge

Corporate longevity might imply tradition, but actually, and especially in the maritime industry, longevity is directly related to staying on the cutting edge and being involved in the next big thing. On March 5 and 6, 2013 Martin & Ottaway will be a minor sponsor of the Marine Log 2013 Offshore Alternatives Conference at the… Read more »

So How Are Those Sandy Claims Working Out?

The damages caused by Super Storm Sandy have resulted in a heavy load of assignments from underwriters with regard to damages to marinas, boats and associated infrastructure. It has been a pleasure working with our underwriter clients who all have been very eager in resolving often very complex damage issues as rapidly as possible and… Read more »

Holiday Art

During the new year season we receive good wishes from people all over the world and all the cards we receive we display around the office for a few weeks to get us in the holiday spirit, and to reminds us of all our friends around the world. Many are quite pretty and inspired. This year… Read more »

The Big Maritime Things In 2012

At the end of 2012 we can look back and see it has been another interesting year in our industry. Here are ten things, in no particular order of importance, that stand out for me: 1. Planet Solar There is no doubt that we can get around the world by sail, but what if we were to… Read more »

A Maritime Holiday Gift

Holiday gift giving is always difficult, but you know what they say, it is not the size of the gift, it is the thought that counts. What to give to those who love maritime, and that can be given to all our many friends anywhere around the world? Books are nice, but they need to… Read more »

Sandy Meets Sandy Hook

This rather ominous picture was taken two hours before high tide on October 29, 2012 at the Monmouth Boat Club in our headquarters town of Red Bank, New Jersey. The center of Sandy is still about 10 hours away. The river is the Navesink River and it is an estuary that enters New York Harbor at… Read more »

From HQSE To QESTH. Maybe A Change For The Better.

We all like to kid about acronym soup, and it is pretty difficult to keep up with all the new ones. I remember that as a young engineer I was always hesitant to ask in public, because I was afraid that asking the question would prove my ignorance. Somewhere in my career I crossed that… Read more »

A Better Way To Manage Fisheries

Fisheries management is an excruciatingly complex subject. The management (or mismanagement)  of fisheries can very rapidly affect the viability of the industry and has all sorts of carry on effects. Martin & Ottaway sees these effects in fishing boat accident investigations and fishing boat valuations. For example, a fishing boat value is not just tied… Read more »

A Failure To Communicate With The Expert

My wife, Anne, has two Aunt Pats. That becomes confusing, and many years ago I dubbed one of them Crazy Aunt Pat. Not because she is crazy, but simply because she is a smart, bold person who is afraid of nothing and I needed a way to distinguish her from the other who is equally… Read more »

Women and Children First, Part Two

Our first blog on “Women and Children First” elicited a fair amount of comment on various discussion sites. A major part of the discussion centered on the Birkenhead disaster. The Birkenhead disaster is considered to be the first application, or even the invention, of the “Women and Children First” concept. Wikipedia provides a fair amount… Read more »

Seastreak Wall Street Efficiency

The title of this story has a purpose. On an ironic level, web search engines may regard it as a rare combination of terms (Wall Street and Efficiency). But, actually, it is a story about the maritime industry’s efforts to fight for real efficiencies. Seastreak is the ferry service between our part of New Jersey and New… Read more »

Woman and Children First?

Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson of Uppsala University recently performed an interesting analysis of survival rates in a large number of major ship disasters ranging over a period of over 150 years. They were interested in determining whether the old adage “Woman and Children First” actually occurred in such disasters. While many of their conclusions… Read more »

Ordeal By Inspection

This cartoon was probably old when I first saw it in the eighties, but I would say the subject that it spoofs has not gotten much better. Most of the above inspectors still show up, but today we can add Port State Control, P&I condition inspectors (especially hatch cover inspections), environmental auditors, ISM inspectors and the… Read more »

Let The Sun Shine On The Delaware

M&O covers quite a range of waterfronts. Some we only visit occasionally (for example, Bahia Blanca, Argentina we visit no more than about once a decade) but others we visit on an almost daily basis. The Delaware River ports are home turf for us, but every now and then we need to check the internet… Read more »

Piracy Never Ends

This May we decided to perform a heavy duty office cleaning and we literally opened every file drawer in the office and in our storage basement to see what had to go and what needed to stay. I came across one file that was marked “fax junk.” Remember faxes and remember getting silly fax stuff… Read more »

The End Of The Exxon Valdez

A recent bit in the news announced that the “Exxon Valdez” in its present incarnation as the “Oriental Nicety” is bound for the scrap yard. It is easy to think of the “Exxon Valdez” as some villainous symbol in the drama of the oil spill in Alaska, but, as Paul Harvey used to say, then… Read more »

When You Know Where You Came From, You Might Know Where You Are Going

Nobody has ever made a list of all the company’s addresses in its 137 year history, but since the middle 1920’s the firm has only had four addresses: 25 Broadway, NYC, the classic Cunard building in downtown Manhattan, where we were reportedly the first tenants after the main tenant, Cunard. 65 Broadway, NYC, which at… Read more »

Civilized Brooklyn Bridge Surveying

For the second time in three years we were asked to attend to damages of the shielding on the Brooklyn Bridge. Shielding is a type of staging that is fitted to a bridge when construction work is taking place, and both cases related to contact by a crane boom with the shielding that was suspended beneath the… Read more »

Gerry Ginter, General Average and Security

This week we lost a client and a dear friend with the untimely passing of Gerry Ginter. Gerry was an average adjuster and most recently a Senior Vice President at Marsh. Average adjusting is a unique and ancient profession. Quite possibly, it may be the oldest true profession (the other one is not really a… Read more »

In Memoriam Chris Hanges, 1928-2012

On February 22nd, we lost a dear friend, colleague and sage counselor when Chris Hanges died peacefully in his sleep. Chris’ Greek heritage and New York area childhood drew him to a maritime career as a young man. After graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering from New York University and upon his completion of… Read more »

Oman Drydock Company

Over the years many Arabian countries have built drydock facilities to open new industries to help them steer away from a completely oil dependent economy. Oman is the latest entrant to the list with their brand new facility in Duqm. The facility has two 400,000 ton graven docks and will also soon add a floating… Read more »

Great Directors Lead

On a recent trip to Sicily to deal with construction issues on a number of high speed catamarans, I saw this forklift parked in a director’s reserved parking spot. I like it. I am not sure a forklift operator is trying to make a point or if a director is making a point, but there… Read more »

Rochester NY, Under USCG care

December 15, 2011, in Rochester, New York to inspect a pier on behalf of the Department of Justice with regard to a fatal boater’s crash on a dark night in 2008 on Lake Ontario. It was surprisingly warm for this time of year, but the USCG Boatswain in charge of the 47 foot MLB and… Read more »

A NORMANDIE Semi-Mystery

The Normandie is by far my favorite passenger vessel from a design point of view (on a pure love/looks basis, the pre-war Nieuw Amsterdam II beats her by a small margin). Years ago I came across a set of drawings in our office with a last correction date of February 9, 1942 that show the… Read more »

Exxon Valdez? Enough Already.

My sister, Annemarie, who, as an ex tall ship sailor, has good salty connections sent me the words to this famous chantey. So here we go:   What’ll we do with a drunken sailor (3x) Earl-aye in the morning? Hooray and up she rises (3x) Early-aye in the morning Shave his belly with a rusty… Read more »

World Maritime Day

The world is filled with anniversiries, commemorations and memorials. IMO also has special days and September 29, 2011 will be World Maritime Day. It would be easy to be cynical about yet another “special” day. But if there can be a national pickle day, or even a day that commemorates the Irish, it is simply… Read more »

Welcome, AMERICA Version 2.0

High tech comes in many flavors. Some of it is just completely new like the Lever building in New York City or maybe an IPad, but I like high tech when it reaches back and reaches forward. In yacht design occasionally I get to see such instances. I particularly like those designs that use wood… Read more »

The Passing Of A Real Engineer

Today marks the passing of a real engineer. Keith Tantlinger was the engineer who designed the shipping container components that realized Malcolm McLean’s vision. The New York Times recognized Mr. Tantlinger’s importance to humanity by publishing his obituary. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/business/keith-tantlinger-builder-of-cargo-container-dies-at-92.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton is a rather elusive figure who was a prolific inventor and technical promoter and a pretty good painter too. While he is well known for the Clermont or Claremont (neither of which are the actual name of his steamboat) my favorite Fulton design is the Demologos. This steam gunnery ship only predates the… Read more »

A first (As Far As I Know)

Since 1995 Martin & Ottaway has been based in Monmouth County on the North Jersey shore, but many of us have known the shore for much longer than that. One of Chris Hanges’ favorite Jersey hangouts was Bahrs Landing in Highlands, a short distance from the Seastreak ferry. Bahrs Landing still is a Jersey shore favorite and… Read more »

The US Maritime Industry, The Rodney Dangerfield Of World History

The Maritime Industry is the single most important driver for the world as we know it today. Before maritime commerce was established, trade consisted of horses and carts on bad roads, and since horses and carts can only move limited amounts of product trade was inherently deeply restricted. Before sailing ships, it was impossible to… Read more »

Historical Vessels, A Top 10 List

Museums are scary things. It would be interesting to figure out when the first true museum was created. I am not talking about curio collections, like animal zoos, that must go back to prehistoric times and church collections that focus on relics, I am talking about institutions that are interested in preserving objects that have… Read more »